Used mac mini


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I'm considering buying a used mini to upgrade from my early 2009 mini running 10.11.6 I have now. What can I upgrade to without too much of a hassle?
 
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Cory Cooper

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Hello and welcome.

I guess it comes down to what functionality you are using now and what you would need in a newer Mac mini. You would have to consider any software you purchased like Microsoft Office, Quicken, etc., to make sure they are compatible with a new version of OS X/macOS.

C
 
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I would upgrade to at least a late 2014 Mac mini; older minis will not support Catalina or Big Sur, so if you're going to spend money to upgrade your mini, make sure you get something that supports current macOSs AND which gives you an upgrade path. If you get an older-than-2014 Mac mini, you'll only be able to upgrade to, perhaps, Mojave, and then you're stuck again with no upgrade path and no support. I'm running a late 2014 mini under Catalina, and I can still upgrade to Big Sur if Apple ever gets all the bugs worked out of it.

That said, Catalina and Big Sur changed the file system from what had been being used to APFS, which if you check some of the threads in this forum, you'll see that APFS is better suited to (preferably) SSD drives or to (acceptably) high-speed spinning platters (e.g., 7200rpm). Performance will suffer somewhat if you upgrade to Catalina and keep it on a slower hard drive, such as the 5400rpm drive that is used in the late 2014 Mac mini. I run Catalina on a G-Tech external drive which spins at 7200rpm, has 64GB of cache, and is attached to my mini with a USB3 cable. Performance is decent.

I went straight from El Capitan to Catalina, and I found the process non-trivial (as Cory will attest). If you upgraded to Mojave, you would still be under a supported release for probably another year, and you wouldn't have to worry about APFS performance issues. And, once support is dropped, your system will still run, it just won't be updated with Apple fixes. I ran for a couple of years unsupported on El Cap, because I didn't need any of the newer features - until recently.

Cory's point about your software inventory should be heeded; if you have to pay for all new software or licenses, you may as well go whole hog and buy a new mini.
 
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I'm considering buying a used mini to upgrade from my early 2009 mini running 10.11.6 I have now.

As a general principle which can be considered by anyone contemplating an upgrade of hardware or OSX, a good question to start with is....

What are the specific reasons for upgrading? A specific reason would be like, "I need to run software XYZ and it won't run on my machine or the version of OSX I'm using".

A not so good reason would be, "Apple has some software which is new and free so I guess I should grab it." New is not automatically better. Often it's just different, and it can take some digging to figure out whether the changes are in one's interest or not.

A related principle is, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

As others have suggested, and long experience has shown, upgrading often comes with various prices. Sometimes these prices are unexpected.

You're asking for not too big of a hassle. The shortest path to that may be sticking with what you've already got, unless you have some specific reason(s) for upgrading which merits the possibility of hassle.

Personally, I'm on 2011 iMac running Sierra, which allows me to do 99% of what I want to do, including lots of video editing, some 3D animation, and tons more. It's not clear to me why I would need a new Mac, or a new version of OSX. Of course everyone has different needs, so my situation could well be irrelevant to others.

Like you, I don't want much hassle. And so once I get everything working the way I want it to work, I don't mess with it. I'd need a compelling reason to start messing around with new system software, new file systems, new hardware etc.
 

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