Mac Mini downgrade

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by roland.g, Dec 2, 2015.

  1. roland.g macrumors 603

    roland.g

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    Apr 11, 2005
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    One mile up and soaring
    #1
    I have a 2013 27" 3.2GHz i5 Quad Core iMac w/ 24GB RAM and a 256GB SSD. I have no intention of running a machine without an SSD.

    I am considering selling the iMac and getting an LG 34" 3440x1440 Ultrawide display and a Mac Mini so that the Mac Mini can do what the iMac does most of the time - act as an iTunes server and iPhoto repository.

    I use my iMac for a lot of web browsing, most of which can be done on my iPhone, the kids iPad or my MacBook Air. I use it for iPhoto/now Photos but not really that much and a lot for Mail. Basic home computing but no real productivity. I also connect via TeamViewer to my Windows box at work for working at home some nights. But the primary use is the connected iTunes media drive that houses all our music and movies that we either stream to an Apple TV or sync to our devices.

    So my plan would be to hook the Mac Mini up as well as a cable for my wife's work laptop to the LG display, so that either could use the display. The Mini could still serve up all the music and movies and I could use it for mail, surfing etc. when she doesn't need it. She works from home a lot more than I do.

    If she is on the screen, I can still use my MBA to remote screen share into the Mini from the couch to access Photos or iTunes or something. I can get Mail straight on the Air of course.

    1. My big question is given the light load I have on the iMac now, will I regret getting rid of the nice iMac for the Mini or will I even notice the difference?
    2. And would I be better off with a 2014 Mini or a 2012 model? I would probably get the 2.8GHz 16GB 256GB SSD 2014 since it not upgradable.
    Thanks for the feedback.
     
  2. jpietrzak8, Dec 2, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2015

    jpietrzak8 macrumors 6502a

    jpietrzak8

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    Dayton, Ohio
    #2
    Wow. o_O That's quite a lot of hardware for just iTunes and iPhoto. If your iTunes and iPhoto libraries fit entirely within that SSD, I don't see why a Mini with the same size SSD couldn't do the job just as well.

    EDIT: Ok, I see that you mentioned you've got an external drive for your media. :) Both the 2012 and 2014 models have usb3 and thunderbolt ports, so I would guess that they'll both do equally well retrieving data from that drive...

    Your plan for a future mini sounds fine to me. For the questions:

    I would be truly amazed if you were pushing the limits of that iMac with the tasks you've specified. However, you can examine for yourself how heavily your iMac is being used right now. If you run Activity Monitor (normally found under the "Utilities" folder in the "Applications" folder), you can see how heavily the CPU is being used, and how much memory is in use. Even if you've got iTunes, iPhoto, a web browser, and an email client all running at the same time, I would be very surprised if you could really put significant pressure on that CPU. And, although OS X has a number of tricks to take advantage of all the RAM you can throw at it, I doubt you would ever really need the entire 24 GB of RAM for these activities. In particular, on the "Memory" tab of the Activity Monitor, you can see some interesting statistics on the bottom of the window; only when the "Swap Used" and "Compressed" values are above 0 are you really pushing the limits of your available memory.

    Yeah, that's the main problem with the 2014 models -- you have to get the maxed out version at the start if you ever expect to need 16GB of RAM. Personally, I suspect you could get away with even just 4GB of RAM if the main task will be running iTunes and iPhoto servers; performance of iPhoto is mainly going to involve the speed of your drive system, and you've already specified that you're going to stick with SSDs, so you can't really do better than that. Streaming media from iTunes doesn't even require that -- even a slow HDD can be used to stream the highest resolution video media without breaking a sweat.

    So, if you choose the 2012 model, you can start out with less than the maximum amount of RAM, and add more later if you find you need it. Otherwise, I don't think there's a significant difference between the 2012 and 2014 models for the tasks you've specified; both types of Mini should be able to do the job quite capably. :)
     
  3. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    #3
    Didn't go widescreen or 4k, but picked up a 32" Benq QHD monitor for my 2014 Mac Mini, to replace a 27" AOC monitor that I would plug my 15" rMBP into when I got home and run both the Mini and the rMBP at the same time on the single monitor.

    Since I have switched to the big monitor, I haven't bothered playing with cables or messing with swapping back and forth between the 2 machines. Just been using the Mac Mini.

    The big monitor and Mac Mini is really nice and simple to use.

    Sort of sad that my poor rMBP got bumped off the monitor and was replaced by a Bluray player ...
     
  4. roland.g thread starter macrumors 603

    roland.g

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    #4
    Thanks for the reply. I realize I do not use it for a ton of stuff. I keep all the iTunes content, movies, music, etc. on external USB 3.0 drives along with a Time Machine backup and keep the Photo library on the internal drive for speed, along with of course the OS and apps. I do also run stuff like ScanSnap for my Fujitsu along with DEVONthink Pro for all my digital filing needs and Quicken, etc. Life stuff. I have MS Office too but for work I user Windows and Team Viewer to log in remotely. I get that I don't see myself missing the iMac performance wise as I don't tax it. I do like a lot of RAM since I keep a lot of Safari tabs open and Safari tends to be a major resource hog, but if my wife gets the lion's share of the office usage for her setup, I will more than likely spend more time on my laptop.

    I am worried about the Screen Sharing performance of accessing the Mac Mini from the laptop while she has the screen tied up with her machine.

    And I am not sure on the 2012 v 2014 Mac Mini route. I have no issue getting a 2.3 or 2.6 Quad Core 2012 Mini, putting 16GB of RAM in it and either at 256, 480, or 512 SSD. But I get worried that it is a 2 years older machine and that brings issues. It seems the MultiCore Benchmarks for the 2012s put the smackdown on the 2014 model, but I'm not sure where I would realize that, and the 2014s apparently have improved graphics, wifi, and other minor improvements along with the bonus of being new under warranty and coverable by AppleCare.
     
  5. jpietrzak8, Dec 3, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2015

    jpietrzak8 macrumors 6502a

    jpietrzak8

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    #5
    Cool, sounds like you've already got the stuff that benefits most from the SSD on the SSD. :)

    :) Yes, that's the thing about RAM -- having more than the absolute minimum may not be necessary, but you can always find ways to make use of more of it. I guess it just depends on how many dollars you're willing to spend per extra Safari tab... ;)

    Hmm. Not sure that there's a good way to determine that sort of performance short of testing it yourself. :( Rather than raw CPU or RAM or drive speeds, that sort of thing depends a lot on your network, on the software you're using, and what tasks are being performed...

    From the kind of tasks you've been describing here, I think the 2014 CPUs would provide plenty of horsepower for your needs. And if you're fine with maxing out the RAM at purchase time, then there's really no downside to going for the 2014 model. But yeah, Apple places a huge premium on custom-ordered Macs; it's kind of hard to justify the price of a fully-maxed-out 2014 Mac Mini...
     
  6. iceman42 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2012
    #6
    i would just get the new baseline mac mini and you should be fine for what you need.
     
  7. tibas92013, Dec 3, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2015

    tibas92013 macrumors 6502

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    #7
    I bought my first Refurbished i5 MM(Late 2012), 2.5GHz,4GB Ram,500GB HD in August, 2013 from the Apple On-Line Store. Last January I upgraded the RAM to 16GB and planning on adding a 256GB SSD sometime next year. No complaints with this purchase as it has met all my computer needs.

    However, last June i purchased from the Apple On-line store another Refurbished MM(Late 2014),2.8 GHz, 8GB Ram, 256SSD and it is a fast and powerful "beast", i.e., boots-up in seconds, opens Apps in a Flash, etc. I will never purchase another Apple product without an SSD.

    Call me lucky but I have been very satisfied with going the Refurbished route and saving a few greenbacks. I have also purchased two(2) Refurbished Apple TV's, Refurbished Apple Express and Apple Time Capsule from the Apple On-line Store.

    Oh, both of the MM's are covered by an AppleCare Policy(ACP) which also covers my Refurbished Apple Express and Time Capsule for the duration of the ACP.
     
  8. Celerondon macrumors 6502a

    Celerondon

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    Oct 17, 2013
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    #8


    Are you seriously advising the OP to go from a 3.2GHz Quad Core w/24GB of RAM and an SSD to a base model mini with a 1.4GHz Dual Core and 4GB of RAM and a 5400rpm spinner? Really iceman42? o_O
     
  9. roland.g thread starter macrumors 603

    roland.g

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    #9
    Yeah, I really didn't pay any attention to that one. I was appreciative of jpietrzak8's comments about Activity Monitor and I realize he doesn't know what I know, so I didn't point out that I know how to watch my RAM, my swap, and can do a few tricks on my system. And I do believe in refurbs, but I also make sure to get what I want. I had a 2011 iMac with plenty of RAM and two internal drives, and SSD and a 1TB, which was the last generation of the optical drive pizza box. But it was stolen in a home break in. Both that machine and my current iMac are wall mounted on articulating arms. That is part of the impetus for the switch. I want to put the 34" ultra-wide on that arm and allow my wife to use that space without having the iMac and the 34" in our home office.

    The truth is she works a lot at home and has a makeshift office in the basement that is a desk in the corner, and it's the basement. And so most of the time after the kids go to sleep she puts her monitor, laptop, keyboard, and mouse on our dinette table and puts something on the TV. This would give her a permanent work space without having to go downstairs. I don't want to move the iMac down there because I don't particularly want to work down there either and if we take out the desk, the kids can use that space more.
     
  10. iceman42 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2012
    #10
    For what he needs a base 2014 mac mini would be fine for him.he don't need a ssd or 8gb for what he wants it for
     
  11. pdafan macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2011
    #11
    I am using a base mac mini 2014 4GB RAM with a 512GB SSD replacing the stock HDD. It performs extremely well and fast on the tasks I subject it to. Same use cases you mentioned e.g. iTunes movie/music server for Apple TVs, iPhotos, Mail, Surfing, Word processing. Anything more, I believe more ram has to been added.
     
  12. Gav2k macrumors G3

    Gav2k

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    Jul 24, 2009
    #12
    The base 2014 mini would be fine. Though unlike the above I'd 100% upgrade to an ssd. With a platter drive beach balls will become your least favourite thing.
     
  13. jpietrzak8 macrumors 6502a

    jpietrzak8

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    #13
    Man, I am so happy to hear this. :) There are so many folks on this board who throw around opinions about how much RAM you need without even asking how much is being used. (And tools like Activity Monitor seem to be unknown to many people here, which is part of the reason I keep bringing it up...)

    I wish I could help on the question of screen sharing performance, but I just don't know. I would hope that the Mini would be no different in this regard than an iMac. Maybe an Apple Store could let you run a test?
     
  14. scottsjack macrumors 68000

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    Arizona
    #14
    Part of the issue with RAM is not how much you need right now but rather having the ability to add more if you or the next owner needs more.
     
  15. tibas92013 macrumors 6502

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    #15

    Are you quoting me or Iceman42?. My post above was only to state my satisfaction with my two(2) MM's as he is considering purchasing one. I would not recommend how the OP should handle the situation with his iMac.
     
  16. Celerondon, Dec 4, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2015

    Celerondon macrumors 6502a

    Celerondon

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    #16
    Okay, we mostly agree on the SSD. :rolleyes:

    I suggest raising the specifications to at least 8GB of RAM because of this particular question that roland.g asked in his original post:

    I know that we often try to determine the minimum configuration that could perform the tasks described but this particular OP was specific about some other issues. From that original post, I thought that the main choice would be between a 2012 and a 2014. I don't see how upgradability is the big problem here. If a Quad Core i7 were essential I would suggest the 2012. Neither the i7 nor holding initial costs below $500 are worthwhile goals in this case. Would not that "2.8GHz 16GB 256GB SSD 2014" that roland.g mentioned be a better choice considering all of the issues that he listed? :confused:

    iMac Regret factor/performance penalty
    new technology bonus
    original Apple warranty
    Apple Care option
     
  17. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
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    Oregon
    #17
    I use both a 2014 Retina iMac with a 4GHz i7 (Geekbench 2 score - 15465) and a 2009 base Mac mini upgraded with an SSD and having 4GB RAM (score- 3056). A new base mini scores 5923, almost 2x faster.

    While the iMac is used for video and photography, both systems are used for programming, "office" apps, authoring apps (like Scrivener), and some drawing. No games.

    Frankly, when actually working on these systems, I can hardly tell the difference. I don't feel disadvantaged at all when I'm at the mini. If it weren't for the photography I would have never spent all I did on the iMac.
     
  18. Meister Suspended

    Meister

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    #18
    For what the OP wants to do any mac since 2012 with an ssd inside will perform exactly the same.
     
  19. Celerondon macrumors 6502a

    Celerondon

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    Southern Cal
    #19
    I did not address my comment to you. Instead I mentioned Iceman42 by name (handle). You did not suggest that an unmodified base model would fit the bill, Iceman42 did. In fact, Iceman42 doubled down on the idea in post #10.

    I did not dispute anything in your post. In that post you told the OP that you had "No complaints" with a 16GB 2012 but planned to add an SSD to that first refurbished mini. Then you described an even better experience with a refurb 2014 that came with 8GB of RAM an an SSD. Apparently this "beast" convinced you to "never purchase another Apple product without an SSD." You know tibas92013, I think that the OP would do well to heed everything in your post. If you notice, your opinion of SSD storage mirrors the strong claim that roland.g made in the second sentence of his original post.

    In that original post roland.g told us about his plan to sell the iMac. I just thought that it was rather odd for any poster to recommend a stock base model 2014 for this user. If you reread the thread jpietrzak8 gave great advice from the start. Regardless of RAM specification, model year, or clock speed, I think everyone but Iceman42 agrees that the OP should get an SSD equipped mini to replace the iMac if he proceeds with his plan. :)
     
  20. tibas92013 macrumors 6502

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    Costa Rica
    #20
    Thank you for your reply.
     

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