OT: Should I buy a used Mac Mini?

poot

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Looking to replace my aging 2008 iMac with a Mac Mini. Since I have a spare VGA monitor, keyboard/mouse, etc., I can save money and keep things modular going forward. And I'd like to get a solid state drive (SSD) as I already have a pile of failed hard drives.

There is "this guy on Craigslist" who is selling his late 2012 MM with a 2.6 Ghz i5 processor, 16 GM RAM, and a 1 TB SSD for $800. Says it runs extremely fast and quiet on Sierra. He used it for editing audio and 4k video files and claims he's never had any performance issues. Also includes current, installed versions of Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro (which I don't really need but would love to try out - I find iMovie frustrating to use). He's selling it because he bought a MacBook and doesn't need the MM anymore. Thinking that with the 16 GB RAM I should be able to get another 5 years of service from this machine.

OR - should I buy new?

From Apple I could order a new MM with 3.0 Ghz i7 processor, 16 GB RAM and a 1 TB hard drive for $1199. Could shave that down to $899 by instead getting the 2.6 Ghz i5 processor, saving 25% on cost while only forfeiting 4 Mhz in processing speed. Could use that savings to get an internal 256 GB SSD, which puts me back at $1099 on the deal. Could order a 1 TB external SSD for an additional $350 - $379. So, roughly $1500 to get what I want from Apple.

https://www.apple.com/shop/buy-mac/mac-mini
 

MustangMick

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Go new, also remember that you can't increase RAM in Macs yourself anymore since 2014 as its soldered directly to the motherboard. Internal SSD is a great help. On the 2012-2014 models you can add a 2nd solid state drive (for Sample libraries if you are running VSTs)

Cheers
Mick
 

maxb2k

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Though you can't configure to your specs, what about refurbished from own Apple's own website ?
 

JazzyJeff

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maxb2k said:
Though you can't configure to your specs, what about refurbished from own Apple's own website ?
This is the best advice if not going new. I'd go new and make sure that you inquire about discounts that could be had from you or your family (jobs, academics, etc).
 

dcrigger

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Is that Craigslist offering a 2.5 i5 or 2.6 i7? As I don't see that there was a 2.6 i5 offered

If it is a late 2012 2.6 i7 - then I would certainly go that way - since, for me, the 2014 models have as many cons as pros compared to the 2012's. For very little performance increase.
Of course, it's a 2012 2.5 i5 - the choice would be more difficult
 

drawtheline55

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I have a 2012 Mini and do believe that was the last yr it could be upgraded, Agree with above comment on buying at the Apple refurb store, but as of now
they dont have any minis, could change tomorrow though.
 

TDM

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Poot,

Hmmm. That's a more complex decision than it initially seems. At first, I said go new. However, the new Mac Mini doesn't have a port for a VGA monitor. You can get an HDMI to DVI converter, but that doesn't help you if your monitor needs an actual, analog SVGA connection. Also, the processor of the new Mac Mini is the same as the 2012 Mac Mini on Craigslist. Same processor. Same amount of RAM. Same amount of disk space. The performance of the two computers will be similar.

The question is can you afford to throw away $800 if the Craigslist computer turns out to have problems? The Craigslist seller will NOT support you and will NOT offer any warranty. If you can check out the computer in parson, you may be able to assess its condition. That older Mac Mini will has features you cannot get on the current day Mac Mini, such as being able to replace the RAM. Still, you're taking a risk buying something that expensive on Craigslist. Only you can decide if the risk is worth it to you. Ask yourself "if the computer fails and ends up being a paperweight, can I afford to lose the money?" If your answer is "no", then buy new.
 

TDM

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dcrigger said:
If it is a late 2012 2.6 i7 - then I would certainly go that way - since, for me, the 2014 models have as many cons as pros compared to the 2012's. For very little performance increase. Of course, if it's a 2012 2.5 i5 - the choice would be more difficult
Both the 2012 model and the new one that Poot is looking at have 2.6 Ghz i5 processors. However, your point about newer Apple models having as many cons as pros is well founded. Typically, one wants to buy a newer model over an older one, but given the non-expandable, non-repairable nature of Apple's newer models, that's not such an obvious choice with Apple computers anymore. Myself, I might well take an older model over a newer one.
 

drummaman1

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Even five year old computer hardware is pretty old. I remember you can get five years out of a Mac, sell it, and they would get another five years out of it as well. Not so much these days.

If you do happen to get new, your older hardware may not work on it, so you're spending even more money to buy things you didn't think you'd have to buy. OTOH, there are not too many systems with both Final Cut Pro X And Logic Pro X!!! Each of those software suites is $200-300 by themselves. If they are full licensed versions, even if that MM s**ts the bed, you can transfer that HD information to a new machine.

I'd buy it, confirming of course FCPX and LPX are full legit versions, and not pirated. You'll get at least three more years out of it in its current configuration. Save 1:1 backups via Time Machine and when the new MM with better specs come out later this year (fingers and toes crossed), you can move that info to the new Mac no problem.
 

poot

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Seller confirmed that it's a late 2012 2.6 Ghz i5. And it turns out that Logic Pro and Final Cut are tied to his Apple ID, and cannot be transferred back to the MM. Dang.
 

Cauldronics

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Long post follows, but it is quite worthwhile to the topic. Note that it's mostly aimed at getting a highly upgradeable and used Mac: the Mac Pro. While the Mac Mini is an attractive choice for many reasons (and I have one), here's an article that explains why Mini's might not be the best choice anymore. http://www.macworld.co.uk/feature/mac/5-reasons-why-you-shouldnt-buy-2014-mac-mini-3535701/

My advice? Don't get upgrade-itis. I've kept old Macs alive and working well without being trapped into Apple's intentionally obsolete software and hardware program, and saved a lot of money over the years. Apple is taking advantage of blind consumerism while purposely downgrading their home and business computing in favor of mobile. But that's another topic.

The main restriction to keeping an older Mac is OS compatibility with software and hardware, so consider running an alternative, non-Apple OS, of which there are several, and getting a Mac that will be upgradeable for a long time, like a Mac Pro. Non-Apple OS's can be much like copies of Apple's OS or share many features in common but with better functionality and support for more software and hardware than you could ever use, and more than Apple continues to support.

Because of people who know their old Macs can be upgraded to be just as powerful as many new Macs, there is a huge market for third party devices like USB, network adapters, hard drives and PCIe cards to keep a Mac current. Look at the Mac builder forums for whatever you want your Mac to be able to handle. There is most likely an answer if you have the right question and often you only need to look it up, rather than ask.

You can even have a 2006 (4x 2.66 ghz processors, still plenty powerful for most stuff) Mac Pro 1,1 running the fastest wifi available if you know what to look for. I had mine running fibre internet at 1200 MB/s (yes, 1200) until I found a deal on an 8 core Mac Pro yesterday, which I bought for $350. I only got that because at 2.88 ghz x 8, it more than doubles my processing power for DAW recording and mixing, and it makes for an exceptionally fast machine with 4 hard drive bays, which means I'll never run out of storage. And everything on it is upgradeable.

Probably the biggest caveat is portability. At 40-50 lbs and nearly 30x larger than a Mac Mini, packing up the Mac Pro for any remote work is probably not going to happen. If you're going to keep the computer in one place, old Mac Pro all day. Another caveat would be the aforementioned lack of any kind of support or return policy. I will say that I've bought 3 used Macs over the years and never needed to take one to Apple for repair.

If you go this route, I suggest craigslist for Mac Pro's that were anywhere from $1,200 to $3,000 new 5-10 years ago, and can be found for $200 to $1200 today. Know in advance what you want your Mac to able to do. It will help immensely in your search.
 

Buffalo_drummer

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I have a Mac mini running my Superior/EZ Drummer VST. They are RAM intensive in that to get the best performance with the least latency it gobbles up your RAM. If you can, get the most RAM you can but I agree you don't have to get the newest model to make it work.
 

PerfectImposter

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I personally wouldn't buy a used computer from Craigslist. I also wouldn't even consider buying a computer without an SSD. $800 for a five year old computer isn't that great of a deal. So I'd go for the new mini with an SSD.

Edit: Cauldronics is bang on about running older macs by the way. I'm running a 2010 MacBook Pro that I put an SSD in. I have no problem with multitrack recording using Reaper as my DAW. Having said that, I still don't think that used Mac mini is a good deal.
 

kip

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NEW!

I have two Mac minis. one at work. one at home
I will NEVER buy another Mac mini as long as I live.
from the get go this device performance was crap.

the only thing that made it useable was to add a solid state boot drive.....but even after that, the performance isn't great.
 

Buffalo_drummer

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My Mini was around $300 loaded from a computer seller on Ebay who moves a ton of them. He refurbs them and will add any memory you want to them before shipping to you.
 

eddiej

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I agree with the people who say buy new. I wouldn't by any 5 year old computer that hasn't been refurbished and doesn't come with a warranty. IMHO to do otherwise is a crap-shoot.
 

drawtheline55

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I have bought and sold a few Macs, Airs, macbook pro and minis, I have had only one issue with a used one cost 100.00 to fix

To wit in my home office where I am typing I have the 2012 mini also set up is a 2009 17" macbook pro ( really like it)
and have a 2010 15" Macbook pro....all bought used all work great. To me Ebay is the best way to buy these used, if there is a problem
you will get your money back.....craigslist....you own it.

Had the 12" Macbook, didn't like the keyboard, wish Apple would listen to the old..."if it aint broke...dont fix it"
 

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