Mac Mini 2012 Quad Core: help, it feels slooow

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by xist, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. xist macrumors newbie

    Dec 6, 2013
    Hi, I'm a long time Mac user. Last week I bought a new Mac Mini 2.3 i7 1Tb Quad Core.
    Now, having left the OS X platform years ago when my good old G5 started feeling pretty old for more modern systems and programs, and having used a basic Asus notebook in the meantime, I was really expecting the Mac Mini to fly. Well, to be honest I'm quite puzzled right now: it just feels it's lagging so often, that it doesn't feel that different to my 10 year old G5 running 10.5.
    Things like opening System Preferences take an awful long time, often just going to the upper menu and clicking on things I get the dreadful spinning ball, and in general the machine (especially considering it's basically new, I didn't even install anything serious on it yet, like Logic Pro, etc) feels definitely not responsive enough for a 2012 quad core. I know, no SSD and still only the stock 4gb of Ram, but tell me this can't be true. I did some quick check with Disk First Aid and everything looks ok, I fixed permissions too.
    I unchecked the "put hd to sleep when possible", but no improvement. I tried also a safe boot, but that didn't tell me much. Of course the machine feels a tad snappier, but it's hard to compare.
    I was also surprised to see how slow and laggy Photoshop CS 6 felt (I'm just trying a 30 days demo), I mean, we're talking of a Quad Core. It's funny 'cause I was expecting it to be day and night to my G5 and that crappy notebook of a few years ago, and it doesn't feel like that. I know, apples and oranges, but still...
    So these days I've just used things like Chrome (terribly RAM hungry, I know), Spotify, Open Office here and there, Text Wrangler, things like these...
    Oh, the machine came with 10.8.3, now I'm on 10.9, but to be honest I didn't experience significant differences (actually I updated hoping it would have solved the problem).
    So, before I return this Mac Mini, please tell me about your real life experiences with a similar configuration, and give me any advice you may have. I'd be really grateful, I don't want to end up buying another PC :)
  2. SBA macrumors member

    Aug 10, 2008
    I would go to an apple store and play with either the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro and see how the speed of those feels. Open a bunch of apps up, scroll through some lists, tweak the system prefs, etc.

    If they feel fast, then I'm gonna guess the issue with your machine is the pokey HDD.

    If those don't feel fast to you, then you might not have bought the right computer for your needs.
  3. Miltz macrumors 6502a

    Sep 6, 2013
    New York
    My new base model MBA 2013 flys and I have a i7 2700K 256GB SSD 16GB windows 7 PC to compare it to. Get a SSD. PERIOD.
  4. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Just buy an SSD and mount it in the empty bay. The HD of Mini's has always been horrible. Indeed, a G5 3,5 inch HD will probably beat it in the feel of snappiness. With a SSD, it is a great fast machine.
  5. costabunny macrumors 68020


    May 15, 2008
    Weymouth, UK
    When i put an inter 520 240gb ssd in my quad min it really became a new machine -so snappy indeed.
  6. mvmanolov macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2013
    i second this. the SSD will make a world of a difference and will really unbottle some of the mini's real capabilities. If $$$ is a constraint i'd even suggest a mid-term SSD solution 64GB SSD will hold all your system files and while much slower than a 256 drive it will still be much faster than your HDD and you can get those for as low as $40...
  7. barkmonster macrumors 68020


    Dec 3, 2001
    I put an SSD in my old G4 before getting a 2009 Mac Mini and it sped up everything. Once I replaced the DVD in my Mac Mini with the SSD, it flies and the HDD didn't. Put it this way, a HDD, and 5400rpm one at that, will never offer the instant speed of an SSD and a fast CPU let down by a slow HDD doesn't mean your system is slower than it should be, it means the slowest link between interacting with the interface and where the OS and applications reside is causing the problems.

    Even a fast 7200rpm HDD with a large cache is slow compared with an SSD. SSDs handle 100Mb/s regardless of filesize and the closest to the seek time HDDs are measured in is IOPs which often number in 100,000 per second or more where as even a "fast" HDD will only offer single figure track to track seek time of several ms.

    Get the Mac Mini kit SATA cable kit off Amazon and add an SSD to in the spare bay, you won't regret it. There's plently of companies willing to charge a fortune for a flex-cable and a few screws yet the whole kit including tools is under £20.
  8. fastlanephil macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2007
    I tried out a Mac Mini 2.6 i7 with the fusion drive and it was noticeably faster than my 2011 2.7 i5 iMac. Especially when loading applications.

    The fusion drive is the way to go unless your going to install a third party SSD.

    It will also have better resale value for sure.
  9. Mojo1, Dec 9, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2013

    Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    Instead of suggesting an SSD upgrade (the current "must have" among the hardware-spec obsessive…) for a brand new Mac I would ask why this Mac Mini doesn't seem a LOT faster.

    I have a 2012 i7 Mac Mini with the stock mechanical hard drive. When I first got it the Mini was noticeably fast. Compared to the 2006 Core2Duo iMac it was replacing it was a Speed Demon. (It should be since it's at least three times faster on paper…) It's also faster than my 2011 13" MBP with an i5. I ran it for awhile with the stock 4GB RAM before upgrading to 16GB.

    I've been using this Mini for a year now. I do image editing with Aperture and Photoshop, I keep a bunch of apps open in the background and it is far from pokey. I know that an SSD will speed up certain operations but I haven't seen a need for an upgrade. This Mini is more than fast enough for my needs.

    Depending on what apps you are running it could be the 4GB RAM; your mention of Photoshop CS6 raised my eyebrows… I found 4GB RAM to be sufficient for basic things but once you begin opening RAM-hungry apps 4GB just isn't going to cut it.

    You can use Activity Monitor or something like iStatMenus to see what might be slowing down your Mini. If it's a lack of RAM it will be readily apparent…

    Even with a stock drive you shouldn't see a beach ball when opening System Preferences or a slow response time when clicking menu items. There is something going on with your Mac and it could turn out to have a hardware problem.

    Come to the Mac Rumors forum with just about any question/problem and sure enough someone will insist that the answer to all your problems is an SSD. An SSD isn't the answer to everything and it's unwise to spend more money on your Mac Mini without properly trouble-shooting it first.

    If you wind up thinking that it is defective be sure to return it before your return-period runs out.

    If you do the things I suggested and still have questions you might have better luck at the official Apple forum. People over there aren't so quick to answer every question with "Get an SSD."
  10. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    use activity monitor is the correct thing to do. first look to see what is wrong . i can tell you 4gb ram is not much see if you are maxing it. look at my screens same machine 16gb ram stock hdd and still fast with a lot running

    Attached Files:

  11. Jambalaya macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2013
    I have a 2009 Mini and it has none of the issues you describe. It does have 8GB ram but opening system preferences on an unloaded machine should be free of any spinning balls.
  12. TahoeBlue macrumors member

    Apr 4, 2012
    I have a late 2012 MacMini 2.6 i7 8GB RAM w/ fusion drive. I don't experience the same things you posted about, and I highly agree with putting more RAM in it.
  13. xlii macrumors 68000


    Sep 19, 2006
    Millis, Massachusetts
    Use activity monitor (located under applications/utilities). Click on the memory button and down at the bottom look at swap used. Swapping a lot of stuff to disk slows down your machine. The more memory you have the less swap you will use and the faster your machine will be. In the note I am replying to you see he has 16GB of memory and is using 0 swap. At the price of memory I would recommend getting 8 or 16gb and don't even think about it.

    On my 2012 mini I have 16GB of memory and a 128GB SSD and a 1 TB HDD in a fusion array and it is very fast.
  14. haravikk macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2005
    Could be several things:
    • As Mojo1 and philipma1957 you should check Activity Monitor to see whether RAM is the limiting factor; 4gb is plenty for people using their Mac Minis for browsing and office type stuff, but anything more demanding will really benefit from additional RAM. Actually that's a lie, nearly every Mac will benefit from more RAM regardless of what you're doing, as more RAM means more stuff cached in memory.
    • Do you shut-down your Mac Mini when not using it, or put it to sleep? Laptops can potentially seem faster because they will hibernate when you turn them off, meaning they can reload everything into RAM, including preloaded applications and files. This usually adds a bit of a startup delay (though not actually that much) but means the system is more responsive as soon as it's reopened and is also at a ready state sooner, rather than you having to re-open anything or wait for apps to go through their own start up sequence.
      A Mac from a cold shutdown will feel a lot slower because nothing has been preloaded back into RAM yet, and has to start almost from fresh (though potentially using Resume to return to a last known state). For a desktop Mac though you are usually better off just putting them to sleep; Mac Minis and iMacs sip tiny amounts of power when idle, and wake up a lot more quickly than they start up.
    • Presumably your new Mac is running Mavericks if it was purchased only recently. This could result in a number of issues, as people have noticed spinning beach balls with no obvious cause, jittery scrolling in certain applications and other minor Mavericks bugs that could make the machine feel a lot slower, even if it actually isn't. It's the age old issue of the first adopter, except that people buying new machines don't expect to be running an OS that still has rough edges; Apple really needs hold back OS updates on their hardware IMO.

    These are all things to consider before you go shoving an SSD in, as it's not exactly a straightforward process, not difficult exactly, but may void your Applecare coverage. It's also an expensive option that may not help a huge amount if RAM is where your bottleneck lies, or if OS bugs are the culprit.
  15. Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    The OP upgraded to Mavericks from Mountain Lion hoping that would improve things, so we can cross that off the list.

    I agree with you that being an early adopter of a major OS upgrade is fraught with danger. I usually wait until the .3 version or when it has become apparent that the upgrade dust has settled...
  16. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    You absolutely are not set up for Photoshop.

    You have a great set up for upgrading and should do so accordingly -

    1) swap out the RAM. Given the price go for 16 and max it out.
    2) consider an SSD and probably something like a Samsung EVO would be a great bang for your buck if you get the 500gb.

    3) learn how to set up Photoshop properly. There are settings that should take advantage of the upgrade.

    I work with a quad 2.0 Mini. I do CS6 Photoshop and Capture One Pro. The system after similar upgrades as listed above now is far faster. If you opt for SSD, consider downloading "Trim Enabler" to get the most out of your SSD.
    Alternative mechanical drives - Seagate Momentus XT 500 and of course the Western Digital Black drives (750 may be phased out but available but if not try the 500).

    Btw, you don't have to take the Mini entirely apart as many videos show. Check on youtube for how to swap out the drive and find the ones that don't take it entirely apart. I believe it is bottom plate, six screws, cowl, metal grate, fan, SATA connector for the most part and of course the 2 screws on the side of the drive inside (guides). It is not too difficult and and requires minimal (but correct) hex and tork 'screwdrivers.'
  17. Ubele macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2008
    I have the same model Mac mini as the OP, also running Mavericks, and it's considerably faster than the 2008 MBP it replaced (which I still keep around for web surfing and Word documents, so I have a driect comparison). I immediately upgraded the RAM to 16 GB, though, so I didn't get a chance to compare the speed to the stock 4 GB configuration. I'd intended to get an SSD to create a Fusion drive, but, so far, it's felt plenty fast enough with the HDD. I use Aperture, Photoshop Elements, a couple other photography programs, Mac the Ripper, Handbrake, Logic, Word, and various other programs, and I often have several open at once.
  18. Lesser Evets macrumors 68040

    Lesser Evets

    Jan 7, 2006
    Were you using a G5 multi-CPU?

    If so, there is NO single-processor computer that will ever feel as snappy as a dual. The high-end minis and iMacs are getting closer and nicer, but they won't be a dual CPU. Things will jam and lag in all the single CPUs while you could still run around on the second processor.

    Benchmarks mean something almost unrelated to actual usage, so don't let those marks fool you. I own a mini which is "better" than my old 1,1 and yet my 1,1 is still smoother and quicker in most everything aside from certain graphics.

    Upgrade the RAM and to SSD and see if it helps. Otherwise, get a dual CPU monster before they get yanked from the store.
  19. SoCalReviews, Dec 10, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2013

    SoCalReviews macrumors 6502a

    Dec 31, 2012
    Adding RAM is by far the easiest and best upgrade. Remember that these Minis with the Intel GPUs use shared system memory for video memory. If you only have 4GB stock RAM then you in fact only have approximately 3.5GB RAM (when 512MB is utilized by the GPU) available for running the system and the applications. Increasing the shared system RAM can also increase your video memory size which enables more buffer space for switching and and viewing different screens. Also because OS X by design encourages the user to leave applications open the RAM gets used up quickly. The SSD helps when the system pages out when no more RAM is available but I don't believe using the SSD for virtual memory is faster than when the system simply accesses available system RAM. Therefore an 8GB to 16GB RAM upgrade is theoretically the most effective solution for increasing what you experience as the the working speed of your system. Adding an SSD would be the next logical upgrade for the Mini.
  20. Larry-K macrumors 68000

    Jun 28, 2011
  21. cinealta macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    Something is wrong with it. My 2009 Mini with 4 Gb RAM and 5400 RPM spinner is very snappy on both Mountain Lion (10.8.5) and Yosemite. You should never get a spinning beach ball opening a window (eg System Preferences or Finder menu). I wonder if your 5400 HDD is having an issue? Do you hear any clicking noises? Your experience is not normal.
  22. grandM macrumors 65816


    Oct 14, 2013
    Actually I had the same with my mini (also late 2012 i7). If I used Xcode it was totally frustrating. I did not put in a SSD because I found it still quite expensive and was a bit scared of doing it myself. I did put in 16GB RAM and now it feels good. Sure a SSD will be installed some day and it will make a nice difference but in your case I'd start by upgrading the RAM. It's less risky (be careful though pulling the sliders apart) and your problems will disappear.
  23. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    No SSD, low RAM, and a relatively low clock speed for tasks that are single threaded. Not a great GPU either..
  24. Occamsrazr macrumors 6502

    Apr 26, 2012
    Could I ask why you bought the old model mini? The 2014 model just came out and is a huge upgrade over the 2012 model - which is almost two years old at this point.

    I just got my 2014 mac mini and I can open system preferences (with lots of other large apps open) instantaneously.
  25. xylitol, Oct 30, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2014

    xylitol macrumors 6502

    Nov 2, 2013
    check the date of the original post :)

    (and what is "the 2014 model" that is supposed to be "a huge upgrade" when there's no 2014 quad core at all?)

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