Which (If Any) To Buy?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by jseymour, Oct 12, 2018.

  1. jseymour macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2018
    Location:
    S.E. Michigan, USA
    #1
    A little background: I'm mainly a Linux guy. About a year ago my wife and I left the Android world behind for iPhones and iPads. (And an Apple Watch for me.) I've a fairly sophisticated home network (ex-IT guy). For computers: One machine that doubles as our LAN server and my desktop, built from scratch by me, and a fairly vintage Dell desk-side box that dual-boots MS-Win 7 Pro and Linux for my wife. Given the iThings we have already, it's been in my mind I'd eventually make my machine a server only and replace both our desktops with Apple desktops.

    This question involves replacing my wife's old Dell.

    Win7 Pro is nearly EOL'd and the latest Linux update to that machine has apparently messed-up the video driver. It's time for it to go. I would simply build her a machine and put Linux on it, but she needs support for her TomTom GPS. I won't have MS-Win 10 on the network, so Apple it is. I want to preserve her WS display (a Dell display with DVI connection), keyboard and (wireless) mouse, if I can, so I'm thinking a Mac Mini would be best?

    Other than support for updating her TomTom GPS, all she does is banking and stuff like that on it. Perhaps a bit of light photo editing (cropping, sharpening, red-eye reduction, colour balance). Mostly she uses her iPad. So the demand on whatever we get her won't be particularly high.

    What would y'all recommend I should be looking at?

    Thanks!
     
  2. redheeler macrumors 604

    redheeler

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2014
    #2
    I can't recommend any new Mac mini at this point. The newest one is from 2014, and is inferior to the 2012 in some ways. It's possible Apple will release an updated model before the end of the year, but this hasn't yet been confirmed.
     
  3. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #3
    As red heeler already said, DO NOT buy a "current" Mini, as they are an old 2014-design.

    New 2018 Minis -MIGHT- be coming soon, but no one here can say for sure if that will happen, or not.

    If your wife needs a Mac RIGHT NOW, considering her "light level of usage", I would recommend a 21" iMac.

    Get 8gb of RAM (I believe that's standard), but I STRONGLY SUGGEST that you spend $100 more and get a 256gb SSD (instead of a fusion drive).
    It will make a GREAT difference in performance, and also (perhaps) the longevity of the iMac.
    That $100 will become the best money you ever spend on a Mac.

    Be aware that ANY iMac with an internal SSD MUST be ordered from Apple's "build to order" page online. You can't buy them at Apple Stores or from [most] 3rd-party resellers.

    A -very few- online 3rd-party resellers (B&H in NYC is one) pre-order and stock iMacs with SSDs "ready to sell", but you have to check carefully to see what's available.

    Again, if it's "a Mini you want", you're best advised to "wait a little longer"...
     
  4. jseymour thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 11, 2018
    Location:
    S.E. Michigan, USA
    #4
    Thanks for the follow-ups!

    The budget for this is highly constrained, so we won't be buying any brand new 2018 (or later) products.

    It sounds like if we want to buy a used Mini it'd be best to go with a 2012? What would be the downsides in a used 2012 Mini?

    I'll look at used iMacs, but I'm disinclined to go in that direction. If I do decide to head that way, I'll repost in the iMac sub-forum.
     
  5. sublunar macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2007
    #5
    The main downside in the 2012 is the HD4000 GPU which is good enough to run 1440p monitors but not 4k.

    To re-use the DVI monitor you'd need either a Thunderbolt to DVI or HDMI to DVI adaptor.

    Is the 'wireless' mouse a Bluetooth one? An RF wireless device may need a dongle - and then we're into the realm of possible compatibility issues.

    I wouldn't like to vouch for the ability of a Mac to update the TomTom GPS.
     
  6. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #6
    "The budget for this is highly constrained, so we won't be buying any brand new 2018 (or later) products."

    The ONLY 2012 Mini I would buy used, is an i7 version with either the 2.3 or 2.6ghz CPU.
    These will probably come with platter-based HDDs inside which will be SLOW.
    But... "for cheap" you can add an EXTERNAL USB3 SSD (250gb will do) that will make it boot and run far FAR better.

    If you buy a 2014 Mini (the ones that are still being sold "new" right now), DO NOT buy one unless it has 8gb of RAM installed. The RAM is NOT upgradeable on these, and 4gb just "isn't enough" any more.

    Also, be aware that a 2014 Mini with a platter-based HDD inside is going to be SLOW - as slow as molasses.

    I would advise you to get one with either a fusion drive or an SSD inside.
    Again, you DO NOT NEED a "large" SSD -- 256gb will do the job.

    I'm going to warn you right up front -- if you buy a "cheaped out" Mini, you (and your wife) ARE NOT going to be happy with the performance from it.
    You're going to be right back here asking, "how can I make this faster"?

    Actually, you CAN make the Mini (with internal HDD) faster by adding an external USB SSD (same as with the 2012 Mini above). $90 or so should buy a 250gb USB3 SSD (I'd suggest a Samsung t5 or Sandisk Extreme).

    Consider yourself as having been "duly warned" about cheap Minis and "speed".
     
  7. David58117 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2013
    #7
    You know, I'm going to say bollocks to some of these claims..

    I had an (upgraded) 2012 mini quad core back in the day, but sold it years ago and have been primarily using my MBP in clamshell mode since. But I had a spare monitor and wanted a mini again, so I bought the 8GB i5 version recently.

    Most of the processor bumps over the years have been battery efficiency focused, which you don't need on a mini. If you're not doing 4K at 60hz, you'll be fine too.

    The only downside is the HDD, but that can be upgraded yourself if you need to. You'll be fine with 8GB ram.

    Stay away from the 1.4MHz one, and you'll be fine.
     
  8. dogslobber macrumors 68040

    dogslobber

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2014
    Location:
    Apple Campus, Cupertino CA
    #8
    I think the 2012 model will be cast adrift next year and not support 10.15. But the current 2014 model will be supported until at least 2023 with OS upgrades.
     
  9. Partron22 macrumors 68020

    Partron22

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2011
    Location:
    Yes
    #9
    Lenovo makes some nice cheap machines that you can run as Linux boxes.
    I bought a ThinkCentre M900 Tiny Desktop a couple years back and have been happy with it.
    There are probably better versions of this small desktop out now.
    You get Win 10 with the machine, but you don't have to keep it if you don't want.
     
  10. opeter macrumors 68000

    opeter

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2007
    Location:
    Slovenia, EU
    #10
    I would say max. 2021 (6-7 years upgrade cycle) ... but that is just me.

    Anyway, I recommend you to wait until the end of october and see if there are any new models. If not, you can always buy used and/or refurbised Mac minis, the 2014 models with the dualcore 2.6 GHz CPU and at least 8 GB RAM isn't so bad buy, especially if you get it for a good price. And you can swap the internal HDD for an cheap SATA SSD (120-512 GB) if you want.
     
  11. jseymour thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2018
    Location:
    S.E. Michigan, USA
    #11
    Thanks for the additional follow-ups and guidance! I've read them all, even if I'm not addressing them all, and will take them all into consideration.

    Re: Waiting until the end of October: No point. I will not be buying new. We don't spend that kind of money on computers, phones and the like. I find deals on good used or refurbished models and run 'em until they're truly EOL'd. We don't need the latest and greatest. The only advantage, from my PoV is...

    Re: EOL on 2012 model. Even 2021 would be kind of close for a ±$400 investment, in our view. So...

    Re: 2014 vs. 2012 model: How is a 2012 better in some ways than a 2014? I think I read the 2014 has soldered-in memory, but if I acquire an 8GB model, that shouldn't be an issue. And a good SATA 250GB SSD can be had for less than $60 on Amazon.

    Re: EOL, Pt. 2: When y'all say OS support will cease, does that mean OS upgrades or support entirely? I don't have a problem with OS upgrades ceasing, so much. (See: "latest and greatest," above), but I would want to receive security and major bug fix upgrades for a good while.

    Re: Lenovo. If I wanted to stay with Linux, I'd build my own. I'm done buying PCs.
     
  12. sublunar macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2007
    #12
    2 things you may want to make a note of. Apple have been selling official 2014 refurbs for years now, there's the potential for a price cut if the middle and top SKU 2018 models drop in price. This happened to the 2012 base model when the 2014 was introduced at $100 cheaper than the 2012 base model cost. It's a quirk of the system.

    Used prices may plummet after the 2018 arrives. As you say in your next line you may be concerned about EOL...

    The 2014 has soldered in memory, and the internal hard drive is not officially user replaceable, although people have pointed out it's not impossible. It's just harder than than the 2012 which is itself a bit fiddly.

    The 2014 has Thunderbolt 2 though so you could add faster external storage for booting SSD for example. My 2012 is a little tight on bandwidth with Thunderbolt 1 which has to carry a 1440p 60Hz monitor signal as well as my external SSD traffic.

    The 5 year limit is for hardware, macOS support can continue longer than that but generally it doesn't. For example, the 2011 model isn't supported in macOS Mojave but Apple currently provide security updates to the previous 2 macOS versions before the current one for people who don't upgrade for whatever reason. Owners of the 2011 Mini stuck on High Sierra can get security updates for High Sierra right until the eve of macOS 10.16 in October 2020.

    As I own a 2012 I am expecting 10.15 (the one after Mojave) to drop support for my Mini, giving me security updates for Mojave until 2021. This is partly the reason why I am looking for a replacement for my trusty 2012 model and with any luck there will be some good clearout offers going on the 2014 - although I won't at all be surprised if there aren't any and I have to look exclusively at the (notional) 2018 model ;).

    Historically we can expect official 2014 refurbs to appear in the Apple store for a number of months until Apple have cleared official stocks down. Whether they appear cheaper or not is down to the Apple (and the exchange rate if you're in Europe).

    The elongated life span of the 2014 Mini suggests that there will be 5 years of hardware support after a notional 2018 Mini comes out. The 2014 will in theory get new macOS versions until 2023, then security updates to the 2023 OS until 2025 thanks to Apple's tardiness.

    The 28w Iris Graphics 5100 were good in the day (powering Retina MacBook Pros from late 2013) but standard Intel iGPUs are starting to overtake it - the modern UHD620 from current generation 15w mobile CPUs gives it a run for its money for example but with improved Intel GPUs coming down the pipeline thanks to Raja Koduri joining Intel from AMD we can expect more from Intel iGPU performance in the future.

    While we are speaking of the Iris Graphics 5100, they were superseded in early 2015 by Iris Graphics 6100 in the early 2015 MacBook Pro 13" model. Without the 2014 Mac Mini holding the fort support for these era machines should end in 2021 but there is a possibility that cosmetic graphics features in macOS between 2021 and 2023 could be non-functional. Recall older iPhones not getting all the cosmetic benefits of modern iOS versions as an example.
     
  13. dogslobber macrumors 68040

    dogslobber

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    Oct 19, 2014
    Location:
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    #13
    Apple stopped selling 2011 Mini as new six years ago. The 2012 Mini was discontinued 4 years ago so if I had bought one right at the death then I would be thoroughly annoyed to find out the 6 years of support the prior year's Mini model had. This gives me hope Apple might support 2012 Mini on 10.15 :)
     
  14. sublunar macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2007
    #14
    I'd be happy too but the HD4000 is pretty old now and clearly Apple don't want to be hamstrung by bottlenecks like that when they could be designing pretty looking graphics transitions between day and night on a series of desktop backdrops :rolleyes:
     
  15. Partron22 macrumors 68020

    Partron22

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    Apr 13, 2011
    Location:
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    #15
    Always fun. But I don't think I could equal my Lenovo's power in a near Mini sized box. Three computers, 4 displays on a 7 foot bench. Space is at a premium for me.
     
  16. krause734, Oct 17, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018

    krause734 macrumors 6502a

    krause734

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2010
    #16
    I would really wait until they announce the new one this month assuming they will. It will drive used prices down and the entry level one may interest you. If not, I would look for a 2014 mid tier Mac Mini with 250GB SSD on eBay. I see one now for $500. New from Apple it's $900 + tax.

    I'd also consider a MBP in clamshell mode as a desktop. It's great to use on the go when you need it.
     
  17. robjulo macrumors 65816

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    Jul 16, 2010
    #17
    What are you talking about? That is total nonsense.

     
  18. David58117 macrumors 65816

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    Jan 24, 2013
    #18
    Actually you may be right as of just a few months ago, since the i5 quad cores are now available on the 13". But that's the biggest jump in quite awhile.
     

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17 October 12, 2018