Mac mini advice

xheathen

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 5, 2010
300
17
Hey all,

I currently run a 2011 mid level Mac mini. I manually went in a added a 128 gb Samsung SSD about a year ago and then dropped the 500 gb drive into the 2nd slot.

My issue is that while it's still super fast for regular stuff, I'm seeing a good amount of struggle when I work on really large photoshop files and the other issue is the 128 is starting to fill up at is point.

So I'm just trying to see wht makes the most sense. I don't game much and I do web development primarily so I'm using adobe apps, coding, browsers, etc. I feel like the 3 options that make sense are:

1 - Keep my current model, buy a 1tb drive and a new larger ssd or just kept the 128 and make make a DIY fusion.

2 - sell my current gen and buy the quad and just get the fusion model. I honestly don't WANT to go into the mini if I don't have to but I'll do it if it's beneficial to put a larger SSD in it :)

3 - suck it up and look at one of the new generation or see what the Mac pro line has to offer.

Im leaning towards #2 because I feel like it will solve the issue I have with photoshop handling larger files better. But will it really? I just don't quite know if the quad has that much more performance in that area but it logically seems that it would.
 

fa8362

macrumors 65816
Jul 7, 2008
1,343
54
If you have 16 GB of RAM and still have problems in Photoshop, I'm guessing you have too many other programs running at the same time.

Which operating system are you running? Which Photoshop version are you using? When you're using Photoshop, which other programs and/or operating systems are open?
 

paulrbeers

macrumors 68040
Dec 17, 2009
3,960
120
16 currently so I think maxed there unfortunately.
I'm going to guess you are seeing the "slow downs" when applying filters to large photoshop images? My guess is that the CPU can't keep up (the mid-2011 only had a dual core as you know) and that's your slow down. I mean 16GB SHOULD be enough. Although, if you are using really really big photoshop files then 16GB may not be. I would take a look at Activity Monitor when you are running into these slow downs. Is it your CPU? Is it the memory? Is it the disk caching? If it is the CPU, then you probably need to upgrade to a quad core 2012. If it is a lack of memory, then your best bet is a Mac Pro or 27" iMac (they can use upto 32GB). If it is disk caching/writing, then a larger and faster SSD is your best choice (128GB SSD's are usually about 1/2 to 2/3 as fast as their 256GB bigger brothers due to fewer memory channels).

Unfortunately, no one can give you a true diagnosis based on what you are presenting us with because we lack the fine detail of what your bottleneck really is.....
 

Omnius

macrumors 6502a
Jul 23, 2012
537
3
I'm going to guess you are seeing the "slow downs" when applying filters to large photoshop images? My guess is that the CPU can't keep up (the mid-2011 only had a dual core as you know) and that's your slow down. I mean 16GB SHOULD be enough. Although, if you are using really really big photoshop files then 16GB may not be. I would take a look at Activity Monitor when you are running into these slow downs. Is it your CPU? Is it the memory? Is it the disk caching? If it is the CPU, then you probably need to upgrade to a quad core 2012. If it is a lack of memory, then your best bet is a Mac Pro or 27" iMac (they can use upto 32GB). If it is disk caching/writing, then a larger and faster SSD is your best choice (128GB SSD's are usually about 1/2 to 2/3 as fast as their 256GB bigger brothers due to fewer memory channels).

Unfortunately, no one can give you a true diagnosis based on what you are presenting us with because we lack the fine detail of what your bottleneck really is.....
Everything paul said should be listened to.

In addition, you also said your 128gb SSD is filling up. Can you transfer more data from the SSD to the HD? Having very little free space on the startup drive can result in a big decrease to performance. I would move most of my data from my SSD to my HD to clear up space then see how its performing.

As a rule, on a smaller drive like your 128gb SSD, I would try to keep about a minimum level of 25-33% of the drive clear when performing regular maintenance. The SSD should contain the OS, Apps you want/need to perform, and active projects only.

Also, do you have trim enabled on your SSD?
 

fig

macrumors 6502a
Jun 13, 2012
916
70
Austin, TX
Everything paul said should be listened to.

In addition, you also said your 128gb SSD is filling up. Can you transfer more data from the SSD to the HD? Having very little free space on the startup drive can result in a big decrease to performance. I would move most of my data from my SSD to my HD to clear up space then see how its performing.

As a rule, on a smaller drive like your 128gb SSD, I would try to keep about a minimum level of 25-33% of the drive clear when performing regular maintenance. The SSD should contain the OS, Apps you want/need to perform, and active projects only.

Also, do you have trim enabled on your SSD?
This actually hits on something I was thinking could be a problem, that if you're working on really large Photoshop files you could be filling up your scratch disk.

The faster CPU in the 2012 Mini would certainly help as well, but that may not be your bottleneck issue here.
 

xheathen

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 5, 2010
300
17
If you have 16 GB of RAM and still have problems in Photoshop, I'm guessing you have too many other programs running at the same time.

Which operating system are you running? Which Photoshop version are you using? When you're using Photoshop, which other programs and/or operating systems are open?
It's CS5 with Lion.

I don't think it has something to do with too many programs. The files that cause the issue are digital paintings, which are usually a couple gigabytes in size. Any normal smaller stuff I do is fine - I run Illustrator, PS, spotify, about 20 windows in 2 browsers and a myriad of other stuff and it's all fine. It's just when I handle large files I'm just getting to the limitations of the machine is what I'm thinking (even closing everything but PS it just struggles through).

I was hoping the quad would eliminate the issue. My quad core PC handles it pretty decent.

Good suggestions all around.

I switched the scratch disk to the 500gb drive, which still has about 200 free, but it's the standard HD instead of the SSD. So I'm sure it could be faster.

With all the apps/OS installed the drive is at about 90gb. I think everything else is on the HD, so I may just be in a situation where I've hit the ceiling on this particular setup.

Also, do you have trim enabled on your SSD?
Good question.. I'm actually not 100% sure how to tell. I'm assuming since it's a Samsung I'd need to install something to get it function?
 

fa8362

macrumors 65816
Jul 7, 2008
1,343
54
It's CS5 with Lion.

I don't think it has something to do with too many programs. The files that cause the issue are digital paintings, which are usually a couple gigabytes in size. Any normal smaller stuff I do is fine - I run Illustrator, PS, spotify, about 20 windows in 2 browsers and a myriad of other stuff and it's all fine. It's just when I handle large files I'm just getting to the limitations of the machine is what I'm thinking (even closing everything but PS it just struggles through).
Reboot and only open Photoshop. Do not open any other programs. Then open and work on your really large files. Again, don't open any other programs. Not even a web browser.

Let us know what happens.
 

xheathen

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 5, 2010
300
17
Ok - Trim was NOT enabled, so awesome suggestion there - it's now enabled and is working.

And the verdict is: still sluggish, but it kind of seems maybe less so? It's tough to tell. Basically what's happening is dragging large graphic elements across the page, or applying a filter or painting a line with a Wacom tablet on those large scale paintings still just drag (it takes a second for the paint stroke to catch up). Everything is super fast up until that point and then it has to grind through the change. So it still seems like it can't quite keep up on the really large files.

Considered upgrading to 10.8.3 and creating a Fusion Drive?
Yeah I had considered doing this for sure, but I'm a little unclear as to what happens in my scenario.

I've now got the 128gb running all my apps and OS and the HDD has data on it. What occurs when one tries to put them together into one volume? I'm new enough to Mac that maybe there is a merge option that is super easy and I just don't know about :) But I would be quite open to something like that.
 

xheathen

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 5, 2010
300
17
Was it ever working fast for you?
No, not the big files. Everything else is great! But it's just those really big PS files that I have to run on my home PC. I think how hard I normally push it is a testament to how great these systems are.

I mean technically, it WORKS, it's just too sluggish to realistically work on the really large scale files without becoming frustrating.

I was mainly wondering if the quad core would solve that issue, and if not then it's really worth just waiting to see how the next mini looks.
 

blanka

macrumors 68000
Jul 30, 2012
1,549
3
What Samsung did you put in? If it is a Samsung 840 then that is the one to blame, the 128Gb version is about as slow as a 7200rpm drive on write (guess you use that as scratch), and combined with the stock drive 5400rpm for storage of the files, there is some improvement to make.
I have the same machine with 256Gb 830 and 7200 rpm Scorpio 750Gb for storage and it zips through most stuff I throw at it (for example Final cut Pro with the working directories on the Scorpio!).
 

Omnius

macrumors 6502a
Jul 23, 2012
537
3
No, not the big files. Everything else is great! But it's just those really big PS files that I have to run on my home PC. I think how hard I normally push it is a testament to how great these systems are.

I mean technically, it WORKS, it's just too sluggish to realistically work on the really large scale files without becoming frustrating.

I was mainly wondering if the quad core would solve that issue, and if not then it's really worth just waiting to see how the next mini looks.
If you're doing this for a job, you're using the wrong tool. Its starting to sound like you want a mid level mini to run like its a pro doing pro work.

Would a quad core help? Sure. Would even more ram help? Yes (but you wont fit more in a mini). Your SSD is apparently inadequate for your own needs as well. I had thought this was a thread about performance loss/optimization. I'm now of the concern that its about a guy who may need different hardware to do professional work.
 

xheathen

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 5, 2010
300
17
It was the Samsung 830 that I put in. At what point could it be as slow as a 7200 rpm drive? Boot times are literally under 10 seconds. It's really blazing fast for normal operation.

If you're doing this for a job, you're using the wrong tool. Its starting to sound like you want a mid level mini to run like its a pro doing pro work.

Would a quad core help? Sure. Would even more ram help? Yes (but you wont fit more in a mini). Your SSD is apparently inadequate for your own needs as well. I had thought this was a thread about performance loss/optimization. I'm now of the concern that its about a guy who may need different hardware to do professional work.
I apologize if it sounded misleading. I didn't think my initial statement made the indication that it was once handling these just fine and then now it isn't. It's just an overall statement asking what might make sense as a next step to be a major upgrade.

Yes I'm doing it for work, but not really the way you think. My profession is web development and UI design. Those file sizes are all under 100mb and cake to run. Like I mentioned in the original post, I'm typically running 2 browsers with 20+ tabs, coding apps, Illustrator, PS, spotify, outlook, word, excel and a few other odds and ends and I have no problems at all. As a hobby, I do digital painting, and those file sizes are typically just too big to handle on my Mac Mini. So right now I use my PC with a quad core i5 in it. Ideally, I'd like to use my Mini for that, but it all depends on whether or not it's a realistic goal or not.