is the 2012 Mac Mini still a great value ? best display for it ?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by preservation82, Jan 7, 2016.

  1. preservation82 macrumors newbie

    preservation82

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2016
    #1
    trying to replace a mid-2007 20" iMac w/an Intel dual core and 3gb RAM.
    it's running great w/ El Capitan but it's nearly useless for DAW usage these days.

    i've run back and forth b/w iMacs, MBP's, and Mac Minis over the past 2 wks.
    i'd really like to keep the budget around $1000 total (including an LCD monitor via Amazon).


    what i really want is a quad-core i7 and an SSD.
    8GB of RAM or more is certainly a plus.

    i've read a lot of info comparing 2012-to-2014 mini's and it seems that hands-down the former is the best value. i'm currently watching several BIN's and auctions that meet such criteria listed above.

    one i see has a 480GB SSD & 500GB HDD, 16GB RAM, and i7 2GHz quad core processor.
    that's at $940. seems great, but is that pretty much the best i can do ?

    ---
    on a related note: are there well-made/good-looking 20-25" monitors out there that'd work great for a 2012 mini ? i still think the 20" screen on my 2007 iMac looks good, so i suppose i'm not picky at all
    o_O
     
  2. Algus macrumors regular

    Algus

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2014
    Location:
    Arizona
    #2
    The quad core 2012 Mini is certainly a far better machine than the 2014 Minis. The only real area it lags in is graphical capabilities. The Iris 5100 has some nice features over the older HD 4000. Neither chip is designed for powering 4k monitors though so for me it is an easy decision to take the quad core CPU.

    i7 + SSD + RAM is a pretty good machine @ $940. It has had some aftermarket upgrades and will have stellar performance. You can probably save some money by finding a machine with stock parts in it (and later spend more to get those upgrades). The 2012 i7 quad cores are trading very well on the used market though as they are still highly desirable.
     
  3. preservation82 thread starter macrumors newbie

    preservation82

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2016
    #3
    cool - it's what i figured but my last Mac computer purchase was in 2009.
    i have zero concerns about graphics - after all, i'm searching for a $100-150 monitor !

    i just want to be able to make decent quality audio demos of songs to share with current and prospective bandmates.
    sketch it up, throw it on Soundcloud sort of deal. i'll probably never record more than one track at once and my current audio sample library is only around 60GB - which i figured i'd keep on a HDD if possible but the DAW on my SSD.

    $940 seems worth "sucking it up" so that i don't have to bother sourcing and installing the parts myself.
    just bought it. no remorse yet.

    i'm not even bothering looking into 4k monitors- just a decent/thin/ larger than 20" cheapo.
     
  4. davekro macrumors regular

    davekro

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2011
    Location:
    No. Calif.
    #4
    I was EXACTLY facing the same decision coming from my late 2006 20" iMac Core 2 Duo, 3Gb maxed at OS X 10.7 Lion. I decided on a 2012 and shopped Craig's list. I decided to pay more for a maxed i7 2.6, 16 GB w/ a 512 SSD he had added to the 1 TB HDD. I opted to un-fusion the drives beacause I would never need 1.5 TB in one drive. Now I use the 1TB as my Time Machine drive. I also have a 3TB external in 6 partitions, so no lack of storage. ;o) I paid $1,000. I may have paid a premium, but I was not seeing any other i7's w/ a 512 SSD so I went for it. It came with a WL KB & mouse plus extras.

    I went with two 24" Dell U2415 monitors because I am used to running two monitors (iMac plus old 19" Sony). If you prefer single, you may want to invest in a good 27". These Dell's have great reviews and are said to be a sweet spot just below 4K monitors. I had no need for the 4K nor it's price, so these seemed a perfect fit for my new to me 2012 Mini. The price jumps around. I paid $260 each on Amazon 11/27/15. Last week they dropped to back down to $240, but now they are back up again, now at $282... Crazy. I had set up an Amazon price change notification via camelcamelcamel.com.

    Good luck on your 2012 and monitor shopping!

    PS. I also needed a lightweight laptop, but still went the Mac Mini route for my desk top use! I just a bought base model 2013 MB Air 13" off of Craig's list. love this thing too.
     
  5. dogslobber macrumors 68020

    dogslobber

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    #5
    I also have a 2012 Mini which drives 2x Dell U2412s with ease. The fully maxed out 2012 Mini with 16gb and SSD is such a great combination for regular usage. For that I mean I don't drive the cpu hard for any length of time.
     
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #6
    I have a late-2012 Mac Mini i7 2.6ghz and it's been a great performer over the last three years. As good a Mac as I've ever owned.

    Having said that, I -WOULD NOT- recommend buying one now, unless you were able to find it used and at a GOOD price (not the inflated prices that some sellers of used equipment are asking).

    If I were to recommend a Mini to someone -today-, I would instead suggest that they get the "top level" 2014 Mini. Comes with 8gb RAM standard, IRIS graphics, and a 1tb fusion drive (120gb SSD + 1tb HDD). It's worth noting that the PCIe-based "blade" SSD in the 2014 Mini is SIGNIFICANTLY FASTER than ANY SATA-based SSD that can be used in the 2012 model.
    If you need more RAM, get the 16gb upgrade.

    The late-2012 is starting to get long-in-the-tooth (particularly graphics-wise).
    It just makes more sense to get the 2014 now.
     
  7. dogslobber macrumors 68020

    dogslobber

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    #7
    What graphics intensive stuff do you see that hinders the 2012?
     
  8. sparkie1984 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2009
    Location:
    a small village near London
    #8
    I've been wondering what to do.

    A 2012 seems to be faster processor wise and generally the recommended option.

    A 2014 has pcie ssd however, will that help make up day to day usage?

    To be fair I don't need a powerhouse as its only for general usage.

    I'm tempted to wait it out a bit and see if 2016 brings a new model as I don't desperately need one
     
  9. Algus macrumors regular

    Algus

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    Jun 8, 2014
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    #9
    Difference between HD 4000 and Iris 5100 is not very high. Iris 5100 is marginally better at 3D work but both chips output to the same max resolution. If you need the 3D improvements the Iris 5100 offers over the HD 4000, you probably should not be buying a 2 year old Iris but rather something with a dedicated GPU, or at least an Iris Pro 6200. HD 4000 is definitely a pretty old chip now but you aren't going to fix that by buying a 2014 Mini, you'll fix that by getting an iMac or a Macbook.

    In my experience in day to day usage, yes PCIE SSD is definitely faster and you can see it but only by a second or two compared to a SATA SSD. Now if you are doing lots of big read/write operations consistently, moving large files around...you will probably want to think about the PCIE. For me the SATA SSD is so much faster than the old plate hard drive that the extra second or so it takes to log on does not bother me in the slightest.

    Really if we're talking quad-core 2012 vs 2014 Minis, the 2012 wins every time. Now if you are thinking of getting an older dual-core i5 the 2014s might make more sense depending on price, etc.
     
  10. dogslobber macrumors 68020

    dogslobber

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    #10
    Wait until you see the specs for the 2016 version!

    In terms of SSD, I think the biggest change is going from spinner to non-spinner. I couldn't tell the difference between the gb per second my Mini does relative to my MBP. Possibly if I were writing volumes of data I might but not day to day in my general habits of computing.
     
  11. davekro macrumors regular

    davekro

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    Mar 31, 2011
    Location:
    No. Calif.
    #11
    So do you see any difference in color between the two monitors in the white area of this text box when you straddle the window between the two pages? The monitor I have connected via HDMI is ever so slightly pink/greyish toned compared to the stark white of the DP connected U2415.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 8, 2016 ---
    But if you absolutely never touch the limits of the 2012's graphics ability that would seem a non issue. And if one is not a power user, where would they notice the speed difference between 2012 SSD speed vs 2014 SSd speed? (non fusion)?

    What in your mind is a GOOD price for a given 2012 spec? I may have paid a bit much for mine ($1,000), but it did come w/ a WL Keyboard & mouse, SuperDrive and a 20 key numeric iHome keypad. I am happy :eek:)
     
  12. LiveM macrumors 6502a

    LiveM

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2015
    #12
    I bought a 2012 Mini the day after the 2014s were announced. I agree with the above that if you were to get a 2014 now, to get an SSD as before I upgraded mine I experienced the nightmare of the 5400rpm HDD first hand. Never again.

    Mine is 2.5GHz i5 dual core with 16GB RAM and is absolutely fine for everything up to but not including 4K h265 or h264 footage. I'm going to try Pro Res tomorrow to see how hat goes with 4k as I believe it will be OK. Audio is smooth as silk.

    As for the display, I got a Cinema Display which was a wonderful choice. The setup looks beautiful and that monitor is gorgeous and has a matte screen. They are so cheap but if you check them out you can make sure,you get one with true colours.
     
  13. dogslobber macrumors 68020

    dogslobber

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    #13
    I'm not able to have a window appear partially on the two monitors for whatever reason. I think it used to work. My monitors are not calibrated either.
     
  14. davekro macrumors regular

    davekro

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    No. Calif.
    #14
    A big plus according to reviews was that the U2415's came pretty well calibrated (not that I would know). So you cannot drag a browser window, excel spread sheet or whatever to the right of your left screen and it shows up on your right screen??
     
  15. dogslobber macrumors 68020

    dogslobber

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    #15
    When a window goes off one screen is fades out as it appears on the other. I can't have a single window occupy two screens at the same time, but I'm pretty sure I used to be able to do that. In terms of calibration, I didn't really fiddle with the various settings as I just switched them on and they looked fine to me.
     
  16. davekro macrumors regular

    davekro

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    No. Calif.
    #16
    I certainly did not fiddle with calibration either and they look great to me. I did drop the brightness and contrast, as the 100% brightness was hurting my eyes I realized. I have never had a window not look the same on the dual desktop set up. Weird, maybe there is some setting that affects this.
     
  17. dogslobber macrumors 68020

    dogslobber

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    #17
  18. TonyK macrumors 6502a

    TonyK

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    May 24, 2009
    #18
    Just upgraded a late 2009 MM with a SSD and 8GB of memory. Much faster than the previous 4GB memory with the stock HD.

    Newer Minis, meaning newer than 2009, should be more than adequate and allow you to do upgrades yourself.

    So if graphics is not an issue I would look at older Mac Minis and think about doing the upgrades. My upgrade was under $200 and it is our HTPC system driving a 65" TV for streaming.
     
  19. thermodynamic Suspended

    thermodynamic

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    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    USA
    #19
    In which case it's not running El Capitan great if it's useless for what you need it for. The OS is the gateway... unless you had OS X 10.2 or whatever and it ran the same software faster... wait, same difference...

    Thankfully the industry's technology has improved to where a low-end unit can suffice.

    For under $1000? The Mini, despite being sold as a desktop, uses notebook-grade components....

    Not a good sign if newer models perform worse... unless you're talking about sticker price only?

    What model i7? Not the I7-4578U, surely?

    What type of chipset for the SSD? Either that constitutes the bulk of the price, being 480GB and all, to last enough write cycles for a 10 year period of time like mid-level Samsung and Intel units available off the shelf for $1/GB, or it is not the most robust (won't last nearly as long) - to make up for more powerful components elsewhere in the system.


    The 2008 MacBook Pro I had incorporated a pitiful LCD panel with limited gamut (bought just as the 2009 models came out and promptly spent the extra money for a more decent TN panel-based laptop, though being TN both 2008 and 2009 models were trash in that regard). Maybe back then the iMac had a better panel, but by now anything with even e-IPS for $300 will make any low-priced thing from 2007 look pitiful by comparison.

    For real discussion of good monitors, go here: tftcentral.co.uk -- Dell isn't the only good brand...
     
  20. grayskyz macrumors regular

    grayskyz

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #20
    Lot's of good info as fas as the mini goes. I am in badly need of a Mini but, i may just bump myself up to a iMac because, I'm not sure how much more I can wait.

    My suggestion for a monitor is the Acer G257HU.

    Pros:
    The screen is 25", it has a great resolution of 2560 x 1440

    Slim bevel on the sides so adding another monitor will look almost seamless.

    The bottom bevel is a silver that is pretty close to the color of the aluminum mini.

    Calibrated out of the box and it was already almost exact from the factory.

    HDMI/DVI/DISPLAYPORT/Audio is nice to have, never know when yo'll need to hook up
    a laptop or other computer to fix and it's nice to have options. Or you could connect
    two devices and switch back and forth using the input selection.

    Matte Screen / Super IPS panel
    Comes w/ hdmi/dvi cables


    Cons:
    No visa mount if that's your thing.
    Display port cable not included
    Has speakers but, nothing to write (text?) home about

    Low price of 254 on amazon right now!
    http://www.amazon.com/Acer-G257HU-smidpx-25-Inch-Widescreen/dp/B00QS0AKVK
     

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