2012 Mac Mini mini-review

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CA_Steve
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2012 Mac Mini mini-review

Post by CA_Steve » Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:42 pm

I brought home the $599 2012 Mac Mini a few days ago. It's going to replace my mom's 2006 Mac Mini with Core Solo CPU. :D A long overdue replacement - not so much for the additional processing power, as for apps obsoleting due to the lack of OS upgradability. I'll leave benchmarking to the people that get paid to do it and just discuss noise and power use here (oddly missing from the Ars and other reviews).

Power use: (measured at the wall with a Kill-a-Watt)
Sleep - less than 0.5W (shows 0W and 3VA)
Boot - 11 to 16W
Idle - 7 to 8W
Running (downloading) s/w update - 12 to 13W
Netflix (Silverlight) - 21 to 22W
Hulu (Flash) - 16 to 18W
Gaming - tbd

I am impressed.

Noise: It's not silent, but it's pretty quiet. In my silent house in a suburban/rural area (very little outside noise leaking in) I can hear the fans whirring softly. Character/level didn't change in any of the 7 to 22W load cases above. Disk drive (Hitachi 500GB 5400rpm) spun up is comparable to the fan noise level and seek is noticable but not loud. There were a couple of times during a GB download when the HDD clicked loud enough to make me look. The Mac is sitting on my wooden desk maybe 2.5-3ft away. Haven't had a chance to stress it to see how loud the fans get, yet.

To put the noise level in perspective, it's slightly quieter than my idling Solo build below except an octave or two higher in frequency (~2k rpm fans vs the loudest fan in my system - 725 rpm CPU fan).

There is an ongoing issue with some users having the video out blank for a second or two every once and a while. I haven't seen it using the included HDMI-DVI adapter and my Dell G2410 monitor.

Update: I just had the video blank bug happen twice over a 10 min period. Monitor goes black (as if no signal) for about 2-3 seconds and then it's working again. I'll see how it progresses for the next few weeks.

I loaded Guild Wars 2 and it draws 40-45W at 1920x1080 full screen. I'm suprised by the playability of HD4000 in low population areas, granted with most of the features dialed down. After a few minutes, fans may have increased rpm a bit, but barely noticable with audio off. Not noticable at all with audio on. Played for ~15 minutes for a nice heat soak and top of case is mildly warm.

Update 2 (Nov 30)
- Video blanking: Intel has acknowledged the problem exists, but no timeframe for fix. I haven't seen it occur again using the HDMI->DVI adapter->Dell monitor. Have also used Mini Displayport->DVI->Dell monitor and Mini Displayport->HDMI->Samsung TV without problem.

- I enjoyed using it as a browser for Hulu/network TV content. Certainly can't hear the little bit of fan whir from the couch :)

Update 3 (Dec 11)
- Noise: The fan definately ramps up during extended game play (GW2) and can be heard in a quiet room without the audio track playing. Nice whoosh without tonality.

- Display Firmware update: Apple released a fix for the HDMI blanking issue. Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to install it before I said goodbye to the Mini.

Update 4 (Nov 11, 2013)
- Visited mom a few months back. Updated all the software. Video blanking still occurred on an intermittant basis. Took the Mac in for repair as it's under warranty. Of course, it wouldn't malfunction during it's overnight stay. Bleh.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

CA_Steve
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Re: 2012 Mac Mini mini-review

Post by CA_Steve » Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:56 pm

Updated to include GW2 data and video blanking.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

marispiper
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Re: 2012 Mac Mini mini-review

Post by marispiper » Sat Nov 17, 2012 6:52 am

This sounds like an ideal machine for me - except the blank screen issue would be really annoying. Seems a lot of people are having the problem from your link to that mac forum. Getting a thunderbolt to dvi cable might help from what they are saying. I'm hoping Apple issue a fix soon.

CA_Steve
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Re: 2012 Mac Mini mini-review

Post by CA_Steve » Sat Nov 17, 2012 7:31 am

It's not really Thunderbolt, it's a mini Display Port to DVI adapter. Thunderbolt and mini-DP share the same connector. I have the adapter. Haven't tried it as I want more time with the HDMI output to get a feel for frequency of the blanking.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

marispiper
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Re: 2012 Mac Mini mini-review

Post by marispiper » Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:59 am

OK, thanks.

CA_Steve
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Re: 2012 Mac Mini mini-review

Post by CA_Steve » Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:24 am

Update 2 posted.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

CA_Steve
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Re: 2012 Mac Mini mini-review

Post by CA_Steve » Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:48 am

Update 3 posted.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

marispiper
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Re: 2012 Mac Mini mini-review

Post by marispiper » Sat Dec 15, 2012 12:41 pm

Did you say goodbye to the mini because of something you didn't like about it?

CA_Steve
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Re: 2012 Mac Mini mini-review

Post by CA_Steve » Sat Dec 15, 2012 12:53 pm

->It's going to replace my mom's 2006 Mac Mini<-

I delivered it, set it up and said goodbye.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

marispiper
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Re: 2012 Mac Mini mini-review

Post by marispiper » Sun Dec 16, 2012 3:46 am

Ah yes, you did say. Hope your mom enjoys it! :)

CA_Steve
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Re: 2012 Mac Mini mini-review

Post by CA_Steve » Sun Dec 16, 2012 8:27 am

She's happy that I'm happy about replacing the old Mini. The app changes wrought moving from OS 10.4 to 10.8 were annoying to her at the start ("why does the mouse move the screen the other way now?"...) :)
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

laststop
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Re: 2012 Mac Mini mini-review

Post by laststop » Mon Nov 11, 2013 7:29 am

How is the mac mini as an HTPC for someone that is computer illiterate? Thinking of maybe gifting one for christmas.

CA_Steve
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Re: 2012 Mac Mini mini-review

Post by CA_Steve » Mon Nov 11, 2013 11:10 am

What HTPC functions do you want/need?
- Web Browsing?
- playing DVD/BD? Gotta work around Apple and BD support..
- playing media stored on the local network?
- games?
- Streaming Netflix?
- Streaming Hulu/other TV shows?

If all you need is a Netflix box, Apple TV or similar is a much simpler and cheaper path.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

vett93
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Re: 2012 Mac Mini mini-review

Post by vett93 » Fri May 23, 2014 9:00 am

I am late to this thread. I am trying to decide between a Mac Mini with all the upgrades and a quiet PC build. I don't play computer games or do 3D applications. A top issue for me is the fan noise as it really bothers me in a quiet home office.

How do the "quiet PC" builds from various shops compare to a Mac Mini? If they are as quiet or quieter, it is attractive because I can upgrade the PC internals much easier than a Mac Mini.

I live in San Jose, CA, USA area. I can buy parts to build the PC myself or order from a shop specialized in quiet PCs. Any pointer would be greatly appreciated.

CA_Steve
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Re: 2012 Mac Mini mini-review

Post by CA_Steve » Fri May 23, 2014 6:36 pm

You found this thread b4 I could refer it to you. Let's discuss on your build thread.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

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