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Thread started 25 Mar 2015 (Wednesday) 20:09
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Mac Mini No Longer Upgradable - So Now What

 
Larry ­ Johnson
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Mar 25, 2015 20:09 |  #1

I'm beginning to look around to upgrade a 2008 macbook pro and I was thinking of going with a table top computer. I thought the Mac Mini was the perfect choice until I learned that the 2014 models aren't upgradable. I believe in holding onto a computer as long as I can, so upgrading is key for me. I run Lightroom 5 and from time to time edit 300-500 photos per shoot. Currently storing 2014 RAW images on a portable drive. Current year RAW images are on the macbook with all JPG final images.

What mac system is suitable for a wanna-be pro photographer. I would consider another laptop if it where expandable.


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danialsturge
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Mar 26, 2015 06:01 |  #2

Nothing in the Apple lineup is expandable apart from the Mac Pro and the larger iMacs, but then the latter is only RAM user expandable. Your only real option is to try and get a refurbished pre-2014 Mac Mini or if you choose a current option to max the specs out so that it's somewhat future proof. You can't really upgrade anything in older Macs either other than RAM, so your issue can be dealt with at time of purchase rather than later.


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Mar 26, 2015 13:46 |  #3

More and more manufacturers targeting the consumer market are building systems with no upgrade path. Dell, HP, Lenovo and Apple all build laptops and All In Ones that not be easily upgraded by the user, or can not be upgraded at all.
Part of it is a demand for "prettier" looking computers, and part of it is a desire to maximise profits at the point of sale. There are also advantages to manufacturing design and process, it means more parts can be integrated on the board, which makes packaging simpler and the supply chain more efficient.

danialsturge wrote in post #17492437 (external link)
You can't really upgrade anything in older Macs either other than RAM, so your issue can be dealt with at time of purchase rather than later.

Dealing with it at the time of purchase doesn't account for budget constraints, new technology or unforeseen changes in system demand.
But the lack of upgradeability and increasingly consumer focused design from Apple is why so many photographers and designers are moving to Windows based systems. There hasn't been any system based advantage to using an Apple computer for 20 years, and even Adobe have abandoned them, they currently partner with HP.


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tim
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Mar 26, 2015 14:36 |  #4

You could make a hackintosh. If you want easy upgradibility you need a PC or at least PC parts with Mac OS. I wonder though if a mac pro would be more upgradable - I think it's done using Thunderbolt these days anyway.

Re "Currently storing 2014 RAW images on a portable drive.". I assume you have an offsite backup for your data? EVERY hard drive fails, the only question is when - and the answer is often "when you're busy using the disk".


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Mar 26, 2015 14:57 |  #5

Buy a 27" iMac, load it up with RAM and be happy... I am.


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Mar 26, 2015 15:03 |  #6

what would you think you want to upgrade? I have a mac mini with two monitors on it (with a dongle turning one USP port into a display port so I can have higher than HD resolution) and am very happy with it. Maxed out the ram and don't see what I'd want to upgrade.

Switching video cards or anything like that won't do anything much for photo work, unless you're playing games it'll be fine for a long time. I was in the same boat and replace my almost 7 year old (at the time) macbook pro since it could not handle the 5D3 files all that well, 6 years is a long time for a computer nowadays. As long as I can upgrade the OS on this machine I doubt I'll replace it.

I looked at the iMac too and would have bought one where it not for the reflective screen, layout of my office would not allow avoiding seeing the patio door in the reflection.

Mac mini is a nice machine, small, fast, and I hardly ever even have the fan come on with photo work.


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Mar 26, 2015 15:37 |  #7

As others have said none of the new macs beyond the Mac pro offer a significant option for upgrades.

With a pre-built Windows machine from dell/hp/Asus etc... If you get a midtower you could typically add ram and one to two additional 3.5 inch hard drives to them without to much trouble.

Beyond that if you are talking about cpu upgrades then you should custom build in good case because every few years cpu's manufacturers tend to update their motherboard designs and require a different motherboard for their new chips.

If you just need to add some ram and are content using external hard drives or even a small consumer NAS I believe and imac would be a viable option or ordering Mac mini or Mac laptop with maxed out ram could work.


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Mar 26, 2015 16:03 |  #8

Agree with Mr. Fixitx,
It's not like years ago when you could unplug the old processor and plug in the new. Architecture changes pretty rapidly now.

I run a late 2012 Mac Mini Server. 2 internal HDs, 1 is SSD. Maxed Ram, 9TB of external drives, in different raid configurations, some mirrored, some striped. 2 monitors 2560x1440.

Very happy with the performance. and if a CPU upgrade is warranted down the road, I just change out the $900 Mini box.


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tim
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Mar 26, 2015 16:04 |  #9

Upgrading CPU is really a think of the past. Upgrading RAM is done, but it's so cheap just buy what you need to start with. Adding drives is common, but not with macs, you have to use externals. Video card upgrade are only for gamers. A new mac mini isn't even that expensive.

So all in all I don't think ability to upgrade is crucial any more.


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mike_d
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Mar 26, 2015 16:17 |  #10

tim wrote in post #17493141 (external link)
Upgrading CPU is really a think of the past. Upgrading RAM is done, but it's so cheap just buy what you need to start with. Adding drives is common, but not with macs, you have to use externals. Video card upgrade are only for gamers. A new mac mini isn't even that expensive.

So all in all I don't think ability to upgrade is crucial any more.

Or people wanting to run higher resolution monitors than their computer could originally handle. I still build my own PCs because I hate the idea of tossing the whole thing when one part needs replacement.




  
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tim
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Mar 26, 2015 16:44 |  #11

mike_d wrote in post #17493158 (external link)
Or people wanting to run higher resolution monitors than their computer could originally handle. I still build my own PCs because I hate the idea of tossing the whole thing when one part needs replacement.

Sure that's another scenario for upgrading. I also build my own PCs and tend to reuse parts, but most people just buy one.


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Mar 27, 2015 00:59 |  #12

I was looking into buying a 2012 mac mini and upgrading the ram and hard drive due to my PC being old and crappy. But, I would need to purchase a monitor as well so I ended up purchasing a 2013 27" imac and am extremely happy with it. I paid around the same price as I would have for the mac mini and monitor. It handles LR and PS without a problem and I've been playing Counter Strike on it now and it does decent on that too.


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danialsturge
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Mar 28, 2015 12:20 |  #13

Moppie wrote in post #17492964 (external link)
Dealing with it at the time of purchase doesn't account for budget constraints, new technology or unforeseen changes in system demand.
But the lack of upgradeability and increasingly consumer focused design from Apple is why so many photographers and designers are moving to Windows based systems. There hasn't been any system based advantage to using an Apple computer for 20 years, and even Adobe have abandoned them, they currently partner with HP.

New technology is always around the corner, people are so worried about have the latest technology when ultimately the differences are so incremental that you can wait 4-6 years between start from scratch purchases and be fine in-between. If you're going to upgrade in the future then budget constraints isn't the problem, it's cashflow, so just wait a little longer until you can afford it. And as for unforeseen changes in system demand, mitigate that by increasing specs in the first place. But how much unforeseen changes are there going to be that can't be dealt with on a recently bought machine?


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Mar 28, 2015 12:30 |  #14

danialsturge wrote in post #17495504 (external link)
New technology is always around the corner, people are so worried about have the latest technology when ultimately the differences are so incremental that you can wait 4-6 years between start from scratch purchases and be fine in-between. If you're going to upgrade in the future then budget constraints isn't the problem, it's cashflow, so just wait a little longer until you can afford it. And as for unforeseen changes in system demand, mitigate that by increasing specs in the first place. But how much unforeseen changes are there going to be that can't be dealt with on a recently bought machine?

For example, I built a PC a few years ago when USB 2.0 was the thing. Then along came USB 3.0. Solution: Install $30 PCI card.

My friend's newer iMac is still stuck with USB 2.0 ports because, well, Apple.

You can't always just spend more money up front to get what you need over the 5 year useful life of a computer.




  
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Mar 28, 2015 16:08 |  #15

mike_d wrote in post #17495510 (external link)
For example, I built a PC a few years ago when USB 2.0 was the thing. Then along came USB 3.0. Solution: Install $30 PCI card.

My friend's newer iMac is still stuck with USB 2.0 ports because, well, Apple.

You can't always just spend more money up front to get what you need over the 5 year useful life of a computer.

That's a fair point, I'm still stuck on USB 2.0 but then if I really wanted to speed I could buy thunderbolt hard drives. I guess personally there's nothing that I couldn't wait for a couple years before I upgrade again.


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Mac Mini No Longer Upgradable - So Now What
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