Which used Mini should I look for?

Giuanniello

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 21, 2012
381
122
Capri - Italy
Long story short,

I will probably need to get a desktop Mac since the ones I own are quite old and mostly laptops (2011 MBPro, 2012 MBAir, 2014 MBAir and 2007(!) Mini), I can't justify buying a new one so I gotta go for an used one but what I need is for sure to update RAM (photography wise I need an 8GB base RAM) and HD to SSD (which means another 80-90 euros for it), I already have an old but still good Cinema Display HD 23" (the transparent one with ADC connection to whom I added an ADC to DVI converter as to use it with other computers through DVI).

So, I don't need great computing power, I rather need a model I will be able to easily upgrade RAM and HD, which should I go for, a 2012 or a 2014 model?

Thank you

Giovanni
 

kensic

macrumors 6502
Jan 11, 2013
358
13
2012 all the way.

both 2014 and 2012 use the same RAM speed....so thats a wash.

then it comes down to cpu power. 2012 has quad core i7 vs weaker dual core "U" i7

2014 does have thunderbolt 2.

iris 5100 internal graphics isnt much better then hd4000

so my vote is 2012 quad core i7 version.
 

Giuanniello

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 21, 2012
381
122
Capri - Italy
I found a 2012 MacMini Server with 16GB and a 1TB fusion drive, seems too good to be true at 300 euros, got in touch with the seller who sent me pictures showing also the serial number, we are almost done, have to send off payment and that's it.

Will need an adapter to go from Thunderbolt to female DVI so that I can use my old beloved Cinema Display HD through the ADC-DVI adapter I already own.

I guess once I upgrade the OS drive with an SSD it will sure be better than my MacBookPro 15" late 2011 with 16GB and QuadCore i7 (which should be the prev generation one vs third of the Mini Server), probably graphic card won't allow video games (which I am not into besides being a lover of X-Plane flight simulator which I don't use since ages) but it should do well for my purpose which is to run a photo archive where the archive is on the computer and actual photographs on an external RAID1 FW800 drive.

Please share any suggestion or hint.

Grazie mille

Giovanni
 

Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
4,207
1,877
New Jersey Pine Barrens
The 2012 quads are great, I have a 2.6ghz model with 16gb and original internal Apple 256gb SSD. I have left the original MacOSX 10.8.5 on the internal drive, for the times I need my expensive legacy video, CAD and 3d software that is just too expensive to replace. But normally this machine is dedicated to video and audio editing with Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X, booting from MacOS Sierra on a 1TB USB 3.0 Samsung T3 SSD. You might consider an external boot SSD like this for yourself, it's a bit slower but I don't like the idea of tinkering with the innards of a vintage Mini. In fact, that I why I got the Mini with the original internal SSD 3 years ago - I didn't want one that some "do it yourself-er" had messed with. ;)

FWIW, this is the original internal Apple 256gb SSD, which is about as fast as you will get on a 2012 Mini




and this is my external 1TB Samsung T3 SSD




In everyday use, about the only time I notice a speed difference is at startup. The internal drive boots in about 15 seconds and the external takes about 30 seconds. But I'm not sure.... part of that difference may be related to Mountain Lion vs. Sierra.

I'm still using my 23" Aluminum Apple Cinema HD display that has been in constant use for more than 10 years and still looks surprisingly good. I guess this is a few years newer than yours because it has a DVI-D interface. I am using the adapter that was originally supplied with the Mini to connect it to the HDMI port. I have a Blackmagic Ultrastudio device connected to the thunderbolt port, driving a Sony production monitor for video editing. This is basically an external GPU, but it only works with Final Cut Pro instead of being a general purpose interface.

I have a Sony professional DVCAM/HDV deck connected to the firewire port, and am gradually capturing the hundreds of legacy tapes I have accumulated over the years. Then I have a pair of 5tb hard drives connected to the USB ports.

I use gigabit ethernet instead of wifi, and can access files on my LAN as well as 150/150 mbit FIOS internet. Everything is backed up to the cloud with Backblaze as well as local hard drives using Carbon Copy Cloner.

Enjoy your new system, they were quite impressive in their day, and it sounds like you got a good price (certainly a lot less than I paid!). :)
 
Last edited:

kensic

macrumors 6502
Jan 11, 2013
358
13
i think imma be going the same route.

sourced out a 2012 mini i7 quad core for 235$ (such a deal)...and yesterday picked up a 27" thunderbolt display for 100$ (i pretty much stole it from this guy lol)

gonna upgrade to 16 gb (about 70$)...will wait for a good price on 1tb samsung evo.

so with the ssd, ill probably end up spending 500$. should be good enough for photography work for 2-4 years.
 

Giuanniello

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 21, 2012
381
122
Capri - Italy
I am so very glad to read such good reports on the old Mini, it was too good of a deal to pass considering I have a lot of Mac computers home but desktop wise the most powerful was a 27" 2009 iMac I recovered off a friend but it passed away again (graphic board), two Minis from 2007 (one of which I upgraded to a 64bit CPU) and my first and powerful PowerMac Dual G4 MDD, a beast!

Laptops are nice but I prefer to rely on a desktop for most intensive processing and, above all, a big screen so the Mini will come very handy, already 16GB RAM installed, I will have to add an SSD to the fusion drive it comes with (wondering if OS can be started from either of the two or it gotta be on a specific channel of the ATA controller to behave as a startup drive), started to give iFixIt a quick view, doesn't seem too complicated to access the second disk bay so I will probably give it a try and can then use my 27" iMac as a screen instead of relying on the 23" Cinema Display (which would need a Thrunderbolt to DVI adapter which I don't own yet).

Being this Mini one of those with the built in AC adapter it might be easy to move it to the TV/Music corner and use it as a music server, I am thinking of many things to do with it, can't wait for it to get to here, just got the shipping receipt off of the seller, hopefully within mid next week it should be here (this is Italy, things still take their time...).

Thanks everybody for your reports

Giovanni
 
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FreakinEurekan

macrumors 68040
Sep 8, 2011
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Eureka Springs, Arkansas
started to give iFixIt a quick view, doesn't seem too complicated to access the second disk bay
Just in case it wasn't clear before - if you're getting a Fusion 2012 Mac Mini, BOTH disk bays are occupied. One with SSD, one with HDD. You could pull out the HDD and put in a second SSD, or pull out the SSD and put in a larger one. But with Fusion, there is no option to "Add" an additional internal disk.
 

Giuanniello

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 21, 2012
381
122
Capri - Italy
Yep, I didn't know it, I actually learnt something new today, I thought it was a spinning HD with a big solid state cache kind of a while ago Seagate used to produce as to speed up the access to data.
By the way, I might want to remove the small SSD and add a bigger one to host the OS and applications and use the spinning drive to store data, I gave iFix tutorial a look and even tho long doesn't seem too complicated, complicated will be the tear apart of my dead iMac 27" so I can retrieve the SSD to be reutilised.

Thank you