Subjective Review - 2014 Mac Mini

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by torquer, Oct 25, 2014.

  1. torquer macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2014
    #1
    As I've posted in other threads, I received yesterday my 2014 Mac Mini. It is configured with the 3.0Ghz Core i7, 8GB of soldered RAM, and a 512GB Apple PCI-E SSD. This particular SSD ended up being the Samsung model.

    After powering up, the first thing I did was load Windows 8.1 Enterprise via Boot Camp. As I've posted in other threads, I use this machine exclusively to RDP into, either from other computers at home or remotely. I RDP into it as a standalone workstation, and it runs Outlook, Pidgin, Lync, and a few other utilities 24/7. One of the draws of the Mini in general for me is the near silence and low power draw. In the event of a power outage, my Mini will stay on for upwards of an hour.

    I don't do any content creation or transcoding. This is not a "workstation" per se, but really just is my stable long term home for all of my non gaming PC activities. I have a high end gaming PC that exists only for that purpose, and my girlfriend has her own as well. I also have a 13" MBP Retina and an 11" i7 MBA.

    As I've mentioned before, I had a 2011 Mac Mini with the 2.3GHz i5, 8GB of RAM, and a Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD. I've been pretty happy with it overall, but USB 2.0 was becoming an issue for me and overall I was just ready for an upgrade even though I didn't "need" one. Like many, I'd been considering a 2012 Quad for some time, but was hopeful that in 2014 we'd see an update. Like many, I was disappointed to see only dual core CPUs offered in the new models. Despite my disappointment, I realized I don't really need quad cores for what this machine does, so I pulled the trigger on a pretty hefty investment knowing this will be in service for probably another 3 years.

    I've noticed a few things right off the bat in comparison between the 2011 and the new 2014:

    1. CPU temps are down on average about 10*C over the 2011. Idle temps are down nearly that much. Load temps do go up about as high as 90*C but I haven't seen them jump above that so far.

    2. Overall usage is "snappier." The CPU seems to stay in its turbo frequency of 3.4-3.5GHz almost all the time while under load, then drops back down to 800Mhz when little else is going on. Its not a night and day difference, but it is noticeable.

    3. Storage performance is noticeably improved. Under Windows with the Samsung 840, read and write speeds were pretty high at 400-500MBps, but IOPS were lower than expected at around 40k. With the new mini, I'm seeing speeds around 775MBps and IOPS in the 70k-80k range. Again we're comparing SSD to SSD here so its not going to be a night and day difference, but in transferring files from old to new it definitely showed an improvement.

    4. USB 3.0 speeds are obviously vastly improved over USB 2.0

    Overall I'm happy. Was it worth the cost? Probably not. I could have gotten a NUC or a BRIX or a Zotac whatever, but I do like the ability to occasionally use OSX if I want to, and its hard to beat Apple's build quality and form factor. I never hear the fans and the power usage is minimal. Cost to performance ratio is terrible though, much as it often is with Apple products.

    Now I'm installing a fresh copy of OSX onto the SSD on my 2011 and prepping it for sale. Anyone interested? :D
     
  2. ZipZilla, Oct 25, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2014

    ZipZilla macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2003
    #2
    Thanks for the review. I think I'm going to go with a 2014 model myself.
     
  3. torquer thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2014
    #3
    After a few days of using it I can say I'm very pleased with the results of my upgrade from my 2011. It is noticeably quicker, runs cooler, and uses less power.

    That being said, you can find a 2012 quad for about $600 less. Upgrade the RAM and pop in a 512 SSD and you're still saving $200-300. If power usage and heat aren't concerns and you don't care about wireless speed or dual thunderbolt ports that'd probably be the way to go. The only caveat is having to disassemble your mini to perform the upgrades yourself which I did on my 2011 without issue.

    If anyone is curious I sold my 2011 2.3 i5 with 8GB and a Sammy 256 SSD in about 2 hours on Craigslist for $400.
     
  4. ceraz macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    #4
    SSD PCIe is definitely a no-brainer ;) but what's the rationale in an i7 instead of 16GB RAM upgrade?

    Overtime my previous Minis lagged in memory and graphics. i5 and i7 have the same GPU.

    It would be great to hear your about your approach in deciding the model
     
  5. Jackintosh macrumors 6502a

    Jackintosh

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    Location:
    Illinois
    #5
    This is my big concern about the 2012 I7 for the extra $180 over the I5. The quad core is great, but I'm concerned the HD4000 will start to show its age.
     
  6. Cape Dave macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2012
    Location:
    Northeast
    #6
    By any chance could you post a black magic disk speed test? I am seriously considering a mini much like yours. Thanks.
     
  7. jlxz macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2013
    #7
    is it so big the difference between a Fusion Drive and a SSD in 2014 model?
    I'm considering buying one and updating my 2009 model. I use my mini as a Workstation, it's not a server or a media center, it's my main computer.
    I was thinking in i5 2,8GHz, 16GB RAM and Fusion Drive 1TB. As you can see i pretend this upgrade last many years as my 2009 model.

    May I ask you if it would be better to select i7 over i5 or change Fusion Drive to a 256/512 SSD PCIe?
     
  8. squirrrl macrumors 6502a

    squirrrl

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2013
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    #8
    Has anyone tried 3 monitors on their 2014 Mini driving 2 monitors from the 2x TB ports and 1 from HDMI?

    I know that the specs say it can't, but i want to hear it from someone who's tried it. I'll try it but i'm still waiting for my cables to arrive.
     
  9. torquer thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2014
    #9
    Given my use case (and I emphasize that since I'm sure its fairly unique among forum users), I'm not particularly RAM intensive. At any given time I'm running Outlook 2013, Pidgin, Lync 2013, and web browsers. With Windows 8.1 I'm rarely using more than about 2 of my 8 gigs. The i7 afforded slightly higher clocks and an additional MB of cache, though honestly both are of dubious value given what I do. I suppose in the end it was a choice and I anticipated with the same usage model I'd likely get more mileage out of the better CPU than the additional RAM.

    Your mileage may vary of course depending on what you do.

    ----------

    I'll reboot in OSX when I get home and tell you. I can tell you running ATTO in windows I'm getting up to 750MB read speeds in some of the higher block sizes.

    ----------

    I think honestly it depends on what you do. While I don't have direct experience with Fusion Drive in OSX, I do have quite a bit of experience with Intel's PC implementation of SSD caching and also SSHD drives from Seagate. If you're not running a disk intensive piece of software (video editing, etc) and are basically running the same programs for the most part, the fusion drive will likely give you better bang for your buck over the PCI-E SSD. I mostly went with the SSD because I run Windows almost exclusively which would negate the benefits of the fusion drive for me.

    I think you'd be very happy with the configuration you mentioned rather than dumping a couple hundred dollars into a PCI-E. If you have the money, I'd recommend maxing the RAM and CPU simply because theres no chance for future upgrades. At least with the drive there is some possibility of an upgrade, even if it would be a pain.

    ----------

    Wish I could help but I've only been able to do this with dual monitors. Also one of my monitors is a Dell U2713HM which has an internal limitation of 1080p over HDMI which sucks considering its a 1440P monitor.
     
  10. jlxz macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2013
    #10
    Thanks for your advise. I think I'll buy i7, 16GB RAM and Fusion Drive.
     
  11. Cape Dave macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2012
    Location:
    Northeast
    #11
  12. squirrrl macrumors 6502a

    squirrrl

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2013
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    #12
    I had my work buy me the 2014 i7 with 256GB and 16GB ram.

    I will soon buy a 2012 2.3 quad-core i7 mini and install 16GB ram, but leave in the 1TB drive as the boot drive for now until I figure out how to install an SSD.

    I'll let you know how slow/fast each is comparatively when I get around to it.
     
  13. cinealta macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    #13
    Pretty subjective review but good observations.
     
  14. ceraz macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    #14
    Thanks for the feedback. I don't expect to be RAM intensive on a regular basis to justify 16GB RAM. My thinking is that if you need really 16GB RAM maybe you shouldn't buy a mini ;-)

    I would have the occasional use of iMovie (a few times a year). As I have a large iPhoto library I was just wondering if the 16GB would improve iPhoto caching to avoid any lag versus a 8GB model. Maybe I should research how much iPhoto/iMovie can cache !
     

Share This Page