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CaliforniaDreamin

macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 4, 2019
75
5
Bay Area
Quick intro: New to the forum but not to Apple. Started with my G3 Pismo in 2003 and never looked back. Mac for life.

Lucked out today and got a late-2012 Mini Server (2.3GHz, 16GB RAM, 500GB SSD) for only $425. It's in pristine shape and I'm stoked to have this.

It helped out my situation since I was caught between a mid-2010 Mini Server and Mac Pro 1,1 both needing upgrades to remain functional to any capacity. I have an early-2015 MBP (3.1GHz, 16GB RAM, 500GB Flash) that is my powerhouse on the move and needed to fortify a desktop unit for use at home and bigger projects.

I have a few questions now and I'm turning to all you gurus for assistance if you don't mind. Feel free to answer any or all of these. Here they are:

  • Are there any possible and feasible upgrades to the 2012 Mini I just picked up? Seems that it's loaded and topped out. That's ok if so and why I got it.
  • How do I optimize it for the main gateway to my master storage of data across my other machines and drives? Open-ended question, I know. But I'm turning to the brain trust to give me ideas.
  • What to do with the 2010 Mini Server now? I'd imagine at worst, it's a nice looking external drive I can sync with the new one. It's got double 500GB SATA drives and 4GB RAM. If it's not my main machine now, is it worth maxing out the RAM and throwing in a SSD as the main drive? What are the benefits to that given my situation? It seems that the machine is worth next to nothing on the trade market as is and barely more if I were to upgrade it.
  • What to do with the Mac Pro 1,1 now? Should that also be a massive storage chest for data? I had 16GB RAM in it until most of it went bad and now I'm left with 4GB working. If this is a storage chest now, do I need more RAM and a SSD in there? I'd imagine the fans will be going nuts and unit running hot if not. I think I have 1.25TB total of storage capacity now with two more main slots open plus card slots for additional drives. Do I need to upgrade it to USB 3.0 as to not slow data flow coming into it? For kicks, I got a pair of used CPUs for $30 online to max it out to 8-core. Same as the previous bullet, does the makeup of my data receptacle matter much if my main server is robust like the 2012 Mini is?
  • The seller of the Mini today threw in a number of items, one of which was an AirPort Extreme 802.11n (5th Generation). Is this worth integrating in what I'm describing above or should I invest in the newer 6th gen? From what I can see, the only difference between the two is lack of Time Machine backup in the 5th gen. Does that mean I can't link my multiples machines, all of which do have Time Machine on them for one master volume of data?
  • I used to be big into home theater a decade ago before things really picked up with tech integrated in the home. Trying to get back into it. How can I effectively do this with the 2012 Mini Server, AE 5th gen, and my other machines plus two Vizio TV displays that seem to be friendly to Air Play and BT usage?
Thanks in advance for your time and thoughts. I know I threw a lot out there and am figuring you'll each take what you want and give me your advice and ideas.
 
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Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
7,717
4,601
New Jersey Pine Barrens
Congratulations, you have a very nice machine! Don't really have time to go into depth, but here are my quick thoughts.

1. Your mini is maxxed out with 16gb RAM. You could install a bigger SSD I suppose, but I wouldn't bother. Get an external USB SSD if you need additional fast storage, it will be almost as fast as internal on the 2012 mini.

2. I don't know what a "main gateway to master storage of data" means. If you want to use it as a fileserver, just turn on file sharing. On gigabit ethernet, you will get around 100MB/sec.

3. No idea what you should do with a 2010 mini. I would have no use for one personally.

4. Ditto for the old Mac Pro

5. Not clear on airport generation numbers. But the newest one has 802.11ac wifi which is MUCH faster than the older models. The 2012 Mini is not compatible with this however. All the airports were discontinued some time ago. You need an Airport Time Capsule for Time Machine backups, it has an internal hard drive and is basically a (slow) NAS. I think you can also connect an external USB disk to most of the airports, but not sure with the older ones. This will be really slow however.

6. For home theater... you can use any Mac as an iTunes server by just turning on home sharing. You can then share you library with all your Apple devices. There are other things you could also do, but that's how I use mine.

Have fun with the new Mini. :)
 

uller6

macrumors 65816
May 14, 2010
1,045
1,687
The Mac Pro 1,1 is a total electricity hog. Depending on where you live and how hard you push the machine (also how many upgrades you have in the Mac Pro), it can cost up to a few hundred dollars per year to run. By retiring the Mac Pro you can buy a new Mac mini every couple of years with the cost savings.
 
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iluvmacs99

macrumors 6502a
Apr 9, 2019
920
671
Quick intro: New to the forum but not to Apple. Started with my G3 Pismo in 2003 and never looked back. Mac for life.


I have a few questions now and I'm turning to all you gurus for assistance if you don't mind. Feel free to answer any or all of these. Here they are:

  • Are there any possible and feasible upgrades to the 2012 Mini I just picked up? Seems that it's loaded and topped out. That's ok if so and why I got it.
- Lock and loaded. Can't get any better than this.
  • How do I optimize it for the main gateway to my master storage of data across my other machines and drives? Open-ended question, I know. But I'm turning to the brain trust to give me ideas.
- Depending on how many machines you are planning to serve, the 2012 Mini has enough horsepower to keep up. It is faster than the older Apple Xserve 2,1 (which was an 8 Core behemoth! server class computer). Make sure you are on a gigabit switch.
  • What to do with the 2010 Mini Server now? I'd imagine at worst, it's a nice looking external drive I can sync with the new one. It's got double 500GB SATA drives and 4GB RAM. If it's not my main machine now, is it worth maxing out the RAM and throwing in a SSD as the main drive? What are the benefits to that given my situation? It seems that the machine is worth next to nothing on the trade market as is and barely more if I were to upgrade it.
- 2010 Mini server isn't worth much of anything really aside it being able to run High Sierra which can serve some use if you have a VPN service and a secured encrypted email service and need a dedicated system for service isolation. You can deploy it as such. Other than that, you can provision it as a media server and hook it up to your TV with the specs you've got now.
  • What to do with the Mac Pro 1,1 now? Should that also be a massive storage chest for data? I had 16GB RAM in it until most of it went bad and now I'm left with 4GB working. If this is a storage chest now, do I need more RAM and a SSD in there? I'd imagine the fans will be going nuts and unit running hot if not. I think I have 1.25TB total of storage capacity now with two more main slots open plus card slots for additional drives. Do I need to upgrade it to USB 3.0 as to not slow data flow coming into it? For kicks, I got a pair of used CPUs for $30 online to max it out to 8-core. Same as the previous bullet, does the makeup of my data receptacle matter much if my main server is robust like the 2012 Mini is?
- Not much really. You can re-provision it as a software RAID server like some people do with older Xserve and Xraid drives, but really this computer is not a power efficient machine like the Mini 2012 is. The power to performance cost is simply not ideal, unless you have it run in a place where you're not paying the power bill. We see a lot of these sometimes being donated to our thrift store being that they are just too old to be worth anything other than the gold that can be melted down for recycling.
  • The seller of the Mini today threw in a number of items, one of which was an AirPort Extreme 802.11n (5th Generation). Is this worth integrating in what I'm describing above or should I invest in the newer 6th gen? From what I can see, the only difference between the two is lack of Time Machine backup in the 5th gen. Does that mean I can't link my multiples machines, all of which do have Time Machine on them for one master volume
-I can't answer this question as it is up to you and your choices of backup. As long as it works for your setup and you need to upgrade to make it work, then by all means you should be able to make that choice.
  • I used to be big into home theater a decade ago before things really picked up with tech integrated in the home. Trying to get back into it. How can I effectively do this with the 2012 Mini Server, AE 5th gen, and my other machines plus two Vizio TV displays that seem to be friendly to Air Play and BT usage?
-You can re-provision your 2010 Mini server as a headless player in your network setup. You can always tunnel into the 2010 Mini through screen share from your 2012 to control its functions and be able to serve other DLNA capable devices.
 

CaliforniaDreamin

macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 4, 2019
75
5
Bay Area
Thanks for your replies. Very helpful.

What are your thoughts on putting Catalina on the 2012 Mini?

What should I do to get started on setting up my home network? I have the 2012 Mini Server, the 2010 Mini Server, a 2015 MBP, 2,1 cMP, two AirPort Extremes (4th gen & 5th gen), and soon to have a Time Capsule 2TB.

WiFi connection is Xfinity up to 75 Mbps, for what it’s worth.
 

Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
7,717
4,601
New Jersey Pine Barrens
Not interested in Catalina myself, I'm still on Sierra on my 2012 mini server. You might want to see this thread: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/no-sleep-after-catalina.2204795/

Your 2015 MBP should support 802.11ac wifi which is considerably faster than what your older hardware. Not clear on what time capsule you are talking about. The tall, white one has 802.11ac. I like to hardwire as much as possible on gigabit ethernet myself. My time capsule, windows PC, 2012 Mini, 2014 mini and two Apple TV's are all hardwired. My 2013 MacBook air uses 802.11ac wifi, as does my iPhone 6s+ and iPad 6th generation.
 

uller6

macrumors 65816
May 14, 2010
1,045
1,687
I have Catalina on my 2012 mini at work and it's great. Unlike my 2013 Mac Pro at home - that one doesn't get along with Catalina one bit.

I was happily using the 5th generation Time Capsule for years until the fan failed and it melted itself about 6 months ago. I took the opportunity to run cat6 cables through my walls to hardwire my machines at home. The speed improvement and latency reduction is incredible.

Use the 5th generation AirPort Extreme as your base station, and then hardwire what you can if at all possible. Use whatever you can't hardwire on wifi.
 

CaliforniaDreamin

macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 4, 2019
75
5
Bay Area
Wow, so it won’t run at all just due to there being lower bit apps on it?

I do vaguely remember the Rosetta issue. I think it was just Lion. That’s back shortly after getting my 2010 Mini Server and I was also starting to upgrade memory in my cMP. I didn’t mess with the new OSX at the time as the issue was way over my pay grade :cool:
 

CaliforniaDreamin

macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 4, 2019
75
5
Bay Area
Just picked up a loaded cMP 5,1 today for only $350. A great addition to my fleet of machines. Now, I have to determine how to integrate all my machines effectively to create a quality home network with remote access. I posted a thread over in the Server section, so feel free to give it a read and share your knowledge as I find my path in setting up my network.

Thread is here:
 

Sedulous

macrumors 68030
Dec 10, 2002
2,530
2,577
It is indeed possible to replace the 2.5” Sata drive with any 2.5” sata drive you desire. Furthermore it is entirely possible to get a kit that allows for a second internal 2.5” sata drive. In fact, I use one of these kits in my 2012 Mac mini for a 2 TB SSD in addition to the 1 TB boot SSD.
 
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CaliforniaDreamin

macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 4, 2019
75
5
Bay Area
It is indeed possible to replace the 2.5” Sata drive with any 2.5” sata drive you desire. Furthermore it is entirely possible to get a kit that allows for a second internal 2.5” sata drive. In fact, I use one of these kits in my 2012 Mac mini for a 2 TB SSD in addition to the 1 TB boot SSD.

Thanks for the tip. I am still up in the air on what I'm putting in the mini for storage later on, and what's in it currently is plenty for now. The cMP 5,1 has been getting some attention lately with upgrades and that may be where most of my storage goes.

For the 2012 Mini, what is the consensus on getting to 802.11ac wifi? It doesn't sound like any internal upgrade is possible, so which USB product is suggested? BT4.0 is in there already, so that's a positive. Can my older 2010 Mini unit handle this same USB solution for wifi upgrade?

I'm also considering using my 2010 Mini Server as NAS. Is it viable for that purpose? I may get an 8TB WD Easystore shuck to put in there. If I do that, should I also max the RAM at 16 and put an SSD in? Figure that would be cheaper than buying an NAS unit, and possibly perform better.
 
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Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
7,717
4,601
New Jersey Pine Barrens
Is there some reason you can't use hardwired gigabit ethernet on the 2012 Mini? It's much faster and more robust than wifi. For the 2010 Mini, I don't think additional RAM or a SSD will do much to improve performance. I used a 2014 base model Mini with 4gb RAM and the original 500gb internal hard drive as a an iTunes server for a few years, with my media on a 3tb external USB 3.0 hard drive. It was able to come pretty close to saturating gigabit ethernet with about 100MB/sec read/write. The problem with the 2010 Mini is that it only has USB 2.0 though.
 

CaliforniaDreamin

macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 4, 2019
75
5
Bay Area
Is there some reason you can't use hardwired gigabit ethernet on the 2012 Mini? It's much faster and more robust than wifi. For the 2010 Mini, I don't think additional RAM or a SSD will do much to improve performance. I used a 2014 base model Mini with 4gb RAM and the original 500gb internal hard drive as a an iTunes server for a few years, with my media on a 3tb external USB 3.0 hard drive. It was able to come pretty close to saturating gigabit ethernet with about 100MB/sec read/write. The problem with the 2010 Mini is that it only has USB 2.0 though.

I can get the 2012 Mini to be hardwired. For aesthetics, I will need to research Flatwire again as I've not looked into it much in a decade. Any ideas on that? The router is in our living room and my computer workspace is in the adjacent sun room (open concept). It would only require about a 10-foot run of wiring, but looks are everything since the wife has to approve ;)

Agreed on the USB 2.0 for the 2010 Mini. That is definitely a hold back. I do think it needs an SSD badly. Getting the pinwheel when trying to open any application, even Finder window, and boot/shutdown take a long time. Thoughts on using it as a NAS hub?
 

Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
7,717
4,601
New Jersey Pine Barrens
No thoughts on wiring... I just drill holes through the walls and ceiling as needed and run cables along the baseboard and through the attic. :)

Regarding the SSD, I don't see why those things would be an issue on the 2010 mini. A server (NAS) just sits there quitely and pumps files across a network. No applications or finder operations required, just turn on file sharing. My server runs 24/7 and only re-boots 3 or 4 times a year, so startup speed isn't an issue. OTOH, I'm sure a SSD won't hurt, but doubt that you'll see much if any difference if it's really just a server.
 

Sedulous

macrumors 68030
Dec 10, 2002
2,530
2,577
Thanks for the tip. I am still up in the air on what I'm putting in the mini for storage later on, and what's in it currently is plenty for now. The cMP 5,1 has been getting some attention lately with upgrades and that may be where most of my storage goes.

For the 2012 Mini, what is the consensus on getting to 802.11ac wifi? It doesn't sound like any internal upgrade is possible, so which USB product is suggested? BT4.0 is in there already, so that's a positive. Can my older 2010 Mini unit handle this same USB solution for wifi upgrade?

I'm also considering using my 2010 Mini Server as NAS. Is it viable for that purpose? I may get an 8TB WD Easystore shuck to put in there. If I do that, should I also max the RAM at 16 and put an SSD in? Figure that would be cheaper than buying an NAS unit, and possibly perform better.
I would also steer away from wireless for anything routinely used for heavy data transfer. If running a cable is not an option, consider a powerline adapter.
 
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Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
7,717
4,601
New Jersey Pine Barrens
They are completely different. The adapter gives you gigabit ethernet distributed by the electrical wiring in your home. The Airport is wifi that's significantly slower and subject to interference. That being said, I've never used one and prefer using an ethernet cable. Since you said it would only be a 10-foot run to the computer, I don't think a powerline adapter makes any sense. Surely you can figure out a way to run a wire so that it doesn't upset your wife. ;)
 

wardie

macrumors 6502a
Aug 18, 2008
551
179
Powerline I have found is sensitive to the quality / age of your electrical cabling. I noticed a big uptick in bandwidth after I got my house rewired, using the same end points for powerline adapters. That was with relatively old kit so not gigabit speeds but I think from memory 100-200 Mbps ballpark. Quite a robust solution though compared to WiFi dropouts.
 
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CaliforniaDreamin

macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 4, 2019
75
5
Bay Area
They are completely different. The adapter gives you gigabit ethernet distributed by the electrical wiring in your home. The Airport is wifi that's significantly slower and subject to interference. That being said, I've never used one and prefer using an ethernet cable. Since you said it would only be a 10-foot run to the computer, I don't think a powerline adapter makes any sense. Surely you can figure out a way to run a wire so that it doesn't upset your wife. ;)

Any of you guys dabbled in flatwire?

Maybe I go with a Micro SlimRun Cat6 so the "boss" doesn't jettison me!
 

bigfatipod

macrumors 6502
Sep 22, 2011
358
178
Thanks for the tip. I am still up in the air on what I'm putting in the mini for storage later on, and what's in it currently is plenty for now. The cMP 5,1 has been getting some attention lately with upgrades and that may be where most of my storage goes.

For the 2012 Mini, what is the consensus on getting to 802.11ac wifi? It doesn't sound like any internal upgrade is possible, so which USB product is suggested? BT4.0 is in there already, so that's a positive. Can my older 2010 Mini unit handle this same USB solution for wifi upgrade?

I'm also considering using my 2010 Mini Server as NAS. Is it viable for that purpose? I may get an 8TB WD Easystore shuck to put in there. If I do that, should I also max the RAM at 16 and put an SSD in? Figure that would be cheaper than buying an NAS unit, and possibly perform better.


I would also vote for adding a second internal ssd drive. I have two 2tb SSDs in my 2012 and its fantastic. If you are ok playing with the nuts and bolts, it's something you can do on your own. If you're not comfortable, then you could consider just getting an external ssd to hang off; I plan to tack on a third "internal" drive as an external one when its needed. Maybe Black Thursday or Cyber Monday will have good deals on SSDs.

I feel like it's required to say it, so also be sure you are taking at least one backup.
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Do you use Aperture? If so, consider sticking with Mojave for now until you find a replacement. I believe Catalina will break it. While we're at it, maybe verify all your software is compatible with the OS you're planning on upgrading to
 
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