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Old Nov 8th, 2014, 02:32 PM   #1
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Mac mini: 2012 i7 vs 2014 i5

I'm considering replacing my 2011 mini with a new model. My local Future Shop has an open box 2012 mini, 2.3 ghz i7, 4 mb RAM, 1TB drive available for $700. The question is whether I would be better off with that or the purchase of a new mid-level mini with a fusion drive (2.6 ghz i5, 8 gb RAM, 1 TB fusion). The cost of the latter is $909, so $200 more than the older i7, but with more RAM. If I bought the older model I could upgrade the RAM, if necessary, to 8 gb for less than $100. I already have an SSD I could install in it, and I could even use the double drive sled that's in my 2011 mini. I don't use the mini for anything taxing; a mix of email, web, office apps and occasional watching of videos and listening to music, and I rarely have more than 3-4 apps open at the same time.

What's driving my interest is the quad core i7, which I have never had, and which I know isn't made anymore on the new minis. It would also be nice to continue to have the ability to upgrade RAM, but I'm pretty certain that if I bought the new mini with 8 gb, I would be unlikely to need more for a long time, if ever.

FS has the 2012 model set up as a demo, and noticed that basic functions on it are so much faster on than on the brand new iMac next to it with the same 5400 rpm drive. Is this the i7's doing?
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Old Nov 8th, 2014, 04:04 PM   #2
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The quad core will be faster on all multicore applications.

You are better with that to maintain upgradability.
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Old Nov 8th, 2014, 04:06 PM   #3
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Quote:
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...I don't use the mini for anything taxing; a mix of email, web, office apps and occasional watching of videos and listening to music, and I rarely have more than 3-4 apps open at the same time.

What's driving my interest is the quad core i7, which I have never had ...
A quad gives you 8 virtual cores. This is great for certain tasks (compressing video, compiling software, ...) but of no practical benefit to what you've described as your use pattern. An SSD in your 2011 Mini would likely give you a more visible speed boost than moving to the Core i7.

IMHO

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Old Nov 8th, 2014, 04:38 PM   #4
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I would take the 2012 for that price. More upgrade options too
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Old Nov 8th, 2014, 04:54 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by WCraig View Post
A quad gives you 8 virtual cores. This is great for certain tasks (compressing video, compiling software, ...) ... An SSD in your 2011 Mini would likely give you a more visible speed boost than moving to the Core i7. ....
Craig
Thanks for the replies. I should have made it clear before that the SSD I mentioned is already in my 2011 mini; it's the second drive on my data doubler sled. Hypothetically I could put this SSD in either a 2012 or 2014 model. If I bought the 2012 I would do this for sure because I know how to open this unit (same as the 2011). For the 2014, I would be more inclined to buy the 256 gb pcie SSD as an Apple upgrade at the time of purchase; either this or the fusion drive as they cost the same and I don't need a lot of internal data.

This brings up another alternative that is much cheaper: buy the base 2014 model with only an 8 gb RAM upgrade for $619 and replace the slow 1TB drive in it with my 256 gb SSD. I looked at the iFixit teardown, and other than having to get a T5 security torx screwdriver to deal with the extra cover, it doesn't look all that difficult to replace the drive. The Geekbench 3 single core scores were not that different between the 1.4 and 2.6 ghz models - less than 15%. This is surprising, given the difference in clock speed and the better graphics card in the mid-level model, but that's what they found. The multi-core scores were more different, however (~25%).
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Old Nov 14th, 2014, 12:55 PM   #6
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I managed to snag a 2012 2.3 Ghz Quad Core i7 the other day on the refurb. store

It took several tries as every time I saw it show up on the store it was gone before I could complete the purchase, but I finally got one and will have it early next week. I am replacing a 2007 MacBook Pro so hope to see a nice little speed bump (also thinking of bumping up the ram to 16GB early in the new year)
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Old Nov 14th, 2014, 01:13 PM   #7
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I managed to snag a 2012 2.3 Ghz Quad Core i7 the other day on the refurb. store

It took several tries as every time I saw it show up on the store it was gone before I could complete the purchase, but I finally got one and will have it early next week. I am replacing a 2007 MacBook Pro so hope to see a nice little speed bump (also thinking of bumping up the ram to 16GB early in the new year)
i Just scored an Xserve 2009 2 x dual 2.26 [8cores] 12GB/ 3 drive trays and dual power supplies for $825
I am estatic.. i was going to pull the trigger on a mini i7 but this makes better value for me and sense.
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