What would you recommend?


I want to upgrade from my Mac Mini (late) 2012 refurb. I might be getting some extra money soon, somewhere in the realm of around $500, and if I can sell this Mini for a decent price, I could scrounge up, maybe, a total of around $1,000.

So I’ll probably be looking at second-hand. I’d really like an iMac as I’m sick of using my 46" TV with the Mini and want a real screen for a change. I’d like something more responsive than the Mini. I don’t use it for much other than writing and internet, but I’m really finding it to be slow these days. Waiting for the Finder to sort, waiting for save menus to pop up (like, seriously, sometimes it takes about a minute), etc. and not being able to run more than a few programs at a time is becoming a pain.

So what would you recommend I start looking for? I’ve been out of the loop and not paid any real attention to the market for several years so have no idea what’s around and what I could even attempt to bargain for at that price.


With that budget I’d throw some ram and an ssd at the mini and save up for a suitable display.


I was having a look on here to see if there was a recent sale to point at and there isn’t much there.

Mid 2011 27" iMac, estimated at $1000

2015 27" iMac, estimated at >$2,500 (although 6 months old now)

The iMacs really do hold their value damn well. You could try upgrading the RAM and installing an SSD into your current machine to get the best out of it, it should still perform pretty well for what you want to do. You could put the balance of the case into a dedicated 27" screen (although all that’s likely to blow your $500 budget without some tight second hand market shenanigans).

Plan B: (and I shudder a little as I say this) you can buy complete PC systems for sub $1K, although you usually have to make compromises at that point, but 8GB RAM, Core i5, small SSD + larger HDD + 27" monitor is possible.


SSD + RAM is an option I’ve considered but the simple fact is that I’m just too scared to do it. It looks far too fiddly for me and if I flumph it, then I have zero backup. I can’t afford to lose the only computer I have and then have it not even saleable.

I’d really rather not get a PC. OS X has gotten worse over the years, IMO, too Windows like in many respects, but it’s still leagues better than a Windows PC. I just can’t handle it. I literally want to throw every PC I’ve ever owned against a wall with the frustration and stress it causes me.


I know how you feel, although these days I live across lots of worlds, working in Windows, OSX and Linux. As much as I love OSX, if my 2013 MPB packed it in I just don’t know if I could justify/afford the modern replacement (which is $4k). That said, if price wasn’t a factor it would be Mac every day of the week.


You could always replace your 2012 mini with a new mini for $749 and add a 24 inch non Apple monitor to it (which you’d get for $250) which would keep you inside your $1000 budget.

But I’m not sure what specs your exiting mini is so it’s hard to tell how much performance increase (if any) you’d get.


Have you looked at any of the many videos showing how to do these upgrades? I have a couple of these and they’re easier to deal with than the previous ones. I would rate them as relatively straightforward to upgrade. I’ve added more RAM and an SSD to one and more RAM to another of the ones I have.

Changing out the drive is a little more involved than adding RAM, but dropping an SSD into your Mini will make a big difference to it. If it has anything less than 8GB of RAM, increasing that will help too, though not as much as an SSD. If you can only do one thing, definitely make it the SSD. 250GB 850 EVOs are very cheap and reportedly good.

As always, you will want to make sure you have the right tools, a good workspace and plenty of uninterrupted time. Preparation helps a lot if you’re not sure about it. If you really don’t want to, it shouldn’t be impossible to find a suburban computer shop who would drop the drive in for you.


Yes, and they freak me out. If I could afford to risk it, it wouldn’t stress me, but the idea of losing the computer altogether from a mistake means I’ll simply never even attempt it.


2.5 GHz Intel Core i5
4 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
Intel HD Graphics 4000 1536 MB


There would be some improvement but not a huge amount if you buy the $749 mac mini.

Probably not enough to satisfy what you’re looking for (although it would have the advantage of warranty).


What about getting someone else to do it? There are a number of Mac repair places around. It’s just a really good way to get increased performance if you’re on a budget.


I get freaked out at the thought of DIY on my Mini, also, but I am considering at least getting a quote from Mac1 on what they would charge me to get it done. Its only the drive I want to replace, and move the other to be storage in a second bay. The 2012 Mini is a good little machine.


This model is the one with USB3 and thunderbolt right?

If you don’t want to replace the HDD inside, you could consider just buying an external SSD to be your boot drive. A USB3 connection would be way cheaper than thunderbolt, and be almost close to the same speed for most off the shelf SATA equipped external drive cases (SATA is the limiting factor on external TB performance). You just need to ensure the USB3 enclosure supports “UASP”. USB3 SSD will give you a 4x read speed boost, thunderbolt maybe closer to 5x. In real life difference is marginal.

However if this machine only has USB2 and thunderbolt, get the thunderbolt enclosure. It would be multiples faster than USB2. I did this with my 2011 iMac and it is awesome the difference.

To go faster than USB3 with the thunderbolt connection you would need to go for an expensive M.2 equipped external drive. You can get a thunderbolt M.2 enclosure with twin PCIe SSDs that matches the mac mini, but it is way above your budget and not worth it. You could get a brand new MBA or MacBook for the price of one of those.

I would think about an external SSD as a first step and see what difference it will make (a lot). You might be happy with that.
Then I would get a decent monitor.

I think you do however really need to open it up and add some RAM to get her up to 8GB at least.

And to be out there, wait for a sale and get ten percent or better off a new mac. Last weekend for example Myer had 10 percent off macs, including their eBay store. This could be combined with a eBay coupon code for an additional five percent. That might be enough to get you closer to $1k for an MBA.


just had a qucik look around for external SSD, my they have become affordable.


Yep, plus FireWire 800. The Tb port doubles as a display output though. If you have two screens you probably can’t use it for data.


I’m reliant on public transport and there’s nowhere I know to go in Ballarat.


It only took me a few seconds with a search engine to find a couple in Ballarat, but anyway, it seems like you’d rather pursue other options.

FWIW, I have one of that exact model, also a refurb, which I paid $579 for. There is no way you’ll get $500 for it now, so you’ll be extremely limited in what you can buy to replace it with.


TBH I woudnt try to sell it. I would do the RAM upgrade myself (well, I did that, its the easiest part of it and I took mine to 16GB, it wont address any more than that) and with this thread’s existence and the info in it, I have decided to get a quote from a couple of places in Newcastle, for getting an SSD installed and adding a second drive, a 7200 RPM if possible. The existing 500GB is too slow, IMO, so I dont really want to keep it.

I have to do things piecemeal, being on a pension, so I’ll buy the bits I want, first, then later either bite the bullet and do it myself or get someone else to do it for me.

Dropbear you might want to consider that option. Do it in stages.


I apologise for my outburst earlier in a post that’s now hidden. I’m just a very sensitive little snowflake sometimes.


My union uses a 2012 Mac Mini (donated by the CFO), and I’m the IT Director for the union. I immediately threw in max ram and a Samsung SSD (it’s REALLY easy, just a couple of specialised torx screwdrivers, 6 and 8, iirc). Whole new machine. Runs High Sierra perfectly, and it even runs a number major professional apps (like Adobe CS/older Aperature/Final Cut) very well.

I’d put my money there and also try to find a decent IPS display. I have a 23" LG IPS LED display for my Mac Pro at home and it was MAYBE $150, but we have a Apple Cinema Display for the Mac Mini (wish I could trade!). The CFO is one of those “I know nothing about computers, don’t even know what I was buying, let the guy upsell me on the display, I just always use my Windows laptop.” For someone good at the union’s money (and he is), it seems like he wasn’t really sure of what to spend–then he made it an in-kind donation to the union anyway.