What's the current findings on 2012 Mini RAM upgrades?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by magebarf, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. magebarf macrumors member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Gothenburg - Sweden
    Hi people!

    Just put my order down for a 2012 Mini, bumped to 2.6GHz i7, and with a fusion drive. Memory, however, I did leave at the standard 4GB, as I plan to upgrade it on my own.

    This is where my questions start; Memory options.

    I've been doing quite a bit of searching, but I still haven't found any consistent "evidence"/results/experiences from the different options there are when upgrading the memory, especially when it comes to two areas; Frequency and timings.

    General consensus on the 2011 Mini at least seems that even if the specs says memory should be at 1333MHz, there is no problem running RAM at 1600MHz, and 1866MHz is also possible if you find the right memory.

    For the 2012 Mini however, the only first hand experiences I've found so far is the thread here in this forum (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1479944) where NoisyCat mentions that DDR3-1866 RAM that had been running fine at 1866MHz speed in their 2011 Mini only would run the same RAM at 1600MHz in their 2012 Mini.

    In my view it does not sound likely that the newer processor models would have worse memory support, which makes me believe that NoisyCat's experience might be a fluke, but so far I've not seen any other reports of anyone trying.

    Doing a bit of studies of results over at Geekbench tells me pretty much what has been described here, I can find results with the 2011 Mini running with both 1600MHz and 1866MHz memories, but I've not found anything higher than 1600MHz for the 2012 (did see a 1333MHz one though), and my tries to search for specific memory frequencies in their database has not been quite successful.

    Frequency is quite easy to lookup, and is shown in a lot of various tests. The RAM latencies/timings however is often not often shown at all when people are discussing RAM.

    Lower timings, if actually utilized by the computer and not adjusted back up to higher latencies, will provide better performance. The issue however is that I've not been able to find any way to properly find out what latencies the system is running the sticks of memory at.

    The only thing I've found with regards to this, is reports about MacBook Pro 2011 which resulted in Kernel Panics if either too low or too hi timings (<8 or 10< http://guides.macrumors.com/Buying_RAM)

    Any one has any different experiences with sticking really low timing memory in their 2012 Mini?

    As for my set of choices I'm going for at total of 16GB, and listening to the choir states to keep as far away as possible from Corsair memory. This will work in all cases except for when I decide to go for 1866MHz RAM, as they're the only ones with a 16GB kit running this frequency. This leaves the following kits (available from stores here in Sweden) as interesting (all of them are 16 GB kits with two 8GB sticks):

    Crucial PC12800/1600MHz CL11 1.35V ($100)
    Kingston HyperX PnP PC12800/1600MHz CL9 1.5V ($160)
    Kingston HyperX LoVo (also PnP) PC12800/1600MHz CL9 1.35V ($163)
    Corsair Vengeance PC15000/1866MHz CL10 1.5V ($160)

    My current aim is probably for one of the Kingston kits, for their lower CAS latencies, and quite known compatibility with Macs in general (contrary to the numerous issues Corsair RAM seems to have).

    So come on people, especially you guys on the edge that has had some time to experiment with throwing memories in to their new 2012 Minis. :)
    The lack of stories of experience with memory upgrades for this model is what I'm hoping to get moving a bit here, as it is still not quite clear what is the best types of memory to aim for...
  2. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2011
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    The Crucial 16GB kit is working fine for me, reports 1600MHz in the System Information app. I also ran the stock Apple memory test on it just to be thorough and got no issues.

    If there's a particular benchmark or setting you want me to check & send a screenshot, PM me.
  3. jimbo1mcm macrumors 68000

    Mar 21, 2010
    I put the 2 8GB Crucial in and it works fine.
  4. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    I always thought that faster memory can't work faster than the machine can handle. The 2012 Mini is rated at 1600 Mhz. If you have faster RAM, it won't run faster. If you have slower RAM, it will slow the bus down.

    But the best advice is simply to get the RAM that reputable stockists guarantee for your model.
  5. magebarf thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Gothenburg - Sweden

    No, that is not entirely true...

    I'm currently running a Early 2009 Macbook White, which according to all the spec documents should only be running DDR2 at up to 667MHz, whereas it is running my sticks at 800MHz successfully (of course, then RAM sticks in it was specced for 800MHz, and I was counting on it to clock them down to 667MHz when I put them in). I attached a screenshot (sorry for the swedish, "tidigt 2009" means early 2009, the rest is hopefully quite self explanatory) showing my current MacBook.

    As said, for the 2011 Mini, it is specced for 1333MHz, whereas most users runs 1600MHz without any issues, and some users are running them at up to 1866MHz without any issues as well.

    @FreakinEurekan & jimbo1mcm
    Thanks for the first hand stories!
    Yup, the Crucial one is really hard to beat on the price alone. Indications so far seem to be that 1866MHz is a no-go, so the main question is if the lower timings on the Kingston models may sway me in that direction. :)

    Attached Files:

  6. tejota1911 macrumors 6502

    Nov 10, 2006
  7. BingClawsby macrumors regular

    Mar 2, 2010
    I just bought 2x8gb ram for a new mini from Crucial as it seemed the most straight forward way of knowing I got the exactly right compatible ram.

    It can be very confusing buying from dealers, even the ones that have a 'select memory for your model' type of search.

    For example, Newegg and B&H would sell me xxx designation Crucial ram for my machine. But then, when I check that number ram on Crucia'ls website, it says that it's NOT compatible for my machine!

    So WTF... If I'm gonna be buying Crucial anyway, might as well pay a few extra bucks and make sure I get the ram they've specified compatible
  8. hamkor04 macrumors 6502

    Apr 10, 2011
    $79 now, I think it better to get Corsair Vengence 16gb kit or this price
  9. magebarf thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Gothenburg - Sweden
    I found another quite interesting article, regarding the memory frequency and what improvements a higher frequency memory will do to help;


    This is not 1:1 applicable to the 2012 Mini, but seeing as it is using the integrated Intel HD4000 for the graphics, the performance increases in graphics should also be possible to see in the Mini, even though the "pure desktop" CPUs might be better att using this extra speed compared to the mobile CPUs in the Mini.
  10. randy98mtu macrumors 65816


    Mar 4, 2009
    I have 16 GB of Corsair Vengeance 1600 in my mini as well as my 17" MBP. The MBP was rated and shipped with 1333 and shows as running at 1600.
  11. philipma1957, Dec 30, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2012

    philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    no one has had any 1866 ram run at 1866 in a 2012 mac mini. by this no one has shown it to work at 1866.

    But there have been documented cases of kingstons plug n play 1600 and plug n play 1866 4gb sticks that run in the 2011 mac mini at the higher speeds not down clock to 1333. I ran kingston plug n play 1600 in my 2011 mini. I ran tests and posted the slight boost that they give over 1333. there were posted corsair results that also ran 1600 on the 2011 mini

    no one has done this with any ram in the 2012 mini all higher ram speed dropped to 1600.

    my advice is use this ram


    I have ordered it more then once

    it works and for now apple has locked down the ram in the ivy cpus.


    I have used 10 sticks all good. amazon has some in stock.

    Attached Files:

  12. magebarf thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Gothenburg - Sweden

    Yep, that's exactly the stories/experiences that I've found as well, no one has yet shown/told that they have managed to run their RAM at 1866, whereas I do have found a story where the same memory that ran at 1866 on a 2011 Mini only goes for 1600 on a 2012.

    Good to know about those Kingston sticks.
    I have sadly not been able to find at what timings they run, but I'm guessing the "value"-line has a bit higher timings than their more advanced series.

    Personally I tend to go for a matched pair of RAM sticks in a kit, as they have been tested together in quality control. My personal experience is that the higher the frequencies get, and the lower the timings, the less of a difference between the two sticks there has to be to become an issue.
  13. nicholaseb macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2012
  14. magebarf thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Gothenburg - Sweden

    That set of memory actually working makes it a bit less frightening to bite the bullet and possibly test the 1866MHz memory, seeing as it is part of the same Corsair line of memories. Still a bit of time off before the 2012 Mini arrives though, so my mind will probably be wandering between the different kits for some time before I decide. :)
  15. jpxdude macrumors member

    Oct 2, 2006
    I am running GeIL 16GB 1600Mhz CL10 in my 2.6 i7, and it works brilliantly. Best part is that it only cost me £37 (Approx $60 delivered) :)
  16. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    Do take notice though, while yes the memory did have an effect on the FPS that anandtech benchmarked, notice that NONE of the memory made the HD4000 anymore or less playable. What I mean is, if the game isn't playable with 1333mhz (less than 30FPS) then adding even 2400mhz didn't suddenly make the game playable. Especially if you compare 1600mhz to the 1866 or 2400mhz the gap really narrows.

    My point is, buying faster RAM won't make a hill of beans difference in real world experience because you won't see or feel the difference (5-10% FPS is not going to be noticed). Going from 6FPS to 7FPS is not going to make the game anymore playable and going from 52 to 58 really isn't much to write home about either.

    EDIT: I respect the stuff the guys over at Anandtech do. They are my go-to review website. But often times review sites tend to forget that benchmarks does not equal real world experience. Just because something benchmarks 5-10%, doesn't mean you are going to notice. They tend to get all caught up in the raw numbers, and not take a step back and say "would this even matter to an end user?"
  17. magebarf thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Gothenburg - Sweden
    This is the most important gist to keep in mind, that things are still going to remain in the same ball park, I'm all with you on this one.

    But, depending on what perspective you are looking at it, this point has more or less weight.

    In case you've already geared your 2012 Mini with 16GB o' memory, then sure as heck there wouldn't be much reason to start looking at faster memory (except if your memory is faulty, of course, but then I'm sure warranty is what you'd ought to use).

    In my situation (and a lot of others as well), where our Mini's aren't fully stocked yet, it is still more interesting to look at as that extra fps or two won't be a full set of new memory, but only a fraction of the price extra... And knowing how much bang for the buck one's getting is never a bad thing, in both ways; 2% is not worth $15 extra, or 10% more is definitely worth those $2.

    Edit: Just making it clear I'm not to trying to say any definitive numbers, just examples. The real world difference on a Mac Mini is really not to be drawn from the Anandtech article alone, but would require quite a thorough testing...
  18. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    when I was running m 2011 with vmWare fusion and 8gb of the kingston plug n play 1600 I thought I got a better streaming image from netflix. hard to tell but to my eyes the movies seem to be a bit sharper.
  19. mr.thing macrumors member

    Aug 14, 2010
    Got the G.Skill 8GB kit installed on my mid range 2012 mini yesterday and really noticed the difference comparing to stock 4GB. Just everything started to be a bit more responsive. Now to SSD upgrade path...

  20. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    Unfortunately, looking at Newegg, the ONLY set of 2x8GB set at 1866mhz is $130 whereas the cheapest 1600mhz 16GB set is $70. For that price difference, it really doesn't seem worth jumping up to get to 1866mhz (even at 2x4GB the difference is $32 to $70). I guess it just seems silly to spend twice as much to get all of 5-10% performance in gaming (which the Mini doesn't do well to begin with). In day to day operations you won't notice any difference. This is just my opinion. The only advantage one would have with going with 1866mhz is bragging rights. Frankly, those days are well past me anymore. I'm a lot more conservative in my spending (probably why I'm rocking a Mac Pro 1,1 in my office!).
  21. magebarf thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Gothenburg - Sweden
    Yep, looking at my own market (what the swedish stores can deliver) the price difference is roughly the same when looking at the cheapest 1600MHz memory and the only 16GB kit which can do 1866MHz as well.

    But even so, the price difference still is not all that radical when comparing it to the "better" sets of 1600MHz RAM, such as the Kingston HyperX models, with lower CAS latency and possibly also the Low Voltage variant.

    Both of which seem quite interesting in my eyes, since I'm hoping to be using this computer for somewhere in the range of 3-5 years so I'm ready to put in a little extra money for possibly extra performance from the lower timings and possibly lower heat generation and power consumption from being able to run them in lower voltage.

    So, comparing the 1866MHz Corsair Vengeance kit available in price to these instead, it is roughly the same price.

    I do indeed see that all three of these options might open up a new can of compatibility worms, which is also a bit why I opened up this thread to see what experiences people has had, as I was missing user stories other than the crucial kits and some various brand valueRAM sticks that had been mentioned.
  22. magebarf thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Gothenburg - Sweden
    Reasoning a bit with myself I've come to somewhat of a conclusion on what to get, unless someone comes forward with a bit of experience that points me elsewhere.

    Due to the lack of documented tries/experience/user stories, I've decided to try something untested with the 2012 Mini (i.e. go for either lower CAS Latency or trying to go with a higher frequency).

    As I'm not aiming at getting more than one 16GB kit, the best (and only) test I can realistically do is to aim for the 1866MHz Corsair Vengeance kit.

    As the base specs are at 1600MHz, and OS X clearly shows what frequency it is running the RAM at, I would quickly get an indication if it successfully runs the ram @1866MHz, which if so would be a success, and the first case I've heard of where the 2012 Mini does 1866MHz.

    Other possible outcomes would be that the RAM does not work at all (unlikely), does not pass the memory tests properly (not too unlikely) or simply reverts it to running at a lower speed; ie @1600MHz (hopefully) or @1333MHz (not hoping for this case). In the event that the RAM rated for CL10@1866MHz falls back to 1600MHz, it would hopefully be able to manage CL9, thus matching the timings at 1600MHz of the Kingston memories.

    Since I've so far not found any way to tell the CAS latencies from within OS X, this will be a bit harder to find out. Hopefully the Apple Memory tests gives a bit more of information than what is shown from within OS X.

    The inability to see the CAS latency from within OS X anywhere is the secondary reason that I'm going for testing the 1866MHz RAM instead of the 1600MHz with lower CAS latency. The primary reason being that I as earlier mentioned aim only to get a single set of 16GB memory.

    So far I have not found any good utility to test the memory bandwith/performance which isolates the test to strictly memory, and at the same time restricts the amount of RAM being tested. Thus, I could not compare the memory bandwidth of the 4GB of 1600MHz RAM the Mini is shipped with, and use this result for a proper comparison to any 16GB kit of RAM I would get.

    To get a proper comparison I would have to get both a baseline 16GB kit, preferably Apple's own memory (CL11 I believe) or the crucial kit (CL11) which seems to be one of the more popular to get, to get head to head comparable results when equipping it with the Kingston RAM (CL9).

    Even so, the secondary issue, the lack of any CAS Latency display in OS X would make the tests possibly useless anyhow, 'cause if the results come out equal we still would not know if the Mini really was running the ram at the "right" timings.

    So... To sum my reasoning behind this up...

    (a.k.a.) TL;DR: I'm taking one for the team, and paying up for the 1866MHz Corsair Vengeance kit, to see if it runs at the speeds it is specced for, or if it falls back to 1600MHz, unless someone already comes forward and have tested this.
  23. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    I don't think you'll get faster performance. The machine needs to be able to handle the faster speed, and if it's not setup for that, it won't.
    I'm curious: what do you hope to achieve by getting the faster speed? What real-world benefits do you expect to see? Memory is hardly the bottleneck in performance these days.
  24. 53x12 macrumors 68000


    Feb 16, 2009

    magebarf, I am others thank you for doing this as we are interested to hear what you discover. It will be great to finally know if the '12 mini will run 1866 MHz ram at 1866 MHz. I am going to be purchasing RAM in the near future and this can help sway me one way.
  25. magebarf thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Gothenburg - Sweden
    There are two points here;
    a) Will the machine handle it
    b) What gains will you have

    To start with, these are things I've already mentioned along the way, both in my initial post and a post later on points out a bit more of the info. I'm going to sum things up as a more direct answer for you here though:

    a) Yes, and this is exactly the core of the problem as I initially expressed it; no one seems to know so far. The 2011 Mini was specced for 1333MHz RAM, whereas it ran just fine with most 1600MHz modules and the Kingston 1866MHz module worked as intende as well. With "intended" in previous sentence I mean that they were running at their specced speeds. Same thing with my current early 2009 Macbook White, specced for 667MHz DDR2 RAM, currently running 800MHz specced RAM just fine @800MHz speed.

    The only use story I've seen so far is from a user that moved from a 2011 Mac Mini, on which he was running the Kingston 8GB 1866MHz kit @1866MHz, but when bringing that with him to the 2012 Mac Mini it would only run at 1600MHz.

    I've not yet heard anyone trying out the specific Corsair Vengeance RAM in a 2012 Mini. The Corsair Vengeance is the only 16GB (2x8GB) SO-DIMM DDR3 kit that I've heard of that's running at 1866MHz, thus it is currently my only option if I want to get it as a tested kit (I'm trying to avoid separate modules that aren't balanced against each other as they tend to get more and more picky the higher frequency you are at).

    So, to re-iterate; Wether it will run at the specified speed or not is exactly why I'm going to bite the bullet, so we can get an actual test of if it will be running at 1866MHz or not (as I'm assuming the Ivy Bridge CPUs in the 2012 Minis actually should have improved things compared to the Sandy Bridge CPUs in the 2011s, which managed to run RAM at 1866MHz).

    b) Exactly what I want to achieve could be iterated as; See how good performance I can actually get?

    Especially with the 2012 Minis, where we are relying on the integrated HD4000 graphics, a higher memory speed and bandwidth can give a performance boost (have a look at the link to the Anandtech article I posted earlier if you want more specific info on this one).

    But one thing you're actually not quite right about is memory not being an bottleneck; Bottleneck might be the wrong word for it but whatever software you are using it sure is accessing your RAM. Seeing as the L1, L2 and L3 cache is nowhere near enough to keep all the data an application is using stored in (especially when we're talking graphics and other types of resources).

    Thus, any program you are running which is using the RAM will benefit by faster RAM.

    This, in theory. The real world differences and how you perceive them will vary however, as pretty much no two applications have the same RAM access behavior (trust me on this one, working as quite low level programmer, which might be why I'm extra concerned about the RAM speeds to begin with :)).

    Of course, any noticeable and/or measurable improvements still relies on that the RAM will be able to run at 1866MHz speeds to start off with, or as a fallback that it will run at 1600MHz with a lower CAS Latency than the stock/Apple/Corsair RAM does...

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43 December 30, 2012