Mac Mini upgrade on a budget

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 18,531
Re: Mac Mini upgrade on a budget

One option might be to install a SSD in your 2011 Mini, alongside the existing HDD.  DIY add-on kits for 120 – 480 GB drives are cheap, and if you didn't want to risk operating on the Mini yourself, you could pay a repair shop to do it.

If Activity Monitor's Memory Pressure graph shows a lot of red, you could also consider upgrading the Mini to 16 GB of RAM (the actual, as opposed to official, limit).

Other World Computing – 2011 Mac Mini SSD upgrades

Other World Computing – 2011 Mac Mini RAM upgrades

Crucial – Compatible RAM and SSD Upgrades for Mid 2011 Mac mini (Intel Core i5 2.3 GHz)

With respect to newer Minis, you're not going to see much improvement in CPU speed with dual-core models.  Some 2012 Minis and all 2014 ones were dual-core.  The quad-core 2012 Minis might have an advantage for CPU-intensive multi-core batch jobs, but wouldn't be significantly faster for other work.

That leaves the 2018 and 2020 models.  All of these have CPUs that are faster even at CPU-intensive single-core tasks than the CPUs in the 2011 Minis.

In terms of support,

  • 2012 Minis can run Mojave or Catalina, but cannot run Big Sur.  If Apple releases new versions of macOS at a rate of one per year, Catalina will fall out of "the last three" in late 2022, and you may have trouble finding new applications software after that.  These Minis are old enough that in most parts of the world, Apple no longer offers hardware repair service or spare parts for them.
  • 2014, 2018, and 2020 Minis can all run Big Sur.  It is too early for us to know how far each will be able to go beyond that.
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