Announced on October 16, 2014, identifiable by the model number A1347 and EMC 2840.

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What year mac mini to purchase

What is the best year for a mac mini in terms of maintainability and upgradability?

I was about to purchase a brand new one from Apple but I discovered they were essentially sealed shut in terms of user upgrades and maintenance.

I'm thinking that the best thing to do would be to purchase as late a model as possible without getting one that cannot be easily upgraded. But, I don't know what year Apple began making units that were difficult, if not impossible, to upgrade.

I'm OK with anything but desoldering things off the motherboard. I want to get as fast a unit as possible so my plan was to purchase a low end unit, on eBay, and install a SSHD and RAM upgrade. I intend to use it primarily for running XCODE for development purposes.

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Good Question!

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I would recommend a dual drive setup SSD for the OS and swap/paging space and a standard HD for your files (not Fusion) or a dual SSD if you can swing it. As you are doing coding I would go with 16 GB of RAM.

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Over the years Apple has made the mini less upgradable. And I agree the current version of Mac Mini is very limited!

Here's the IFIXIT teardowns so you can follow along:

The 2014 model has soldered RAM you'll need to decide how much you'll need upfront as what you buy for the system will be what you'll be stuck with. It comes either with 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM.

The 2014 model also only offers a single SATA port {SATA III (6.0 Gb/s)} to support a standard 2'5" HD, SSHD or SSD drive. What would normally be the second drive bay is configured to support a custom Apple blade PCIe SSD drive. While the I/O of the custom Apple SSD is much faster than what the SATA port can offer you are limited to Apples SSD or one from OWC SSD options when its offered. The only rub here is you'll need to replace the Drive Tray to add in the Apple custom SSD if you don't buy a SSD configured system in addition to the SSD which is quite costly when bought as a spare. So I do recommend you think on what the largest SSD you'll want in this series and buy that model.

The 2012 & 2011 models offer two SATA bays. Which can support two or a combo of HD's, SSHD's or SSD's. Apple offered a Fusion Drive option in the 2012 model, one can create a Fusion Drive in the 2011 model as well. In either you must have a standard HD and a SSD drive, you can't use a SSHD or two SSD's. Here is the needed kit to add in the second drive: Mac Mini Dual Drive Kit and here is the IFIXIT guide to do it: Installing Mac Mini Mid 2011 Dual Hard Drive Kit or Installing Mac Mini Late 2012 Dual Hard Drive Kit

Both 2012 & 2011 offer support for two memory modules for a max of 16 GB of RAM.

So now you have the details on what is upgradable. Here's the specs for the different Mac Mini models to review: EveryMac - Mac Mini listing

Mac Mini Dual Drive Kit Image

Product

Mac Mini Dual Drive Kit

$19.95

Mac Mini Mid 2011 Image

Guide

Mac Mini Mid 2011 Teardown

Difficulty: Moderate15 - 30 minutes

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Really excellent answer!

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@mayer - Thanks!

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Thanks for taking time to give me exactly the information I needed and explaining the trade offs so,well. I believe I will look for a 2011 or 2012 model with a SSHD and 16G if Imcan find a good one and plan on adding a second 1TB drive for auxiliary storage, Thanks again for the excellent response to my question. -- John B

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@jobattle - If I've answered you question please take the time to score it (if you haven't) and mark your question as answered. Thanks!

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