Mac Mini 2012 occationally stutters

KANDAQ

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 6, 2016
6
2
Refurbed Mac Mini late 2012 i5 2.5GHz
8GB x 2 Kingston PC3L 12800 RAM
Primary drive - Kingston 480GB A400 SSD
Secondary drive - Seagate 2TB HDD
Official Apple DVI to VGA Adapter
MacOS Mojave 10.14.5 (reinstalled ML through internet recovery and directly upgraded to Mojave)
Connected to router using CAT6 LAN cable

Hello all,

I’m very new to Mac and this Mac Mini is my very first. I have used MBA and MBP before but both were borrowed rather than owned.

There is this sometimes irritating problem I face where the whole system will stutter for somewhere between 2-5 seconds for no reason. This can happen as often as every 10 minutes, or sometimes it takes hours before it stutter. Sometimes with the beachball and sometimes it’s just the mouse cursor. During this time, iTunes playback will also freeze. With all music downloaded from Music, it will resume once the system is back to normal. If my music are streamed, it’ll pause and I have to go back to iTunes to resume it. Spotify desktop app, YouTube, Plex Media Player playback does not freeze during this time but everything else becomes unresponsive.

I use my Mini purely for productivity, browsing and media consumption. Nothing heavy.

Troubleshooting done:
  1. Opened Activity Monitor and stared at it while doing nothing with only iTunes running and playing. During the freeze there’s no spike in processor (utilisation below 10%), memory pressure green (total used around 8GB), disk IO extremely low, network packets also extremely low).
  2. Fresh boot with no startup items. Repeat step 1 above.
  3. CPU temperature around 60 Celsius, storage temperature around 33 Celsius.
  4. No USB plugged in except HP Windows keyboard. Logitech mouse connected through Bluetooth.
  5. Removed secondary drive and use only the primary SSD.
If there are anyone out there who don’t have this problem, can you share me your machine specs? I’m wondering if it could be due to the Kingston SSD and RAM as all forums recommend the Samsung EVO SSD and Crucial RAM. Both recycled from my Windows PC as I’m avoiding investing more $$$ unless I’m 100% sure.

Or, if you had this problem before and found out the root cause, appreciate if you could share your fix as well.

Although my Mini is already 7 years old, it’s leaps ahead of any Windows PC/Laptops I have used both at home and at work. It’s very responsive and snappy as though it’s brand new, with most apps loading in less than 3 seconds, while MS Office apps took up to 8 seconds. Chrome loads instantly compared to more than 5 seconds on Windows. And I absolutely love TimeMachine. Best consumer backup service ever!

Power consumption is absolutely minimal. It’s 15 watts as I’m typing this. It’ll go down to 8 watts if I leave it idle long enough. And 2 watts during sleep.
 

nollimac

macrumors 6502
Oct 10, 2013
261
13
I would back up to an external drive then do a fresh clean install of your current OS or wait for Catalina. I have had my 2012 Mac Mini since 2013 and it had been on (server) 24/7/365, never sleeps, stays cool with SSD...the only difference to yours is I used Crucial memory...never has a problem.
 

treekram

macrumors 68000
Nov 9, 2015
1,849
401
Honolulu HI
You should try running in safe mode. Running in safe mode will disable 3rd-party background programs that get started automatically.
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201262

You can try different browsers or avoid (for testing purposes) any ad-rich sites (which is probably 95% of the sites) and see if that makes a difference. If the stuttering happens while view a video on the web, it could be caused by video decoding issues. If you log into iCloud, you can try not being logged into iCloud and see if it occurs.

You can try resetting the NVRAM and SMC controller. I don't think there's anything specific in what you've described that points to this being a problem but it's easy to do, although you can lose some settings by doing a NVRAM reset (read the article on what gets reset).
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204063

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201295
 

KANDAQ

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 6, 2016
6
2
:(

Reset NVRAM. SMC Controller reset done many times seeing that for desktop macs it's just a matter of cutting off the power.

Safemode is no good coz it's very unresponsive without hardware acceleration so I was unable to isolate anything.

I then proceeded to format my SSD and reinstall Mojave from scratch without restoring from TimeMachine. Kept it empty and tested. Problem persisted until now. I had 2 freezes of around 10 seconds while typing this reply. I really wish there are more steps I can take to isolate the cause.

Nollimac, mine is set to run 24/7 as well as it doubles as a media server. I have plex media server running and will stream from here to my ChromeCast plugged into my TV. I won't know if it freezes unless if I have itunes playing where the music will cut off during the freeze and resume once it's back around 10 seconds later. I've had this cheap Logitech speaker which I used to regret buying because it really sucked on my former Windows PC. But lo and behold, it sounds awesome now that it's plugged into my Mac. Strange thing huh.

Anyways, can you help me test this; have iTunes play back on your mac mini server and observe if yours freezes from time to time? I'm still wondering if it could be due to either the RAM or my SSD. Catalina is still 2 months away so can't wait for that.

Hope you can help.

Thanks.
 

nollimac

macrumors 6502
Oct 10, 2013
261
13
Last edited:

treekram

macrumors 68000
Nov 9, 2015
1,849
401
Honolulu HI
:(

Reset NVRAM. SMC Controller reset done many times seeing that for desktop macs it's just a matter of cutting off the power.

Safemode is no good coz it's very unresponsive without hardware acceleration so I was unable to isolate anything.

I then proceeded to format my SSD and reinstall Mojave from scratch without restoring from TimeMachine. Kept it empty and tested. Problem persisted until now. I had 2 freezes of around 10 seconds while typing this reply. I really wish there are more steps I can take to isolate the cause.

Nollimac, mine is set to run 24/7 as well as it doubles as a media server. I have plex media server running and will stream from here to my ChromeCast plugged into my TV. I won't know if it freezes unless if I have itunes playing where the music will cut off during the freeze and resume once it's back around 10 seconds later. I've had this cheap Logitech speaker which I used to regret buying because it really sucked on my former Windows PC. But lo and behold, it sounds awesome now that it's plugged into my Mac. Strange thing huh.

Anyways, can you help me test this; have iTunes play back on your mac mini server and observe if yours freezes from time to time? I'm still wondering if it could be due to either the RAM or my SSD. Catalina is still 2 months away so can't wait for that.

Hope you can help.

Thanks.
What type of hardware acceleration are you doing? Is it app-specific hardware acceleration you're using? If so, which app(s) are you switching on acceleration? I see that Plex has hardware acceleration (I'm not familiar with Plex, I'm just relying on the online documentation). Is that what you're talking about?
 

KANDAQ

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 6, 2016
6
2
Hey guys,

I decided to redo again from scratch. No difference in my method, but I noticed that in each iteration the mail app would pop up by itself unless if I minimise it rather than hiding. I read in other forums that it's due to Google account, which the configuration have been imported from iCloud. So I removed it and re-added manually. I also noticed that the Wifi automatically connects to my home router, which the credentials were also imported from iCloud. So I manually removed from auto connect and stick to LAN. I don't know if any of these was the cause but my system is now running smoothly now with only occasional iTunes playback stutter while doing heavy stuffs like running TimeMachine backup, or loading large applications like Adobe Bridge + Camera Raw. But the stutter no longer lasts minimum 10 seconds but much shorter.

I've completed my build with Plex Server running natively, while Sonarr, Radarr, Transmission, Jackett are running through Docker.

Now I'm typing this reply while listening to uninterrupted music and everything is great.

Will monitor for a few days but I'm confident that this issue is now resolved.

Thanks all for the feedback. Appreciate it.

PS: The scheduled Sleep/Wake works flawlessly. I was never able to get this working when I was using Windows.
 

KANDAQ

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 6, 2016
6
2
Sooooo, I spoke too soon. The problem is widespread with random freeze happening up to 10 seconds every few minutes. iTunes playback will also freeze during this time.

As I continue to research this issue, I stumbled upon this post:
https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3264954

Upon reading this, I took out the Kingston SSD, put back the old spinning drive and restored TimeMachine there. Although everything slowed to a crawl with the beach ball appearing very often, iTunes playback never froze even once. I then went to the local shop and got a Samsung 860 EVO 500GB SSD and restored TimeMachine there.

It’s now been 3 days without any incident. iTunes playback never freeze anymore and I even tried to push the limit by launching everything I have just to see if I could freeze iTunes playback but that did not happen. photoanalysisd process took 2 days to complete analysing my 9k+ photos collection with 50% processor usage but no lagging with everything else.

I am now 100% absolutely certain that the problem is fixed. Seems that Apple + Kingston SSD (whatever model) is a big NO NO. The irony being that it was the very first thing that I suspected and should have isolated that first. That SSD is now in a USB enclosure and I’ll just use it as a portable drive.

On another note, I’ve installed Macs Fan Control so the temperature no longer goes above 80 Celsius. when before this it would sometimes spike close to 100.

Have also force enabled AAC bluetooth codec to use with my Sony 1000XM3.
 
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