Personally, I think that’s what I’d be looking at. The internal SSD will likely be large enough for macOS and apps. Then use a fast external SSD for media. I would think performance should be just fine, considering the TB3 connection should have more than enough bandwidth to support the roughly 500 MB/s of a SATA III SSD or even the ~3 GB/s of an M.2 SSD.
I have a mid 2010 27" iMac which I am assured by EtreCheck is now considered “vintage”. The display is still working perfectly. In fact, the whole computer still works fine with the exception of the CD/DVD internal drive. And I use an external Blu Ray/DVD drive which solved that problem.
So, is it logical and possible to buy a new Mac mini and route the display information over to the iMac? I certainly am not running very high powered software. Email, Safari, Epson scanner and printer, Cadintosh and Graphic Converter. They all run just fine today but I’m expecting that the next Mac OS release will not load onto the iMac.
If I were able to have the Mac mini do the heavy duty computing and the vintage iMac for the 27" display and perhaps to run the older 32 bit applications that might be an inexpensive upgrade path.
According to the latest listing https://support.apple.com/HT201624, your iMac is “Obsolete” world-wide (meaning at least some repair parts are no longer available), so EtreCheck is not yet up-to-speed on this. I suppose it is possible that the new Apple Repair Vintage Apple Products Pilot could be extended further, but that might be a stretch.
It is possible for some Macs to be used in Targeted Display Mode. Note that they still have to be able to boot, then switch to display mode.
Yours seems to be one of the 3 models of iMac that can do it.
iMac (27-inch, Late 2009)
iMac (27-inch, Mid 2010)
iMac (Mid 2011-Mid 2014)
Later and earlier models can not be used in Targeted Display mode.
More details here: https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT204592
David R. and Al V.
Thanks for the info. I will think seriously about keeping the iMac for its display and getting a Mac mini with some stuff to make it run a little faster than this does. An SSD seems like a very good idea. I don’t want to have to chase down replacements for all the 32 bit apps right away.
Thanks again. I’ve bookmarked the pages you pointed me to.
Macs tend to have good resale value. You could try to sell off your old iMac and use that money to buy a good screen to go with your mini. This 27" doesn’t come with retina density, but at $400 it’s an inexpensive yet very good IPS panel with LED backlight and narrow bezels. It’s matte too.
The “retina” version is $534.
I did that, sold my 2011 iMac I had been using as a monitor (worked great for the most part) and bought a new one to save $ on power consumption - even used as a targeted display, the entire computer is running behind the scenes - and to upgrade to 4K. Nice Samsung 27”, $299 at Costco ($249 for mine - they had an open-box unit never used (they opened two boxes by mistake when they set up the display). Sold the Mac for $300, so that worked out all around.
The RAM is user upgradeable. The storage is not. So you can get one with the minimum RAM and upgrade it, with an exchange program at OtherWorld Computing, which has already announced their new mini upgrade kits—which are half of what Apple charges, if you exchange the original RAM. As for storage, with four USB-C ports, you can use any external storage you like, including flash drives. There are only two USB 3 ports so you may need a hub if you have multiple external USB devices, like a printer and scanner.
The new mini is compatible with eGPUs so you could go that rout is you can afford it.
The reviews for the Mac mini are mixed. Some gripe because they hoped for a redesign. Seems petty to me. Their expectations are not Apple’s fault. Maybe they spend too much time on rumor sites.
The higher cost is due, I expect, to the SSD storage and twice the base RAM, which is also almost twice as fast as that in the previous mini, at 2666MHz DDR4. As well, it can take up to 64Gb of memory, four times the previous maximum, and up to a 2TB SSD, and an option for 10GB Ethernet, so clearly the motherboard is far more capable. The Thunderbolt 3 ports are probably more expensive as well, though it still has an HDMI port—without any adaptor. In fact, the mini is far more expandable than previous models, from the base model to the maximum configuration; this flexibility obviously comes at a price.
As for that price, the maximum configuration is somewhat less than a similarly set up iMac. The difference will buy you an inexpensive monitor. If you’ve already got a good monitor, you’re golden. By the way, the specs say the Thunderbolt three port is compatible with a display port connector so it very well may light up an old iMac. But I’d check that out with Apple tech support before buying, if your looking for that.
So, is the mini too expensive? As compared to what? A $400 PC? Generally speaking you get what you pay for. That’s as true now as it ever was.
While it’s definitely easy to do on your own (just make sure you have a pentalobe screwdriver), I think technically Apple doesn’t consider it user upgradable. In practice it’s not a real issue, but it does make sense to keep the factory RAM around in case you ever need to take it in for warranty or AppleCare service.
Or just get the proper USB3/2 to USB-C cable (assuming you’re not running out of TB3 ports). There’s of course a whole lot of different USB2/3 plugs, but there’s cables for all and they’re usually quite inexpensive. Here just a few examples.
Here’s a nice demo of how to upgrade the RAM on the new mini. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s definitely not as simple and straightforward as on the 2012 mini. Lots of screws and cables to disconnect and unfortunately, the whole logic board has to come out to access the SO-DIMMs.