Is the 2011 Mac Mini a reliable model? Any GPU/logic board issues?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Idgit, Jan 5, 2017.

  1. Idgit macrumors 6502

    Idgit

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2004
    #1
    Looking to replace my 2007 Mac Mini HTPC with a newer model, but the used 2012s are scarce and expensive.

    I've seen quite a few 2011 models. Are they worth getting? I want to use it with OS X server, as a file server, Time Machine server, and Plex server. Would the 2011 model be good enough?

    Any reliability problems like failing GPUs (the discrete AMD GPU) or other known issues?
     
  2. twalk macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    #2
    The 2011s are solid machines. They're basically as fast for a similar config as the 2012. In general, the biggest minus is they only have usb2, so that limits you to about 30M/s for usb based external drives. Not fast at all, but fast enough to stream a single 1080p movie. (TB is faster, but $$$.) The standard HD3000 video is fine for a single monitor up to 1200p, but that's about it.

    The mid-2011 is a bit interesting, because the AMD GPU is around the speed of the HD4000 graphics in the 2012s. That allows it to run 2 monitors well, up to 1600p + 1200p. That said, over time, heat is causing GPU failures in the mid-2011s.

    Honestly, considering you're looking at a 6 year old computer with the 2011s, the 2010 is about the same as the 2011 but about 40% slower cpu wise. The 2009s are practically the same as the 2010s, but have the old case, max out at El Cap, and swap dvi <-> hdmi. 2010s & 2009s can sometimes be gotten for 1/3rd the price on Ebay than the 2011s go for. If you really just want a server, they'll probably be fine for you (although they might have issues with Plex transcoding)
     
  3. Kaida, Jan 5, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017

    Kaida macrumors regular

    Kaida

    Joined:
    May 28, 2016
    Location:
    Singapore
    #3
    Yes! go for the ones with the Intel HD3000, I have a few GPU failures over the years on 2011 Mac mini that I had to use windows on it and disable the ATI Radeon (so that it doesn't auto restart when it is trying to switch to the ATI). I don't have the know-how of how to do that in OS X/macOS. The gfxCardStatus is flaky at best for me, sometimes still trying to switch and ended up restarting. And using Windows on a mac defeats the purpose of buying a mac in the first place............

    Apple has a recall program for the MBP2011 for the same issue but no love for the MM2011...
    http://www.macrumors.com/2015/02/19/2011-macbook-pro-repair-program-apple/
     
  4. Idgit thread starter macrumors 6502

    Idgit

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2004
    #4
    So, I should be suspicious of any 2011 Mac Minis with the AMD GPU? Because those are the models I'm seeing for sale on Craigslist and Kijiji.
     
  5. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816

    jpietrzak8

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    Location:
    Dayton, Ohio
    #5
    Basically, if you want to avoid possible future issues, getting a unit without the AMD GPU removes one possible point of failure.

    Also, let me go ahead and put a vote in for the 2010 model. (I'm writing this post on one of those.) As mentioned above, the 2010 has an inferior CPU to the 2011; but then, you don't really need a whole lot of CPU for pure server tasks. (Other than Plex transcoding-on-the-fly; but then, I don't think the 2011 would do you much better, unless you manage to snag one of those quad-core i7 2011s.)

    One of the frequently forgotten features of the 2010 models was that they sported the Nvidia GeForce 320M GPU. Which means, they actually have superior graphics power to the 2011 models (other than, of course, the 2011s with the AMD GPUs). Moreover, the 320M runs cool, so it doesn't have the overheating problems that the AMD GPUs ended up with.

    Anyway, just another point of info. (And yeah, if you can find a cheap 2012, that's probably the way to go. ;) )
     
  6. Kaida macrumors regular

    Kaida

    Joined:
    May 28, 2016
    Location:
    Singapore
    #6
    Even the base model of the 2012 are selling at high price now due it being the last upgradeable Mac mini...

    The only bad thing I noticed about the 2010s is the ram compatibility. It requires 1066 and works with only certain brands of 1333, 1600 will not downclock at work at 1333/1066. A workaround is to use 1 of the original 1/2gb ram and a 2nd 1600 8gb ram, then both will be downclock to 1066.
     
  7. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816

    jpietrzak8

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    #7
    Er, is there a problem acquiring 1066 MHz RAM? I just upgraded my 2010 to 8 GB about a year and a half ago; it wasn't any more expensive to get 1066 MHz than faster clocked RAM.
     
  8. Idgit thread starter macrumors 6502

    Idgit

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2004
    #8
    Thanks for the tips and suggestions.

    A brief look at Craigslist in my area reveals several 2010 Mac Minis, all over $400 Canadian. And yet, according to Mac2Sell.net, those particular models only have a resale value of $200 or less.
     
  9. Kaida macrumors regular

    Kaida

    Joined:
    May 28, 2016
    Location:
    Singapore
    #9
    Yes it is. 1066 are more expensive than 1333, 1333 are more expensive than 1600 in my area/region. Furthermore, 8gb 1066 are pretty hard to find too. They are mostly 4gb. While 2x8gb 1333/1600 are commonly found.

    How about the 2011 and 2012? give us some price/specs and we will help to you decide :)
     
  10. Idgit thread starter macrumors 6502

    Idgit

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2004
    #10
    There's a dual-core 2012 Mini for $750 CAD (16 Gb RAM, 500Gb HDD). Which, again, doesn't seem like a great deal since I got my refurbished 2012 quad-core Mini (4 GB, 1 TB) for $650. The used Mini prices are ridiculously high.
     
  11. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816

    jpietrzak8

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    #11
    Hmm. Other World Computing has them available, both 4 and 8 GB sticks, same day shipping:

    https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/memory/Apple_Mac_mini/DDR3
    --- Post Merged, Jan 5, 2017 ---
    Hmm. Took a quick look at the current eBay "buy it now" prices for 2010 Minis, and they all seem to be somewhere between $200 and $350 (so, I guess that'd be roughly between $350 and $500 Canadian?). So I guess their resale value might be a bit higher than what you're shooting for... The 2011s seem to start around $350, and the 2012s around $400 or so. So I guess that'd be a rough estimate of the minimum people are asking for these machines.
     
  12. Idgit thread starter macrumors 6502

    Idgit

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2004
    #12
    I can't believe people are asking $400+ (firm) for a six-year old computer without a warranty and without peripherals. I can't tell if these Craiglist sellers are delusional or smart. Would someone be stupid enough to pay that much for a Core2Duo Mac Mini?
     
  13. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816

    jpietrzak8

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    #13
    Dunno. For just a Core2Duo, it's a crazy price. But for a Mac Mini? I have to say that my 2010 is still rock-solid reliable, and OS X is a wonderful operating system. As an entry-point into the Mac world, there may be people willing to pay the price...
     
  14. richmlow macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2002
    #14
    Hi Idgit,


    I have the Mac Mini model that you are inquiring about. You can see the specs in my signature.

    I'm very happy with the platform. It's been rock-solid with no problems. I use it for web-browsing, watching movies, playing music, Mathematica programming, LaTeX typesetting of research articles, playing older games, etc.

    The discrete GPU in this mid 2011 Mac Mini more than holds its own against the "modern" integrated GPU of the latest Mac Mini.

    Good luck on your decision.


    richmlow




     
  15. frank4 macrumors regular

    frank4

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2011
    #15
    Very happy with my late 2011 base Mini, got it as a refurb in late 2011 and upgraded RAM to 8GB. The base HD3000 graphics is good, I run 2 monitors and sometimes a third which is a 1080P TV using AirPlay to Apple TV. Using AirPlay over a wired network or Wi-Fi seems to work well either way (I initially always used a wired network connection but switched to Wi-Fi about a year ago).

    The USB2 connection to an external drive is slow but I don't often need to copy big files over USB. It works OK for Time Machine backup to external HD.

    Still have the spinner 500GB HD, programs are a bit slow to load but it doesn't bother me. I just leave the main apps in memory and don't Quit them so I don't need to reload them often. Also I just let the Mini sleep so I rarely need to wait for a reboot or restart.

    I initially had some overheating problems when doing heavy jobs like HandBrake because the cooling fan seemed to almost never get sped up to cool off a hot CPU. So I would run a utility like smcFanControl. I think Apple may have tweaked the fan control software in the last year or two because now it seems to be more responsive in raising the fan speed when required to cool off a hot CPU.

    Running OSX El Capitan and it runs perfectly. I am cautious about updating to Sierra as it seems to add features of little use to me and there is the possibility it will bog down this 5 year old computer. However others who have updated old Macs to Sierra seem to see no performance issues so I will probably give Sierra a try.
     
  16. Partron22 macrumors 68000

    Partron22

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    #16
    I keep my 2011 at El Cap mostly because I don't want to spring for an internal SSD, and the USB 2/firewire connections are simply to slow to make an external SSD much use.
    The machine boots fine, runs fine, and Apple hasn't really added any features I consider "must have" since Yosemite.
     
  17. Idgit thread starter macrumors 6502

    Idgit

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2004
    #17
    Can the 2010 2.4 GHz Core2Duo play 1080p YouTube vids and 1080p MKV/MP4s without stuttering?
     
  18. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816

    jpietrzak8

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    Feb 16, 2010
    Location:
    Dayton, Ohio
    #18
    Yup! Well, I've got a 2.66 GHz 2010, but it plays 1080p YouTube fine, and I've tried a few 1080p MKVs. Activity Monitor does show that the CPU gets hit pretty hard, though. I suspect that video encoded in more conservative (i.e., older) h.264-style codecs will run better, as the 320M GPU provides support for decoding HD video.
     
  19. twalk macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    #19
    I'll second that while 1080p (youtube/mkv/mp4) puts a load on a 2010 Mini, it can play it fine........ unless it's from a bluray rip still in VC-1 format. In that case it can play it, but it's right on the edge, power wise, and can have the occasional quick glitch
     
  20. xraydoc macrumors 604

    xraydoc

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    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    192.168.1.1
    #20
    I have a 2011 i5 model with the ATI graphics. It's a bit crashy and I actually retired it partly because of that about 18-24 months ago and replaced it with a late 2014 (current model) dual core i7 model.

    I'm not certain if it was due to a corrupted OS, a bad RAM stick or something else. One of these days I'll find a use for it and see if I can track down the error, but at the moment it sits unused.

    My current mini, which I use at work, is actually quite a solid machine with very reasonable performance for office-style tasks.
     

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