Mac mini (Late 2014)

It’s been almost two years since the Mac mini was last updated, and while a 1.4 GHz Core i5 CPU may not sound very powerful, the new US$499 price tag is sure to get your attention. Also, iFixit has a confirmed that the Late 2014 Mac mini ships with memory soldered to the logic board, so RAM upgrades are not possible.

2012 Mac mini

There are three models: low-end, midrange, and top-end.

The $499 Mac mini has a 1.4 GHz Intel Haswell CPU capable of running at up to 2.7 GHz – nearly twice its rated speed – using Turbo Boost. That means it’s a lot more powerful than you’d expect a 1.4 GHz processor to be, something we covered earlier this year when covering the entry-level iMac based on the same CPU, which has also been used in the MacBook Air.

Build-to-order options include 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM and a 1 TB Fusion Drive.

For those in need of more power, the midrange $699 Mini runs a 2.6 GHz i5 (Turbo Boost to 3.1 GHz, about 15% ahead of the low-end Mini’s Turbo Boost), ships with twice as much system memory, has twice as large a hard drive, and includes improved graphics. It’s also available with a 3.0 GHz Core i7 that Turbo Boosts to 3.5 GHz, giving it 13% more processing power than the stock chip.

Build-to-order options include 16 GB RAM, a 1 TB Fusion Drive, a 256 GB SSD, and a 3.0 GHz i7 CPU.

At the top is the $999 2.8 GHz i5-based model (3.3 GHz Turbo Boost) that ships with a 1 TB Fusion Drive. It can also be upgraded with the same 3.0 GHz i7 as the midrange Mini. It can also be ordered with 16 GB RAM and a 256 GB, 512 GB, or 1 TB SSD.

All Late 2014 models ship with OS X 10.10 Yosemite, support monitor resolutions to 2560 x 1600, have both HDMI and Mini DisplayPort output for dual-monitor support, include four USB 3.0 and two Thunderbolt 2 ports, and have an SDXC slot on the back. For connectivity, there’s Gigabit ethernet and 802.11ac WiFi (up from 802.11n on the previous Mini), along with Bluetooth 4.0.

A Step Backward

The Late 2012 Mac mini was available in a quad-core i7 version. This time around, there is no quad-core Mac mini. All models have dual-core CPUs.

The 4-core 2.6 GHz 2012 Mini has the highest 64-bit multicore Geekbench score yet for a Mac mini at 12689. We anticipate the 3.0 GHz dual-core i7 Mac mini will score a bit over half that.

FireWire is absent. The Late 2012 model included FireWire 800.

There is no longer a server version.

Fusion Drive

Fusion Drive treats a hard drive and SSD as a single volume, storing the operating system and all included software on the SSD and initially putting everything else on the hard drive. It also reserves 4 GB of space on the SSD for use as a hard drive cache.

The brilliance of Fusion Drive is that the operating system keeps track of your work patterns and will move files, data, and applications to the SSD or back to the hard drive based on usage information. Best of all, this is totally transparent to the end user. To revive a phrase Apple has used for a long time, it just works.

Other Details

This is the first Mac mini with Thunderbolt 2, which has twice the bandwidth of the original Thunderbolt standard.

The Mac mini doesn’t include a keyboard or mouse. Apple says buyers can plug in their favorite USB keyboard and mouse – or buy Apple’s offerings. Mac OS X includes support for remapping the Windows Alt and Option keys to Option and Cmd respectively.

Details

  • Introduced 2014.10.16 at US$499 (dual-core 1.4 GHz i5, 4 GB RAM, 500 GB hard drive), US$699 (dual-core 2.6 GHz i5, 8 GB RAM, 1 TB hard drive), and US$999 (dual-core 2.8 GHz i7, 8 GB RAM, 1 TB Fusion Drive). The faster models can be upgraded with a 3.0 GHz dual-core i7 CPU.
  • Model no.: A1347
  • Part nos.: MGEM2 (1.4 GHz), MGEN2 (2.6 GHz), MGEQ2 (2.8 GHz)
  • Model Identifiers: Macmini7,1

Mac OS

Core System

  • CPU: 1.4/2.6/2.8 GHz dual-core Intel i5; optional 3.0 GHz dual-core i7
  • L2 cache: 3 MB on i5 CPUs, 4 MB on i7
  • Bus: 1600 MHz
  • RAM: 4/8 GB, expandable to 16 GB at time of purchase
  • Performance, Geekbench 3:
    • 32-bit single-core: 2480 (1.4 GHz), 2812 (2.6 GHz), 2959 (2.8 GHz), 3079 (3.0 GHz)
    • 32-bit multicore: 4692 (1.4 GHz), 5836 (2.6 GHz), 6171 (2.8 GHz), 6358 (3.0 GHz)
    • 64-bit single-core: 2745 (1.4 GHz), 3090 (2.6 GHz), 3255 (2.8 GHz), 3385 (3.0 GHz)
    • 64-bit multicore: 5307 (1.4 GHz), 6569 (2.6 GHz), 6919 (2.8 GHz), 7115 (3.0 GHz)

Video

  • GPU: Intel HD 5000 Graphics/Intel Iris Graphics
  • VRAM: 288 MB DDR3 SDRAM (shared with main memory)
  • Video out:
    • Thunderbolt, resolution to 2560 x 1600. DVI, VGA, and dual-link DVI adapters available separately
    • HDMI
      • 1080p at up to 60 Hz
      • 3840 x 2160 at 30 Hz
      • 4096 x 2160 at 24 Hz
      • HDMI-to-DVI adapter available separately

Drives

  • Drive bus: 6 Gbps SATA Rev. 3
  • Hard drive: 2.5″ 500 GB/1 TB 5400 rpm Serial ATA
  • SSD: uses same SSD modules as MacBook Air
  • SuperDrive: optional external USB drive

Expansion

  • Thunderbolt 2 ports: 2
  • USB 3 ports: 4
  • FireWire 400 ports: 0
  • FireWire 800 ports: 1
  • Ethernet: 10/100/gigabit
  • WiFi: 802.11ac AirPort Extreme built in
  • Bluetooth: BT 4.0 built in
  • SDXC Card slot: yes
  • IR receiver: supports optional Apple Remote
  • No internal modem; external USB modem available
  • Microphone: none

Physical

  • Size: 1.4 x 7.7 x 7.7 in/36 x 197 x 197 mm
  • Weight: 2.6-2.77 lb./1.19-1.22 kg
  • Power supply: 85W internal power supply
  • PRAM battery: 3V CR2032 lithium

Upgrades

  • Soldered CPU, upgrades not possible.

Online Resources

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