I have a late 2012 Mac Mini. Itís only on El Capitan and it moves slower than a grandpa slug. I asked about if I could get it running well again a long time ago in this thread, and while Iíd have to review it again and see if Iíve tried every suggestion, so far nothing Iím doing is working. Iím just kind of fed up with it all, and Iím honestly wondering if I should just see if I could sell it and put that money towards a new and better computer. Itís concerning if I canít even get it to run well on a very outdated OS. Do you think it would be worth trying to sell it? Iím still having trouble finding out what itís going for, although this thread seems to shed some light.
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"They will walk after the LORD, He will roar like a lion; indeed He will roar and His sons will come trembling from the west." - Hosea 11:10
If you hadn't already, you could beef those up w more RAM (8, possibly 16GB) and a replacement SSD as storage (e.g. 256GB). That should also be able to get you up to Mojave or Catalina, if you are lucky*. It would still be sluggish compared to new models, but would be acceptable for routine apps (browser, email, office, mild arts).
If you need zippier performance, best to bite the bullet & move on.
Not sure what you can get for them.
*sometimes upgrades work, sometimes not. Sometimes it works for a while and then a minor update will brick it. Have had all 3 happen to my late2012 macminis here on campus.
Note that BigSur is NOT compatible with those models, so you have no further upgrade path.
If it gives you more headache, I say sell it and invest in a newer one but before you do check your budget and how much you could get from selling your device
I'll second what others have suggested, which is to bump the RAM to 16GB (can do that for ~$100, possibly less,) and install a decent SSD. 90% of the issues I see with 2012 Mac Minis are a result of their ancient 5400RPM HDDs never being upgraded. If you want to run something newer than El Capitan on your Mac Mini, you should be able to upgrade to Catalina (10.15) if it's really a late 2012 Mac Mini. (Click the Apple Logo and "About this Mac" to be sure, the model before the 2012 stopped receiving OS updates awhile before the 2012 models did.) Also it's technically possible to run Big Sur on the 2012 Mac Mini, but don't expect miracles out of it, and be prepared to do a bit of work reading up on how to install Big Sur on unsupported Macs.
Other stuff you can do to get some more life out of your Mac Mini include taking a can of compressed air and blowing any dust out of it, and replacing the thermal paste on your CPU/GPU die. I've noticed that this makes a bit of a difference on older hardware, and can often reduce the amount of time the fans have to be spinning to keep temperatures sane. Unfortunately as you haven't posted more detailed specs for this specific machine, I cannot provide better solutions more tailored to your specific Mac Mini. The 2012 Minis are pretty popular even with limited support though, and the new M1 Minis are insanely fast at a fairly reasonable price, so you might want to look into what you could get for your 2012 Mini and put it toward one of the new M1 models.Specs: Mac Mini (Early 2006): 1.66 GHz Intel Core Duo CPU, 320GB HDD, 2GB DDR2 RAM, Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics card, Matshita UJ-846 Superdrive, Mac OS X 10.5.7 and various peripherals. System runs Final Cut Express 3.5 for editing.
As a Mac user since 1989, my advice is this:
If you plan to stick with MacOS, and can afford to buy a new Mac and a couple of software upgrades, sell your 2012 Mini and buy a new one. For better and worse, Apple no longer gives a second thought to backwards compatibility. Up until ten years ago, that was one of the best things about using a Mac: the amazing backwards/forwards compatibility. But Apple pretty much dropped that shortly after your Mini was made: since roughly 2013, Apple hasn't cared squat about anything they sold more than two years ago. Whenever they jump forward now, everything old gets orphaned. So its a really bad investment to try and upgrade/max out an eight year old Mini: theres no guarantee it won't get left in the dust overnight. Apple is in the midst of its biggest Mac reinvention ever right now. Going forward, the OS will be optimized for the radically new M1 processors. Anything without an M1 CPU is going to rapidly become obsolete in terms of OS upgrades and web browsers.
The only good reason to remain on an older Mac model is if you need to maintain compatibility with older legacy hardware or software that is either unavailable now or can't be migrated over to the new system. For example, I keep a couple of 2009 Minis and a grey G4 tower to run old film scanners and proprietary software packages. These have their place and purpose, but don't work well (if at all) for common web tasks or the latest apps. If you aren't locked in to any legacy stuff, its best to move ahead in sync with where Apple wants to go. Where Apple wants to go now is "Back To The Future", to the era when they used a different CPU architecture from everyone else on the planet. This does not bode well for older Intel-based Minis and MacBooks.