Which 2014 Mac Mini To Buy?/HD vs. Fusion

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Jabar18, Feb 8, 2015.

  1. Jabar18 macrumors member

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    Feb 8, 2015
    #1
    Hi folks,

    I have an older 2007 MBP that's getting ready to hit the dust. I have about $1,000 to play with, and I don't want to get a MBAir or MBP. (Storage is the name of the game for me.)

    With that said, which Mac Mini should I get? I use my 07' MBP mostly for web surfing, iPhoto, iTunes, word processing, etc. No power use although I like to have at least 5+ web tabs open at a time.

    I'm looking at the mid-range Mac Mini and I'm strongly considering getting a fusion drive. I have a 7200rpm 320gb Scorpio drive in my MBP already, and I feel like I'd be taking a step back.

    Any ideas?

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1845260
     
  2. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #2
    Even the baseline Mac Mini would be fine for you, but to get it to last longer (and you don't know when you might need more power anyway), I'd get the middle-end 2.6GHz i5, 8GB RAM option. It's your call on whether you want the 1TB Fusion or 256GB SSD (both are priced identically), but I'd just go for the 256GB SSD for pure speed and reliability. You can always buy cheap external storage.
     
  3. Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

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    #3
    Sounds like a base model Mini would be OK your needs, but it comes with just 500 GB HDD @ $499. If you want lots more storage, Fusion Drive would deliver with 1TB HDD, plus 128 GB SSD @ $749. You would also get improved snappiness in use. Add the 8GB RAM option and it comes to $849.

    However the mid range comes with a more CPU grunt, 8 GB RAM and 1TB HDD @ 699. Add Fusion Drive it comes to $899………

    Personally it would be the way I would be inclined to go if I was buying now….. Digital photography has become one of my uses over the past couple of years.

    In the end it depends on what funds you have available, and how much you need to budget for a monitor and other items, such as a HDD for Time Machine back-ups.

    SSDs are still an expensive storage option compared to HDD. For someone seeking the performance benefits, SSD makes sense. Extra storage needs can be handled with USB3 or Thunderbolt drives, which is fine for someone happy to much around with computers. For someone who just wants to do stuff, with minimal hassle, Fusion Drive seems a good compromise.
     
  4. Crosscreek macrumors 68030

    Crosscreek

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    #4
    I agree with you on the mid range being the sweet spot. I had that processor in a 13"rMBP and it was very fast.

    I personally would get the SSD for the internal drive and add an external HD for data.

    The only reason I say that is because the SSD will last the life of the machine whereas the fusion may fail because of the spinner.

    Just a personal preference.
     
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G3

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    Feb 20, 2009
    #5
    You definitely want the midrange Mini WITH the fusion drive option.

    It will literally run circles around any Mini equipped with only a platter-based HDD.

    You WILL NOT regret having spent the extra $$$.

    You WILL regret scrimping. You'll be back here asking, "how can I get this thing to run faster...?"
     
  6. dyt1983, Feb 9, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015

    dyt1983 macrumors 65816

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    #6
    edit: To remove personally identifying info not relevant to the conversation.
     
  7. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68020

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    #7
    Fusion!!! Anyone who says "SSD plus external" has never used a Fusion-equipped machine. It's not a matter of whether you can buy more TBs for less by adding external storage; you can. It's the ongoing benefit of the integration between SSD and HDD provided by Fusion. It's 1.25 or 3.25 TB of storage operating at 80% of the speed of SSD vs. 256 GB running at 100% of SSD and everything else running at 20% the speed of SSD. It's the comfort of knowing that, whether OS, apps, or data, whatever will currently benefit from the speed of SSD will be getting it, with absolutely no attention on my part.

    From my perspective, it's little different than the relationship between RAM and HDD. The OS has always managed the efficient use of RAM, there's no reason to doubt the OSes ability to efficiently manage SSD.

    Oh, and who cares if the spinner dies sooner than SSD? You need a backup, no matter what. At that point, it's just the relative convenience/cost of replacing an external HDD vs. an internal. Compared to the ongoing benefits of Fusion... it's a small price to pay.
     
  8. scottsjack macrumors 68000

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    #8
    Exactly! If you found a relatively easy to replace bigger Apple SSD you could move to a dedicated SSD boot drive and use the HDD for storage and backup.
     
  9. mjschabow macrumors 65816

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    #9
    So since you're all really about the Fusion, here's a question:

    Which is more important to the overall functioning of the device? More RAM or a Fusion?

    My max budget is about $700, never owned a Mac before and I was looking at the mid range model. But with all this talk, now I'm thinking about going with the entry level, but instead, upgrading the storage to a 1TB fusion.

    Thoughts on that combo?

    PS. I'm really only interested in this to make it my main media hub (possibly using Plex). For most web surfing, Netflix, and all other stuff, I use my mobile devices. So I'm far from a power user. Or in this case, would the entry level with no upgrades be fine? It would be cool to save money.
     
  10. dyt1983, Feb 9, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015

    dyt1983 macrumors 65816

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    #10
    edit: To remove personally identifying info not relevant to the conversation.
     
  11. Fishrrman macrumors G3

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    #11
    [[ My max budget is about $700, never owned a Mac before and I was looking at the mid range model. But with all this talk, now I'm thinking about going with the entry level, but instead, upgrading the storage to a 1TB fusion. ]]

    Entry level simply doesn't have enough RAM for the future, and there's no way to expand it, ever.
    Also, the CPU is just too slow. Midrange is FAR faster.

    No one who gives any thought to the matter (and there are those who don't, but I'm referring to those wise enough to pose questions here) should consider a new Mac of any kind with only 4gb of RAM.

    And the Mini won't be fast enough without some kind of SSD "in the mix" -- either a fusion drive or a "straight" SSD.

    Unless it's going to be used under the most limited of circumstances, I predict that nearly NO ONE who buys the entry-level Mini (without a fusion drive) is going to remain happy with their purchase for very long...
     
  12. mjschabow macrumors 65816

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    #12
    Thanks, I'm almost kicking myself for even reading up here or asking the questions because my hunch is that the entry level model will be just fine for me considering I'm not a power user.
     
  13. Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

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    #13
    You have to take Fishrrman's pontifications with a grain of salt. They apply to a rather narrow point of view.

    I purchased an "entry-level" Mini in 2009, which I was happy with until 2012, at which stage I added 4GB of RAM when I updated to Mountain Lion (which required a minimum of 2 GB RAM). I remain happy with it, as no doubt do many others………

    The2014 1.4 Ghz base model, with "Turbo Boost" to 2.7 GHz when called upon, would out perform mine by quite a bit.

    As to the need for more than 4 GB RAM to cater for the future….. For a few years the RAM requirements for OS and Apps seemed to grow exponentially. My 2005 Mini came with Tiger and just 0.25 GHz of RAM. However that is not necessarily a reflection of the future. Yosmite is said to make more effective use of RAM…..

    These days it is not all about RAM.
     
  14. mjschabow macrumors 65816

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    #14

    Thanks! This post is a huge help.
     
  15. Jabar18 thread starter macrumors member

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    Feb 8, 2015
    #15
    So I was told tonight that the Fusion is kind of overhyped, and if I was going to spend the extra $200 in the mid range model, to get 16GB of RAM instead.

    This guy was basically saying that hard drive options are there down the road to use an external SSD or boot up from an external, but 16GB is far more important to add now.
     
  16. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #16
    No, it's not overhyped. It's really justified.

    And you don't need 16GB for the foreseeable future. OS X's RAM compression works like a charm.

    In simple words, having 8GB of physical RAM is like having perhaps 12 GB or more, because OS X can compress it well. Besides, if you bump to 16GB but don't buy Fusion or SSD, it'll be slow like a tortoise, because of the lack of the SSD.

    External SSDs are never viable, because you'll never get full speeds.

    Even 4GB can do quite a lot with an SSD: http://bgr.com/2013/11/18/apple-13-inch-retina-macbook-pro-review-late-2013/

    Read it. The SSD makes all that difference.
     
  17. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68020

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    #17
    I have Fusion and 16 GB. Overall, I feel Fusion was the better investment. Now, I have the 27" iMac, so I have no problems adding more RAM down the road. Mini owners' mileage will vary. But for now? Activity Monitor tells me I could be doing everything with far less RAM, and when I'm working hard "everything" is Aperture, InDesign, about a half-dozen spreadsheets and about a dozen other apps, and about 30 browser tabs.

    Unless you're doing the kind of work that demands a lot of RAM... I look at it this way - anytime I need to access a disk, I'm benefiting from Fusion. All the extra RAM does for me is sit around waiting for peak workload.

    And then, if you do hit your head on the RAM ceiling... whether it's a Fusion system or all-SSD, when swap is needed, swap is going to run much faster than it would on an HDD-only setup.
     
  18. urbanmacUser macrumors regular

    urbanmacUser

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    #18
    I have a 2014 Mini with 8gb RAM 2.6 i5, standard 1 TB drive and I find it slow due to the drive. Wish I'd stuck a fusion in it.

    I also have a 2009 iMac and last year took the SuperDrive out and stuck in a SSD and WOW, what an upgrade makes an old iMac feel like new.


    Question can I buy a Fusion drive or similar and add myself, obviously this would void my warranty.
     
  19. yjchua95, Feb 10, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2015

    yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #19
    You could find Apple PCIe SSDs pulled from other Haswell Macs on eBay.

    You'll be looking for either (arranged by increasing performance):
    128GB TS0128F, SD0128F, or SM0128F
    256GB TS0256F, SD0256F or SM0256F
    512GB SM0512F
    1TB SM1024F
     
  20. Celerondon macrumors 6502a

    Celerondon

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    #20
    Believe The Hype!

    Those of us that have 2012 and older minis with SSD or Fusion Drive (FD) storage enjoy great performance. If you purchase the 2014 with FD your storage will run faster than all of our older systems! So far, the speeds reported for PCIe powered Fusion Drives are beyond overhype.

    Even 2014 SSD equipped minis will only be a little faster than your FD mini some of the time.
     
  21. George Dawes macrumors 6502

    George Dawes

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    #21
    I bought one with the 2tb FD and it's fast , but not so hot doing multiple copies and seems to get bogged down occasionally - god knows why...

    Compared to my ssd model it's nowhere near as nippy , which is fast - all the time.. !

    I'd recommend getting an ssd internal ( big as you can afford ) and using an external via thunderbolt to hold big media files

    That's what I'm doing next time I buy a mac
     
  22. donlab macrumors 6502

    donlab

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    #22
    The spinner will die sooner no question. After my 1TB spinner died (configured as fusion) I actually had a difficult time machine recovery. What I noticed was my aperture and iphoto
    Libraries appeared intact from most recent backup however i was actually missing over 50% of my photos within the library due to the old photos getting demoted to spinner drive. I had to go through each event / project and have aperture try to locate original images. If it couldnt then I knew I had to roll back time machine backup to an earlier point to recover. I didnt lose any data but it took me a couple weeks to rebuild a 500 GB library. My assumption is that my spinner was dying a slow death and corrupting my older data in the last month of its life.
     
  23. Acronyc macrumors 6502

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    #23
    I have the top specced model (non-CTO) with the 1TB Fusion drive and 8 GB of RAM and have no regrets. It doesn't feel any slower than my 2012 15" rMBP. I've never really felt that I'm not running a complete SSD, and I think that's the point. Beyond the speed one reason I got the Fusion drive is because all of the parts are there to easily replace the SSD.

    From what I read on iFixit, this model has all the necessary connectors (whereas the non-Fusion models don't) so if I want to upgrade my SSD at a later time it's a pretty easy process and I don't have to purchase any extra parts. Overall I'm very pleased with this mini, runs like a champ, is super quiet, stable, and powerful enough for 90% of my needs.

    Anyway, based on my experience I'd definitely recommend the Fusion drive option.
     
  24. Celerondon macrumors 6502a

    Celerondon

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    #24
    No Warranty On The HDD?

    This is good to know donlab. After the failure did you recall any indications that your HDD was dying? I am curious about two other components of your HDD failure. Was the Fusion Drive an Apple OEM drive or was it user built? Also, if the FD was not OEM, was the HDD a new part? Either way, a <27 month lifespan for a HDD is unfortunate but not unheard of. I suppose AppleCare might even cover such failures until at least October for the oldest OEM 2012 mini Fusion Drives.

    This is my experience as well. I plan to run mine with constant backup systems in place. With Time Machine, even donlab's zombie HDD failure was recoverable.
     
  25. donlab macrumors 6502

    donlab

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    #25
    It was a user built fusion drive. I added an OWC 120GB SSD alongside the 1TB apple OEM spinner then used disk utility to marry them together in a fusion drive. The drive died in July 2014 roughly 18 months from purchase. I don't buy apple care so I bought a larger SSD to replace it. I just realized that in my first post its not that clear what happened and how I recovered so I will clarify. I also would like to point out that I think fusion is great despite the HDD drive failure.

    I recognized something was wrong when my machine wouldn't log in. I could get to login screen but after entering password the machine would kernel panic. (makes sense that machine would boot since most used files are on SSD) No worries, I have a drive connected to mini as time machine backup 24/7. I reformat fusion drive and reinstall and restore everything. Everything is great for two weeks. Then one morning I go to boot machine and nothing. Getting the cannot find startup disk icon. So I boot into disk utility, destroy the fusion drive marriage and reinstall on SSD only. Machine is alive again. The 1TB spinner can still be seen and its mounted. I didn't run any hardware tests to confirm the 1TB was bad I just suspected that the spinner was the culprit. I just removed it and hit it with a hammer a few times and ordered a new larger SSD. So once new SSD arrives I restore again. This is when I noticed something wasn't right. I go to open aperture library and it won't open at all. Instead aperture crashes. So then I roll back to the day before the machine crashed the second time and restore that library. Aperture comes up, all my projects are there everything looks good. I carry on for a week or two adding new baby photos to library. Well, what I failed to realize is the actual file size of the aperture library. Only after I try to look at a past event did I realized that aperture can't find the original files anymore. The aperture library size in finder reports 6GB! Not 500 like it should. So now i have to export the new images Ive since added to corrupt library, then restore old library from before the first crash and export all those images and rebuild a new library. It wasn't fun and took quite a bit of time to export/import each project but I didn't lose any baby pictures and lived to share the experience. (The bride was not happy to hear that our baby photos were missing.) It seems like the spinner never gets a break in fusion setup. Its constantly spinning and the machine gets warm. Since going all SSD the machine is cold to the touch. I think the heat killed the HDD. So backup often.
     

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