Upgrade to late 2014 to SSD or buy older model?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by xyzoptics, May 9, 2018.

?

Which route?

  1. Buy SSD

    9 vote(s)
    81.8%
  2. Buy Older & More Powerful Machine

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. Something else?

    2 vote(s)
    18.2%
  1. xyzoptics macrumors newbie

    xyzoptics

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2013
    #1
    Guys - this Late 2014 Mac Mini is so slow. I sometimes can't get through a song on iTunes when nothing else is running without it skipping. It's not usually that bad, but it's just about hopeless. It was bad before High Sierra, and has been unbearable for a few months now with High Sierra. I'm ready to do something about it.

    I don't use this machine for a ton, mostly for the Photos app, my iTunes library, some word processing and web browsing. I use Photoshop occasionally, but not much at all and it's not something I want to do a ton on this computer.

    It's running MacOS 10.13.4, with a 1.4 GHz i5 processor and 4gb DDR3. It has a 2 TB hard drive in it that's about half full.

    Option 1 - Upgrade to SSD
    A local shop will install it for $79, and the SSD's are cheaper now than they've ever been before. I don't feel comfortable enough to do it myself, so that $79 is part of the equation.

    Option 2 - Buy older one
    eBay seems littered with 2011 and 2012 Mac Mini's with a more powerful processor and 16gb of ram.

    Any thoughts on it? The price is likely going to be pretty close after buying the SSD if I go that route and then selling the one I have of I go that route.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. uller6 macrumors regular

    uller6

    Joined:
    May 14, 2010
    #2
    4GB of RAM really isn't enough for High Sierra, particularly if you have a spinning hard drive. A new SSD is a good choice, and $79 isn't that bad to get it installed.

    An older 2012 machine with 16Gb RAM will certainly help make things feel a lot faster, but the older machines have slower wifi and one fewer thunderbolt ports than the 2014 models. Stay away from the 2011 models: they only have USB 2, the graphics card doesn't support metal, and they're no longer supported for hardware repairs.
     
  3. opeter macrumors 65816

    opeter

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2007
    Location:
    Slovenia, EU
    #3
    First: the RAM is your problem. I mean, 4 GB today is simply not enough.

    Second: the 1.4 GHz CPU is about the same speedwise as the older 2.5 GHz i5 Dual Core CPU (3210m), that you can find in the 2012 model.

    So, if you want to buy and older model, the only option is the Quad Core model with 2.3 GHz (or 2.6 GHz) CPU. But the later is expensive.

    And to be honest, I wouldn't buy that old computer anymore.

    Third: if you are not in hurry, wait for a Mac refresh in June. Something must come out, at least a new Macbook (Air)...
    --- Post Merged, May 10, 2018 ---
    To answer you original question: if I were you, I would definitely upgrade the HDD to an SSD (at least 128 GB). In that part it will be much faster (loading of apps, the OS, etc.)
     
  4. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #4
    Not sure if your assumption about "more powerful processors" is right, as @opeter implied. You can't compare different generation chips solely on the basis of ghz ratings. I have a 2012 2.6ghz quad mini, and that is indeed much faster (in fact, it's 50% faster than the top of the line 2014 mini). I love mine, but probably wouldn't buy another one today. The big weakness is the graphics chip, but it's also a six year old computer so probably not a good investment.

    Personally, I wouldn't sink more money into a 2014 mini that only has 4gb RAM, seems like a waste. If you want a faster mini, there are three 2014 models that should be a significant improvement but of course that gets expensive. And it would be wise to max out the RAM since it can never be upgraded.

    So, one way or the other, I would vote for "something else".... whatever that might be.
     
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G5

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #5
    4gb of RAM is not ideal, BUT... adding an SSD will make a BIG difference.

    You don't have to pay a shop to do this.
    There's a faster, easier, cheaper way that doesn't involve prying open the Mini.

    Buy an EXTERNAL USB3 SSD, and just plug it into a USB port.
    Then, set it up to become an "external boot drive".

    This is child's play on a Macintosh.

    You can get either:
    - A "ready-to-use" USB3 SSD, such as a Samsung t3, t5, or something like this:
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00ZTRY532?tag=delt-20

    - Or, get a "bare" 2.5" SSD and use either a USB3 enclosure, or something like this:
    https://www.amazon.com/Sabrent-2-5-...478&sr=1-2-spell&keywords=sabremt+usb3+to+ssd
    (cheap and handy, I have one on my desk right now)

    You don't need anything bigger than 256gb.
    Put the OS, apps, your account on the SSD.
    Leave "large libraries" such as movies, music and pics on the internal HDD (they don't "need speed")

    You'll be amazed at how much "new life" this breathes into the Mini.
     
  6. xyzoptics thread starter macrumors newbie

    xyzoptics

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2013
    #6
    Awesome feedback on this. Thank you guys for thinking it through. I think I might go with Fishrrman's thoughts and run with the external one. That will give me a better idea on what I'm getting into without too much of an investment. From there I can wait until June and hope a newer model comes out.

    I do love using photos.app. Do you think it would be better to save that library on the SSD or will that be OK on the internal HDD? I have backups in folders that I'd obviously keep on the internal.
     
  7. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #7
    I have two Minis booting from external Samsung T3 USB 3.0 SSD's. In each case, I got a big enough SSD to store everything I needed - one machine has a 500 and the other has a 1tb SSD. The internal drive is used for time machine backups on one machine and as a dual-boot setup with MacOSX 10.8.5 on the other, for my expensive legacy software
     
  8. uller6 macrumors regular

    uller6

    Joined:
    May 14, 2010
    #8
    If you go external and end up getting a new mac you can boot the new machine from the same external hard drive! That'll make your life much easier in the future if you do decide to upgrade.
     
  9. Guy Clark Suspended

    Guy Clark

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2013
    Location:
    London United Kingdom.
    #9
    The 2014 Mac mini is horrendously underpowered. The 2012 Mac mini is far superior so I would recommend replacing it with the earlier release.

    Aside from more power the 2012 Mac mini is easily upgradeable.
     
  10. xyzoptics thread starter macrumors newbie

    xyzoptics

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2013
    #10
    I really debated that route @Guy Clark, but decided I'd rather see what I can do with the external drive. If it doesn't work, I'll just sell the external and go with that route. I'm hoping this will proof worthwhile, and hopefully I'll be good to go. It's definitely the least investment with a hopefully good option for it to work.

    Now to figure out how to boot from the external. Be back with a report on how things go at some point! *goes to google*
     
  11. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #11
    Use Carbon Copy Cloner to make a bootable copy of your internal drive on the external SSD. Then go to Startup Disk in System Preferences and choose the new disk. That's all you need to do!

    However, I think you will just bump up against the limits of the slow CPU and 4gb RAM pretty quickly. The external drive might be useful for your next computer though.
     
  12. vkd macrumors 6502a

    vkd

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2012
    #12
    I agree with the others who pointed out that more RAM would really help you a lot. Put another 4GB in or even more if you can, I would say. Discs are for storage, RAM is where the action takes place. If you ain't got no space for the action, quickly paging it in and out of RAM and down onto your new, fast SSD is a benefit but not on a par with just having plenty of RAM room for the OS, your apps, songs etc. to function, which is a far better idea, in my humble opinion.

    I agree too with Fishrrman about an external SSD, especially as you'll have USB3 on your Mac Mini.
     
  13. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #13
    Unfortunately he can't do that on his 2014 Mini. The RAM is not upgradeable.
     
  14. an-other macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2011
    #14
    I assume you're listening through speakers connected to your Mini. Things like home sharing could have other factors.

    My guidance would to be to spend the minimal amount keeping your old equipment running and save for new stuff. I'm not a fan of spending a lot of money on old technology (others have contrary views for sure.)

    The apple mini hd hard drive upgrade is the most difficult computer upgrade I've ever done. $79 is a great price. As other's said RAM would help, too.

    I think it's reasonable to say a new mac mini is certainly coming. May not happen in my lifetime. That's an attempted joke at the longest thread on this site.
     
  15. Acronyc macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2011
    #15
    As others mentioned the external SSD is the way to go if you don't want to open up your mini. It's the cheapest option and I've ran the same model at work with an external SSD and it ran fine. But also don't be afraid of doing an internal install yourself. I recently installed a data doubler kit in my 2012 mini and while you have to take apart the entire machine it isn't as daunting as it seems. Just follow the directions from sites like ifixit and go slow.

    As for the RAM, while 4GB is not ideal it's just fine for High Sierra combined with an SSD. I have a 2015 base model 11" MacBook Air as a backup Mac and it runs High Sierra just fine. I don't notice much of a difference between it and my 2016 MBP with 16GB of RAM when doing basic tasks like internet browsing, word processing, or media consumption.
     
  16. RyanXM macrumors regular

    RyanXM

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2012
    Location:
    DFW, TX
    #16
    I just wish people would stop recommending an external USB 3.0 SSD as an option.
     
  17. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #17
    Why? They work great on my two Mini's. I just wish people would stop recommending a RAM upgrade - because that is not possible with the OP's 2014 Mini. ;)
     
  18. RyanXM macrumors regular

    RyanXM

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2012
    Location:
    DFW, TX
    #18
    Haha! SATA or PCIe is a much better option than an external drive that could become unplugged or the internal controller on the external drive could fail. Just asking for trouble in my opinion. I have NEVER recommended it to a client, nor would I ever do so myself.
     
  19. Acronyc macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2011
    #19
    Of course this is the optimal solution and is always better. But if a user wants to speed up their machine without opening it up, it’s really the only choice. And it runs great in my experience. If one worries about it getting unplugged or drive controller failure, just make regular backups.
     
  20. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #20
    Of course, because then you wouldn't get a fee for installing an internal SSD! j/k :D

    But seriously, I agree an internal is better in terms of speed - should be almost twice as fast with the right SSD in a 2014 Mini. In a 2012 Mini there's not a lot of difference though. But in this case, the OP has a 1.4ghz/4gb base model Mini. IMO, it's wasting money to put a SSD inside a machine like that because it will always be limited by the slow CPU and lack of RAM. My recommendation was to replace this computer and not spend anything on an upgrade.

    But since he has decided to do an upgrade anyway, at least he can move the external SSD to a new computer without opening it up again to remove his SSD. Opening it voids any remaining warranty and runs the risk of damaging the Mini - there have been many threads here where people had problems after attempting an upgrade.
     

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