Mac mini buying advise

applefan

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 3, 2003
172
1
No. Cal.
Hi,

I'm considering buying a refurbished Mini with 8GB RAM and and a 1TB fusion drive, but I want to know how the speed in real life use will compare to a regular HDD and an SSD. Basically how much faster and how slower than each respectively. I've used a mini with an HDD and also with and SSD, but never with a fusion drive. I'd like to hear the experiences of other before I buy.

Thanks in advance for your comments.
[doublepost=1489033444][/doublepost]I should add that my usage is mostly email, browsing, messaging, youtube, media storage, lightweight photo and video editing in Photos and iMovie, and MS Office stuff.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
20,017
7,032
The 1tb fusion version of the Mini will run quite fast, pleasingly so.
Because it is a "meld" of a 128gb SSD and a 1tb HDD, you may not get the speeds of a "straight" SSD (such as a 256gb or 512gb SSD).
BUT... the consolation is you have a lot more storage space for a more reasonable price.

For the uses you've mentioned above, either the "midrange" Mini (with 8gb of RAM and a 1tb fusion drive), or the "top level" Mini (8gb/1tb fusion are standard in this one) will do the job, and do it well.
 

tibas92013

macrumors 6502
Jun 2, 2013
468
83
Costa Rica
In June, 2015 I bought from the Apple On-Line Store a Refurbished MM(2014), 2.8GHz, 8GB Ram, 256SSD in which it boots-up within five(5) or less seconds. I use this MM for the same general uses that the OP stated above, however, i do load a few movies now and then. This "beast" continues to meet all my computer needs!

As of today I have only about twenty(20) GB of Free Space on the SSD and I would go along with the other recommendations on this Forum to buy as much Ram and SSD that you can afford.
 

now i see it

macrumors 603
Jan 2, 2002
5,552
11,331
Let us know what you decide and how you like the mini. I am tired of waiting for a revised mini so I might just have to pick one up even if it is outdated.
At this point, the only sane mini to buy is a popular unit off of eBay. Probably one of the 2012 models configured exactly how you want it. Use that until we know for sure the fate of the mini, and if a new one comes out, you'll be able to sell your eBay mini (if you want) and lose very little money.

Used Mac Minis from 2010 on are very popular on eBay & they always sell for a good price. I just picked up one for $225 to hold me over until Apple drops the bomb, one way or another.
 
  • Like
Reactions: idunn

bopajuice

Suspended
Mar 22, 2016
1,571
4,348
Dark side of the moon
At this point, the only sane mini to buy is a popular unit off of eBay. Probably one of the 2012 models configured exactly how you want it. Use that until we know for sure the fate of the mini, and if a new one comes out, you'll be able to sell your eBay mini (if you want) and lose very little money.

Used Mac Minis from 2010 on are very popular on eBay & they always sell for a good price. I just picked up one for $225 to hold me over until Apple drops the bomb, one way or another.
I had a 2010 that I upgraded with an SSD and a second hard drive. Was a core 2 duo, started to show its age, was kinda slow. I just saw an add for the base mini with 4gb of ram for $399. I wonder if 4gb is enough ram. I do some video rendering and uploading, not sure if it could handle it. $399 was tempting though.
 

jpietrzak8

macrumors 65816
Feb 16, 2010
1,053
6,100
Dayton, Ohio
I wonder if 4gb is enough ram. I do some video rendering and uploading, not sure if it could handle it.
Hmm. Uploading / downloading files is a fairly trivial task for almost any machine; that shouldn't require more than a minuscule amount of RAM or CPU. Video rendering, though? If you're just transcoding video, that's a CPU-intensive process, but doesn't necessarily benefit from having a lot of RAM. If you're actually editing the video, though, that should benefit from having a healthy amount of RAM available... Depends on what you are trying to do.

The CPU in the base Mini is ok, but nothing to write home about. But yeah, it's got just the bare minimum of RAM you'd need to get anything done; and more importantly, since it's soldered down, you're stuck with that amount forever. So it'd be best to know ahead of time whether you need more RAM or not. :)
 

bopajuice

Suspended
Mar 22, 2016
1,571
4,348
Dark side of the moon
Hmm. Uploading / downloading files is a fairly trivial task for almost any machine; that shouldn't require more than a minuscule amount of RAM or CPU. Video rendering, though? If you're just transcoding video, that's a CPU-intensive process, but doesn't necessarily benefit from having a lot of RAM. If you're actually editing the video, though, that should benefit from having a healthy amount of RAM available... Depends on what you are trying to do.

The CPU in the base Mini is ok, but nothing to write home about. But yeah, it's got just the bare minimum of RAM you'd need to get anything done; and more importantly, since it's soldered down, you're stuck with that amount forever. So it'd be best to know ahead of time whether you need more RAM or not. :)
I do all of the above on my early 2015 MPA with similar specs. Except I have an ssd. I get by but wish it was a bit quicker. So I'm thinking the base mini is not going to be enough.
 
Last edited:

now i see it

macrumors 603
Jan 2, 2002
5,552
11,331
The base 2014 mini CPU will be fine (a mechanical HD definitely not). The 1.4 CPU is faster than any of the old core 2 duos, but 4 gigs of ram definitely won't be. Take a look at Activity Monitor if you're running El Cap or Sierra. After a cold boot, no apps launched, the OS is sucking down over 3.6 gb RAM doing nothing. Open up a browser window & you've hit 4 gigs right there.
 
  • Like
Reactions: bopajuice

applefan

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 3, 2003
172
1
No. Cal.
Thanks all for your replies. Right now I have a 2010 mini with 8GB RAM and a 256 SSD. The problem is the SSD is almost full. Of course the practical solution would be to put in a larger SSD except I feel like the video card might be failing. Video playback is sometimes choppy when streaming HD video full screen or even when playing videos shop with my iPhone. The same videos play fine from my MacBook connected to the same display. So I feel like something in the mini is failing or it's just not up to meeting current demands. So, I need more storage capacity and better video playback.
 

jpietrzak8

macrumors 65816
Feb 16, 2010
1,053
6,100
Dayton, Ohio
The problem is the SSD is almost full.
Well, external drives are fairly inexpensive, if you need to store a lot of data. :) And if you're just dealing with streaming media (audio or video), you don't really need the speed of an SSD for that sort of usage; a large HDD will do that sort of work just fine.

I feel like the video card might be failing. Video playback is sometimes choppy when streaming HD video full screen or even when playing videos shop with my iPhone. The same videos play fine from my MacBook connected to the same display.
Ah, I'm going to go out on a limb here and take a guess that the videos you are trying to play are encoded in a modern codec. The GPU in the 2010 Mini is now seven years out of date, and thus can't provide "hardware acceleration" for videos using more recent encoding standards. Therefore, the CPU has to do all the decoding by itself.

Upgrading to the 2014 model would help in this regard; but, sadly, even that model is now three years out of date, and codecs do keep changing, so it is eventually going to run up against the same problem.

One thing you could try is to "transcode" the videos you want to watch from the codec they currently use into one that your Mini supports. The 2010 Mini does a fine job playing HD video encoded in a manner the GPU can handle. But it seems that most people find that to be a pain -- at least I get yelled at on this forum a lot when I suggest it. :)

I've kinda reached the point where I think the only truly viable HTPC is one with a replaceable GPU. Otherwise, you have to keep replacing the entire machine every few years just to keep up with codec changes. (That, or just choose a machine with such a high-powered CPU that it can handle all the video decoding tasks by itself...)
 
  • Like
Reactions: EnderBeta
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.