Mac Mini Buyers remorse: what to buy this time?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by DaniMonrovia, Aug 3, 2019.

  1. DaniMonrovia macrumors newbie


    Aug 3, 2019
    Sunny California
    Hi everyone, and apologies in advanced for the long post.
    5 years ago I bought the Mac mini after my husband enjoyed his so much. The machine I got was late 2014 MacMini, 1.4ghz intel core 5, 4gb 1600 MHz DDR3

    It’s a nightmare, always has been, and I’ve just put up with it for 4 years. Slowest thing I’ve ever owned. I wait several minutes for web pages to open. God forbid I run safari and pages at the same time.

    Prior to that I had the MacBook Unibody, around 2010 or so... and prior to that I had an iMac in the early 2000’s. Also have a 2nd gen iPad.

    Admittedly, I went low end with this Mac, due to circumstances, but since every Mac product I’d ever used before was quality and worked as expected I figured I didn’t need to pay a premium. Leave it to me to buy a Mac that can’t be sped up with more ram.

    Now I’m gun-shy to order another computer, either used or new, I’m not sure what specs I need.

    Can someone give me a little guidance. I’m considering another MacMini and also the iMac. I don’t need an iMac, but if it has faster speed then that’s what I want.

    The computer is used by me and my kids.
    Heavy surfing, processing invoices, Adobe, writing using Mac apps, photos.
    I’d like to be able to edit home movies.

    Kids use it for coding, fortnight (fml), Minecraft.

    I was hoping for refurbished, and if I buy it I’d like the ability to upgrade it at a later date.

    Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions!

    Attached Files:

  2. ChrisChaval, Aug 3, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2019

    ChrisChaval macrumors 6502a


    Aug 30, 2016
    I own the same model and what it slows down most (apart from the 4 gb of ram) is the internal spinning hard drive.

    Instead of opening the mini and replacing it with a SSD, I decided to boot MacOS from an external SSD connected via USB3. That alone made it much faster and you could keep the mini for the less demanding tasks while getting something new for heavy lifting, like editing videos and such

    The minis have been refreshed last year in October (along with higher entry prices), as has been very recently the Macbook pro 13 inch, if you want portability. I think the new MacBook Pro 13 inch is great value (not considering the keyboard maybe ... )

    I do know much about the iMac but the fact that the entry machines still come with a spinning hard drive would be be reason enough for me to not consider them. If I remember correctly they are glued together and so it not easy to open them in order to replace the drive (you could always boot from an external SSD though)

    Here is a link to the MR buyers guide:

    For video editing you also can consider getting a PC, paying a lot less for a more powerful machine
  3. netnewswireuser macrumors member

    Jan 2, 2017
    Any current iMac or Mac Mini (even the entry-level ones) will do the trick, they are much better spec'd than your AWFUL Late 2014 Mac Mini. I think the entry level Retina iMac (the 21.5" 4K one) is the best option because it has a discrete GPU and Fortnite/Minecraft will run pretty good on it.

    Regarding the Late 2014 Mac Mini, I have the same model and I had exactly the same problems... It's a very bad product, not enough RAM, not enough CPU and awfully performing hard disk. BTW performance improves a lot if you connect an external Thunderbolt (or USB3) SSD drive and you boot and run MacOS from it... obviously you will have to have the external disk always connected to the Mac Mini and it still be a little bit slow compared to current Macs but, hey, at least you can use it as second computer connected to the TV or media server... better than trashing it.
  4. DaniMonrovia thread starter macrumors newbie


    Aug 3, 2019
    Sunny California
    --- Post Merged, Aug 4, 2019 ---
    “ to boot MacOS from an external SSD connected via USB3”

    Is this something I can do myself? Or would I need to see an Apple specialist or something?
    --- Post Merged, Aug 4, 2019 ---
    Thanks both of you for giving me a solution and also answering my questions!
  5. smirking macrumors 68020


    Aug 31, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    The hard drive is what's holding you back. If your demands are modest, just about any Mac made in the last 10 years if equipped with an SSD should be sufficient.
  6. ChrisChaval macrumors 6502a


    Aug 30, 2016
    sure you can (just back-up all your data before you do so)

    you can either get an SSD complete with USB 3 enclosure or you buy SSD and cable/enclosure separately. here is a link to a post discussing enclosures (there are more options though):

    you do a time machine backup of your current MacOS partition on an external media or separate partition, connect the new drive reboot, select the boot drive:

    and do a restore of the time machine backup you did before

    once MacOS and all data stored on your HDD has been installed / recovered, you may format the old MacOS partition on the internal HDD ore the entire disk

    please remember: back up your data before you do this
  7. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    I'd say that the iMacs, especially the 5k, are the best bang per buck that Apple offers today if - and only if - you want a 4k or 5k display and are happy with an all-in-one design.

    The new Mac Minis' problem is (a) the huge cost of getting a decent amount of internal storage and (b) the feeble integrated GPU that isn't really up to driving 4k/5k displays - might be OK if you're happy with a "pre-retina" display or a single 21" UHD display that is optimal in 'looks like 1080p' mode . Certainly, don't get the base 8G RAM in a Mini if you're planning on driving a 4k display (the iGPU needs RAM for video memory).

    Wouldn't touch any of the current Mac laptops until either (a) they've retired the butterfly keyboard or (b) the latest revision of the keyboard has passed the test of time.
  8. iluvmacs99 macrumors regular

    Apr 9, 2019
    Actually, my sister owns the same computer as yours but has 8GB of ram and a larger hard drive and have no problems with the machine being fast, albeit after it had booted up.

    1, Lots of ram (16Gb RAM to begin with) 4GB is just too small for your needs. What slows it down a lot is the web browser, especially if you are using Chrome. Chrome is a resource beast. Safari is better. When you have a lot of tabs open, you need RAM to store them and if you have other applications open, more RAM will be consumed so your computer is struggling for memory space. It then had to swap in and out memory back to your hard drive as it juggles for tight memory spaces slowing your computer down immensely. 4GB is a base memory Apple offered because it kept the cost of the computer down a lot and worked fine in the past. Problem is, today's software and operating system demands a lot more ram than 4GB of the past and the small 500Gb HD as video clips get better due to 4K. And 4K video is more demanding than 1080pHD as it has 4x more data.

    2, A large hard drive. The hard drive it came with is fine if you are the only user. When you share your computer with your kids, they can use the drive to store stuff that can max the drive. Ideally, you should always leave about 20% hard drive space empty for memory paging. Meaning that if the computer needs to swap memory out, then it saves that on your hard drive. If your hard drive is getting pretty full however, it will take even longer to swap them out, thus causing your machine to grind to a halt.
    You can get a SSD in place of a HD, but a big 1Tb or 2Tb SSD is more expensive than a 1Tb or 2Tb hard drive. And you would need that big as you are sharing with your kids; so each user would have 500Gb x how many kids you have shared and provision 20% leaving it free for paging needs.

    3, The internal GPU in any Mac Mini is really meant to deal only with 1080pHD videos. Some light 4K editing is fine, but any major 4K editing will need an eGPU (Graphics Processor) will tax any mac. And video editing is not meant to be done only with just 1 drive. You need more than 1 drive or have a really big hard drive. As I said earlier; 4K video is 4x more data than 1080pHD, so you would eventually need a capable GPU to deal with 4K video editing reasonably well.

    Unfortunately if you're on a tight budget, you need to focus on what your immediate needs are, because to get to where you would be comfortable with a Mac would be a system that would cost more than $499. You will need to provision at least $1000 to $1500 to get a decent system that can deal with your current needs.

    You can buy used. A Mac Mini 2012 Core i7 with 16Gb and maybe a 2Tb drive (either SSD/HD) would be something that can help you save some money. It's still a fast computer, but it's not going to be $499 if that's all you can afford.

    Hope this helps.
  9. DaniMonrovia thread starter macrumors newbie


    Aug 3, 2019
    Sunny California

    I DO have a bigger budget than $499 so your suggestions are helpful and provide a good direction for me. Thank you!

    That said, will weigh the options, and may go for the external SSD for now, and see how that works.

    You all have been very helpful!

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8 August 3, 2019