Secondary Mac mini Server

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Yebubbleman, Jan 2, 2015.

  1. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #1
    I recently bought a Mid 2011 Mac mini Server used from one of the Amazon Marketplace sellers. I took out the stock drives and added those silly Seagate SSHDs (two of them at 1TB each) and maxed out the RAM at the Apple Supported maximum of 8GB. This is my first ever Mac server and I'm primarily using it for training myself on Profile Manager, Open Directory, NetBoot, and probably one of either the Caching Service or the Software Update Service.

    I should add that part of the point to me having this server is to further educate myself on becoming an Apple Systems Admin with practical skills that I couldn't pick up from JUST doing the ACTC exams each year. And given that, I'd like to experiment with multiple servers.

    THAT being said:

    I was thinking of buying a second Mac mini Server and doing the same thing with the hard drives and RAM. For this server, I will probably aim for something less powerful (and designate for the less processor/RAM-speed intensive tasks) and thusly, I'm thinking one of the Core 2 Duo generations of Mac mini Server should be sufficient (again, it's not like I don't have the 2GHz Sandy Bridge i7 server for tasks that require the power).

    GIVEN THIS:

    On eBay, I'm seeing a Mid 2010 Mac mini (so, current body style [save for the non-accessible bits of these stupid new 2014 models], 2.66GHz Penryn Core 2 Duo, GeForce 320M, 8GB Apple-Supported Maximum RAM; 16GB Actual-supported RAM [according to MacTracker]) for $469, and a Late 2009 (so, last body style with the external 110W Power Brick, 2.53GHz Penryn Core 2 Duo, GeForce 9400M, 4GB Apple-Supported Maximum RAM, 8GB Actual-Supported RAM [according to MacTracker]) for $379.

    Now with that, I have a few questions, and accordingly, I want your opinions:

    1. First and fore mostly, given those prices, which machine would you go with?

    2. Are these fair asking prices?

    3. I remember reading/hearing back from my days as a Mac Repair tech that there were some known issues with the GeForce 9400M that weren't as common on (or were non-existent on the 320M (though that could've been that the 9400M was used over the course of nearly two years where the 320M was used over the course of half that time). Is this true? I don't care about graphics performance seeing as the system will be headless for most of its operating lifetime under my ownership (though given that the 9400M and 320M are both the respective chipsets of their respective logic boards, reliability is a concern for me).

    4. Does the Late 2009 Mac mini Server actually recognize 8GB of RAM? Seeing as AppleCare would be long over on whichever one I buy, I don't so much care about the maximum that Apple supports just as long as it doesn't fry my machine and is recognized. That being said, as is the case with the current server, I think 8GB is sufficient and I don't see a need for more than that.

    5. Are there any other limitations or annoyances that I should be aware of when making this decision?

    Thank you all for your help and sorry the post is so long.
     
  2. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #2
    1. Given the specs, I don't think you will notice much difference between a 2009 and a 2010. 2010's were only slightly faster (CPU), but with a better GPU (not much help in a Server). The 2010 MIGHT be supported longer by Apple, but my guess is eventually Apple will just drop all support for Core2duo's at once.... Purely speculation on my part though.

    2. Pricing... Can't help.

    3. I still have a Macbook Pro from 2009 running a 9400m and it runs like a champ. A buddy of mine still uses his 2009 Mac Mini to this day as his main computer (also using a 9400m). I wouldn't worry about the GPU.

    4. Yes. Both Macs referenced in my 3rd answer are running 8GB and have virtually the same motherboard/etc...

    5. The 2010 is easier to upgrade the RAM because you don't have to tear the whole thing apart. Just twist the bottom off. Further the 2010 is the exact same chasis as your 2011 so you have more familiarity with it (ie. how to replace the drives).... This may or may not be a big deal to you though.
     
  3. chrfr macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    #3
    Keep in mind that virtual machines work very well for this sort of learning and testing.
     
  4. Yebubbleman thread starter macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #4
    I could see Apple instituting a requirement that requires the presence of a miniDisplayPort (though, I guess the Late 2009 would be let in under those circumstances as well), which would (under-the-hood) be code for requiring DDR3 and 1066MHz or higher bus speeds. Though, I agree, requiring Sandy Bridge at a minimum or limiting out Core 2 Duo seems a bit more likely. This secondary server can remain on Yosemite if need be (especially if Apple is going to give OS X Server 4 the kind of maintenance patch they gave OS X Server 3 with version 3.2.2 as well as continued security patches (which they're still doing for Mavericks and Mountain Lion). I think as long as one of the two servers could remain current, I'd be fine.

    Bummer. :(

    For sure. Again, I think that what I'm probably noticing is that there were a lot more machines that shipped with and used the 9400M (20" Early 2009 iMac, 21.5" Late 2009 iMac, Mac mini Early and Late 2009, Mac mini Server Late 2009, MacBook Early, Mid and Late 2009, Aluminum MacBook Late 2008, 13" MacBook Pro Mid 2009, MacBook Pro 15" Late 2008 and Mid 2009 and MacBook Pro 17" Early and Mid 2009, MacBook Air Late 2008 and Mid 2009) versus the 320M (13" MacBook Pro Mid 2010, MacBook Mid 2010, Mac mini Mid 2010, Mac mini Server Mid 2010, MacBook Air Late 2010), and thusly, I'm only noticing more failures solely due to a higher sampling pool.

    Yeah, that's a good point; it's the same chipset (which is the same physical chip that has the 9400M), so it must have the same support for the maximum amount of RAM. I know the MacBook Airs, at the time, used a variant of it, but that is not applicable, thankfully.

    I'd be replacing both internal hard drives with more 1TB Seagate SSHDs, which, on the newer mini, required a complete disassembly (as the second drive won't go out until everything else goes out first). I don't think this changes between Mid 2010 and Mid 2011, though I do think that Mid 2010 has far more annoying heat sensors on the drives than Mid 2011 seemed to.

    So, I'd probably have to gut the Mid 2010 model more than the Late 2009 model; though I've also taken apart a fair number of Late 2009 (any earlier era Intel Mac minis) so I'm equally familiar with the take-apart procedures for the two generations.

    Now that I think of it, as far as power usage is concerned, is there a huge difference? I seem to recall that Mid 2010 and newer uses a much more efficient power supply than the external bricks used in the Mac minis of 2009 and older.
     
  5. paulrbeers, Jan 2, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2015

    paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #5
    Looks like about 4w at idle. No idea about max as I doubt it really eats 110w at full tilt...

    http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201897

    From PC Mag:

    The last Mac mini (GeForce 9400M) idled at 15 watts with 34 watts power usage during our Cinebench R10 test. This score was already one of the lowest we've seen. However, the new Mac mini only uses about 7-8 watts while idling, and 26 watts while running Cinebench R10.

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2365114,00.asp

    Those are actually the base models, so obviously a second hard drive will add a bit and faster CPU's might add a little as well, but it gives you a pretty good idea of the differences of the models everything being "equal"...
     
  6. Yebubbleman thread starter macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #6
    Frankly, I'd love nothing more than to build a dedicated box that houses a ton of VMs. And for Windows and Linux Servers, I totally could. However, for OS X Server, I'd still need it on Apple hardware and at that point, it's still cheaper to use two Mac minis than one Mac Pro. I've given thought to hacking the VMware Workstation app to recognize OS X VMs, but it seems messier and financially inefficient for that particular task.

    Yeah, it seems like, at Idle, it's a 2W difference and at Max, it's the difference between 85W and 110W, which still doesn't seem like enough to warrant my spending $90 additional on it. Given the secondary nature and the otherwise similarity specs-size, I'm leaning more toward the older Mac mini. Does anyone think I should be leaning the other way instead?
     
  7. chrfr macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    #7
    For testing purposes, you can easily run a couple of VMs in VMWare Fusion on a Mini, or you can also install VMWare ESXi (free) on the mini and host a couple of VMs on there without hacking anything.
    There's several articles on running ESXi on a Mini here:
    http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/apple
     
  8. Yebubbleman thread starter macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #8
    I should probably clarify that these servers will start out being for testing purposes but will probably evolve to have dedicated uses. Which is really to say that a a Mac mini isn't the best for ESXi if I want to have multiple VMs. Also, last I checked, VMware's support (as well as the support of competing products that do this on Apple hardware) for OS X as a VM was nowhere near as advanced as it was Windows or Linux. Which is also to say that my experience will suck once I get serious with it, which I plan to do. Ideally, I have a cylinder with fancy external storage and 6-8 cores and I just set that sucker up running ESXi, but even that, for these tasks seems like overkill.

    I think these two will be fine for now.
     

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