Upgrade options from mid-2011 mini: 2012 Quad vs. 2014 mid-level mini

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by BeatCrazy, Oct 20, 2014.

  1. BeatCrazy, Oct 20, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2014

    BeatCrazy macrumors 68000

    Jul 20, 2011
    Sorry there are so many similar threads going on, but I'd like to pose a rather specific question regarding my upgrade possibilities.

    My current machine is the mid-2011 model. I updated to Yosemite, and have the following updates to my machine:
    • 256GB Samsung 840 Pro SSD
    • 8GB 1333Mhz RAM
    • CalDigit Thunderbolt dock (gives me 3 USB 3.0 ports)

    I am using my machine for general-purpose computing, no games. The most intensive tasks I'm doing are transcoding Blu-rays for .mp4, ripping and transcoding FLAC to mp3, and similar.

    My current set up seems OK, but at 3+ years old I want to think about options to last me the next few years. I'm starting to think it could be another 2 years before we see a refresh to the "new" 2014 Mac mini, which means my current box would be 5+ years old. I and typically get the upgrade bug when my computers are 2 years old, ha!

    Options I should consider?

    • 2012 mini Quad Core i7 2.3Ghz locally (new) for $699. I would probably go ahead and update the RAM to 16GB ($120?), and get a new 512GB SSD ($300). Total upgrade cost about $1150 after taxes.
    • Alternate choice: 2.6Ghz 2014 mini w/16GB RAM and 256GB SSD for $1099.

    Effectively the same price. I understand all of the drawbacks of the 2014 mini, but here are two things I've been thinking about. One, there is no longer TRIM support for Yosemite Should I be concerned? I used to use Trim Enabler, but decided with Yosemite that I don't want to disable kext signing.

    What about graphics? I'm starting to notice that my HD3000 graphics struggle a bit with intensive web pages. Is going from HD4000 to Iris in the mid-2014 model going to future-proof me for the next ~3years? I would be interested in 4K support, but since neither the 2012 or the 2014 will handle that, I guess it is a moot point :( I only run one 1920x1200 monitor now, but would consider picking up a second.
  2. BeatCrazy thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jul 20, 2011
    Well, after a week, did make a decision of sorts.

    I was unable to find a 2012 quad core at any local Best Buy, even though several stores showed inventory. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that the 2012 units have four major flaws (to me) which kept me from pursuing one further:

    • HD4000 graphics - this is now 2+ year old graphics tech, and since I plan on keeping computers for at least 3 years, I don't feel right about saddling myself with dated graphics which will be 5+ years old by the time I'm ready to upgrade.
    • Zero support for 4K monitors - related to above.
    • Loss of TRIM support with 10.10 (and I'm sure going forward). I had to disable Trim Enabler in my 2011 mini, who knows how long before it starts to slow down? My Black Magic tests have already started dipping below 400MB/s on the write, now. I used to get much closer to 500MB/s for the write speed.
    • Limited to ~400MB/s on SSD speed, where newer Macs with PCIe SSD can get close to 2X that.

    I considered again a BTO 2014 model, with 2.8Ghz, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD. Ruled it out for two main reasons:
    • No quad core (DUH!) means not much improvement on my encoding times.
    • No 4K support - hate to get saddled with no options for 4K, until I get a newer version a few years from now.

    So, I went a bit overkill, and got the base Late 2013 Mac Pro. I had some coupons + current sale at Best Buy brought it down to $2,555 + tax. About $1100 more than the 2014 mini I was considering. For that, I get:

    • 4K support, even for dual monitors.
    • Likely easier to upgrade to 1GB PCIe SSD in a year or so.
    • Graphics (even base dual D300s) will be plenty for me, for a long time.
    • Can upgrade to 24GB RAM, easily and cheaply.
    • More TB2 ports = more options

    It gets here in a few days, I'm sure it will be quite the experience going from a mid 2011 mini. I will definitely miss the smaller form factor, and reduced power consumption of the mini, but I'm eager to try out some of the CPU horsepower on a nMP :)

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