Which Mac mini should I purchase?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by 9fiftyfive, Feb 3, 2017.

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  1. 9fiftyfive macrumors member

    9fiftyfive

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    #1
    After struggling to get my PC/Hackintosh to work for two months now, I want to move to a Mac Mini (if I can get it at a good price). While it is indeed sad that I will no longer have my "custom built" PC, I just want something that will work without internet issues or a CPU that idles at 55C.

    I figured my best bet would be to purchase a Mac Mini, as it's guaranteed to work with OS X, and will also be fairly easy to dual boot with Linux. On top of that, I could probably score one for fairly cheap, or at the very least, at a good value.

    I would use this Mac Mini for code (iOS, web, Python in the future, etc.), storing my media (iTunes library, Photos library, videos, etc.), some "just-for-fun" photo/video editing (GIMP/Pixelmator, iMove, FCP if I win the lottery), and streaming media (Netflix, YouTube, Pandora (basically any device made in the last five years can do this).

    I've decided that it's time to choose a Mac Mini. I'm referencing Wikipedia for this, so I think all of the specs are correct, however, if they are not, let me know.

    The first step in picking a Mac Mini is eliminating the obvious. All of the Mid 2010 Mac Minis have Core 2 Duos, and are obviously not fast or powerful. So, nope. The new Mac Minis (late 2014) are overpriced, underpowered, and lack the same upgradability. That leaves me with the 2011 and 2012 models.

    AFAIK, there are 2011 i7 models that can clock up to 2.7 GHz?, but most of the ones on eBay only clock up to 2.0GHz. IMO, that's quite slow for 2017. I did, however, find one for $550 on MacOfAllTrades that clocked up to 2.7GHz, however, I assume that by the time I'm ready to order, it will be out of stock.

    And then there's the 2012 models. Dual-core i5 at 2.5GHz and Quad-core i7 at 2.3GHz. I personally think the only sensible option here would be the Quad-core i7, given what I'm trying to accomplish with this machine, however, as much as I'd like to think I am sometimes, I'm not an expert, and maybe I don't need it.

    Which Mac Mini will best suit my needs? My budget is ~$825.

    Thanks!
     
  2. DesertSurfer macrumors 6502a

    DesertSurfer

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    #2
    I have the 2012 i5 2.5gz mini. I upped the RAM to 16gb and swapped the HDD out for an SSD. It is fast enough (faster than the 2011 i5 MacBook Pro I have) and dead silent. I'm not missing having a quad core. My guess is that you wouldn't either, unless you really get into video editing, then maybe you would.
     
  3. 9fiftyfive thread starter macrumors member

    9fiftyfive

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    #3
    So 2011 < 2012?
     
  4. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #4
    Maybe I'm missing something, but how is a 2014 mini "underpowered" but a 2011 or 2012 is not?

    IMO, if you need power, a Mac Mini is not where you're going to find it.
     
  5. 9fiftyfive thread starter macrumors member

    9fiftyfive

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    #5
    Underpowered when you look at price. I need power, but not that much power. "Coding" outside of Xcode really doesn't use up that many resources, and video editing is a hobby
     
  6. DesertSurfer, Feb 3, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2017

    DesertSurfer macrumors 6502a

    DesertSurfer

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    #6
    Yes. From the 2011 Sandy Bridge i5 (with HD3000 graphics) to the 2012 Ivy Bridge i5 (with HD4000 graphics), you get about a 13% increase in single core speed on geekbench.
     
  7. 9fiftyfive thread starter macrumors member

    9fiftyfive

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    #7
    Thanks!
     
  8. JamesPDX Suspended

    JamesPDX

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  9. MacknTosh macrumors member

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    #9
    I had the 2012 Mac mini and was looking to upgrade to the 2014 when it was released. Like a lot of Mac mini users, I quickly realised that my 2012 Quad Core i7 blew the top of the range 2014 Mac mini out of the water when it came to multicore performance. Stuck with my 2012 model for another two years. So I think it is a fair point to state that the 2014 model is 'underpowered' compared to the 2012 model.
     
  10. bingeciren macrumors 6502a

    bingeciren

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    #10
    If you want to be able to upgrade the drive(s) and the memory, then you should target a 2012 model.

    Don't go below 2012 because you will only get USB3 from 2012 onward. Oh yes, USB3 makes a BIG difference.
     
  11. Fishrrman macrumors G4

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    #11
    Don't buy anything earlier than the late-2012. These have USB3. Anything earlier has only USB2.

    If you buy a 2014, I would advise you to NOT BUY any Mini UNLESS it has the following:
    - at least 8gb of RAM
    - at least an SSD -or- a 1tb fusion drive.

    DO NOT buy a 2014 Mini with a platter-based HDD unless you are going to add an SSD (either external or internal) with which to run it. Otherwise, it will run "dead slow". Consider yourself as having been duly warned.

    BE AWARE that changing the internal drive in either a 2012 or 2014 Mini can be "fraught with dangers" of breaking something inside. This has happened to MANY users who thought they could do the job, and then... broke something inside.

    There -might be- new Minis coming later this year.
    A big "unknown" right now.
     
  12. DesertSurfer macrumors 6502a

    DesertSurfer

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    #12
    I can't believe I forgot to mention this. The new Mac mini is almost certainly coming.
     
  13. 9fiftyfive thread starter macrumors member

    9fiftyfive

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    #13
    Good to know
     
  14. 9fiftyfive thread starter macrumors member

    9fiftyfive

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    #14
    I'm fairly confident with a repair, and I have all the tools to do it. Definitely a polar opposite, what are your thoughts on a 2008 Mac Pro (8 core)
     
  15. 9fiftyfive thread starter macrumors member

    9fiftyfive

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    #15
    :)
     
  16. marioman38 macrumors 6502a

    marioman38

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    #16
    For $825 I would pick up a 27" iMac look around you can find a 2011/2012 model, quad core i7, 8-16GB RAM, 1-2TB, light years better graphics than anything you will find in a mini.

    I used to have a 2011 Mac Mini with the Dedicated 256MB GPU, I had a limited budget and spent like $599 on it. I bought new, mistake number 1, and mistake number 2 I had thought the dedicated graphics on the mini could run X-Plane 10, hahahaha, yeah right, I had to turn all the setting down to medium and low. Seems like you get way more bang for the buck with the iMac.

    As you have said, Quad Core is a GREAT idea, especially if you plan on keeping the machine another 3-5years!
     
  17. 9fiftyfive thread starter macrumors member

    9fiftyfive

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    #17
    Thanks! My budget is now lowered, and I was thinking about getting an 8-core Mac Pro 2008. Thoughts?
     
  18. marioman38 macrumors 6502a

    marioman38

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    #18
    Can't go wrong with the classic Mac Pro! Expandability is awesome!! Especially on a budget! There were a few major changes from the 2008 to 2009 model which made me go for the 2009. The 2009 has easy processor upgrades if you opt for the single processor model you don't have to delid them. The 2009 has different RAM that isn't on the riser cards like the 2008. The 2009 processors have hyperthreading and L3 cache.

    I just got mine March 2016 I believe. Found it on eBay for something like $425 I think. My roommate gave me a Nvidia GT 650ti for free, plug and play (no grey apple boot screen but goes right to desktop). I flashed the ROM from 2009 to 2010 (super easy took 5 minutes) so that it could accept hex core cpu's and upgraded to an Intel X5675 processor I bought on eBay. It came with 10GB RAM from eBay that I didn't upgrade because I only use my Mac Pro plugged into the TV to watch KODI. The HDD drives trays are super cool, takes less than two minutes to change out a hard drive!

    I think you will love the Mac Pro if you've got the space for it. Get a nice IPS display, I like Apple's keyboards wired or wireless, I use wireless since its plugged into the TV and I can browse through my movies from the couch, and a good mouse, I use a Logitech Performance MX (apples mice kinda suck). You'll be a happy camper.

    One thing is Apple has stopped software updates on the 2008 and 2009 Mac Pros at El Capitain. I have flashed my 2009 to a 2010 so it THINKS its a 2010 model (really nothing changed except faster stock CPU speeds). Because of this my 2009 model is running macOS Sierra straight from the App Store, no other hacks required!
     
  19. 9fiftyfive thread starter macrumors member

    9fiftyfive

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    #19
    I have 2 nice IPS displays, HHKB, and G502, so I'm good with periphs. I still think I want the '08 because the seller is giving me money off, and it comes with Adobe/M$ Office/FCP + Motion + Compressor. Also, it's maxed with the CPUs and RAM. Still a bit nervous about buying a machine older than my first PC, so thanks for the reassurance
     
  20. tibas92013 macrumors 6502

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    #20
    In June, 2015 I purchased a Refurbished MM(Late 2014), 2.8GHz,8GB Ram,256SSD from the Apple On-Line Store and it is one powerful "Beast" for this Apple-Fan "light user". I paid around $1000 which included AppleCare.
     
  21. 9fiftyfive thread starter macrumors member

    9fiftyfive

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    #21
    What do you use it for?
     
  22. tibas92013 macrumors 6502

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    #22
    I use it to surf-the-web, light correspondence, burning over 500 DVD's from my extensive DVD Original Movie Collection,buying-off Amazon,playing a movie from the MM to the two "Apple TV's" in the other rooms of the house, etc
     
  23. 9fiftyfive thread starter macrumors member

    9fiftyfive

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    #23
    Nice to hear it's working well for you!
     
  24. kschendel macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    If you go the Mac Pro route, don't get a 2008. Get a 2009 or later (i.e., 4,1 or 5,1). 4,1's are easy to flash to 5,1 level. A single CPU machine with a CPU upgrade is probably your best choice. If you go for dual cpu, the 5,1 (2010 model) hardware is preferred because the CPU upgrade is easier; the dual CPU 4,1 used de-lidded CPU's which are not stock items, and the de-lid process is not for the unlucky or mechanically challenged!

    The 2008 (3,1) is not a terrible machine at all, but IMO you can get significantly more life out of a 4,1 or later.
     
  25. 9fiftyfive thread starter macrumors member

    9fiftyfive

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    #25
    I plan to use the machine with 10.9 and 10.10. I have no desire to go past those versions of OS X. If it gets too unstable, Linux will be my friend (I have a MBP already so I'll still have access to OS X). Also, I've got a high end 2008 lined up already. Given my response, do you still think an '08 is an okay choice, at least for me? Thanks
     

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