Become a MacRumors Supporter for $50/year with no ads, ability to filter front page stories, and private forums.

MIL entry Mac: 2012 Mini with SSD or 2014 Mini?

  • 4-year-old 2012 Mac Mini i5 16gb RAM 240gb SSD

    Votes: 20 76.9%
  • New/Refurb 2014 Mac Mini i5 base 4gb RAM 500gb HDD

    Votes: 6 23.1%

  • Total voters
    26

dmk1974

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Sep 16, 2008
2,330
313
My wife and I are going to attempt to convert my Mother In Law from an old Win7 PC to a Mac. She does not want a laptop and based on budget (and I think ease of conversion) I am looking at getting her a Mac Mini so the peripherals she has will all remain as-is (only the box and OS change).

I know it has not refreshed in a long time, and maybe never will, but I'm looking at either passing her my 2012 Mac Mini i5 which has 16gb RAM and a 240 GB SSD (4-years old, but still runs great) or having her buy the entry-level 2014 Mac Mini which can be had from the Apple Refurb site (when in stock) for $419. Sucks the 2014 isn't as upgradeable as the 2012. I'd assume leaving the 2014 as-stock.

Which do you think would be better to have her get? Her use is just web browser, MS Word and Excel, and looking at some pics and video and printing some documents from time to time. Thanks!
 

jpietrzak8

macrumors 65816
Feb 16, 2010
1,053
6,100
Dayton, Ohio
I gotta say that your 2012 should actually run better than an entry-level 2014. The CPU upgrade in the 2014 is not huge, and the entry-level HD 5000 graphics probably won't make any noticeable difference either. But the SSD is a very nice advantage on the 2012's side; and more importantly, that 4 GB is a huge bottleneck for the 2014. Modern versions of OS X require well over a gigabyte of RAM all by themselves; I could imagine Word and Excel having some trouble fitting into what is left over. :( There's no guarantee that future versions of OS X won't continue to consume even more resources, so the 2014 might even become obsolete long before the hardware goes bad.
 

dmk1974

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Sep 16, 2008
2,330
313
Yeah, the RAM no longer being upgradable for the 2014 really really sucks. I do only have 4gb in my 11" MacBook Air and it seems ok, but as you said...for how long?

I came across a video showing how to upgrade the HDD in the 2014 to a SSD. Looks to be a bit more difficult than it was compared to when I upgraded my 2012.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jpietrzak8

dmk1974

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Sep 16, 2008
2,330
313
Fresh install on 2012 would be my bet, i just obught a 2012 and love it! far better than my haswell pc i built last year

We went over to their house today and I set them up with the 2012 Mac Mini. It's going to be a bit of a learning for them switching from Windows, but I hope we spent enough time with them so they can navigate well enough and do what they need to do.

That said, I also ordered myself a 2014 Mini. I just use it as a media server anyhow and even if the RAM is only 4gb instead of the 16gb, I plan to try to add a SSD drive to it (and then plug in my external USB3 HDD that has all of my media files). Crossing fingers that the Apple Refurb store sends me one with upgraded RAM ;) But really the piddly 1.4 GHz/4gb model should be ok for my purposes....supplemented by my MacBook Air.
 

mmomega

macrumors demi-god
Dec 30, 2009
3,878
2,086
DFW, TX
Yeah, the RAM no longer being upgradable for the 2014 really really sucks. I do only have 4gb in my 11" MacBook Air and it seems ok, but as you said...for how long?

I came across a video showing how to upgrade the HDD in the 2014 to a SSD. Looks to be a bit more difficult than it was compared to when I upgraded my 2012.
The changing of the HDD to SSD is really not that difficult at all. A colleague watched me one day changing a few and timed me. From shut down to reboot to desktop was less than 14 minutes if I remember correctly, might be 12. With the 14 there's just two tools you need really. a T9 Torx and a TR6 Torx Security screw driver <that's the important one that gets about 90% of the screws.

To most folks doing normal web viewing, computers programs an SSD is going to make the largest difference in speed hands down. If you don't want phone calls about how slow something is, get the one with the SSD.
 

dmk1974

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Sep 16, 2008
2,330
313
The changing of the HDD to SSD is really not that difficult at all. A colleague watched me one day changing a few and timed me. From shut down to reboot to desktop was less than 14 minutes if I remember correctly, might be 12. With the 14 there's just two tools you need really. a T9 Torx and a TR6 Torx Security screw driver <that's the important one that gets about 90% of the screws.

To most folks doing normal web viewing, computers programs an SSD is going to make the largest difference in speed hands down. If you don't want phone calls about how slow something is, get the one with the SSD.

Looks like my TH6 screwdriver got delivered. If not too terrible to install internally (I'm sure it will take me more than 14 min!) I probably will go that route. I currently have it connected via USB 3 enclosure and it's bootable (thanks to CCC) which is running fine. But benchmarks on the SSD R/W are in the low/mid 200's over the USB3.
 

Jambalaya

macrumors 6502a
Jun 21, 2013
711
148
UK
My 2009 Mini still runs just fine (will not take Sierra) so I gave another vote for the 2012 machine. 16gb is excessive but won't hurt obviously
 

mmomega

macrumors demi-god
Dec 30, 2009
3,878
2,086
DFW, TX
Looks like my TH6 screwdriver got delivered. If not too terrible to install internally (I'm sure it will take me more than 14 min!) I probably will go that route. I currently have it connected via USB 3 enclosure and it's bootable (thanks to CCC) which is running fine. But benchmarks on the SSD R/W are in the low/mid 200's over the USB3.
The main advice I would give it the fan connector, lift and pull back slight and it will pop out. When you go to put it back it, just lay the male connector over the female and press down and you will feel a slight click when it goes back into place.
The first one I did on the 2010 model I pulled the connector forward rather than up , when removing it, and it broke. - Learning experience.
I have to do an SSD swap on a 2014 model next Monday or Tuesday, I can probably do a quick video and put it on youtube.
I just have to remember to do the video :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: dmk1974

dmk1974

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Sep 16, 2008
2,330
313
The main advice I would give it the fan connector, lift and pull back slight and it will pop out. When you go to put it back it, just lay the male connector over the female and press down and you will feel a slight click when it goes back into place.
The first one I did on the 2010 model I pulled the connector forward rather than up , when removing it, and it broke. - Learning experience.
I have to do an SSD swap on a 2014 model next Monday or Tuesday, I can probably do a quick video and put it on youtube.
I just have to remember to do the video :)

Thanks. I've successfully done it on the 2010, 2011, and 2012 Mac Minis, but I know this 2014 is a bit more involved. I'll review that iFixit instruction too.
 

mmomega

macrumors demi-god
Dec 30, 2009
3,878
2,086
DFW, TX
Thanks. I've successfully done it on the 2010, 2011, and 2012 Mac Minis, but I know this 2014 is a bit more involved. I'll review that iFixit instruction too.
Oh ok well then you shouldn't have any issues at all. The main difference with the '14 is the plastic bottom cover pops off rather than twist and the security screws.
You got this then.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
25,357
10,355
OP wrote above:
"I currently have it connected via USB 3 enclosure and it's bootable (thanks to CCC) which is running fine. But benchmarks on the SSD R/W are in the low/mid 200's over the USB3."

I'm going to take a -guess- that the enclosure you have doesn't support UASP (USB attached SCSI protocol). You need that support in order to achieve the highest transfer speeds of which USB3 is capable.

But -- I wouldn't worry about it.
Speeds in the mid 200's are probably "good enough" for your MIL.
The question to consider is, "are they happy with it" ...?

If they seem to be, my vote is to leave it alone with the "external booter".
Too many folks have opened the Mini, thinking they could do the job, and then.... had something break on them.
 

dmk1974

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Sep 16, 2008
2,330
313
Oh ok well then you shouldn't have any issues at all. The main difference with the '14 is the plastic bottom cover pops off rather than twist and the security screws.
You got this then.

Well, on the "new" 2014 I went slow and it took me 40 minutes from shutdown to restart, but the iFixit instructions were perfect. Probably would have taken 10 minutes less if I took less care with the tape on the HDD connector and if the reconnection of the antenna wire was easier. Working perfectly!
 
  • Like
Reactions: mmomega

c8rlo

macrumors 6502
Sep 1, 2015
377
166
FL
2012 MM, more than enough for her needs and easy to replace/upgrade internals.
 

mmomega

macrumors demi-god
Dec 30, 2009
3,878
2,086
DFW, TX
2012 MM, more than enough for her needs and easy to replace/upgrade internals.
The main thing I like about the 2012 is that you don't need to remove the logic board to remove the stock HDD, unless you have the server model with dual HDD.
 

MH01

Suspended
Feb 11, 2008
12,107
9,297
2012, for sure, you can also upgrade it in the future if needed
 

craig1024

macrumors regular
Feb 15, 2016
127
48
The main thing I like about the 2012 is that you don't need to remove the logic board to remove the stock HDD, unless you have the server model with dual HDD.
I had to remove the motherboard in my 2012 i5 mini because the hard drive was in the upper position, it took me 2 hours of being extremely careful to replace it with an ssd but it was worth it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: mmomega

geoffpalmeruk

macrumors regular
Nov 8, 2013
134
2
Exeter, Devon
I do love how easy it is to work on (when you know what you are doing)
Just be careful and take your time until you are comfortable with what you are doing.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.