Mac mini 2012 i5 worth buying in 2019

cb3

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 5, 2017
116
226
Texas
Looking at buying a used 2012 Mac mini i5 and upgrading the RAM and the HD to a 500GB FLASH Drive. After this upgrade its $200 - $275 less that entry level i3 Mac mini 2018.

Worth it in 2019 vs but a 2018 mini?

For online school work mostly, video watching, internet, MS Office type apps., some 2D graphics apps.
 

MRrainer

macrumors 65816
Aug 8, 2008
1,170
629
Zurich, Switzerland
How much exactly does it cost and how much exactly do you want to spend on upgrades?

I'd say it's OK-ish for 500-ish bucks all-together, provided you already have a display, a keyboard and a mouse or a trackpad.
If you need to buy a display, it becomes more difficult because the new Mini can address (multiple) 4K displays but the 2012 can't.

My mother has the 2012 i5 with 16GB RAM and a 256GB Samsung EVO SSD and it's OK for normal use.
I wouldn't want to run large VMs with it, but it can do most stuff and it's not too slow.
 

cb3

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 5, 2017
116
226
Texas
Thanks for your feedback.
$290.00 i5 Mac mini 2012
$70 for 500GB SSD
$75 for 16BG RAM

Guessing between $435 - $475 depending on the brand purchased. Plus time to tear it all apart and put back together.

I have monitor and keyboard - so good there.
 

MRrainer

macrumors 65816
Aug 8, 2008
1,170
629
Zurich, Switzerland
Disassembly is easy on the 2012. You don't even need to fully disassemble it. Just enough to wiggle out the drive.
Unless you want to build a FusionDrive. Then you need to go the full monty.

If what you said is all you want to do with it and you don't need 4K, I'd say it's worth it.
You should get at least another update of macOS on it, so a full two years of use for 500 bucks.

Of course, a much cheaper PC can be built with the same or better performance. But then it's not macOS, with all the advantages and disadvantages that brings.
 

jcavanaug

macrumors newbie
Nov 21, 2012
8
3
I have that exact setup (2012 i5 Mac Mini, 16gb RAM, 512 SSD) running as my media server. It works great. Not sure what you plan on doing with it, but if it's pretty basic stuff, I'm sure an upgraded 2012 Mini would work fine.
 

cb3

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 5, 2017
116
226
Texas
Thanks for the feedback.

Mac to to be used for taking online teaching classes for teaching certificate.
 

Padaung

macrumors 6502
Jan 22, 2007
462
78
UK
I have that exact setup (2012 i5 Mac Mini, 16gb RAM, 512 SSD) running as my media server. It works great. Not sure what you plan on doing with it, but if it's pretty basic stuff, I'm sure an upgraded 2012 Mini would work fine.
I'm a pro photographer and I'm still using my 2012 i5 Mac Mini as my daily machine. It is used for editing 24Mpx raw files in Lightroom, and editing short (up to 10 mins) HD movies in FCP (no 4k editing). I usually have Mail and Firefox (with multiple tabs open) running at the same time. So I think that qualifies the 2012 i5 as capabale of doing more than basic stuff (typically regarded as email, internet browsing, an Office docs)?

The machine has 10Gb memory installed (weird amount I know (it has 1x 2Gb module and 1x 8Gb module). I had intended to update it to 16Gb but I've not yet felt the need).

The biggest performance shift came when I swapped out the old 500Gb spinning HDD for a 750Gb SSD - oh wow! Boot time from cold to LR being usable went from 8mins down to just under 1min. The entire system became a lot more responsive for daily tasks too.

So, imo, the 2012 i5 is still a very capable machine (as long as a SSD and a minimum of 8gb memory is installed).

I am looking at the 2018 Mac Minis though, a new i5 is tempting - the main bottlenecks with my 2012 machine is image export from LR (this can always be faster, right?), and effect/transition rendering and video export from FCP (I don't do enough serious FCP work to warrant buying an iMac Pro).
 

bigfatipod

macrumors regular
Sep 22, 2011
229
87
Me personally...
At this point I would not go with the 2012. Yes, it still is a great box. But the base 2018 has some significant benefits. 8gb ram and 128gb ssd is obviously not ideal, i know.
But I played with this model in the store and it was quite good. Refurbished price is also lower.

I have a 2012 quad and think it’s great, but I also spend the effort to max it out in 2016. Today, I probably would not have done that and instead put it towards a 2018.

This isn’t my most cohesive and best post in favor of a 2018 but I’m short on time and I wanted to give one vote towards the newer model.
 
  • Like
Reactions: loby

Beachguy

macrumors 65816
Nov 23, 2011
1,007
402
Florida, USA
Looking at buying a used 2012 Mac mini i5 and upgrading the RAM and the HD to a 500GB FLASH Drive. After this upgrade its $200 - $275 less that entry level i3 Mac mini 2018.

Worth it in 2019 vs but a 2018 mini?

For online school work mostly, video watching, internet, MS Office type apps., some 2D graphics apps.
Honestly, I haven't done enough shopping comparisons to give a full answer, but I can tell you that the machine I'm on right now- in many ways, my "daily driver" is a 2011 entry level Mini with an SSD and 8GB RAM. I use it for very similar reasons and it performs just fine for me. Rarely is there any hesitation (unless I really load it down) and it runs VMWare with a VM comfortably. It was unusuable with a spinning disk, but with the SSD, it's great. A 2012 should be a notch better. My only regret is this is now an obsoleted Mac by Apple. I am unsure of the 2012 version- my 2012 MBP (i7) is not, though it is likely nearing the end.

I would say, based on my own experiences, that if you get a great deal on it, grab it. But, as much as I love my 2011 Mini, I also would have to say if it is NOT a great deal, keep shopping. There is no simple answer to that. That 2012 is very much capable of handling the work you described. My 2011 handles it all VERY easily.
 

NoNig

macrumors newbie
Mar 2, 2014
27
4
Worth it in 2019 vs but a 2018 mini?
I have that exact setup and I'm considering upgrading to the 2018 Mac Mini.
The spec of my machine:
2.5 GHz Core i5-3210M (2c/4t)
16 GB DDR3 RAM
500 GB Samsung 840 EVO

It has been my trusty daily driver since 2014 where I bought it used in mint condition.

My usage consist mostly of:
- mail/web
- iTunes 'server' (network sharing to out AppleTV)
- Adobe CC (mostly Photoshop, but also Premier Pro, After Effects and Audition)
- coding (java and javascript)

My new primary is a 2017 13 MacBook Pro, the entry-model with a 2.3 GHz Core i5 7360U (2c/4t), 8 GB DDR3 RAM and 256 GB SSD. My biggest regret has been not upgrading to 16 Gigs of RAM at time of purchase, since the integrated graphics eats up 1.5 GB, which leaves about 6.5 Gigs for the rest. That goes against me and not the machine itself of course.

Anywho.

So, why am I considering upgrading?

I feel the machine has begun to show its age. The hyper threaded dual core in my MacBook Pro is faster and I'm certain to some degree that the only thing holding me back is the 8 Gigs of RAM in the MacBook Pro vs. the 16 Gigs in the Mini.

I have found myself the content with the limitations of the MacBook Pro (mostly the RAM, again), since the rest of the experience is so much better than the Mini.

If it was me I would consider the 2012 Mini a 'dead end' path. The computer might work fine and all that, but at the same time; it's 7 years old by now. The deal had to be reaaaaallly great, if I had to jump on a 2012 Mac Mini in 2019 ;)