The time has come... to replace the Mac Mini.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by MonksMac, Jun 4, 2014.

  1. MonksMac, Jun 4, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2014

    MonksMac macrumors 6502a

    MonksMac

    Joined:
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    #1
    Like the title says... wouldn't mind a bit of outside perspective/advice.

    Originally got the Mac Mini in late 2006 as a Christmas present and used it as my main Mac until 2011.
    It's served as a faithful companion to my 32"/720P, Samsung LCD TV for Netflix and Hulu, iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, Plex etc. the past two years. It's a Late 2006 1.83 Core Duo/2GB/80/SuperDrive machine running Snow Leopard.

    However, over the past few months I've noticed that it's really starting to show its age - it struggles to play even non HD Netflix streams and pretty much any streaming media. iTunes and Spotify work fine, Pandora is a bit slow.

    So my question is this - what's my best option for replacing this mini?
    I love how little power it consumes, how quiet it is, and how well it "just works" with the TV.
    I've thought about:

    1. Buying a used older Mac and see how much longer I can get out of it and replace again.

    2. Hooking up my Windows PC (Quad Core AMD, power hungry and loud, currently serves as a PLEX server. :p)

    3. Buying a cheap PC laptop and use it just as a dedicated HTPC.

    I'd prefer to keep using Apple products, but I'm certainly open to other possibilities as well.

    Thanks :apple:
     
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

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  3. LaunchpadBS macrumors 6502a

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  4. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #4
    If not, then even the mid-2010 Mac mini as a refurbished unit should be very inexpensive and it can hold 16 gigs of RAM with at least OSX 10.7 or later and specific RAM and latest EFI.

    I have the last of the larger format Mac minis that looks like yours, but from late-2009 (2.53 Core 2 Duo/500 GB hard drive/Superdrive/Snow Leopard) and it maxes out a 4 gigs of RAM is is still OK for simple stuff.
     
  5. js81 macrumors 65816

    js81

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    #5
    Have you considered upgrading the mini? Do you feel comfortable working inside it? If so, I'd suggest 3 things;
    1) a Core 2 Duo processor (T7200's are dirt cheap; you can also use the T7400 and T7600, I think)
    2) 3GB of RAM and
    3) a small (60GB), cheap (~$50) SSD.

    Add to that a clean install of Snow Leopard and I think you'd be set for a little while longer and only cost about $100. Only downside then would really be the GMA950 - nothing you can do about that.
     
  6. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #6
    Is the processor soldered in and if so is it easy to get out? I have that Mac mini I mentioned to OP (with Core 2 Duo 2.53 GHz from late-2009) and could I put something better in?
     
  7. js81 macrumors 65816

    js81

    Joined:
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    #7
    He can in his... but you can't in yours, unfortunately. The very first Intel minis with the Core Solo and Duo were socketed, but the later ones aren't. I can confirm that form eyes-on observation - my mini is a late-09 server with the same 2.53 C2D CPU and is DEFINITELY soldered. :(

    I actually did the upgrade in ~2007 or so - upgraded my original Core Solo mini to a T7200. :)
     
  8. weckart macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    #8
    You would also need to flash the firmware to change it from a Mac Mini 1,1 to a Mac Mini 2,1 (the logic boards are identical in both revisions) so that you can use more than the 2GB of RAM the Mac Mini 1,1 is limited to. You are still limited to Lion as there is no fixing that 32bit EFI.

    Given the limitations of the GMA950, you should put your time and money towards a later Mac Mini with an nVidia gpu onwards. Those will run Yosemite.
     
  9. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #9
    Where would one find such a machine - refurbished, not just "used"? In the Apple Store, all I have ever seen are 2012 refurbs with the base i5 model going for about $510. That's fine, but not all that exciting when you can get a new one for $560 at Best Buy.

    They have the 2010 mini at MacOfAllTrades for $480, but that only includes a 90 day warranty and they want an additional $95 to extend it to 15 months, which is no bargain when you can get a new one with an i5 that should run circles around the 2010 model for less.

    Aside from dealing with eBay or Craigslist, are there other sources of refurbished Mini's from reputable companies with a warranty they will stand behind?

    The Best Buy price looks pretty good, just noticed this while making my post. The other day I looked and it was going for about $580 IIRC.

    [edit]Just looked and B&H Photo has the base model for $550, I think that's the cheapest I've seen in recent months. Wonder why the prices are dropping? Anticipation of the new model that wasn't announced at WWDC? ;)
     
  10. mattbaar26 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2013
    #10
    Why not pop an SSD in and breathe some new life into your machine? Definitely the cheapest option, there are 128 GB SSDs going for ~$70 and 256 GBs for around $110
     
  11. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #11
    bummer

    I don't have anything against getting one for $599 at Apple store. If ram isn't 8 gb then I would get this upgrade only.
     
  12. MonksMac, Jun 5, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2014

    MonksMac thread starter macrumors 6502a

    MonksMac

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    #12
    Sorry I haven't had a chance to check in yet, been busy at work all day...

    Got a lot of great points here - it almost seems like my best option would be to see if I can find an older Mac Mini.

    Not really interested in trying to upgrade my current Mini - it's lived a long life and is pretty much maxed out with ram. SSD is an option I suppose, I do have a spare one from my PC, but I was thinking about popping it into my 2011 MacBook Pro when Yosemite is released.
    I could upgrade to a C2D but, again I'm not sure it's really worthwhile to spend the money on that, have to hack 10.7 on there, etc. and only be one version of OS X newer than what I have.
    Just hesitant on the "bang for the buck" value, I am a college student after all...

    Keep the suggestions coming though :cool:

    EDIT:
    I do have the original 320GB, 5400RPM hard drive that originally came with my MBP - could that possibly be an improvement over the original 80GB 5400RPM drive currently in the Mini?
    If if do replace my MBP's drive (500GB 7200RPM HHD) with an SSD and then pass that drive along to the Mini, how much of an increase in speed would that perhaps give the Mini?
     
  13. weckart macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    #13
    As someone who did the upgrade back in the day, the speed increase is negligeable, especially as Lion is a tad slower than SL. An SSD may give some speed increase but your bottleneck will be the gpu.

    If money is tight, you might consider hackintoshing an Intel NUC/Gigabyte Brix. That should be half the price of the Mac Mini and should serve as a PVR.
     

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