Late 2014 MacMini

The MacMini fans wanted an update to the MacMini line, which had been changed little since its major overhaul in the early 2010s. The MacMini was released in 2005 as an introductory Mac, priced to compete with lower-end Windows-based machines and Linux-based machines. The MacMini found it itself favorited by schools and other institutions, as well as used as servers and entertainment systems.

With the great fanfare the MacMini received due to the affordable price, you think they’d want to protect the name of it and revamp it. Well, we were all dead wrong.

2014 marked the end of an area for “good Apple”, although it was the beginning of the end for the era when Tim Cook replaced Steve Jobs in 2011, shortly before he lost his battle with cancer. This new era of Macs are disliked as Apple has removed any customization or upgradability, unless you buy the $3000 MacPro, which is still limited to how you can upgrade it.

The Late 2014 MacMini received hate from Apple supporters and analyists. The technology press was not kind to the Late 2014 MacMini.

However, despite the bad rap, I had limited money. I really wanted to try out the Mac OS X, and I wanted to stay as far away from the Windows 8 disaster that was happening in Redmond, Washington. One afternoon in Kansas City later, I had a Late 2014 Mac Mini in my possession. It was my first Mac, and my first Intel Core i5-based machine.

Unboxing things was better than I expected. I was used to the packaging that Windows-based machines came in. The people in Cupertino paid atention to even small details. Installing the machine was not hard at all, and getting it up and running to setup Mac OS X couldn’t be easier.

The first thing regarding the MacMini was how small it was. I had previous used a MacMini during my internship at the Boonville Daily News, although it was the original 2005 one, and had the PowerPC processor. It was also quiet. The previous computer I used daily – the Mint Machine – had(/has) a fan which sounds like a lawn mower rumbling. It is loud, especially on startup. The MacMini was silent, despite having a mechanical hard drive.

Good First Impressions

I was quite worried about the negative press and the poor upgradability. The machine I bought was the base configuration – 1.6GHz Core i5, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and 500GB mechanical hard drive. I believe it was one of the last machines that Apple produced with a mechanical hard drive.

The thing worked fine out of the box. I was shocked at how similar it was to a Windows-based machine, such as using similar fonts, etc.

I found the built-in iWorks suite as being helpful, as my previous computer had Microsoft Office. iWorks was nice for a free program included with the OS, but I quickly started to learn its limitations.

I had to get used to some things, but nothing I couldn’t learn to adapt with, such as how to rename files, using the Finder, etc. I soon found a tool in the app store, Pixelmator, which would soon be the first actually decent graphics editing program I owned.

Pixelmator ran fine on the MacMini, although over time it could be a little sluggish.

…The Bad

I’d be lying if I said that EVERYTHING went fine with the MacMini. Over time, it started to become more and more sluggish. In February 2016, the monitor (an Asus LCD monitor – which I got with the Mint Machine) died. I was stuck using the Early 2014 MacBook Air which I purchased later.

I also learned of the limitations of 4GB of RAM. The Late 2014 MacMini, as well as the Early 2014 MacBook Air, has the hard drive and RAM soldered to the logic board.

A friend loaned me his old LCD monitor which he no longer uses, and the MacMini was up and running again.

In June 2016, I bought the Lenovo ThinkPad T420, which officially replaced the MacMini as my daily computer. The T420 has dedicated graphics, is upgradable (I upgraded it to 8GB shortly after purchasing), and the processor is more powerful and much faster (almost 1GHz faster.)

Processor Intel Core i5 (clocked at 1.6GHz)
Hard Drive (Storage) 500GB
Memory (RAM) 4GB (non-upgradable)
Displays Thunderbolt and HDMI
Optical Drive None
USB Ports 4 USB 2.0 ports (+2 USB 2.0 on keyboard)
Other Ports 2 Thunderbolt ports; audio in/out (micro/headphones); HDMI
Internet Connectivity WiFi (wireless), Cat5e ethernet
Other special features Bluetooth, MacOS X
Operating System Mac OS X (10.11 El Capitan)
Usage Storage; not used currently