Mac Mini Buying Advice

Jenafran

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 4, 2014
5
0
Currently have iMac mid-2011 (w 16GB RAM). Thinking of finally upgrading to mac mini. Got a couple of questions.
Not a power user. Safari, MS Office and Quicken are what I usually spend my time in but they are usually all open at once. Not a gamer. Occasionally will use Photoshop Elements for some editing but not that often. So, don't think I'm a power user but am very tired of that spinning rainbow and slow response!!

If SSD drives are so much faster than the old 7200 RPM...do I care about upgrading RAM to 16GB?
Do I care about dedicated video memory?
I store everything in cloud...is 256GB enough for me?

Should I spend the extra $300 on the 3.0GHz 6-core? Would I avoid having to buy a new mac for any longer? The two versions just don't seem to be different enough for my level of use (albiet impatient)? Am I wrong about that?

Thanks in advance for your time and advice.
 

Sarpanch

macrumors member
Jan 12, 2013
84
67
SoCal
Currently have iMac mid-2011 (w 16GB RAM). Thinking of finally upgrading to mac mini. Got a couple of questions.
Not a power user. Safari, MS Office and Quicken are what I usually spend my time in but they are usually all open at once. Not a gamer. Occasionally will use Photoshop Elements for some editing but not that often. So, don't think I'm a power user but am very tired of that spinning rainbow and slow response!!

If SSD drives are so much faster than the old 7200 RPM...do I care about upgrading RAM to 16GB?
Do I care about dedicated video memory?
I store everything in cloud...is 256GB enough for me?

Should I spend the extra $300 on the 3.0GHz 6-core? Would I avoid having to buy a new mac for any longer? The two versions just don't seem to be different enough for my level of use (albiet impatient)? Am I wrong about that?

Thanks in advance for your time and advice.
Given your usage, I would recommend the i3 quad core / 8GB / 128 GB SSD version. You can always add extra storage via USB. However, if your minimum requirement for internal storage is 256GB, then it would make sense to pay an extra 100$ and get the 6 core i5. I would also advise starting off with 8GB RAM. If you experience performance issues due to RAM, you can always add more later.
 

pl1984

Suspended
Oct 31, 2017
2,230
2,603
Given your usage, I would recommend the i3 quad core / 8GB / 128 GB SSD version. You can always add extra storage via USB. However, if your minimum requirement for internal storage is 256GB, then it would make sense to pay an extra 100$ and get the 6 core i5. I would also advise starting off with 8GB RAM. If you experience performance issues due to RAM, you can always add more later.
I second this recommendation.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jenafran

BasicGreatGuy

Contributor
Sep 21, 2012
11,924
10,985
In the middle of several books.
Given your usage, I would recommend the i3 quad core / 8GB / 128 GB SSD version. You can always add extra storage via USB. However, if your minimum requirement for internal storage is 256GB, then it would make sense to pay an extra 100$ and get the 6 core i5. I would also advise starting off with 8GB RAM. If you experience performance issues due to RAM, you can always add more later.
The difference between two based models is $300. Solid advice, though. :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jenafran

Spectrum

macrumors 65816
Mar 23, 2005
1,397
758
Never quite sure
You are in a similar boat as I was (upgrading from 2011 quad i7). I was also getting impatient.
Personally, if you want this new mini to also last 8 years, I would just bite the bullet and get the base model and upgrade to i7 as BTO. RAM you can add later (Price is dropping, and I do think 8GB is a bit tight) and storage can go external via TB3 or USB3 for cheap.

You will never regret having the fastest single core Mac available right now. It is ~2x as fast as your 2011 mini. By contrast, the base model, while great, may not give your the wow factor or longevity you have appreciated from your 2011.
 

iAssimilated

macrumors member
Apr 29, 2018
96
61
PNW
I too agree with Sarpanch. The i5 model will future proof your purchase better than the i3. Adding additional storage is easy enough with an external thunderbolt3 drive (I use a Samsung T5 1TB drive for my iTunes collection as well as my Steam games and have not noticed any performance issues related to it being an external drive). RAM limitations will only come into effect if you are running a lot of programs at the same time. As already stated, you can add more at a later date if needed, but with that said, I bought my mini with the upgraded RAM at the time of purchase because I did not want to go through the hassle of upgrading RAM on a new system (although I do agree it gets pretty expensive past the 16GB upgrade option). The stock Intel UHD Graphics should be good enough for Photoshop Elements usage, but as you eluded to in your post it will take its memory from your RAM.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jenafran

Spectrum

macrumors 65816
Mar 23, 2005
1,397
758
Never quite sure
Depending on what displays you are running, increasing RAM from 8GB definitely speeds up the GPU rendering of macOS. I've clearly seen this on my system.

If you are planning on having external storage anyway, then in my view it makes most sense to get the i7/8GB/128GB which is same price as i5/8GB/256GB.

Then upgrade RAM if you feel GUI is laggy, or you see a lot of swaps and slow down.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jenafran

BasicGreatGuy

Contributor
Sep 21, 2012
11,924
10,985
In the middle of several books.
In regards to the new mini, I am rather surprised that Apple has not made any real attempt (in customer buying literature) to inform customers that with the new T2 chip, they will need to turn off the secure boot option before restoring or reinstalling the OS. If they fail to do that when attempting to installing the OS, they will brick the mini.

Keep that in the back of your mind, OP.

I just purchased the base i3 model. I am using it right now with my 60" 4k t.v. I got it mainly for a iTunes server (I have 30TB attached) and will also use it for other non-intensive tasks. For the money, it is a nice computer, provided a person already has the periphery.
 

pl1984

Suspended
Oct 31, 2017
2,230
2,603
You are in a similar boat as I was (upgrading from 2011 quad i7). I was also getting impatient.
Personally, if you want this new mini to also last 8 years, I would just bite the bullet and get the base model and upgrade to i7 as BTO. RAM you can add later (Price is dropping, and I do think 8GB is a bit tight) and storage can go external via TB3 or USB3 for cheap.

You will never regret having the fastest single core Mac available right now. It is ~2x as fast as your 2011 mini. By contrast, the base model, while great, may not give your the wow factor or longevity you have appreciated from your 2011.
Minor nitpick but the OP has a 2011 iMac and not a Mini. This may or may not change the advice given.
 

Jenafran

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 4, 2014
5
0
Oh yes. I misread that. In that case, I wonder if the beachballing is mostly due to disk access?

OP: What display are you intending to run with a 2018 mini?
Not sure what you mean by disk access? The hard drive is 512 and I'm under 1/2 full. Not sure about display yet. Was going to run it off a little JVC TV until I can make that decision.
 

BasicGreatGuy

Contributor
Sep 21, 2012
11,924
10,985
In the middle of several books.
Not sure what you mean by disk access? The hard drive is 512 and I'm under 1/2 full. Not sure about display yet. Was going to run it off a little JVC TV until I can make that decision.
I believe he is assuming you probably have a HDD drive (platter) instead of a SSD drive. A HDD drive can produce the beachball effect due to it being slow to read and write etc.
 

Spectrum

macrumors 65816
Mar 23, 2005
1,397
758
Never quite sure
I believe he is assuming you probably have a HDD drive (platter) instead of a SSD drive. A HDD drive can produce the beachball effect due to it being slow to read and write etc.
Yes exactly. Most iMacs (most Macs in fact) in 2011 were (are?) still sold with HDDs. This can make startup an loading apps slow. And if RAM is limited, swaps to disk are painful.

But since you stated '512' - that suggests it is already an SSD, so not likely to be the reason.

What model/processor is in the 2011 iMac?
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Jenafran

open0

macrumors member
Dec 29, 2018
40
14
depend on your usage on Mac, I guess Mac mini 2018 core i3 is suitable for you. If you want to spend more money, core i5 is good choice.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jenafran

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,596
5,748
For Safari, Office, Quicken and Photoshop Elements, I think the 3.6ghz i3 would do just fine.

You could take the extra $300 and apply it towards a 256gb SSD -and- 16gb of RAM from the factory.

This question if for others brighter than I to answer:
For "single core" performance, does the 3.6ghz i3 run as well as the 3.0ghz i5?
Or (again for tasks where only one core is needed) is it actually faster?
Or... ???
 

Sarpanch

macrumors member
Jan 12, 2013
84
67
SoCal
For Safari, Office, Quicken and Photoshop Elements, I think the 3.6ghz i3 would do just fine.

You could take the extra $300 and apply it towards a 256gb SSD -and- 16gb of RAM from the factory.

This question if for others brighter than I to answer:
For "single core" performance, does the 3.6ghz i3 run as well as the 3.0ghz i5?
Or (again for tasks where only one core is needed) is it actually faster?
Or... ???
The i5 is faster than the i3 in Single Core as well as Multi Core, as it has Turbo Boost.
@rmdeluca has posted an excellent thread detailing various differences between the 2018 i3, i5 and i7

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/2018-mini-cpu-speeds-explained-i3-vs-i5-vs-i7.2155878/

Hope this helps.
 

BasicGreatGuy

Contributor
Sep 21, 2012
11,924
10,985
In the middle of several books.

Jenafran

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 4, 2014
5
0
Hello again, I'm running:
iMac (21.5 inch, Mid 2011)
2.5 GHz Intel Core i5
16GB 1333 MHz DDR3
AMD Radeon HD 6750M 512 MB
 

Jenafran

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 4, 2014
5
0
I don't know how to answer that question?? However, I plan to use a JVC TV monitor.
[doublepost=1549060997][/doublepost]HA! Found it...500GB (7200 rpm) hard drive
 

pl1984

Suspended
Oct 31, 2017
2,230
2,603
HA! Found it...500GB (7200 rpm) hard drive
As your iMac is a 2011 model it's possible you're seeing the beachball because the hard drive could be failing. Resolution would be as easy as replacing it, preferably with an SSD (if you wanted to go that route).
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Jenafran

Spectrum

macrumors 65816
Mar 23, 2005
1,397
758
Never quite sure
Yeah, either upgrading the iMac (could be difficult?) or moving to any computer with a SSD drive like the mini will give an enormous boost in responsiveness of the system. So long as the base Mac mini 128 GB SSD is large enough, it will be a huge upgrade.

Can you check how full your 500GB HDD is? That would be my only concern.
 

Jenafran

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 4, 2014
5
0
Yeah, either upgrading the iMac (could be difficult?) or moving to any computer with a SSD drive like the mini will give an enormous boost in responsiveness of the system. So long as the base Mac mini 128 GB SSD is large enough, it will be a huge upgrade.

Can you check how full your 500GB HDD is? That would be my only concern.
Well, I just had to 'nuke' it to get it running again (it wouldn't recognize any usb devices...like my keyboard) so my hard drive now has 480GB available. I haven't put Office or PhotoShop back on, only Quicken so far. Unfortunately, I don't know how 'full' it was before but imagine it was about 1/2 full. I save everything to the cloud. Although I also belong to Apple Music so I do download music to my computer sometimes (but mostly to my phone).
 

BasicGreatGuy

Contributor
Sep 21, 2012
11,924
10,985
In the middle of several books.
Well, I just had to 'nuke' it to get it running again (it wouldn't recognize any usb devices...like my keyboard) so my hard drive now has 480GB available. I haven't put Office or PhotoShop back on, only Quicken so far. Unfortunately, I don't know how 'full' it was before but imagine it was about 1/2 full. I save everything to the cloud. Although I also belong to Apple Music so I do download music to my computer sometimes (but mostly to my phone).
If you don't plan on installing Photoshop, Office, and other large programs, you will probably be fine with 128GB. If you think you may install again, definitely get the 256GB.

As was previously mentioned, you want to make sure not to fill up a SSD, as that impedes the life and performance of the drive.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jenafran