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Dyllancreu32

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 31, 2021
4
1
Hi everybody I’m on a tight budget for a computer for recording music, light video editing and a little if any web surfing/YouTube on it. I already have a monitor/keyboard setup to a couple node computers that are dedicated to that. So I thought a Mac mini is a no brainer since I don’t need monitor or keyboard.
I am in BC, Canada
I found a late 2012 Mac mini 2.3ghz i7 500gb ssd with only 6GB of ram
For $350 CAD
I can upgrade for $60 to make it 16GB or $20 for 4GB to make it 8GB.
I’m wondering if it’s a good idea I honestly don’t have more than $400 to spend. It sucks but that’s the way it is. So I need your guys’ help making up my mind lol, will it be fast enough for my needs? Is there any other routes for the same price point? I use a lot of Mac devices already as well (watch, phone). Cause I can’t really see any other options and the cheapest I can find any Mac mini of the same specs are minimum $550-$700CAD but with 16GB ram already and for a bit more I can find a m1 for $1000CAD which I don’t have. I’m stumped. Any info greatly appreciated.
TIA
 

InuNacho

macrumors 68000
Apr 24, 2008
1,999
1,249
In that one place
The GPU on the 2012s is the weakest link. I worked around my 2012 cMPB's gpu with an DIY eGPU and it did wonders for video work.

$350 CAD though? Thats a bit steep, really steep if you ask me.
eBay is flooded with 2012 and 2014 Minis at the moment. Import one from here in the states and wait a couple weeks. The savings alone can net you better upgrades.

Don't be afraid of buying used SSDs either. I've refurbed dozens of laptops and desktops as a side hustle for years with bulk SSDs I bought from ewaste facilities.
Buy a Mini with the stock rotational drive and add your own SSD in.
 

Dyllancreu32

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 31, 2021
4
1
Ok sweet thank you, I just looked some up and there is a bunch on there anything I should be worried about I honestly never buy from eBay after I got some faulty electronics one time. I actually have a Samsung ssd 850 evo 250GB and a WD 1TB Sata ssd will these work in there? I’ve heard you can add two ssd’s in the Mac mini with a kit would these work for that?
So do you overall think it’s a good idea to get one of these as a daily use computer for music editing mainly, if I’m not paying to much and you think it will be a good computer for a couple years at least? Much appreciated!
 

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InuNacho

macrumors 68000
Apr 24, 2008
1,999
1,249
In that one place
So on ebay because you're an International buyer, there is no return if you import one from the States. However if you stick with a buyer that specializes in ITAD you should be fine. I used to work in that industry for years, Macs are diamonds in the rough and pampered by the guys refurbing them haha.
Check this one out: https://www.ebay.ca/itm/353646030957?epid=2249758967&hash=item5256f2306d:g:Aa0AAOSwUtBhKQ8F#shpCntId

Get any i7 you can, the extra cores will help immensely. It looks like the 2.3 is far more common than the 2.6. You can put the 1TB SSD and skip the double drive kit if you're short on cash. Use that cash on more ram.

What software are you using? With an older system you will be tied to an older version of MacOS which may be perfectly fine if you require 32-bit application/plugin support. I run Mojave on my main machine: a 2018 i7 Mini and I have few complaints.
Overall Mojave is still in good shape. I use a mix of Safari and Firefox but will have to switch over to Firefox full time just to get a browser with actual security updates on a regular basis.

As for other aspects of it lasting for a few years, yea it will. These things are built like tanks and there isn't a dGPU that can fail.

As I mentioned earlier the weakest point of the 2012 Macs is the lousy HD4000. It's great for pushing pixels around the screen/s and thats about it. You can build an inexpensive egpu out of cheap parts down the road. I had made out unofficially for my photo studio out of an OWC Helios2 and WX4100. As long as the card is supported by MacOS and under 75W, any cheap Thunderbolt -> PCIe adapter will work.
 

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Dyllancreu32

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 31, 2021
4
1
So on ebay because you're an International buyer, there is no return if you import one from the States. However if you stick with a buyer that specializes in ITAD you should be fine. I used to work in that industry for years, Macs are diamonds in the rough and pampered by the guys refurbing them haha.
Check this one out: https://www.ebay.ca/itm/353646030957?epid=2249758967&hash=item5256f2306d:g:Aa0AAOSwUtBhKQ8F#shpCntId

Get any i7 you can, the extra cores will help immensely. It looks like the 2.3 is far more common than the 2.6. You can put the 1TB SSD and skip the double drive kit if you're short on cash. Use that cash on more ram.

What software are you using? With an older system you will be tied to an older version of MacOS which may be perfectly fine if you require 32-bit application/plugin support. I run Mojave on my main machine: a 2018 i7 Mini and I have few complaints.
Overall Mojave is still in good shape. I use a mix of Safari and Firefox but will have to switch over to Firefox full time just to get a browser with actual security updates on a regular basis.

As for other aspects of it lasting for a few years, yea it will. These things are built like tanks and there isn't a dGPU that can fail.

As I mentioned earlier the weakest point of the 2012 Macs is the lousy HD4000. It's great for pushing pixels around the screen/s and thats about it. You can build an inexpensive egpu out of cheap parts down the road. I had made out unofficially for my photo studio out of an OWC Helios2 and WX4100. As long as the card is supported by MacOS and under 75W, any cheap Thunderbolt -> PCIe adapter will work.


I took a look at the ones on eBay I’m going to order one by tonight and upgrade to the 1TB for now and save the 250GB for later when I can afford to put dual drive kit in. Will that one or the other make it much faster or both together will also? I’m not worried about the storage as much I have a couple external drives I can always throw stuff on if need to until I install dual drives.

I was going to run a simple studio kit
Focusrite scarlett, pro tools, a couple audio plug ins no major instruments or anything just recording Audio over beats. Any recommendations?

Is the newest macOS they can run is Catalina?
wicked I’ll have to try that egpu down the road, I’m just happy I can get a capable pc for my price crunch!
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
28,744
12,852
With a limited budget, one does the best that one can.

The 2012 Mini remains a "workable" Mac and should do ok for your use purposes.

YES, you do want to upgrade the RAM.
It looks like it currently has one 2gb DIMM and one 4gb DIMM (total: 6gb).

One course of action you didn't mention:
Take out the 2gb DIMM and replace it with 8gb.
You'll now have 12gb, without spending too much $$$.

The internal SSD will help much with speed.
Much better than the factory platter-based HDD's.

Personal experience:
My 2012 Mini came with 4gb of RAM. I replaced "the topmost" DIMM with an 8gb DIMM for a total of 10gb.
I then TURNED OFF VIRTUAL MEMORY DISK SWAPPING using terminal, so VM was essentially disabled. Now, the computer had to "run in the existing RAM" and was prevented from doing disk swaps. It ran smoothly and never crashed on me.
 

Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
7,788
4,664
New Jersey Pine Barrens
I have a 2012 i7 2.6ghz quad-core Mini and used it for several years with Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro.Worked fine for my needs - editing 1080p30 video in FCP and typically 8 tracks of live audio with basic plug-ins like reverb, EQ, etc. (I did the actual recording on a Zoom F8 8-track field recorder). I would say that Logic probably worked better than FCP, since it doesn't rely on the GPU, but the fans would kick into high during extended editing.

FCP worked without problems and I even used some pretty demanding plug-ins, such as volumetric lighting effects and motion tracking. But everything needed to be render to play from the timeline and that could be pretty slow. I had 16gb in mine and think you should budget for that at the start, forget about 8gb, you will need all the help you can get. :)

Mine has an original Apple internal 256gb SSD, however the SSD is pretty slow on the 2012 (the 2014 has a faster interface). The 256 really wasn't big enough for my needs, so I just left Mountain Lion installed on it in order to run some very expensive old software. I booted my Mini from an 1tb external USB 3.0 Samsung T3 SSD which worked really well. Subjectively, this felt just as fast as the internal SSD and the only difference I noted was somewhat slower boot times.

The internal SSD is faster, but not a whole lot faster. You might consider this option to avoid opening up the Mini. There have been a lot of posts here from people who damaged their 2012 Mini's by attempting to install an internal SSD.

This is how my 256gb Apple internal SSD clocked

mini_sm256e.jpg



And this was the 1tb external T3 SSD. The T5 is Samsung's newer version, it might be slightly faster?

samsung-t3-1tb.jpg


Having said all this... to answer your original question, is it a good idea to get a 2012 Mini in 2021? IMO, absolutely NOT, especially from eBay with international shipping, that sounds like a nightmare to me and if money is tight you're making a big gamble. And even if you get a good one, these machines are 9 years old now and Apple will no longer even fix them if you have a problem. It's also only a matter of time until Apple stops supporting FCP and Logic on Catalina.

What are you using now? Could you just continue with that until you can save more money? I would hold out for a 2018 Mini if at all possible, even the base configuration is a far better machine than the top 2012 Mini and you have the advantage of upgrading to 64gb of memory plus much faster ports for peripherals and an internal SSD that is about 4x faster than the 2012.

But if you MUST buy a 2012 Mini, yes I think it could do what you need. Be prepared for high sound levels coming from the fan while editing/rendering in Final Cut Pro, it's incredibly loud for such a small computer and it runs hot. :)
 
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MacCheetah3

macrumors 68020
Nov 14, 2003
2,204
1,155
Central MN
Lots of good points. I’ll second a few of @Boyd01

• A quad-core CPU should be a minimum
• 16GB is strongly advised as well said, “you will need all the help you can get.”
• If you can wait save, a good config Core i3 2018 model would definitely be one to keep an eye on. They have improvements all of the areas and would leave a 2012 in the dust

The one thing I’ll add… It wasn’t until very recently, when I reinstalled my 2012 mini for the second time to try selling, that I realized claims of TRIM affecting performance are really worth checking if you do get a 2012 and use an internal SSD. Admittedly, I don’t know if TRIM effectiveness depends on the drive model, file system, etc -- I haven’t put a lot of research into the subject. Anyway…. After enabling TRIM on an APFS formatted SATA SSD, write speed actually reached the triple digits whereas previously it quickly drop and stay in the single digits, 20-30MB/s max.

Others here can probably explain it offhand.
 
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Dyllancreu32

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 31, 2021
4
1
You guys have been more than helpful I will save my pennies up and get a newer Mac mini maybe even a Mac Pro and just run via HDMI to my monitor or something. I have a while to figure it out until we move to the new place I’ll save an extra 400$ and get one that will last me a while longer. I may be back in a couple months to debate what I should get but Ill cross that road when I get there, just wanted to see if that was a good route to take for longevity and also a good pc. And I have my answer I appreciate all your guys’ or gals help was much appreciate!
Cheers from Vancouver!
 
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Miat

macrumors 6502a
Jul 13, 2012
854
808
Long term 2012 i7 Mini owner here, running 24/7.

Top priority upgrade is 16GB RAM. Worth every penny.

The internal dual drive set-up can wait. Just use an external SSD drive or two. I did for years and it's fine, just a bit slower than internal. This Mini has 4 USB3 ports so you have enough to do that.

Also worth considering fresh thermal paste at that age.
 

sfx

macrumors newbie
Aug 27, 2023
1
0
This thread is quite old, but here's an update in case it helps.

I just replaced the internal HDD with an internal SSD on my mac mini late 2012 2.3 i7. It is now reborn, I guess I will use it for at least a few years more. I have 16 GB RAM installed.

The only thing this box lacks is a high performing graphics processor - if you are perhaps a gamer.
 

philipma1957

macrumors 603
Apr 13, 2010
6,394
273
Howell, New Jersey
It's funny but I just ordered a new 2023 m2pro mini. I have 3 mini's

2012 I7
2018 I5
2021 M1

So the 2012 will be sold off on ebay

and I will have a
2018 I5
2021 M1 basic
2023 M2pro with 1tb ssd

My point is the 2012 still works as a lite duty machine. Mostly surf the net. Blog and stream tv. Not bad for an 11 year old machine
 
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