My Experience - Mac Mini (Mid 2011)

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by BigMcGuire, Jun 13, 2017.

  1. BigMcGuire Contributor

    BigMcGuire

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2012
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    California
    #1
    At the start of this year I gave my Late 2014 Mac Mini to my wife so she could use it for her college work. I resurrected an old HP machine from 2011 that we had abandoned (AMD cpu) - instantly regretted it - so slow it could barely scroll web pages with Windows 10. Long story short - heard my boss had a Mac Mini laying around that he was willing to get rid of. Turned out to be a Mid 2011 with 4GB of ram. Scrounged up a 256 SSD with an external USB - installed Sierra and ... I'm pleasantly surprised.

    It seems as fast as the Mac Mini Late 2014 (8GB of ram - 2.6 GHz Core i5 (I5-4278U)) even though this Mac Mini Mid 2011 has the (4GB of ram - 2.5 GHz Core i5 (I5-2520M)). Loving being able to use my Apple apps again and having text far more readable than the Windows 10 machine - also I can scroll Macrumors without lag!

    Upgrades for the near future when funds allow:
    Looks like for $50-$80 I can upgrade the ram to 8GB. For $46 I can get a firewire 800 enclosure + cable.

    Also, have to agree on a price for this thing - I can't believe these are going for $300 on Ebay when an entry Late 2014 is $499. I want to give my boss a fair $ but $300 seems kinda high to me.

    All in all, very happy to be back on a Mac for my "desktop" at home. As a former user of a Late 2014, I'm impressed with the Mid 2011.
     
  2. Ghostbuster386 macrumors regular

    Ghostbuster386

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    #2
    I just picked up a 2011 Mac mini as well and am impressed with it too. Mine only had 2gb of RAM though but I already have 8gb on the way.
     
  3. BigMcGuire thread starter Contributor

    BigMcGuire

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    #3
    How much did you pay for yours if you don't mind me asking?
     
  4. Ghostbuster386 macrumors regular

    Ghostbuster386

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    #4
    $250
     
  5. MattA macrumors 6502

    MattA

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    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    #5
    I've had a 2011 Mac Mini since new (i7 2.7Ghz/6630M). It came with 4GB of memory which I've upgraded to 16GB. Yes, these machines will accept 16GB with no issue. I'm still using the 750GB HDD that came with it, but I'm hoping to upgrade to an SSD at some point. Honestly, other than the graphics getting a little slow, there is no reason to upgrade. It's still very snappy with most anything I throw at it.

    Enjoy the computer!
     
  6. treekram macrumors 65816

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    #6
    If you're looking to get faster speeds on external disks, you might want to consider the following:
    https://www.amazon.com/Kanex-Thunderbolt-eSATA-plus-Adapter/dp/B00LOLBBQQ

    USB3 via an adapter like this won't be as fast as native USB3 but it will be much faster than FireWire 800. However, if you're just using the HDD's, the difference may not be that much. I have a FireWire 800 enclosure that I think is over 10 years old. The issue with the FireWire 800 enclosures that I'm familiar with (don't know if it's changed) is that you need PATA drives or a SATA drive with a PATA-SATA adapter (I have several of those). Obviously, the Kanex adatper, which seems to be the only one currently being made, is more expensive than the FireWire setup you have in mind. Also, if you're using the Mini-Displayport port for your monitor, you can't use this adapter.
     
  7. wol macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2005
    #7
    Same here, 2011 Mac Mini with i7 2.7Ghz/6630M. Adding an internal SSD gives ones workflow a big boost (no more waiting for spinning beach balls etc.)
     
  8. opeter macrumors 65816

    opeter

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    Location:
    Slovenia, EU
    #8
    I've got today a used 2014 Mac mini with 2.6 GHz CPU, 16 MB RAM and 1 TB HDD for 600 EUR!
    Next week I will put inside a 480 GB Toshiba SSD.

    It will fly :cool:
     
  9. vasim macrumors member

    vasim

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    Mar 12, 2017
    #9
    Same here with my Mac Mini 2011 i5 16GB RAM and SSD 128. It flies!!
     
  10. Synchro3 macrumors 68000

    Synchro3

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    Jan 12, 2014
    #10
    Same here with a Mac Mini 2012 i7 16 GB RAM and two internal SATA SSD's.

    It flies. Next thing is the RX580 eGPU.
     
  11. Dave H macrumors 6502

    Dave H

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    #11
    This one uses SATA drives. https://www.akitio.com/portable-storage/neutrino-u3plus
    We have one and it works well with our 2011 Mini, and is bootable (running "El Capitan").
     
  12. Spectrum, Jun 16, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2017

    Spectrum macrumors 6502a

    Spectrum

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    #12
    I use a 2011 i7 quad core at work (still running Snow Leopard...) driving a Dell U2711 and a Dell 2412, with a 256GB SSD boot drive and it is still great, if starting to show its age (I am eyeing up a new 5K iMac...).

    I would highly recommend installing your SSD internally. The lower drive bay is relatively easy to access if you purchase a set of torx screwdrivers. The upper drive bay is a bit more tricky. Jut last week I replaced the 750GB spinner with a second 512 GB SSD, but it was a bit more challenging that I expected.

    I use Crucial SSDs. The guides for the upgrades are here.

    For the lower HDD, iFixit recommend buying their mac mini logic board removal tool. But it actually isn't required in order to replace the lower HDD (but it does make it a little easier). In the guide, steps 10-11 and 13-16 can be skipped. Read the comments at the bottom of the article. I agree with them.

    Note: I have a problem with using >8GB of RAM. When the processor (or GPU) does extra work it tends to cause the U2711 to black out. 12GB seems more stable than 16GB, so I currently have 12GB installed. This issue may be due to either: running two displays, or due to the fact I am using Snow Leopard (on an unsupported machine).
     
  13. Ghostbuster386 macrumors regular

    Ghostbuster386

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    #13
    Installing an SSD is on my to do list. Just need to have the extra funds. I have an SSD in my 2012 MacBook Pro and it makes the world of difference. I had to buy the RAM first though because it was almost unusable with only 2gb.
     
  14. Spectrum, Jun 16, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2017

    Spectrum macrumors 6502a

    Spectrum

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    #14
    SSDs are amazing. I remember when I bought a 2011 MBPro with a HDD, and it felt so much slower than a 2008 MBPro in which I'd installed a 512GB crucial SSD. Needless to say that the HDD was the first thing I replaced in the 2011 MBPro!

    In fact the 500 GB SSD I put in the 2011 MBPro 5 years ago, is now the very same drive I just added to the 2011 mac mini. The 2011 MBPro now has a brand new 2TB SSD haha! That should keep it going until it dies...

    SSDs are so cheap nowadays - it really is an amazing way to upgrade an older computer. Even my 2008 MBPro+SSD is still fine for basic office/web use - feeling plenty fast enough for a 9 year old computer!
     
  15. BigMcGuire thread starter Contributor

    BigMcGuire

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    #15
    I was debating trying to install the 256GB SSD internally or just get a $40 Firewire 800 enclosure + cable. But if I can skip those steps, installing it internally looks a lot easier.

    Thanks for the info all - amazing the help and information for older Mac hardware on this forum :)
     
  16. Spectrum macrumors 6502a

    Spectrum

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    #16
    The internal DIY option is very satisfying. But be sure to have another computer alongside you so that you can have the iFixit guide open as you go. Also, it is best to keep a record of which screws you took out at each step. They are tiny and easy to lose!

    I'm no electrical engineer, and I've successfully installed RAM and SSDs in 4 MBPros and 2 minis so far. The guides are mostly very accurate. I'm kind of sad such DIY tinkering is no longer possible in most of the new macs...
     
  17. Synchro3 macrumors 68000

    Synchro3

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    #17
    Why a 80 MB/s FireWire enclosure? SSD's benefit a lot from higher speeds. I'm using a Lacie Rugged Thunderbolt 1 drive (bought with a HardDisk and installed an SATA-SSD).

     
  18. BigMcGuire, Jun 16, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2017

    BigMcGuire thread starter Contributor

    BigMcGuire

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    #18
    Wow my bad - I'm displaying my ignorance. I always assumed Firewire 800 was 800mb/sec - not MBPS lol. I've never used Firewire. Thanks for the video!
     
  19. Synchro3, Jun 16, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2017

    Synchro3 macrumors 68000

    Synchro3

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    #19
    Yes, 800 Megabit/s / 8 = 100 Megabyte/s minus overhead = 80 Megabyte/s

    screen-shot-2012-03-13-at-7-46-25-am.png

    Your Mac Mini 2011 has no USB 3, but Thunderbolt 1. It would be a pity not benefiting from Thunderbolt.

    Also TRIM for SSD's is supported over Thunderbolt, Terminal: sudo trimforce enable

    And the drive is of course bootable.
     
  20. treekram macrumors 65816

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    #20
    Thanks for the info.

    In any case, for the OP, if you search, there are a lot of threads on installing drives in the unibody Mini on this forum. More than a few have botched the job but I suspect the great majority do fine. Some time ago, a poster went to an authorized Apple repair shop and paid $50 for them to install a SSD. So that's an option as well if you're willing to do the legwork and pay for the installation. (I've installed a SSD in my 2012 and 2014 Mini's - no problems - but because of the experience in doing my 2012, the 2014 was much easier.)
     
  21. BigMcGuire thread starter Contributor

    BigMcGuire

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    #21
    Totally forgot about TRIM --- I am using a USB 3.0 enclosure atm in the USB 2.0 port. Is that something I have to turn on? I never did for my Mac Mini 2014 but I've never had a 2011.

    Thank you for the help!
     
  22. Synchro3, Jun 16, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2017

    Synchro3 macrumors 68000

    Synchro3

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    #22
    TRIM over USB is not possible. But absolutely over Thunderbolt and SATA.

    For third party SSD's you have to enable TRIM in the Terminal app with the command: sudo trimforce enable
     
  23. ignatius345 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2015
    #23
    I used one of these Minis for years, for everything from Adobe Creative Cloud to video and audio editing. I did a DIY upgrade, opened it up and put an SSD in addition to the HDD and created a DIY Fusion Drive, which works perfectly.

    I was craving a retina display (and support for USB 3.0), which the Mini was not capable of driving, so I finally upgraded to a 5K iMac last year. The old Mini chugs along perfectly on my fiancee's desk -- still keeping up quite nicely with Sierra and the new version of Office. At some point, Apple will EOL it, I guess, but meanwhile it's a real workhorse.
     
  24. treekram macrumors 65816

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    Nov 9, 2015
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    #24
    Sorry this information is coming (on my part) in drips and drabs.

    The fastest performance you get is putting a SATA SSD in the Mini. (We're excluding the expensive TB enclosures here.) It also has the advantage of not taking up the Mini-DisplayPort/Thunderbolt port. The next fastest performance you get is from a Thunderbolt SSD. I have a Monster SSD connected to my 2014 Mini, others on the various Macrumors forum have this as well. The premium for this TB (vs. USB SSD's) is not as high as other TB SSD's. If you're interested in going this route, I can tell you more about this drive.
    https://www.amazon.com/Monster-Digital-Overdrive-Thunderbolt-SSDOT-0240-A/dp/B00SBSLZXY/

    You can also buy a used LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt drive with a HDD and swap in a SATA SSD. The advantage of this vs. an integrated drive like Monster SSD is flexibility. (Mentioned in post #17.)

    The next fastest alternative would be the TB-USB3 adapter. Finally there's the Firewire 800 and then a USB 2.0 drive.

    Officially, you can only drive a 2560x1440 monitor through Mini-Displayport. But it seems people have had success doing 2560x1440 through HDMI if you use SwitchResX. So you may not have to give up 2560x1440 if you want to use the Thunderbolt port.
     
  25. Spectrum macrumors 6502a

    Spectrum

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #25
    Do you have a link to hand? Does it depend on the GPU in the Mac mini? I use the TB port for a 2560x1440 U2711, and HDMI for a 1920x1200 U2412. But didn't think I can run two 2711's off the i7 mini.
     

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