Mid 2011 i5 Mini speedups?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Nospig, May 27, 2016.

  1. Nospig macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Location:
    Bangkok, Thailand
    #1
    The company I'm currently doing a contract for has given me the use of a 5,1 Mini. i5, 2.3GHz, 500GB HD, 8GB RAM.
    Due to it's age I don't think they will want it back but I don't want to open it up to fit a SSD, just in case. Thunderbolt (or FW800) enclosures seem to be non-existent where I live and the prices seem to be insane anyway.
    So is there anything I can do to give this a speed boost? Attaching a SSD in a USB 3.0 enclosure isn't going to be an improvement is it?

    I'm going to do a clean install of El Capitan, hoping that will run OK given the 8GB of RAM. I will mainly be using this Mini as a Jenkins slave making Unity builds of iOS and Android apps. Not so taxing on the CPU but it does tend to hammer the HD a fair bit importing and converting assets.

    I will upgrade when the new Mac Mini (coming soon) is available but will have to make do with this one for now.

    Thanks.
     
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #2
    Normally it would, however the 2011 Mac Mini has USB 2.0, so it's not going to be worth the money.

    Honestly, I would just take the plunge and swap out the HDD for an SSD. That would make a massively positive difference. However you said that you're not looking to do that, so beyond a clean OS install (as you've already mentioned), I'm not really sure what we can reasonably suggest.
     
  3. Richdmoore macrumors 65816

    Richdmoore

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Location:
    Troutdale, OR
    #3
    I would search for a delock 42510 thunderbolt enclosure, it works great on my 2011 iMac. I see delock has a distributer in China, so you may be able to import it from that country cheaper than from Europe or USA.
     
  4. jpietrzak8 macrumors 6502a

    jpietrzak8

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2010
    Location:
    Dayton, Ohio
    #4
    For certain types of application, an SSD is an enormous advantage, even if mounted externally over a (comparatively) slow connection; particularly, when you need to do random access over large data in long-term-storage. On the other hand, if you have an application that performs all of its tasks in memory, an SSD will be of no help at all.

    Not a problem. I've got El Capitan running on a 2010 with 8GB of RAM, and it works fine.

    Aha! Yes, I would say you've got the perfect case for use of an SSD there, even an external one. One thing I would note: I'm not sure how you're setting up your Jenkins system, but if you're using VMs, you should know that multiple VMs consume huge amounts of RAM... If your machine starts swapping, you'll quickly lose performance. Be careful in how you configure your system!
     
  5. Nospig thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Location:
    Bangkok, Thailand
    #5
    Where my use case hammers the drive is building all the assets into Unity bundles. I ask for a set of bundles for iOS, Unity reads all the assets one by one, converts into a format suitable for iOS and writes them back out to disk and builds the bundles. Next up I ask for the Android version, same process repeats. Unless you run a cache server on another machine it does the platform specific conversion every time. This might be a good case for an external SSD even running over USB 2.0. Perhaps just store the Unity projects on the SSD and keep OSX on the internal drive? One of my projects has several thousand small assets (png files).
    Compared to sourcing and importing a Thunderbolt enclosure I don't have much to lose. I can go out and buy a $30 USB enclosure and a SSD and be back home in 30 minutes. If it doesn't help then the SSD can go into my PC. Thunderbolt enclosures advertised in Thailand are 30% the cost of a new Mini with SSD.

    I have a pretty simple setup. Jenkins runs on an Ubuntu server that monitors my Git repository. Detects a commit, sends the job out to the slave where an Ant script calls to Unity to produce the build.
     
  6. GoKyu macrumors 65816

    GoKyu

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2007
    Location:
    New Orleans
    #6
    I have a mid 2011 Mini as well, i5 and 16 gigs of memory, and almost a year ago, the system started going almost too slow for me to record music on. I bought an SSD and all my problems and slowdowns vanished. I still only run Mavericks on it, because going up to El Capitan just added more stuff that I didn't need and slowed me down more (particularly before getting the SSD.)

    I previously had a 2008 Mac Pro, and I'm saving up to get another one, hopefully they update for WWDC, because I am *SO* ready to buy one.
     
  7. jpietrzak8 macrumors 6502a

    jpietrzak8

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2010
    Location:
    Dayton, Ohio
    #7
    Oh yeah. If you've got that many small files, the random-access benefits of SSDs overwhelm pretty much every other factor. Yes, even a USB 2 connection should give you an incredible speedup (although the USB 3 will do a lot better). :)

    Wow! Thunderbolt enclosures don't seem quite as expensive here in the States, but yeah, I think for your use-case you'll see most of the benefit from the random-access speedup regardless of the connection you use. Thunderbolt is faster than USB 3 for sustained data throughput, but USB 3 is still plenty fast itself. (And yeah, USB 3 works on almost everything, so there's that advantage too.)

    Cool, that sounds good. :)
     
  8. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2013
    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    #8
  9. Nospig thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Location:
    Bangkok, Thailand
    #9
    Thanks for all your input. As I thought the best option is to get a Thunderbolt or FW800 external enclosure shipped over to Thailand, which I don't want to do :) SSD in a USB 3.0 might be an improvement for my use case.
    Not long until WWDC, I will put up with slow builds until then. If a new Mac Mini is coming I shall wait and buy one instead. I couldn't get the company I'm working for to buy me a Mac and there is no way I'm spending my own money on the current Mini.
     
  10. MysticCow macrumors 6502a

    MysticCow

    Joined:
    May 27, 2013
    #10
    1. Get an SSD. This will be the biggest speedup you can possibly do.

    2. Actually upgrading to El Cap has solved a lot of laggy issues with my mini (same one you have).

    3. You'll have to search for a working download link to a program called ShadowKiller. It was made by Unsanity and gets rid of the drop shadows over windows. While the speedup is relatively small, it's still a speedup.

    4. It might need cleaned up, as in daily/weekly/monthly scripts.

    5. Since you're not using El Cap, purge memory LOTS OF TIMES. Use an app called Memory Clean. You'll notice a speedup afterward.
     
  11. Nospig thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Location:
    Bangkok, Thailand
    #11
    Update:

    After a few days running the Mini as a build slave I think I will leave it as standard. The processor is so gutless it can't compress textures or compile C++ files fast enough to put any real stress on the HD.

    To Apple - money is waiting for a new Mac Mini, is it coming soon?
     
  12. kiwipeso1 Suspended

    kiwipeso1

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2001
    Location:
    Wellington, New Zealand
    #12
    You should find that it has a second drive slot which you can put a SSD in. You can also increase the ram to 16GB.
    The only way to get USB 3 is to get a thunderbolt dock, which should be easily available as either thunderbolt 1 or 2 from pretty much anywhere online.
    I would suggest that if the performance of the computer is important, run it from the SSD and keep the HDD for less used apps and storage of documents not in unity project.
     
  13. opeter macrumors 65816

    opeter

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2007
    Location:
    Slovenia, EU
    #13
    The 2011 Mac mini doesn't have USB 3.0. Your only option is either FW800 or Thunderbolt external case if you want relatively solid performance. Or you can open up the Mac mini and replace the HDD with SSD. The Mac mini 2011 has SATA-III/3 (6 GB/s) speed ... so you can mostly use the SSDs maximum speed.

    You can also upgrade the RAM to 16 GB (2x8 GB), if you want.

    We can hope so ... but who knows?
     
  14. kiwipeso1 Suspended

    kiwipeso1

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2001
    Location:
    Wellington, New Zealand
    #14
    Thunderbolt dock with multiple USB 3.0 slots is your best external technology for that mac.
    Best internal is the second drive slot for the SSD, as those mac minis do allow for a second drive.
    (Which was the only difference [2nd hard drive installed] apart from i7 cpu on the server model.)
     
  15. Nospig thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Location:
    Bangkok, Thailand
    #15
    Thunderbolt docks look good. $250 + shipping + import duties + VAT, not so good. It's not my Mini to open up and fit a SSD. Also if you check my latest reply the CPU load for my use case is much higher than disk use. I'm waiting for a new Mini!
     
  16. jpietrzak8 macrumors 6502a

    jpietrzak8

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2010
    Location:
    Dayton, Ohio
    #16
    Hmm. The Mini does have a low power laptop-class CPU. I think it does fine for the hardware it's been given, but still you do have to expect laptop-class processing power out of it. (And I don't see that changing with any new Mini; if you wish for a beefier CPU, you might want to consider non-Apple alternatives.)
     
  17. Nospig thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Location:
    Bangkok, Thailand
    #17
    I switched away from using a Mac for my main development machine last year after my iMac died. Unfortunately I still need to build iOS versions of my apps and the Mini is the most cost effective option. I'm sure the new Mac Mini (coming soon) will have more go in it than this 2011 i5 does.
     
  18. jpietrzak8 macrumors 6502a

    jpietrzak8

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2010
    Location:
    Dayton, Ohio
    #18
    Hmm. I'm not at all sure what CPU Apple will put into a 2016 Mini (assuming that Apple even updates the Mini in 2016). If they continue to use the standard low-power Intel chips, they'd probably be using something like the i5-6300U in their low-end Mini. Comparing that against the i5-2415M in the Mini you've got, it looks like the i5-6300U benchmarks show it running 50% to 100% faster. Which is indeed a major improvement, but is that the kind of speedup you're looking for?

    some i5-2415M benchmarks (Notebookcheck)

    some i5-6300U benchmarks (Notebookcheck)
     
  19. Nospig thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Location:
    Bangkok, Thailand
    #19
    50-100% speedup (plus whatever a fast internal SSD adds) would be nice and would give reasonable build times. It will also have to do as I'm not going back to an iMac. Although I do see cMP for sale once or twice a year in Bangkok...
     
  20. Nospig thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Location:
    Bangkok, Thailand
    #20
    Update. Got the go ahead to swap out the HD for an SSD. I'm going to go for a 256GB model and have a local repair shop do the work.
    I have Time Machine running all the time and don't have a suitable enclosure to mount the SSD. Am I OK to do a restore from Time Machine after the swap or is a clone to SSD done first the best way to go? If so, why?

    Many thanks.
     
  21. Nospig thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Location:
    Bangkok, Thailand
    #21
    Swapped out the HD for a San Disk Ultra II 240GB today. Overall a big improvement. The iOS simulator loads much, much faster. Build times for my Unity projects are reduced by about 40%, very nice indeed.
     

Share This Page