Questions Re: Upgrading Memory in Late 2012 mini?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Heat_Fan89, Sep 26, 2016.

  1. Heat_Fan89 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2016
    #1
    Hi all, I just upgraded my 4GB of memory in my late 2012 mini. It was getting slow especially with each new OS and Sierra really caused memory usage to go up to the point that on a cold boot and at the Desktop I was already running compressed memory and was utilizing the swap file.

    So I purchased on Amazon 8GB of Crucial memory 2x4GB and was surprised how fast opening Safari has become. It opened almost instantaneously with no spinning beach ball. The beach ball was common with 4GB of ram.

    My questions are:

    1) Was 8GB enough or should I have gone with 16GB? Please note, I'm a lite user, (web, email, etc) keep one or two programs open max, and no more than 2 tabs of Safari open at any time.
    2) Should I clear PRAM?
    3) Should I reinstall macOS Sierra with the new memory?

    So far things appear stable, no issues but I'll leave it up to the experts. So far just increasing the memory has made my 2012 mini much, much quicker. I've read that usually replacing the HDD with an SSD increases the system speed but so far I'm quite pleased.

    Lastly, it's nice to have a system where you can still interchange parts to increase it's longevity. ;)
     
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #2
    8GB will be fine. Also, no OS reinstallation necessary.

    SSD will indeed be the best upgrade you can do. Performance will be incredible.

    Always worth doing a PRAM reset after a hardware change.
     
  3. jpietrzak8, Sep 26, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2016

    jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816

    jpietrzak8

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    #3
    Actually, there's really no good answer to this. For example, I can open dozens of tabs in my browser without breaking a sweat, if those tabs are on web pages that are 100% text or only have very limited amounts of images. (Wikipedia is a good example here.) Go to a site heavy with advertisements, on the other hand, and all bets are off; it could easily use up all your RAM or all your CPU.

    However, there is a very convenient utility to let you see what applications are using up what resources: Activity Monitor. If you haven't alreaed been using it, you can find it in the "Utilities" directory inside the "Applications" directory. With this, you can see how much memory is in use, and how much of it each process is using. So, you can tell if you are nearing the machine's limits, and why.

    I've owned Macs for more than a decade now, and I've never done this. I would imagine there are situations where these low-level persistent system settings can get confused; but I think people mess with this setting much more than is warranted. Go ahead and do it if you want, but don't expect anything to happen -- it seems to be more of a "feel-good" placebo than anything that actually makes a difference.

    There's no reason why any operating system should care about an increase or a decrease in RAM (so long as you don't try to change it while the machine is running! :) ). The OS learns how much RAM is available when you boot up, and goes on with life from there...

    Ah, this one gets my goat. :) Replacing the HDD with an SSD increases long-term storage speed. Just how much time do you spend reading and writing to long-term storage? Lots of folks on this forum board swear by SSDs, but aside from boot-up speed and application load time, most of my time spent on the computer is with the long-term storage device idle. Browsing the web, checking mail, even playing games doesn't involve much drive interaction. So yeah, increasing the RAM can affect overall system speed a lot more than upgrading to an SSD, simply because normally your machine has to use RAM a lot more than it has to access long-term storage. :)

    Anyway, just my two cents. :)

    AMEN!
     
  4. campyguy macrumors 68040

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    Mar 21, 2014
    Location:
    Portland / Seattle
    #4
    I've got several of these units in my company, one for my own personal use - all i7 Mini Servers. All of them have 16GB installed, except for one in my office that's used for clients that "pop in" - it had its RAM upgraded to 8GB. All of the 16GB units - including mine - were upgraded to SSDs for their OS drive, Samsung 850 Pro SSDs; the 8GB drive is still using its 5400RPM spinner.

    I upgraded the Mini Servers to 16GB RAM and 850 Pro SSDs because we use them for rendering CAD/GIS files and crunching numerical data. I was very happy with my Mini Server with its two 5400 RPM spinners for about a year, until I needed to render some files and connect a NAS that talks to two of my servers.

    I'm agreeing with the two previous posters' advice as spot-on. For the light work that you've described, 8GB of RAM and the stock hard drive are a great combination - we've had no complaints from the clients who drop in to check their mail and surf the web. You should be good to go...
     
  5. DeltaMac macrumors 604

    DeltaMac

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2003
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    Delaware
    #5
    I'm guessing that you have never upgraded a Mac from a spinning hard drive (particularly that mini's 5400 rpm "speed demon") to an SSD.
    I have one of those 2012 minis, and the speedup when replacing a spinning hard drive with an SSD, is both noticeable, and in most any type of use you can throw at it.

    But, I think you are throwing out some FUD about SSDs, and the affect they will have on virtually any computer, when compared to a spinning hard drive.
    What do you mean by "long-term storage"? If you mean an external drive used for backups, then booting to an SSD won't affect that too much, if at all. But the normal use of the Mac, and macOS, means a significant part of your time in normal computer use (browsing the web, checking email, even playing games) is accessing the drive, either for reading and writing. The decrease in drive access time makes an SSD give anyone who tries an SSD a noticeable increase in performance, regardless of how fast the rest of the hardware is.
    So, it would appear that you have your information bass-ackwards.
    Sorry, the "long-term storage" doesn't affect that at all, unless that long-term storage is also on a solid-state drive, and you upgrade THAT also.
    You may need to take your two cents back. :D
     
  6. Heat_Fan89 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Feb 23, 2016
    #6
    Thanks everyone for your input. I feel much better about going with the 8GB instead of 16GB. :)
     
  7. jpietrzak8, Sep 26, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2016

    jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816

    jpietrzak8

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    #7
    I have a fair range of machines now. Macs, PCs, laptops, even a tablet for whatever that's worth. :) Some with HDs, some with SSDs.

    Let me state this at the outset: an SSD beats an HD. Hands down. Solid state should always beat a mechanical device, both in speed and in reliability. You will notice the difference any time you use your long-term storage device.

    But again, I must ask: when are you using your long-term storage device? And why? Answering those questions will answer just how much value you will get out of the device, and therefore just how much speedup you will notice.

    Ah, "Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt." I am not trying to engender fear, and I am all about removing uncertainty or doubt. Again: compared to a spinning hard drive, an SSD wins hands down. No question about that. But, how much time do you spend reading or writing to that drive? There are certainly some applications which require near-constant use of the drive. Web browsing, e-mail, and office apps are not among those applications; the difference between an HD and an SSD are inconsequential while they are running. Playing audio and video media does require near-constant use of the drive, but retrieving serial data from a spinning drive makes optimal use of its design (reducing the difference between HD and SSD in this case), and in any case most media formats retrieve such small amounts of data per unit of time that the difference is inconsequential. That 5400 rpm "speed demon" you mention can stream 4K video media without breaking a sweat.

    So, when exactly do you see the benefits of your SSD? Well, whenever you need to retrieve significant amounts of data from the device. I see this happening in three general situations: when you boot up the machine; when you load an application; and, when you retrieve pages of data in a database-like application. Let me take these in order:

    1) Boot-up time. No question, a huge benefit when using an SSD. You can probably save more than sixty seconds on a machine with a modern (read: bloated) operating system. :) So, can I ask: how frequently do you boot your machine? Several times an hour? Several times a day? Once a day?

    Saving 60 seconds once per day seems underwhelming to me. And personally, I turn my machines on once, and leave them on. I only reboot when an OS update requires it, or a power outage occurs. For me, months go by between reboots. So I count this advantage as entirely negligible (other than for portables, which for obvious reasons must spend time away from an external power source).

    2) Application load time. Again, no question, a huge benefit when using an SSD. And the larger the app (again, read: bloated), the bigger the advantage. So, again I ask: how frequently do you load your applications into memory? Several times an hour? Several times a day? Once a day?

    Saving a few seconds once per day seems underwhelming to me. And again, I tend to load my apps into memory, and leave them there. Forever. There's no reason to open and close and reopen and reclose my e-mail app, or my browser, or my IDE.

    3) Database applications. Again, no question, a huge benefit when using an SSD. And here is where I truly appreciate using solid-state storage, when I'm engaged in this sort of work. But I personally don't do a lot of database-style work, so I rarely receive this benefit.

    And so, no, I don't see a whole lot of benefit from SSDs. Depending on how you use your device, you may see much more than me; but all I'm trying to say is that the benefit of SSD usage is not universal. For some people, the difference between HD and SSD is less pronounced; for folks like me, it may even be inconsequential.

    Nope, not true. All modern operating systems use a mechanism called "caching". If you bring up the Activity Monitor and switch to the "Memory" tab, you can find a value for the amount of memory currently involved in caching down at the bottom of the window. When an operating system engages in "caching", it will intercept any application requests to write to the drive and instead store that data temporarily in RAM. And, when an application requests to read data from the drive, it will place a copy of that data into the cache (and many operating systems will go ahead and use a prediction scheme to load related data into RAM as well, before an application calls for it).

    There are several benefits to this: for one thing, RAM is fast. Much faster than an HD. Much faster even than an SSD. So an app can quickly "store" a pile of data into the cache and return to its other business, and let the OS slowly stream that data to the drive.

    For another thing, many apps will need to read from or write to the same files frequently. If those files are currently located in the cache, you never even need to touch the drive; you can retrieve the data or make the changes entirely within the cache itself.

    Most modern applications (web browser, e-mail, even playing games) can easily fit within the cache, so long as you aren't starving your computer for RAM. And this is why I say a RAM upgrade can easily be more beneficial than an SSD; if you give your machine enough RAM to maintain a significant amount of cache, they will run faster than they would if they constantly had to touch a spinning drive, and they will run faster than if they constantly had to touch an SSD.

    No, I don't believe so. The simple fact is that in terms of raw speed, SSD trumps HD, and RAM trumps SSD. Maxing out your RAM, and operating your machine in such a way as to fully utilize that RAM, will provide the greatest benefits in performance. Moving from HD to SSD will also provide benefits in performance, but the extent of those benefits depends greatly on how you use your machine.
     
  8. DeltaMac macrumors 604

    DeltaMac

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    Location:
    Delaware
    #8
    The whole RAM vs SSD discussion really is not so much in question, now that most Macs have no upgradeable RAM, and the storage is really the only part that you might be able to upgrade.

    There is one point that I do disagree on: Upgrading your RAM vs. HDD upgrade to SSD.
    The SSD upgrade, in real life, provides more advantage than upgrading RAM. If you have to choose one over the other, the SSD is the better choice for performance.
    Example: if you are marginal on RAM, with some affect on the speed of your system and significant memory pageouts, then upgrading to an SSD might still leave you wanting RAM, but real system performance will be better because of the impact of the SSD. And, it doesn't really matter that much how you use your system. The SSD can "marginalize" a lot of issues. (but, I would still do the RAM, anyway :D )
     
  9. Nospig macrumors member

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    Jul 25, 2011
    Location:
    Bangkok, Thailand
    #9
    I have a 2011 with 8GB RAM. I usually have 2 users logged in, both running Xcode, Safari etc. Memory is not a problem. I did fit a SSD, huge difference in overall performance. It's just the CPU power that holds it back when building large projects now.
     
  10. Fishrrman, Sep 27, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2016

    Fishrrman macrumors G4

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    Feb 20, 2009
    #10
    To the OP:
    You don't need to do anything more. Just use the 8gb of RAM you have and enjoy it.

    Personal experience follows:

    I, too, have a late-2012 Mini (i7 quad core version).

    I upgraded the factory 4gb of RAM (2+2) by adding a single 8gb DIMM into the top slot (when open) -- for a total of 10gb (2+8).

    I then used terminal to TURN OFF VM disk swapping with the following command:
    sudo launchctl unload -wF /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.dynamic_pager.plist

    Since then, the Mini runs smooth as silk, very fast, and it never, NEVER crashes.

    I suppose that it -would- be possible to crash it by loading up either many programs or keeping open dozens of windows in a browser, but I'm mindful of what apps I'm running.

    There will be naysayers who reply that one shouldn't turn off VM.
    But again, I will post:
    It NEVER crashes, and runs BETTER this way, than it did before!
     
  11. fricotin macrumors regular

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    #11
    What was the difference in price between 8 and 16 ?
     
  12. Heat_Fan89 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Feb 23, 2016
    #12
    IIRC, my 8GB cost me $38 and the 16GB was around $89 on Amazon and that was for the Crucial brand. There was a brand of memory (generic) that was $67 for the 16GB but with some of the stories I read about memory issues with the mini, I decided to stay with the known brands.

    What's the benefit of VM and why does macOS has it turned on?
     
  13. fricotin macrumors regular

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    Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico
    #13
    I have been using 2X8 Corsair certified For Mac which sells for about $75 for the last four years without any problems on my 2012 Mac mini. I can recommend them.
     
  14. fhall1 macrumors 68040

    fhall1

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    #14
    With the 2012 i7 quad and 16GB RAM (and a 1TB SSD), I'm able to run windows10 VM and OS X - oops MacOS 10.12.1 DP2 virtual machines simultaneously - each given 4GB RAM and the host OS still has plenty of memory headroom with the leftover 8GB. Couldn't do that if I only had 8GB total.
     
  15. fricotin macrumors regular

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  16. iamsen47 macrumors regular

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    Aug 18, 2012
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    Kobe, Japan
    #16
    Sorry for bumping this old thread, I was just wondering if there are any 16Gb ram chips available for the late 2012 Mini. Mine currently has 2x8Gb for a total for 16Gb. Not that it's necessary, but if I could upgrade it to 2x16Gb, I'd like to try.
     
  17. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816

    jpietrzak8

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    #17
    Sadly, probably not. People have tried putting 16GB modules in the 2012 Mini, but the machine couldn't handle them. (It might be able to with a firmware fix, though.) Here's a link describing the problem:

    https://macminicolo.net/blog/files/can-the-mac-mini-be-upgraded-to-32GB-of-RAM.html
     
  18. iamsen47 macrumors regular

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    #18
  19. fhall1 macrumors 68040

    fhall1

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    #19
    Thanks for that link - I thought it was a chipset limitation (hardware) all this time. If it is something as simple as a firmware update, I wish Apple would do it - but after all these years I don't think they will.
     
  20. treekram, Apr 13, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2017

    treekram macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    In the Intel datasheet for the CPU's used in the Mini, it says, "Using 4Gb DRAM device technologies, the largest memory capacity possible is 32GB, assuming Dual Channel Mode with four x8 dual ranked DIMM memory configuration".

    What I have seen is that 16GB SO-DIMM's are x16, not x8. If you look at the CPU's used for the iMac, they were not able to use 16GB SO-DIMM's until Skylake. Before Skylake, the memory specification for the Intel non-Xeon CPU's used by Apple were x8, Skylake can support either x8 or x16. I don't think it's a coincidence that when they started using Skylake, x16 16GB SO-DIMM's would work. It should also be noted that Apple officially says that only 8GB SO-DIMM's are supported in the Skylake iMacs (but we've seen that from Apple before).

    In my opinion, that's why the 16GB x16 SO-DIMM's won't work in the Mini. I also looked at other computers that used the same quad-core CPU's as the 2012 Mac Mini (not many of them and all laptops). According to the Crucial site, none of them can use the 16GB SO-DIMM's. If anybody can find a computer with an Intel CPU that doesn't support x16 but yet can use a x16 16GB SO-DIMM, then my theory is wrong, but until then, I think that's the big issue. Or, if you can find a x8 16GB SO-DIMM, that may work in the 2012 Mini. (I have seen x8 16GB RDIMM's - I think it was an RDIMM - but they had a lot more chips than can fit on an SO-DIMM.)

    Update. 9 days later ... I'm putting together a non-Mac system and I see that what I wrote earlier applies to DDR3 RAM. With DDR4, there are x8 16GB SO-DIMM's available. While Skylake can use DDR4, the Skylake iMacs use DDR3. To answer the obvious questions - the 2012 Mini uses DDR3 and DDR3 and DDR4 are not interchangeable.
     

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