New entry level Mac Mini - performance is very poor..

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by GilesM, Apr 3, 2015.

  1. GilesM macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2008
    I recently purchased a new mini, base level 2014 model.
    I think performance is very poor. If you want to do one thing at a time, it is just OK, try and do more than one thing at a time, massive delays, loads of the old beach all spinning away.
    I am doing nothing more than itunes, email (via the mail client) and web browsing, but even with these basic activities the machine struggles, how I wish I had not purchased the entry level unit.
    A warning to all, if you buy a mini, please spend a little more and get one better specified than the entry level unit.

    Frankly I am surprised Apple released it like this, and even more surprised they got away with it.
    This is not what I expected from Apple.:):apple:
  2. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    It's the hard drive more than anything else. The Mid-Model comes with 8GB of RAM, so it has more "room" to run apps in without hitting virtual memory. The Base Model only has 4GB so it would be more heavily dependent upon virtual memory when you start running multiple apps. If you swapped in an SSD, then the virtual memory hit would be considerably lessened since SSD's have a virtually instantaneous seek time....

    Moral of the story: in 2015, SSD is the only OS storage medium that one should use.
  3. GilesM thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2008
    This seems like a good idea. I will go and do the research to see if this is something I can do.
    I would this is the only thing I can do to address the situation short of buying another, better specification mini.
    Thanks for the idea.
  4. Altis macrumors 68030

    Sep 10, 2013
    paulrbeers is right... too much memory paging to the painfully slow hard drive.

    Yosemite is a resource hog and will use 4GB of RAM at fresh idle, so getting the 8GB model is a good idea. An SSD should help considerably, but my one concern would be wear on the drive knowing how much memory paging is going on.

    Any new computer in 2015 should have an SSD, IMO. Hard drives have been the bottleneck of nearly all computers for 5-8 years now.
  5. steve217, Apr 3, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2015

    steve217 macrumors regular


    Nov 11, 2011
    Actually, other than the hard drive, it's not a bad computer. But with that hard drive, even for low use - web-surfing, email, iTunes - it's pretty bad. Even non-technical users will complain.

    If you want a low-risk, low-cost option to speed your computer up, buy a ~120gb SSD, get a UASP external USB 3.0 enclosure ($20), and boot from that. I see Mushkin 120gb SSD's for around $55 on Newegg.

    If you're really feeling frisky and want to dive in to the terminal, fuse that external drive with the 500gb spinner and enjoy.

    I did this for a friend of mine who bought the base 2014 and his computer is now a snappy little Mac where apps launch with nary a bounce.

    The advantages are that there is no warranty risking surgery and the results are well worth the time. The disadvantages are that your boot drive is external and there's no TRIM support. But even so, after a while you'll forget where your boot drive is and TRIM is a subject of much debate about it's value.

    If/when the after-market finally provides a reasonably priced PCIe-SSD alternative, you'll still have an SSD in an external enclosure; which are handy things to have around for alternate boots or speedy portable storage.

    If I were in the market for a new computer now, I would grab a $589 refurbed 2.6mHz mid-Mini and boot from an externally fused SSD drive.
  6. MistrSynistr macrumors 65816

    May 15, 2014
    I was slightly aloof when I purchased my 2012 with 5400 HD, I had no concept of HD's and SSD's and whatnot.

    Looking back, I seriously can't believe Apple of all companies offers this hard drive in any model still. Putting SSD's in all their hardware would make people unfamiliar with Apple tout how amazing it is and be a perfect marketing tactic.
  7. Menel macrumors 603


    Aug 4, 2011
    Capacity. HDD has so much more capacity. Mac mini is stationary, its potentially a good media repository, so storage is critical over speed.
  8. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    While I agree with that, as stated by Menel... Too many people still do not understand SSD's vs HD's especially those who buy $500 computers. They would have a heck of a time looking past 120GB storage vs 1TB Storage since they have little idea how much better an SSD is.... They would just think it is Apple "being cheap" to only give them 120GB worth of storage.

    I think more and more are understanding SSD's and why they are better, but I look at my parents who are both professionals and I had to force them to upgrade their laptops to SSD's. They didn't understand why.... Now they get it, but until you have actually used a computer with one you just don't understand.
  9. MistrSynistr macrumors 65816

    May 15, 2014
    This is understandable, At least slap a 7200 in them all then! ha
  10. scottsjack macrumors 68000

    Aug 25, 2010
    It seems to me like the cheapest mini, cheapest iMac and cheapest Mac Pro are just rip-off machines designed to show a cheap price while giving uniformed, technically vulnerable consumers a chance to say the own a real Mac. Considering the lack of consumer upgrade-ability in Macs it is disgraceful.
  11. steve217 macrumors regular


    Nov 11, 2011
    And yet for for technically invulnerable (?), the cheapest mini plus a minor $75 alteration is not a bad little machine. Even better, if you pick up a refurb and alter as I describe above ($420 + $75).

    I wonder if Apple had just ditched the 5400 HDD and replaced it with a 128GB SSD PCIe what the impact would have been on the profit margin. Many low technical users don't exceed that amount (my friend above hasn't even cracked 40GB yet) and if they get close, a cheap external HDD is an upgrade just about any computer user can pull off.
  12. Larry-K macrumors 68000

    Jun 28, 2011
    That's the problem, Apple offers something, ostensibly to people unfamiliar with their products, but does not make them aware of its shortcomings, and now without user upgrades for RAM & less user friendly HD/SSD upgrades, you're locked into perennial inadequacy.

    Of course, Apple apologists always say, "you should have known and bought more up front", because every entry-level Mac user wants to spend $2K on a Mini.
  13. Ice Dragon macrumors 6502a

    Ice Dragon

    Jun 16, 2009
    I wouldn't say that however I would say spend at least $1,200 for 16 GB of RAM, 256 GB PCIe SSD, and Applecare on the 2.6 GHz mini.
  14. mauka macrumors regular


    Nov 24, 2006
    I agree, and sincerely hope that someday Apple will realize that an unhappy new customer will never become a life time customer.
  15. Larry-K macrumors 68000

    Jun 28, 2011
    Eight hundred bucks for $400 worth of upgrades? Yeah, that's a great first buying experience for a Mac User.

    They really should just go make phones... oh, and watches.
  16. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    Like the posters before have explained, having an ssd is not just a thing you can do as an idea. It has to be done! A higher speced mini without an ssd will still perform relatively purely. Everytime something is read or writen to the harddrive, an hdd will cause lag, beachballs, bouncy apps ...

    That :apple: is trying to peddle new macs with hdds inside shows bad intentions on their part. It's somewhat anoying with the minis, because they need to be upgraded by hand, but it's an insult for the imac series, because the hdd inside them is not upgradable for normal consumers.

    I am still surprised, that the entry mini works that bad for you. I have the 2012 mini, but also with an hdd, 4gb of ram, b even hd4000 gpu and ivy bridge cpu. I can open several apps without running into any unusual lag, once these apps are open.
  17. GilesM thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2008
    Great idea! I have the required equipment, not sure how to proceed...

    This seems like a great idea, I have a spare SSD in a USB 3 enclosure I can set to this purpose. Just need to research how to proceed. I would guess I would make a bootable copy of my internal drive, then reboot with the SSD attached.
    Does that sound about right? Would my time machine drive continue as is when using the SSD to boot from? Or would I have to start again with Time Machine?

    Sorry for all the questions...
  18. steve217 macrumors regular


    Nov 11, 2011
    I assume you have a Time Machine disk in it’s own enclosure?

    If so, first, BACKUP your system before you BEGIN. Prep the SSD with Disk Utility by formatting it with a GUID partition type. Then, with your Time Machine drive plugged in and your SSD plugged in, CMD-R on a boot and restore from Time Machine to that SSD. When you boot, you may have to go to System Preferences and make the SSD your boot drive.

    Once you’ve booted from the SSD, you'll definitely want to erase the contents of your original HDD because you won't need two copies of your system.

    Be sure your enclosure is UASP. If you’re not sure, read this. If not, go ahead and pick up the Inatek; it’s a great enclosure.

    If you’re not comfortable with the Fusion drive thing, don’t worry, you can always fuse later. You’ll just have 2 drives to manage: the original HDD and the SSD.
  19. GilesM thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2008
    Yes, I have a separate HDD as my time machine, I also have itunes library on an SSD and another SSD in an inatek USB 3 enclosure.
    So, from a hardware point of view I already to go.
    So, 3 external drives, 1x HDD for time machine, 1 SSD for my itunes, 1 x SSD in an inatek enclosure which right now has another copy of time machine, but is out of date and so this can be re-purposed.
    So, perhaps tomorrow I can start, looking forward to enhanced performance!
  20. steve217 macrumors regular


    Nov 11, 2011
    Sounds like you're all set.

    Report back and good luck!

    You won't be disappointed.
  21. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    Or just use SuperDuper! and tell OSX to boot from the external. That will make an exact copy of your current OS drive.....
  22. Ice Dragon macrumors 6502a

    Ice Dragon

    Jun 16, 2009
    Sure it sounds crazy but that to me is how to get the best out of your mini. Now, an SSD is not mandatory but I am just a huge SSD fan and have been since I got my mini. If one does not really care about an SSD, you can just upgrade the base model to 8 GB of RAM and you should be fine or get the middle model for $699 model with no upgrades and keep as is.
  23. aajeevlin macrumors 6502a

    Mar 25, 2010
    As much as I love the Mac Mini (running mini 2009), I would have to agree with the other person on the pricing. From my perspective, I can't and will no longer be able to tell someone to get a Mac Mini and tell them that this is a good machine at a low price. I really think for the price they can at least stick the low end model with SSD (give people 128 SSD with no price increase as option).

    I agree with some of the argument that most people when purchasing a computer are merely look for large drive and would rarely pay attention to the drive speed. But I really think they can make it optional at no additional cost.

    I'm glad that I'm currently no in the market for a new computer, as long as I can get all my work on on my Mac Mini 2009 I think I'm going to stick with it. Although I have to honest say that I won't know what to do when it comes time to upgrade. I guess I'll worry about it when it eventually comes time to upgrade.
  24. Larry-K macrumors 68000

    Jun 28, 2011
    Not crazy at all.

    The 5400 rpm drive Apple tosses in barely makes a decent drink coaster. The good thing is (or was) I don't feel bad about tossing them in a drawer to languish.

    All my Minis have at least one SSD in them, and all of them have at least 8, and most have 16 Gigs of RAM.

    But none of them got that way by lining Apple's coffers, they were all third party upgrades that I chose, and they all work flawlessly at half the price of Apple's upgrades.

    My complaint is that Apple touts the low entry price, then foists the basic model on unsuspecting first-timers, or at best upsells them overpriced RAM & storage to make an adequate desktop.

    Now that Apple's selling watches for more than desktop computers, and probably with fatter margins, I'm surprised they even bother with Minis
  25. GilesM, Apr 5, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2015

    GilesM thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2008
    success! so far so good!

    Thank you all, I have met with some success.
    in case anyone else asks;

    SSD used: OCZ Arc 100, 240 GB SSD
    Enclosure: innatek USB 3 enclosure (UASP supported)


    Used CCC to clone mac hard Drive (minus user profile) to SSD.
    Once completed, in System Prefs. selected SSD as boot device.
    Selected my home folder on the original drive via system prefs.
    Rebooted again (mush faster now!)

    So now I have the OS on the SSD and my user data on the HDD.

    Speed increase is very evident, but I might get even better by buying an even bigger SSD (500 GB) and repeating but this time moving the user profile also.

    So far, excellent, thank you all :)

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136 April 3, 2015