Is the Mac Mini 2012 Server (i7, 2.6, 2 Apple 256 SSD, 16Gb) a good option for my girlfriend?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Naruz, Aug 1, 2017.

  1. Naruz macrumors newbie

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    Apr 8, 2013
    #1
    Hi.

    So she wants a machine that will hold for a few years doing light work (mostly text editing, minor photoshop and the occasional iMovie edit, no 4k needed). Running the usual apps: Spotify, Mail, iMessage, Adobe Reader, Safari (multi tabs). Only gaming will be Minecraft (how good will it run?). Also, VM Windows.

    She doesn't want a laptop and doesn't like the iMac but would consider them if this Mac Mini isn't going to hold for at least another 3/4 years.

    She says my Macbook Air mid 2013 is way too slow for her, how would this Mini compare in terms of performance?

    She can get it for 600 dollars. I'm aware it's a nice price but I'm concerned about future proofing her needs.

    What do you guys say?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #2
    I have a late-2012 Mini, 2.6ghz i7, 10gb, booting from an external USB SSD.

    It's still doing just fine after 4.5 years.

    I reckon I can get at least 2-3 more years from it with no degradation in performance.
    In fact, I was using 10.8.5 since new until just 4 days ago.
    Finally decided to upgrade to El Capitan, it will stay there for a while.

    I think your friend will be fine with it for the uses you have stated, so long as you get a good display as well.

    Mine has proven to be a very sturdy Mac!
     
  3. Naruz thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 8, 2013
    #3
    Awesome, she'll be having 16Gb RAM and two Apple SSDs, that should give even a bigger performance boost when compared to your setup. :)

    Why didn't you upgrade to Sierra?
     
  4. Ubele macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    I have a late 2012 Mac mini i7, 2.3 GHz, 16 GB of RAM. It had the stock 1 TB HDD and was getting slow. I took the plunge and upgraded it to a 1 TB SSD / 2 TB HDD Fusion drive. I have Sierra installed. It was like getting a brand-new computer. I'm not a gamer, so I can't comment about Minecraft, but I do all the usual productivity-app stuff as well enthusiast-level photo editing and light video editing for my blog. I have no complaints about the speed. If it supported a 4K monitor, it would be perfect for my needs, given how much photo editing I do. Still, I've managed without a 4K monitor for years. Eventually, I'll get a 5K iMac and either sell the mini (if it has any resale value by then) or relegate it to a media server.
     
  5. Naruz thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    Awesome, I guess this machine will be plenty powerful to last her a few years. Even at a low price of 600$ I wouldn't want her to spend it on something she'll be complaining about in the near future...
     
  6. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #6
    I have a 2013 MacBook Air with the i7 CPU, 8gb RAM and 512gb SSD. I also have the same model Mini you are considering (2012 quad 2.6ghz i7 with 16gb RAM and original Apple 256gb SSD). The Mini is about 2.5x faster than the MacBook Air for compressing video. That actually surprised me, because the geekbench specs imply that the Mini should be less than twice as fast as the MacBook Air.

    I also have a base model 2012 Mini and Handbrake times are almost exactly proportional to Geekbench ratings when compared to the quad. My guess is that thermal throttling has a bigger effect on the little MacBook Air while the Mini has a more powerful cooling system (it sounds like a jet engine when rendering, but so does the MacBook Air ;) )

    I recently updated this machine to Sierra, booting from a fast external Samsung 1TB T3 SSD while leaving the original Mountain Lion on the internal SSD (one reason I like the 2012 mini is that it runs my expensive legacy software). It runs just great on Sierra, very happy with the upgrade. Have finally moved to Final Cut Pro X, Compressor and Logic Pro X and they are a pleasure to use on the quad core. I have something plugged into every port of the Mini - multiple disks, Blackmagic thunderbolt video interface, USB audio interface, control surface, even a professional Sony DVCAM/HDV deck plugged into firewire for the hundreds of legacy tapes I'm working with at the moment.

    I don't play games and don't run windows on my Mini, so no clue on that. IMO, "future proofing" is a fool's errand. It's a 5 year old computer, if that worries you then you probably shouldn't buy it. But it does a fine job of running my software today.

    The old video chipset and lone thunderbolt 1 port will turn some people off. And it doesn't have the new, fast 802.11ac wifi that my 2013 MacBook Air has. Personally, I don't care. It's a desktop computer and is plugged into gigabit ethernet. The internal SSD interface is also significantly slower than the 2013 MacBook Air. I get write speeds of 700MB/sec on my 2013 MBA but only about 450MB/sec on the 2012 Mini.

    $600 is an excellent price on that machine from my experience - almost "too good to be true"....
     
  7. Naruz, Aug 1, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2017

    Naruz thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 8, 2013
    #7

    Thanks for the detailed reply.

    "Future proofing" isn't really the right words, it's more of not being concerned with performance during the tasks I detailed. Obviously to be future proof it would have to have more modern features besides raw performance.

    I only have my 4Gb 128 SSD 2013 to compare because that's a machine she uses often and complains all the time so if this Mini trumps that, cool!

    The price is because someone closed their business and had this Mini doing server duty but the business went down and it's kind of a "everything must go" deal. ;)
     
  8. Ubele macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 20, 2008
    #8
    Yes, the multiple ports are great, and I, too, have mine filled with peripherals. And I agree that $600 is an excellent price.

    I should add that my wife has a late 2012 Mac mini i5, 2.5 GHz, with 8 GB of RAM. She doesn't do anything heavy-duty, but she shoots lots of photos with her iPhone and never deletes her old email. With the stock 500 GB HDD, her computer had slowed to a crawl. Scrolling through Mail and Photos produced constant spinning beach balls. I upgraded the HDD to a 1.24 TB Fusion drive, and no more spinning beach balls! My wife is thrilled.

    I confess that I hesitated upgrading the HDDs in our minis to Fusion drives, which I did this past spring. Minis currently have high resale value, the machines are five years old, and plenty of people have damaged their minis performing the upgrade. On the other hand, selling them and replacing them with new Macs that met our needs would have required spending many more hundreds of dollars. With the exception of my 2008 MacBook Pro that had the faulty NVIDIA graphic controller (which Apple replaced after it died), every Mac I've ever owned became unusably slow, but still worked. My 2008 MBP still works, as does my wife's 2009 white MacBook. I got 10 years out of my 2000 PowerMac G4, upgrading every upgradeable component over the years, until the graphic adapter died and wasn't worth replacing. So our 2012 minis likely will remain functional mechanically for several more years, and processor speed no longer doubles every year or two, so I suspect our minis will continue to feel "fast enough" for several more years, as well.
     
  9. ChrisChaval macrumors regular

    ChrisChaval

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    Aug 30, 2016
    #9
    I have a late 2009 Mac mini, upgraded it to 8gb of RAM, installed a SSD, swapped the optical drive for an additional HDD

    Great little machine even after almost 8 years. Will continue to use it until El Cap (last supported OS) won't receive any more security updates

    Just keep in mind when buying older hardware: while the hardware itself will still be good to go for almost every (normal) task you throw at it today or in the near future (not much has changed the last years performance wise), apple will eventually drop support for machines even if they are perfectly capable of living beyond their planned "life span"

    a 2012 mac might get its last OS upgrade (new features) next year or in 2019, receiving security updates for two more years (just guessing)

    same goes for Apple repair service and availability of original spare parts some time after that

    The price seems Ok for such a capable Mac mini, but still .. the machine is 5 years old by now
     
  10. TheScavenger macrumors 6502

    TheScavenger

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    Kansas City, MO
    #10
    For sure! Who should get several years of use out of that thing. Good luck!
     
  11. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #11
    You could have just plugged a fast USB 3.0 SSD into the Mini and gotten better performance than your internal fusion drive (although that might vary a bit depending on how you use the computer). Anyway, I am not going to open up my Mini's to put SSD's inside. The external Samsung T3 is pretty decent. ;)

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Naruz thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 8, 2013
    #12
    Yeah, I was guessing will support it for two more years (2010 machines are still supported in Sierra) but I guess there are 3rd party patches that will enable unsupported OS to be installed.
     
  13. ChrisChaval macrumors regular

    ChrisChaval

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    Aug 30, 2016
    #13
    yes, there is a dedicated thread for that on the forum :)

    dosdude is one of the great guys taking care of that, but sometimes installing a new OS on an unsupported machine can be quite tricky
     
  14. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #14
    I responded to the words you used. ;) So really, you're just concerned with its performance using current software? Honestly, that machine may be overkill for the tasks you detailed with the possible exception of VM's and Minecraft, which I have no experience with. I doubt that you will find many gamers who recommend the HD4000 onboard graphics chipset although Apple still supports all the way back to the HD3000 for Final Cut Pro X.
     
  15. Naruz thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 8, 2013
    #15
    Sure, I used the wrong words there. :)
    Minecraft isn't known for its graphic demands so it should be fine (eats other resources like crazy tho)!
     
  16. TheScavenger macrumors 6502

    TheScavenger

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    #16
    Is Minecraft a huge RAM/Disk hog or something?
     
  17. Naruz thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #17
    It's an open world sandbox game. Unless you set it to a very low drawing distance and no details, it eats up RAM.
     
  18. TheScavenger macrumors 6502

    TheScavenger

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    #18
    Gotcha, good to know.
     
  19. Ubele macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    Interesting. When I did my research beforehand, people told me that using an external SSD would result in a slightly lower speeds, which I needed to weigh against the risk of replacing the internal HDD. Since I used to work as an electronic technician, I decided I was up to the task of replacing the HDD. I wouldn't call it easy, but I proceeded slowly and carefully, and all went well.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 1, 2017 ---
    These are good points. I bought my wife's and my 2012 Mac minis in 2013 from Apple's Refurbished Store, so replacing the HDDs with Fusion drives represented the biggest bang for the buck, in terms of cash outlay and performance increase. However, I don't think I'd buy a 2012 mini now. On the other hand, the current mini is only two years younger, it costs more, there's no quad-core option (for those who need it), and it doesn't support 4K video at 60 Hz (which isn't important to the OP's girlfriend).

    So, to the OP: how long does your girlfriend expect her computer to remain useful, and are you confident that she won't change her mind about 4K video during that time? And do you consider $600 a good investment when spread over that time frame? Unfortunately, Apple doesn't have a low-cost, headless, 2017 option for Macs. They still sell the 2014 mini, but will they stop supporting it based on 2014 or the last year they stop selling it as new? I admit I'm sometimes tempted to sell my mini while people are still buying them, as I also have a 2015 13" i5 MBP.
     
  20. campyguy macrumors 68040

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    Portland / Seattle
    #20
    I have little more to add here with several great bits of advice. My adds are, like others here I have several 2012 Mini Servers (my own personal 2.3 unit to go with 2.3/2.6 in my offices - 16GB RAM with HDs replaced by Samsung 850 Pro SSDs) and I see no need to replace them with these upgrades aside from considering an eGPU for my personal unit later this year to supplement my planned iMac purchase later this year.

    I just bought another 2.3 Server for my office as a workstation and I'm installing a 512GB 850 Pro in it later this week. I'm sold on this SSD's performance over any other brand/make - all of my work units are dialed into rendering/ingest workflows and have dual 1TB 850 Pro SSDs installed in a RAID 0 configuration and they pretty much mop the floor with my PCs for performance. Swapping out the slower stock SSD on the OS drive for an 850 Pro would be my only upgrade recommendation.

    $600 for that unit is a steal IMHO provided it's in decent condition, and you should get plenty of life out of it! Cheers!
     
  21. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #21
    What kind of performance are you seeing on the 850 pro drives? This is the original Apple internal SM256e on my 2012 quad. I don't recall seeing better performance from other internal drives in threads on this forum.

    [​IMG]
     
  22. campyguy macrumors 68040

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    #22
    I've never been one to use benchmarking apps for our workstations given the throughput limitations of SATA 3 interfaces - but there's more to the Pro SSD than those numbers IME.

    What I have coordinated with my storage vendor was timing workflows - renders, finishing a series of real-life tasks using CAD/GIS/finite analysis - and putting two machines to work and see which one wins the other's "pink slip". Citing the AJA System Test for 16k read/write for the dual 1TB setups yielded numbers in the mid-900s to mid-1000s - what turned me on to the Pro SSDs was that they didn't crap out or slow down like other SSDs always did in our workflow comparisons. I've never bothered with the Blackmagic app, even it and the AJA app really don't represent the work that we do in my offices - what I can offer is that the Mini Server finished the work roughly two hours faster than any other disk set we tested in an 8-hour day. In a PC, a similar set up would halve the time needed to insert a massive SHAPE file into a CAD project and complete a waterflow analysis covering some 21 acres - other SSDs "choke and gag" an hour or so into the work, a pretty big reason why I just don't buy another other SSDs any longer. I'm looking forward to the next several months, when I can start buying PCIe SSDs for an equivalent price.

    When I get to it I'll test my latest mule and get back to you. Most of that unit's tasks will be database/number crunching. Cheers.
     
  23. Boyd01, Aug 2, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2017

    Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #23
    Thanks for the detailed explanation, that's very interesting. Probably not relevant to my own usage patterns however, and not worth the risk of ripping open my Mini to swap drives. :)
     
  24. D.T. macrumors 604

    D.T.

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    #24

    One of my previous dev machines is a '12 Mini 2.3GHz quad, server config with two drives, 16GB RAM (DIY upgrade). I swapped out one of the 1TB HDDs (the easier to access) with the SSD from a previous MBP, and it's been running great for a couple of years now - it was a refurb when I picked it up, and I added AC for like $40, so it's still covered into 2018!

    Anyway, it got hand-me-downed to my little G, and it spends a LOT of cycles playing Minecraft (@1920x1080) and it does an outstanding job. The quad core i7 + HD4000 does fine with the fairly simple geometry and textures in Minecraft.

    Pretty neat setup, this machine supports two displays nicely, so she's got a desktop display, with the other display output going to her TV. Then her Apple wireless KB and trackpad are in a Henge Dock Clique, so she can sit back away from the machine with her input devices right in her lap and play on the TV.
     
  25. Naruz, Aug 15, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017

    Naruz thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #25
    She would love to use it for the next 3/4 with no significant drop in performance in those tasks mentioned. Yep, I'm pretty sure she won't care for 4K. IF it holds up AT LEAST 3 more years with good performance I think it's a fine investment, yes.

    I wondered about the 2014 version but it wouldn't make sense because I don't need extra graphics power or I/O. I couldn't find something as powerful as the maxed out 2012 server version for a price CLOSE to $600.

    She got the machine in the meanwhile and it's a beast compared to my base 2013 Air.

    Sorry for the late reply.
     

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