What spec Mac Mini do I need?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by mikethebook, Apr 24, 2018.

  1. mikethebook macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    #1
    My late 2009 2.25GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Mac Mini has done well and is still running great. Along the way, I upgraded the RAM to 8GB and the Hard Drive to a 250GB SSD of which I use about half. But El Capitan is as far as I can go and I can no longer update the software that is important to me. I can only afford about £500 to invest in a "new" one. For example, a refurbished 2012 i5 2.5 GHz model with 8GB RAM and 250GB SSD with six months guarantee would set me back £470. But one of Apple's refurbished models, a 2014 budget model with twelve months guarantee i5 1.5GHz 4GB RAM 500GB Hard Drive is going for £399. And maybe the budget model hopefully released fairly soon will almost come within the £500. These latter two options will make for a Mac Mini that will last longer but the first option is more powerful.
    Sorry this is long-winded, but my question is how much RAM do I need, do I need an SSD and how fast a processor do I need?
    I use the computer mainly for writing, Scrivener being my favourite app. I surf the web a lot, write e-mails and watch YouTube videos. I also listen to music in Spotify and iTunes so my demands are possibly less than most peoples. Thoughts would be appreciated.
     
  2. redheeler macrumors 604

    redheeler

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2014
    #2
    Wouldn't go with anything less than the 8 GB RAM and SSD you have in your 2009 Mac mini now, meaning the 2012 is probably your best option. Keep in mind that the RAM in the 2014 Mac mini cannot be upgraded, unlike the earlier models - if you get one with 4 GB, you're stuck with that for the entire lifetime of the machine.
     
  3. opeter macrumors 68000

    opeter

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2007
    Location:
    Slovenia, EU
    #3
    If you can, try to look and find an used iMac 2013 (i5 2,7 GHz)...

    The problem with the 2014 Mac mini models is, that you can't upgrade the RAM. So if you buy it with 4 GB, than that is. Basta. You cannot upgrade it. It will stay 4 GB until it dies.

    The HDD (hard drive) can be swapped out, no problem with that.
    The 1,4 GHz Mac mini is a little bit faster than the 2012 2.5 GHz i5.
     
  4. mikethebook thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    #4
    Thanks for your reply. I can understand your thoughts regarding the 8GB minimum RAM. Do you think I would miss the SSD?
     
  5. redheeler macrumors 604

    redheeler

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2014
    #5
    Yes, having an SSD makes a big difference running modern versions of MacOS.
     
  6. mikethebook thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    #6
    With the iMac you can still change the RAM? The problem is that for a 2013 machine, you're almost certainly talking a lot more money than a 2012 Mac Mini.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 24, 2018 ---
    Okay. Thanks redheeler!
     
  7. opeter macrumors 68000

    opeter

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2007
    Location:
    Slovenia, EU
    #7
    Absolutely. But you can swap the SSD (as soon as the refurbished Mac minis warranty ends) from you old 2009 Mac mini.
     
  8. Boyd01 macrumors 601

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #8
    I wouldn't count on any new Mini "fairly soon", there haven't even been any rumors.

    I have used a 2012 2.5ghz i5 and 2014 1.4ghz pretty extensively. I would pick the 2012 in a heartbeat, it's a very responsive machine with a SSD and 16gb of RAM. The 2014 with 4gb RAM and 500gb hard drive is REALLY slow, it can take 15 seconds or more just to open an app. I use mine as an iTunes server - it sits in a cabinet and runs iTunes 24/7 with home sharing. It's great for that, but very frustrating for anything else.

    But to look on the bright side, the 2014 does have some advantages: faster wifi, two thunderbolt 2 ports, more modern graphics chip. You would have to decide whether any of those are worthwhile for your use. But I would grab the 2012 with 8gb and the SSD if it were me. Another big plus is that you can upgrade to 16gb later if you want.

    Since the 2014 has soldered RAM, it can never be upgraded. If you're going to buy a 2014 you had better get 16gb of RAM - especially if you want it to remain useful for another nine years (like your 2009 mini).
     
  9. opeter macrumors 68000

    opeter

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2007
    Location:
    Slovenia, EU
    #9
    Yes, you can change/swap the RAM. With the 21.5" is a bit more problematic, but it can be done.


    Or go to www.fixit.com.

    You need 1600 MHz DDR3 SODDIM RAMs:
    https://everymac.com/systems/apple/...aq/how-to-upgrade-imac-ram-aluminum-2012.html

    Here you have an 2013 iMac:
    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/iMac-21-...405550?hash=item2f19ce2e2e:g:32EAAOSwuvla3eSY

    [​IMG]
     
  10. mikethebook thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    #10
    I like your thoughts Boyd01. The 2012 model is looking increasingly attractive and its good to hear your views on its performance. I assume the RAM would be very easy to change too, if I needed it later.

    Opeter, as I understand it, changing the hard drive on the unibody Mac Minis is a very tricky job that I probably wouldn't want to undertake. I'll check out iMacs as you suggested and see the prices. Can the hard drives and RAM be changed on them relatively easy?
    --- Post Merged, Apr 24, 2018 ---
    Thanks for the link to ebay.
     
  11. Glmnet1 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2017
    #11
    Since you are replacing your 2009 to support newer macOS version, I don't think a 2012 Mac Mini is the way to go because you would only gain ~3 years of support. Sadly I don't think there's a decent replacement for your Mac Mini right now. Maybe start looking at the iMac or hope for a new headless Mac to be released.
     
  12. KrisLord macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2008
    Location:
    Northumberland, UK
    #12
    I sold a 2012 Mac mini recently for £635 but it was the 2.3 i7 version with 16GB RAM a 128GB SSD and 1TB mechanical drive plus Apple wireless keyboard and mouse.

    If you shop around can you get a 2.3Ghz 2012 Mini?

    You can then upgrade the RAM and SSD later?
     
  13. mikethebook thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    #13
    That has crossed my mind too. Since by upgrading the RAM and installing an SSD my computer doesn't feel slow another option is to keep running it and forego the nice but not essential upgrade to Scrivener and see whether an affordable 2014 crops up with decent RAM and an SSD. Such a beast might appear on Apple's refurbished page. I had thought there were rumours of a new Mac Mini in June when the next OS comes out. That's another thing to check out. Maybe I shouldn't be in a hurry or should check out the iMacs. I would also like to use Pages but the version in the App Store won't run on El Capitan. Does anyone know whether older versions are available elsewhere?
    --- Post Merged, Apr 24, 2018 ---
    Hi KrisLord,
    As I mentioned at the beginning a refurbished 2012 i5 2.5 GHz model with 8GB RAM and 250GB SSD with six months guarantee would set me back £470 which I could afford but Gimnet1 has just made a good point about only gaining three more years of support which is worth considering.
     
  14. Boyd01 macrumors 601

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #14
    Apple's "obsolete" and "vintage" classifications are based on when the device was discontinued, not the year that it was introduced. The 2009 Mini was replaced in 2010. The 2012 Mini lasted until 2014 so you would get 4 more years of support.

    But I agree a 2012 Mini may not be a good choice if you look way down the road. However, there is no way I'd be satisfied with a 2009 Mini today either. ;) Nevertheless, I would not want a base 1.4ghz Mini with 4gb soldered RAM for general use. I would want one of the better 2014 models and would also want 16gb RAM. That is going to be a rather expensive machine.
     
  15. bopajuice Suspended

    bopajuice

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2016
    Location:
    Dark side of the moon
    #15
    I bought the middle of the road 2014 mini (In 2017) with 8GB of Ram and a 1TB hard drive. With the spinner hard drive it was almost unusable.

    Since I used to have a 2010 Mini and took it apart several times I felt comfortable enough to open up my new 2014 and install a Samsung 850 pro SSD. Night and day. Very happy with the result and it only took about 10 minutes to do the swap. Granted my warranty is now void, but so worth it.

    The only thing I am still disappointed about is the graphics. I can only get 1440 out of my 4k monitor with the Mini. I used to plug in a 2015 MacBook Air into the same monitor. Looked much better than the Mini and supported more resolutions.
     
  16. mikethebook thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    #16
    Indeed. The decision is a difficult one. For what I need the computer for, my 2009 with the SSD runs pretty well, I think. I have no complaints except as regards not being able to run new software just being released. Sierra has become a minimum and 2009 Mac Minis are not compatible to the best of my knowledge. Whether I go for a decent 2012 model knowing it may be getting outdated in 4 years time or wait and try and save for something more current. That's the problem.
     
  17. bopajuice Suspended

    bopajuice

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2016
    Location:
    Dark side of the moon
    #17
    If you changed the HD in your 2009 you can do it on a 2014 in half the time. My 2010 had sensors attached to the HD and motherboard. All that is gone, making it easier to upgrade a 2014 without damaging anything.
     
  18. mikethebook thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    #18
    bopajuice, I replaced the drive in my 2009 Mac Mini but I don't think I would want to attempt the same thing on a unibody Mac Mini. I don't understand how it took you only ten minutes and everything in the 2014 is soldered in place isn't it?
     
  19. ActionableMango macrumors G3

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #19
    You could watch iFixit's teardown video of disassembly to get an idea of whether or not you'd be comfortable with it:
    https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Mac+Mini+Late+2012+Teardown/11262
     
  20. Glmnet1 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2017
    #20
  21. redheeler macrumors 604

    redheeler

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2014
    #21
    The hard drive isn't soldered in place, but I also wouldn't call it easier to replace than the pre-Unibody models. Here's the guide for reference: https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Mac+Mini+Late+2014+Hard+Drive+Replacement/32815
     
  22. mikethebook thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    #22
    I've just checked out iFixit.com too and the installation of a new drive looks very complex whether it's the 2014 model or the 2010. It's not for me. Gimnet1 you've put the cat among the pigeons with that link. If I could run HS on my existing 2009 Mac Mini that would save me a lot of money and hassle re-installing everything. It might be worth a try. I'm pretty well backed up. A Carbon Copy Cloner bootable disk image, Time Machine and Crash Plan so if it all went pear-shaped I should be able to reinstall the image from CCC and be back to where I am now. Apparently WiFi doesn't work but that's no hardship because I don't use it.
     
  23. opeter macrumors 68000

    opeter

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2007
    Location:
    Slovenia, EU
    #23
    Then do not even think about opening the iMac...
     
  24. mikethebook thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
  25. ziggy29 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2014
    Location:
    Oregon North Coast
    #25
    Difference is, the 2012s and 2014s have USB3, which makes an external SSD almost as fast as putting it inside (my experience is probably no more than a 10% slower transfer rate, if that). The 2010s and 2011s have only USB 2.0 which makes an external SSD solution unworkable (at least if you are looking for a MUCH faster boot drive), and not terribly cost effective even as an external extra storage device.

    So if you are considering a Mini that has an internal spinner, would like an SSD but are afraid to open it up, but would be OK with booting from external SSD, the 2012s and 2014s would be fit the bill. Though I still think the 2012 with the quad i7 is far better than the 2014 product line which has no quad-core option.
     

Share This Page