What do I have to know about the Mac mini 2011/12 before buying?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Cox Orange, Jan 8, 2015.

  1. Cox Orange macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010

    is there anything I have to beware of or take care of, when buying a used MacMini from 2011 or 2012 (or maybe 2009)?

    Any recommendations?

    I need an Intel-Mac that is capable of running "Sonic Visualizer". I thought about older MacBooks or MacBookPros, but since I wanted to maybe use a bigger screen anyway... I thought a MacMini would be better. Also I like it, if I don't loose much room on the table.

    Are the 2012 MacMinis still user-upgradable re HDD and RAM?

    I also plan to sell it again in October, when I have time to make a longer (and thought through) buying decision, so maybe price dropping might be something to look for, too.

    Also it has to have Firewire.

  2. cocacolakid, Jan 8, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2015

    cocacolakid macrumors 65816


    Dec 18, 2010
    Everything except the 2014 mini can be upgraded with HD and ram.

    The 2012 is holding it's value more than previous models simply because it's the most powerful mini available, far more powerful than the crippled 2014 versions that are only dual core (and not user upgradeable).

    The 2011 mini's also are core i series chips, solid computers.

    The 2010's are core 2 duo's and significantly lower power than either the 2011 or 2012 versions.

    If you go all the way back to the 2009 models, it's the other form factor which is not as easy to open the case and do upgrades.

    All of those models have Firewire 800 ports.
  3. Cox Orange, Jan 8, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2015

    Cox Orange thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    I would be fine with the older form factor, since it is smaller (though higher, of course), but I will think about it a bit longer, which one of the 2009-2012 ones I will take in the end.

    PS: or is it better to maybe buy a 13 or 15" book and connect that to an external display? I have to dig for prices.
  4. Thanks pal macrumors member

    Nov 18, 2014

    Get the 2012 2.6GHz quad core i7 if you can find one.
  5. Cox Orange thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    Yes, but
    Someone tested it for me on a Windows machine and his Intel Xeon E3-1231 v3, 4x 3.40GHz and a 50MB wav file took 2% CPU usage during analysation.
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    There is at least one very important reason to choose a late-2012 Mini over a 2011:

    The late 2012 has USB3.
    The 2011 has USB2.

    USB3 is worth having...
  7. dyt1983, Jan 9, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015

    dyt1983 macrumors 65816

    May 6, 2014
    edit: To remove personally identifying info not relevant to the conversation.
  8. mojolicious macrumors 68000


    Mar 18, 2014
    Sarf London
    Yep. As a 2011 owner, the thing I most envy 2012ers is the USB3. It makes life so much less dull when doing disky stuff.
  9. Cox Orange, Jan 9, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2015

    Cox Orange thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    Thanks for the input to all.

    Good to have a real life experience stated about the work-load on a dual-core.

    I am now also considering a Book or an iMac (maybe with broken screen) that I can use via external display.
    I will have to look through everymac.com's comparison-site and look if other options (feature-wise and price-wise) than the Mini are other options for me.

    The USB-3 point is also valid, though, once I have loaded the testfiles on the internal drive, I think I could live without it, having Firewire800.
    From my experience on my PowerPC-Mac with USB2 (an ibook G4 mid 2005) USB2 gets one about 16MB/s, while USB2 on PCs is reported to reach the full theoretical throughput of USB2. Is that still the same for Intel-Macs, that USB2 is even slower than usual SUB2?
  10. Cox Orange thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    I looked around a bit...

    Looks like a 2012 MacMini (base model) will cost 400,-EUR on Ebay.
    iMac 2012 21" base models arround 600,-EUR.
    MacBook Air 2012 1,7GHz 450,-EUR (236,-EUR with defective Display, but external works).
    A Mac Pro 1st Gen 2,66GHz btw. would cost 200,-EUR (though that would not meet my "take little space" criteria, it is certainly a steel, looking, that I could probably add a USB3 PCIe card, right?)

    Other Mac Minis:
    2011 i5 2,5GHz 225,-EUR (guess that was only once) usually 300,-EUR
    2010 = 300,-EUR as ell
    C2D 2,26GHz, 2,4GHz 230,-EUR and 2,5GHz for 300,-EUR.

    Looks like everything but 2012 model costs about 300,- EUR.

    My other option is to built a Linux machine with Intel G1840 for (35,-EUR CPU, 30-50,-EUR for Mainboard, rest I have laying around), but considering, that I have a time problem, I guess learning a new OS would not be wise, right? Even with a pre-packed Ubuntu install, I guess the install alone could be more troublesome, than just sticking to what I know, a Mac.
  11. Cox Orange thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    I made a decision! :)

    I will try to get a MacMini 2012.

    Though a 1.1 Mac Pro even with 3GHz can be had for 200,- including shipping and the "drawers" are tempting, I guess it is insane to save the 180-200 bucks more, because a MacMini 2012

    - saves the 200,-EUR a Mac Pro would cost more after 6h use a day for 1year on the electricity bill
    - several drives can be realized via USB3 external cases, also they won't ahve to run all the time, like in the Mac Pro
    - I get my aim of using up as less place as possible
    - it will probably be even a small tad faster in some scenarios

    As has always been with the Minis, the graphics card is the only weak point.

    I will buy a 2012 MacMini for the meantime and in October, when I have a lot of time, I will decide weather to keep it or replace it. I hope the price drop is not that much in these 10 months. (Well, this would be a plus for the MP, because it can't get lower as 180,- as I have seen for some models ;) ).

    @ dyt1983:
    you mentioned the GPU. Will it be ok for the 2012 Mini?

    THANKS to you all!
  12. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    I would stay away from the 2.6, as it runs too hot and thus the fan can quickly become annoying. IMHO the 2.3 is the sweet spot to aim for.
  13. thedeske macrumors 6502a

    Feb 17, 2013
    USB3 is THE #1 reason to get the 12. The last to have firewire (if you need it) and Tbolt is there as well. Most complete Mini Ever IF you add a 3rd party SSD
    and max the Ram. Last Flexible Mini before the FAIL of 2014/15.
  14. Cox Orange thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    I need the FW for my audio-interface. Though USB3 would be great (thunderbolt external enclosures seem a bit pricey still), I think for quick drive use, I can just put a second HDD in there (besides an SSD). If it is right what I read on everymac.com (it says SATA6Gb/s 2x).

    Oh, that's good to know. Noise would be a real issue to me. It seemed that there were a few 2012 minis at the weekend, but they went pricier than the one I saw under completed auctions from Nov.. Seems kind of a christmas price rise is still going on.
    Sine there are not as much 2012 minis as I previously thought, I am now considerin an older iMac, as well, so I don't have to get a display (that's the only reason for me), of course I won't have USB3 then, but well,...
  15. Omega Mac, Jan 13, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2015

    Omega Mac macrumors 6502

    Aug 16, 2013
    That probably the most crucial line in the sand.

    USB 3 means you can have a meaningful and viable external boot option from an external USB drive that could also be an ext SSD so you'd get the speed performance with probably a larger choice of cases etc. than even thunderbolt and therfore cheaper too. I'll be investigating this myself.

    If you get the server with 2 x 1TB's you coudl run these as a raid 0 for your crucial data and boot from ext.

    Basically you have A LOT more options with USB3 & TB on such a little box is nifty.
  16. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    I think most people have now realized the value of the 2012 mini and thus some people try to get higher prices from those desperately searching. Until a (hopefully improved) Broadwell or Skylake mini appears, prices for a 2012 probably won't come down.

    Starting with the Mid-2011, iMacs came with Thunderbolt, so with a good deal you may have money left for a TB dock adding USB3 (a TB dock with USB3 may btw. also be an option to allow for a 2011 mini instead of the much-sought-after 2012's).

    Beware though: While very few iMac models were easy to open and upgrade DIY, the 2012 onward models are particularly difficult there. Thus the machine should more or less already offer what you need. Pre-2012 iMacs are easier to open for internal tinkering (yet still not as easy as the mini), but are notorious for problems with overheating, GPU failures and picture quality deterioration from hot PSU's and dust getting between screen and front glass.

    Also, with an iMac the machine and the screen can't be placed away of each other to reduce noise (unless you'd buy a second screen, which negates your reason to consider an iMac).


    ... and with a Thunderbolt dock you can add USB3 to a 2011 mini as well, in case you didn't manage to catch one of the 2012's ...
  17. Cox Orange thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    Great info, you made some good points I should consider.

    What I think about the heating/GPU/dust problems, though, is, that if the PSU has survived till now, it may be a good sign, but who knows... It could either be, that one fails every 4 weeks and then is brought back to life and then I am the lucky one who buys it.

    Upgradability is important, too, to me. I knew the more recent iMacs are bad too tinker with, but I wasn't sure, when it started. When again, did they start to solder the RAM in the 21,5" models and make it unaccessable from the bottom? Is it just the last generation?
    I will buy an iMac only, if I happen to find a really good deal, I think. On the other hand I migth just save the time for searching and comparing prices of completed auctions and stick to the 2011 and 2012 Mini.

    Well, ok, I might better get one of the minis.

    If I decide I can live without USB3 and TB, I guess I shouldn't go lower than an i- CPU, right?
    I mean in the years from 2010 downwards the price stays pretty similar now matter how weak the C2D is that came with one of the previous gens.

    Btw. I actually planned to get a flicker-free (without PWM) screen to use with it. So this is another point against an iMac.
  18. Celerondon macrumors 6502a


    Oct 17, 2013
    Southern Cal
    Does It Idle at 1800 rpm Like the i5 2.5 and i7 2.3?

    Which is correct? Get the 2012 2.6 or stay away from the sizzling beast.

    I have a 2.3 but I never knew that the 2.6 was that different. My 2.3 is dead quiet until I put it to work. Does it take less load to make the 2.6 exceed the 1800 rpm fan idle speed?
  19. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Neodym wrote above:
    [[ I would stay away from the 2.6, as it runs too hot and thus the fan can quickly become annoying. ]]

    I've owned a late-2012 2.6 i7 Mini for two years now, used up to 10 hours daily, and the fans have never been annoying.

    Only a few times have I even noticed them AT ALL, and that was "early on" in the ownership.
  20. Cox Orange thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    Hm, so maybe it changes through its lifetime? Build up of dust or a fan that wore out?
  21. Celerondon macrumors 6502a


    Oct 17, 2013
    Southern Cal
    Naw, I doubt it. Dust can be cleaned out and fans should last equally well on either of the two 2012 i7 options. Why would the 2.6 be handicapped?

    Fishrrman's experience with fan noise is similar to mine. Sometimes I get so caught up in my video workflow that I am confused momentarily when I become aware of a low whooshing sound. The noise means that I am nearly finished. Handbrake is a different story. I know what is coming when I click that pineapple!
  22. Cox Orange, Jan 18, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2015

    Cox Orange thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    I have bought one! :)

    Unfortunately I didn't think it through enough, allthough I had thought forth and back.
    I now have 2,4GHz C2D 2010 Mini with 8GB RAM (can unofficially be upgraded to 16GB, though) and a 500GB Samsung Evo840 SSD. No keyboard+mouse.
    I paid 448,-EUR.

    I saw 2,4GHz 2010 Minis with 2-4GB RAM around 320-350,-EUR in November.

    If you add the price for
    4GB RAM = 25-30EUR (incl shipping)
    500GB Samsung evo840 SSD = 170-180,-EUR (incl. shipping)

    So, it is ok. But on the other hand the 2012 Minis range from 330,- (that was a singular event, I think) and 380-550,- with the base config (Nov-Jan.).

    I guess I will see it this way. Now I have something to work with and have more time to search for a 2012 Mini. Then, when I have one, I will sell the 2010 and put in a 640GB 5400rpm HDD I have here in it (current worth on Ebay 35-45eur) and keep the SSD and the 2012 Mini.

    Well, ok, that may be over priced somehow, but on the other hand with the SSD it is not hurting that much, I guess. The pricing is crazy anyway, as if there is no reason behind it.

    I know, I don't have USB3 nor TB, now... also a C2D even at the same clock speed as an i5 is considerably slower. I will see, if I recognise that.

    No of course the fans should be similar in one generation, but if one person uses his mini more often as the other, the first one's fan might get worn out earlier, that was what I wanted to say. :) (Although I have seen in the last ibook G4 Generation, in 4 ibooks, that there were two different fans used by Apple).

    Interesting to know, that Handbrake puts such a stress on it.
  23. adamcarvell macrumors regular


    Dec 15, 2013
    warwickshire england
    I got the i7 2012 mini on thursday got handbrake today and its the first time i heard the fan running mine!.
  24. Cox Orange thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
  25. Cox Orange thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    I'm such a weirdo!!!

    So, I reconsidered...

    I have the above Mini 2010 now an, but I had to order a hdmi-dvi adapter. (4,-EUR). So I can test on Friday.

    I did a bit math and considerations. I tried to estimate the value of certain offers without upgrades.

    This is what I have now.

    The one I bought

    Private offer in another forum
    Seller-shop 1
    seller-shop 2

    COMPARISON OF PRICES (only lower bids taken into account)

    - sell 2010 Mini
    - get 2012 Mini (or/+ Macbook Pro 2008, 2,4GHz, 6GB RAM, 250GB HDD = 200,-EUR for taking the library, in case the Open Office documents can't be migrated from my ibook-2005 to the mini at home. If the ibook's Open Office documents are compatible, I don't need the macbook Pro)
    Usage: Mini-2012 for Sonic Visualizer and MacBookPro-2008 (or ibook) for Library writing documents and having a look into SV's data
    - sell MacBook Pro after Oct. (final exam)

    - sell Mini-2010
    - get G1840-based-PC with Linux for 216,-eur new (or parts for 100,- plus parts I have already) for Sonic + take existing ibook for writing documents in the library (or laptop for 300,- Lenovo B50-70, Core i3-4005U, 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD, but buy new?)
    - sell PC in October and get (then cheaper???) 2012-Mini for new life after October.

Share This Page