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Lifewire / Erika Rawes
OS Catalina compatible
Mediocre processing power
No RAM upgrading
The refurbished Mac Mini 2014 is a versatile machine that offers reliability and longevity at an extremely affordable price.
A Mac Mini is an affordable option for those who want the cleanliness and simplicity of MacOS without dropping too much cash for a more expensive Apple computer or laptop. If you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of power and modernity, you can pick up a refurbished 2014 Mac Mini for around a quarter of the price of the 2018 version. In addition to its low entry price, the refurbished 2014 Mac Mini offers a number of benefits over other mini computers on the market. But, it also has its downsides. Should you buy the refurbished 2014 Mac Mini? I tested the refurbished Mac Mini MGEM2LL/A, and here’s my full review.
The Mac Mini is extremely compact—small enough to sit on your desk without taking up too much space. It measures only 7.7 x 7.7 x 1.4 inches, with a low profile. Stylistically, it looks almost identical to previous models, and it also looks pretty similar to the 2018 Mac Mini. However, unlike the 2018 Mini, you can’t get the space grey finish on the 2014 version, as it only comes in silver.
The mini is attractive overall. With its square shape, rounded off corners, and Apple logo sitting front and center, it looks and feels high quality. On the bottom of the Mini, there’s a slightly raised circular stand. You cannot remove this stand, though, nor can you easily open up the mini to perform upgrades or maintenance.
All of the mini’s ports sit on the back, which makes it easy to connect your peripherals without having wires intruding on your workspace. You could also sit the Mac Mini on an entertainment center, connect it to a TV screen, and connect a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. The compact size provides a great deal of flexibility.
Although the Mac Mini is small, other mini PCs are smaller. Acer’s ChromeBox CX13 for example, measures 5.8 x 1.6 x 5.9 inches. The CX13 also includes a VESA mount, while the Mac Mini lacks VESA compatibility. You’d need to use a mount that grips around the outside of the Mac Mini if you wanted to attach it under a desk or to the back of a monitor or television screen.
The late 2014 Mac Mini has a single HDMI port and two Thunderbolt 2.0 ports for video. It uses the Intel HD Graphics 5000 as its integrated graphics card. In benchmark testing, it clocked 59.9 FPS on Car Chase, and 45.6 FPS on Manhattan, courtesy of GFXBench.
The GPU is powerful enough for you to play some less graphics-intensive games (like Dota 2), watch HD videos, and edit photos, but you can’t play more demanding games. You can display in 4K, but only at lower refresh rates (24 Hz over HDMI, 30 Hz over Thunderbolt). Because the Mac Mini has two Thunderbolt 2.0 ports in addition to an HDMI port, you can connect dual monitors by connecting one monitor via HDMI and one via Thunderbolt 2.0.
You can display in 4K, but only at lower refresh rates.
The refurbished Mac Mini MGEM2LL/A is equipped with a dual-core processor, not a quad-core. It has the Intel Core i5-4260U, which has a core frequency of 1.4 gHZ. It has Intel’s turbo boost technology, and the boost frequency is 2.6 gHZ. The Mac Mini has 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM, and you cannot open up the mini and upgrade the RAM, which is a major downside. It comes with 500 GB of HDD storage.
Although this is a refurbished 2014 model, I put it through modern benchmark tests, including Cinebench R20 and Geekbench 5. On Cinebench 20, the CPU scored 571 points, which isn’t bad for an older chip, but it’s not indicative of a powerhouse either. Geekbench 5 gave the Mac Mini a single core score or 648, and a multi-core score of 1311. Acer’s ChromeBox CX13 (with Intel’s i3 - 8130U) scored higher, receiving a single core score of 861 and a multi-core score of 1616. The 2014 Mac Mini isn’t a workhorse by any means, but it has enough power to perform all of the essentials, and it can even serve as a reliable computer for school, work, entertainment, or all of the above.
Some applications are slow to open up, and system settings take a minute to load. But, the 2014 Mini has no problem running several tasks simultaneously, and the Mini never felt slow to any sort of frustrating degree.
The refurbished Mac Mini MGEM2LL/A is equipped with a dual-core processor, not a quad-core.
The refurbished Mac Mini doesn’t include any peripherals. In fact, the only thing that comes in the package aside from the Mac Mini itself is a power cord—you don’t even get a manual or quick start guide. You’ll need to provide your own mouse, keyboard, and screen if you want to use the mini as a desktop. But, you have a lot of options for how you want to use the device.
You can treat it like a desktop, use it as an entertainment hub or Plex server, create an arcade system, use it for smart home automation, or use it for a multitude of other purposes. It’s size, features, processing capabilities, and low entry price promote maximum versatility.
The Mac Mini is also energy efficient, requiring only a small amount of power consumption. It uses about six watts when idle, and its max consumption is 85 watts.
The Mini operates whisper quietly. Also, unlike many other desktop computers and mini PCs, it has its own built-in speakers. They don’t sound too bad, but they’re not very loud.
You can improve the sound quality by adding external speakers. It includes a 3.5 mm headphone jack as well as USB ports for connecting speakers. You could also connect Bluetooth speakers or take advantage of Apple’s AirPlay.
In addition to Bluetooth 4.0, the 2014 Mac Mini has 802.11ac wireless. It also has an Ethernet port for a hardwired internet connection.
One of the benefits to Apple devices is their seamless ability to connect to one another through a single Apple ID. The Mac Mini paired with my iPhone quickly and easily. I instantly received the texts and notifications I set up on the Mini without any hiccups.
The Mini doesn’t have a webcam built-in, but you can connect an inexpensive USB camera or purchase a monitor with a built-in webcam. You’ll need to connect a camera to take full advantage of communications features like FaceTime.
The Mac Mini 2014 comes with an older version of Mac OS X (usually Yosemite or El Capitan depending on the specific refurbished machine). You can update the OS to Mac OS Catalina, which upgrades the photos app, notes app, Apple mail, Safari, screen time, music, podcasts, Apple TV, voice control, and more.
The refurbished 2014 Mac Mini usually sells for around $230, which is less than half of the original $499 retail price when the device was first released.
Apple discontinued sale of the 2014 version in late 2018, so if you want a brand new Mac Mini, you have to buy the 2018 model at a starting price of $799. The refurbished 2014 model can save you a bundle.
The 2018 Mac Mini (view on Amazon) is more powerful, but it’s also more expensive than the refurbished 2014 model. The base 2018 Mac Mini has a 3.6GHz quad-core 8th generation Intel i3 processor, instead of a dual-core like the 2014 version. It has more RAM (8 GB), and it’s DDR4 instead of LPDDR3. For storage, the 2018 version has 128GB of PCIe-based SSD storage compared to 500GB of HDD storage like the 2014 version. For graphics, the newer model has the Intel UHD Graphics 630, which is a better-integrated graphics card than the older Intel HD Graphics 5000.
A functional Mini computer at an affordable price.
The 2014 refurbished Mac Mini would be better with upgrade options, but it’s an excellent value even as is.