What Mini to get?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Indy.Potter, Jun 14, 2016.

  1. Indy.Potter macrumors newbie

    Indy.Potter

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2016
    #1
    I know this has been asked many times but I would like some input from others if it's possible. Currently, I have a surface pro 3 that I use for school. I'll be apply to medical school this summer (studying for the MCAT) and I need a second computer. ATM I use my SP3 with OneNote for handwriting notes and then use a Windows desktop to organize my notes quite often by pulling images online and from digital text books and YouTube.


    So this Mini needs to be able to have about ~10 tabs open, obviously run OneNote, iTunes, Mail, PowerPoint, and Word without struggling. So my question is 4gb or 8gb of ram? I went by BestBuy today and tried out the MacBook Air 4gb and 8gb ram under the same conditions and the 4gb ran a little over 3gb while the 8gb used about 5gb, which seemed odd. Also, I plan on installing 256gb SSD. Thanks.
     
  2. ardchoille50, Jun 14, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2016

    ardchoille50 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2014
    #2
    I am using a Mac mini, late 2012 base model (2.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 4 GB 1600 MHz DDR3, Intel graphics). I use it for everything from web surfing and email to videos and music to spreadsheets and word processing (using the Numbers and Pages apps from Apple), and this machine has never had any problems. No lag, no memory problems, no crashes.. nothing. I even run Xcode on this thing! I plan to swap the HD for an SSD in the coming months and that will make this little computer even better. I have thrown a lot at this wonderful little machine and it is indeed a workhorse. Just wanted to give you some idea of what the base model from 4 years ago is capable of today.

    My opinion: You cannot go wrong with a Mac mini. However, you may want to order a customized model directly from Apple to give you a little more bang in case you need it later.
     
  3. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    Zurich, Switzerland
    #3
    What kind of display (or displays) do you intend to drive with the Mini?
    And what's the budget?
    Neither the 2012 (which I have, too, although the i7-version souped up to 16G and a 500G SSD) nor the 2014 version can do 4K. The 2014 can do 2x 2560x1600 or 2x 3440x1440. The 2012 can only to 1x2560x1600+1920x1200 on HDMI.

    2560x1600 is a 30" screen and very nice.

    The 2012 is easier to upgrade (RAM isn't soldered, layout of the internals makes it easier to get to the hard disk and swap it with an SSD), so you could go for a 500G SSD now and later replace it with a 2TB SSD, once they've dropped enough in price.
     
  4. Indy.Potter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Indy.Potter

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2016
    #4
    Okay, thanks good to know.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 14, 2016 ---
    From what I understand the 2014 Mac Mini can in fact output 4K though I believe it's 30hz. Currently, I use a Samsung SyncMaster B2230HD (22"). Really like it because its a matte display that doesn't reflect like the iMac and has decent speakers with excellent color accuracy after calibration. I've got a second one in my garage that I could hook up. I'm sure I'd probably opt to buy a larger screen size at some point in the somewhat near future. Not urgent. But, I agree higher resolution = better.

    I don't need a quad core. I had a quad core iMac and it wasn't ever really needed. And after looking through primatelabs relatively speaking all of the baseline to mid level mac minis have the same performance for 64bit single core. 500gb SSD would be way more than needed for me most of my files are documents and I have loads of them but I upload them online when I haven't used them in a while. My school gives us free Office365 with 1TB. I have a 1.5TB external drive for my Blu-ray movies and it's only about 1/2 full so I can't see myself needing much more. Currently expanding my iTunes movies/TV library.

    My budget is probably around $800 CDN. Currently studying full time so I can't work. All I would need is a mini and keyboard. I have a Logitech MX Anywhere.
     
  5. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    Zurich, Switzerland
    #5
    With $800 CDN, I'd try to find a base i5 2012 Mini and buy upgrades as money comes it.
    The base 2012 i5 my mother has, started to work really nicely once I maxed out the RAM.
    And RAM is really easy to upgrade on the 2012.
     
  6. Jambalaya macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2013
    Location:
    UK
    #6
    My 2 pence

    You don't need a new machine although with Minis ahveing strong resale and you having an educational discount you may find a new one attractive

    4K screen capability is nice to have, any Mini can drive a decent enough tv screen to be a media center in a future life

    Processor, not so important for you but something mid-range not recent base

    I would say 8GB not 4 for RAM especially if a new / soldered RAM machine

    SSD helps the RAM as it where but would still go with 8, external library storage or cloud is cheap so 256 is fine or if buying aftermarket then 500 is reasonably cheap. I have recently upgraded 3 MBP's to Samsung Evos all running very sweetly.

    Note I think an SSD makes a bigger difference than going from 4 to 8 RAM. Also I put an 8 chip into 2 MBPs to give 2+8=10 as this is cheaper than a kit 4+4=8. If you are on a budget change to SSD first

    As above what screen you have is an important question, also if you have to buy it all inc keyboard and mouse then perhaps a new iMac makes sense ? Not as portable, I move my Mini around a lot country to country using local screens / TV, but a lot of computer.
     
  7. JMarkNY macrumors newbie

    JMarkNY

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2016
    Location:
    New York
    #7
    I've owned a couple of Mac Minis and have gotten outstanding longevity out of both. My 2008 lasted me all the way up until I picked up a new one in 2014. So for starters, I'd highly recommend the machine in general and think it's one of the better Apple products out there (especially relative to what you pay for it).

    You can more than likely get by with 4gb of RAM if you're kind of tight on cash and know that it's always upgradeable later on but 8 is preferable. I would opt for a SSD over the HDD which it sounds like you plan on doing so that should help and you can always get by without paying top dollar for the peripherals. This is really where I find you can kind of cut corners a little and get better bang for your buck. I wouldn't worry too much about the 4K stuff right now. If you want performance, spend your money there.

    Best suggestion is to just go through Apple and customize it so that it's tailored to what you need and so that you're not paying for stuff you don't. Either way, you'll be happy you bought one. They're excellent.

    Good luck!
     
  8. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #8
    Be aware that the current version of the Mini is almost 2 years old and that a new version -might- arrive late this autumn. Not sure about that, but it could happen.

    Then again, if you "need it now", buy the 2014 model now.

    It is IMPORTANT as to WHICH 2014 model you buy, however, so make the informed choice.

    DO NOT buy any Mini unless it has 8gb of RAM. You can't upgrade RAM later on. What you get is what you get.

    DO NOT buy any Mini unless it has either an SSD or a fusion drive inside. If you buy one with only an HHD, you WILL be dissatisfied with its performance.

    My recommendations:
    - Buy the "mid-range" Mini -WITH- the 1tb fusion drive option. This comes with 8gb of RAM, IRIS graphics, and a 1tb fusion drive (128gb SSD portion and 1tb HDD portion).
    or
    - Buy the "top-level" Mini. It comes standard with a faster CPU, IRIS graphics, 8gb of RAM, and the 1tb fusion drive.
     
  9. Crosscreek macrumors 68030

    Crosscreek

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2013
    Location:
    Margarittaville
    #9
    I have a 2012 Mini and it has been excellent but I can't recommend a 4 year old machine. The 2014 Mini is now 2 years old and while ok if you can hold off till the fall there will likely be new models coming which should provide native 4K at 60 Hz.

    No guarantee though.
     
  10. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    Zurich, Switzerland
    #10

    What Mini can you get for 800 CDN?
    The 8G Mid-Tier 2014 Mini is over 1000 CDN with Flash or Fusion-Drive (which I would really, really recommend).
    The 2012 is of course very old - but you can actually upgrade to an SSD with relatively little effort. And a RAM-upgrade is a two-minute job, at most.
    Plus, you can get parts on eBay or aliexpress.
    Of course, a 2014 i5 with Flash would be much better than a 2012 i5 with Flash. Ideally, with 16GB RAM.
    However, that's 1329 CDN.
    I'd rather get a 2012 with Flash than a 2014 without.
    OS X Sierra supports hardware back to 2009 - that's seven years. Given that, I would assume support for the 2012 Mini's to end somewhere in 2019/2020-ish.
    El Capitan works on my 2008 iMac (with no SSD and 4 GB RAM) - but if course it's more usable for more than light tasks on my 2012 i7.
     
  11. Crosscreek macrumors 68030

    Crosscreek

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2013
    Location:
    Margarittaville
    #11
    Used 2012s are going for over the 2012 retail price and considering they are 4 years old certainly not a good purchase.

    2014 are a disappointment but the Mid tier with flash would make a useful although not what the 2012 I7 power was still a very reliable machine but now being 2 years old with a 3 year old processor not a good purchase.

    Apple always builds the Mini with a previous years processor which sucks. The 2014 should of had Broadwell.

    Apple takes advantage of the Mini's because they can and people still buy them so they can afford to be in the Apple eco system.

    The 2012s are classics but unless you want a collectors item are not worth more than the original retail price.
     
  12. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    Zurich, Switzerland
    #12
    Guy wants a Mini. With 800 CDN.
    Not sure if I'd buy a 2012 myself in 2016. It made sense in 2014, though (going for the i7).
    But I'd certainly not buy a small, un-upgradeable 2014 if I had a tight budget.

    Maybe we'll get an Intel NUC in Apple-disguise for X-mas. But equally likely is the 2014 joining the fate of the 2012 non-Retina MBP....
     
  13. Indy.Potter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Indy.Potter

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2016
    #13
    Thank you for everyone's input. Last week I bought a 2014 mac mini 2.6ghz 8gb ram and it arrived today. I got it with warranty Apple keyboard and mouse for $640 cdn. I can't complain. As I said earlier in the near future I will be upgrading to an SSD. But so far it runs fine on Yosemite. For some reason I like the scaling better on Windows 10, but otherwise no complaints.
     
  14. dechenko1993 macrumors newbie

    dechenko1993

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    Jul 2, 2016
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #14
    I am having the same problem which mac mini to buy. $640 is a little more that what I am wanting to spend. What sort of apps are you wanting to run on the 2014 model?
     
  15. Indy.Potter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Indy.Potter

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2016
    #15
    I use OneNote but in combination with my SP3 for written notes. PowerPoint, Word, Excel (randomly usually for Physics or Chemistry) Safari, iTunes, Mail, Adobe Reader, Age of Empires, Rise of Nations, and some science programs. Honestly I can't imagine needing much more power for the next few years. It seems that processors are at a point where year over year isn't much noticeable difference aside from technical differences. The benefits are greater in solid state and memory. I thought $640 was a good price much better than a student discount or refurbished and these units are built to last. Overall, very satisfied much more so than when I had an iMac because it had horrible glare issues facing a window. I am quite surprised that the hdd isn't unusable for the time being. Word or PowerPoint open within 2-3 seconds after a reboot. I'll upgrade my drive after I write the MCAT at the end of August. No chance I'm taking that something crashes or messes up.
     
  16. dechenko1993 macrumors newbie

    dechenko1993

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2016
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #16
    Thanks Indy.Potter. Sounds like it is the perfect match for your needs.

    I am wanting to do video editing and want to a buy a mac mini that won't cause me grief during editing and playback and cause lag. Money is a little tight and therefore need to spend my money wisely.

    I am looking for a used refurbished mac mini. I have been searching Amazon and I am seriously considering purchasing one at Powermax.

    They have many at the following link:
    https://www.powermax.com/productcategory/used-macs-intel-mac-mini

    The prices look ok. What I am attracted to are; free shipping on orders over $100, 4 month warranty on used hardware and have good feedback on TrustPilot.

    My main concern is which one to buy. Any recommendations?

    Regards
    Boris

     
  17. Indy.Potter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Indy.Potter

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2016
    #17
    Hi Boris, those all appear to be C2D, which are quite old in terms of processing power. If you're trying to keep it affordable I would consider checking out Craigslist as it is virtually always the cheapest place to buy computers. I believe you can have a potential seller meet you at an Apple Store where an employee can check out the hardware/software for damage before purchase. You can also buy AppleCare if it's within the year period as well. And every once and a while there are smoking deals for sealed Mac Minis one that I saw just as I started looking was the same model as mine (2014 2.6 i5) but brand new sealed for $450. I wasn't able to reply quick enough. So I'd say don't be in a rush to get one look around and perhaps wait for a deal, because there will be one.

    Which model you need depends on how much computing power you need and how long it needs to last. For movie editing processor makes all the difference especially with quad core i7. Alternatively you could set the encoding process before bed.

    Just from an upgrade perspective the 2012 is a better choice especially for someone who wants video editing and needs loads of RAM. The newer Mac Minis are hard to upgrade with respect to the hard drive so many people use external SSDs such as the Samsung T3. It gives you nearly the same speeds as an internal SSD, but it requires USB 3.0/3.1 so not an option for 2012.
     

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