I Have an Obsolete Mac

Mid 2011 models have officially been classified as vintage or obsolete as of November 30, 2017, according to an internal memo distributed to Apple Authorized Service Providers and later obtained by MacRumors.

The distinction means that Apple and Apple Authorized Service Providers will no longer repair or service the 2011 Mac mini, given over five years have passed since it was last manufactured, except where required by law.

This is the first time that I have ever actively used an “obsolete” Mac. I am running a late 2011 Mac mini as a server in my home, mainly to host my Plex video library, but also for Time Machine backups for my laptop and some other, minor services.

I have generally sold my Macs after about 18-24 months, so I could get good resale value, and could keep up with the latest technologies. This has changed in recent years, in part because there really is no need to upgrade any more. My 2014 iMac – now two months out of Apple Care – is more than fast enough for my needs, and, while I’m a bit antsy about my main Mac not being covered by support and warranty, it’s running fine, and will do for a couple more years. (Though shortly after I bought it, there was an issue, and the LCD panel was replaced.)

The Mac mini is the computer I used for a while, together with a Thunderbolt display, before I bought a Mac Pro (2014). I sold that when the 5K iMac was released, because I wanted a retina display on the desktop. I could have sold the Mac mini back then, but I decided to recycle it as a server. (In part because I had tricked it out when I bought it, getting the fastest processor, an SSD, and a second internal hard drive.) About that time, I was starting to adopt Plex for my videos, and, while I could run Plex on my iMac, that would entail leaving it on all the time. I’d rather use a lower-power Mac mini as an always-on computer.

As MacRumors points out in their article, it has been more than 1,100 days since the Mac mini was updated. Even though Tim Cook made some comments about how the Mac mini is an important product in Apple’s lineup (no, it’s not), it’s hard to imagine the company doing anything to improve this Mac. This said, it’s an embarrassment that they’re still selling the current model – released late 2014 – at specs and prices that are three years old. Though the Mac Pro is an embarrassment as well.

It’s stunning that Apple has no shame, and continues to sell computers that are out of date and overpriced, alongside the current models of iMacs and laptops. I doubt they sell very many, and compared to the up-to-date product line, these old computers just look bad.

31 thoughts on “I Have an Obsolete Mac

  1. Even worse, Apple are deliberately trying to prevent you from continuing to use what are actually very usable Macs by ensuring that new OS releases will not install on the older Macs. This heinous practice is always obscured by claims that the hardware is not capable and/or continued support makes it unviable, but for those who have circumvented Apple’s attempts to prevent such upgrading and actually installed a newer OS release than Apple try to allow, it runs fine. No problem.

    Obviously there are limits to this and eventually the hardware genuinely will not be able to handle it, but that is way past when Apple try to force you to buy new hardware – from them of course.

    In the past, their attempts to make new OS releases compatible with older hardware were exemplary, but that’s all long gone out the window now and Apple seem to be just trying to fleece their customers for as much as they can get.

    • Well, there are two ways to look at this. A six-year old computer is certainly not able to provide all the features of a new operating system. This Mac mini doesn’t have the hardware for Handoff and Continuity, for example. It certainly doesn’t have a video card for some of the more recent improvements in video rendering. And the processor is getting a bit old. It can run High Sierra, and seems to have no problem, but I don’t push it; it’s only a server with low demand.

      This said, I’d like to see computers last as long as refrigerators. In some cases they can, and we’re not obliged to update the operating system. In fact, given what I do with this Mac, I could keep it on High Sierra for several years without any problem.

  2. Even worse, Apple are deliberately trying to prevent you from continuing to use what are actually very usable Macs by ensuring that new OS releases will not install on the older Macs. This heinous practice is always obscured by claims that the hardware is not capable and/or continued support makes it unviable, but for those who have circumvented Apple’s attempts to prevent such upgrading and actually installed a newer OS release than Apple try to allow, it runs fine. No problem.

    Obviously there are limits to this and eventually the hardware genuinely will not be able to handle it, but that is way past when Apple try to force you to buy new hardware – from them of course.

    In the past, their attempts to make new OS releases compatible with older hardware were exemplary, but that’s all long gone out the window now and Apple seem to be just trying to fleece their customers for as much as they can get.

    • Well, there are two ways to look at this. A six-year old computer is certainly not able to provide all the features of a new operating system. This Mac mini doesn’t have the hardware for Handoff and Continuity, for example. It certainly doesn’t have a video card for some of the more recent improvements in video rendering. And the processor is getting a bit old. It can run High Sierra, and seems to have no problem, but I don’t push it; it’s only a server with low demand.

      This said, I’d like to see computers last as long as refrigerators. In some cases they can, and we’re not obliged to update the operating system. In fact, given what I do with this Mac, I could keep it on High Sierra for several years without any problem.

  3. As my Macs break down and can’t be repaired economically, I’ll probably replace them with Windows machines. Or maybe I’ll find I need less machines, as I do so much on my iPhone.

  4. As my Macs break down and can’t be repaired economically, I’ll probably replace them with Windows machines. Or maybe I’ll find I need less machines, as I do so much on my iPhone.

  5. Many consider the 2014 Mac mini to be a step down from the 2012 mini, which could be configured with twice as many cores and users could easily upgrade the RAM. If considered this way, the Mac mini hasn’t really seen any significant changes in over 5 years.

  6. Many consider the 2014 Mac mini to be a step down from the 2012 mini, which could be configured with twice as many cores and users could easily upgrade the RAM. If considered this way, the Mac mini hasn’t really seen any significant changes in over 5 years.

  7. So sad since my main computer is a Mac Mini mid 2011, 16 GB, I7 with a 256 GB SSD and 2TB second drive. I bought it new and upgraded the memory and second drive a couple of years ago and find that it is more than adequate for my needs and do not plan on replacing it in the near future. I considered upgrading to HIgh Sierra but delayed and am now glad I waited since they are still finding flaws. Think I will wait a while longer. I purchased a couple of MacBooks ( 2016 and 2017 ) and returned them both as I liked the Mini better so I just access it remotely from my iPad Pro when I need a laptop.

    I am still running a 2007 Mini Core 2 Duo as a Music server. I upgraded it to an SSD and 4 GB Memory and it is now running iTunes Match 24/7 for at least 5 Years. I run Lion and Boot Camp with Win7 and have no intention of replacing it as long as I can find parts for it.

  8. So sad since my main computer is a Mac Mini mid 2011, 16 GB, I7 with a 256 GB SSD and 2TB second drive. I bought it new and upgraded the memory and second drive a couple of years ago and find that it is more than adequate for my needs and do not plan on replacing it in the near future. I considered upgrading to HIgh Sierra but delayed and am now glad I waited since they are still finding flaws. Think I will wait a while longer. I purchased a couple of MacBooks ( 2016 and 2017 ) and returned them both as I liked the Mini better so I just access it remotely from my iPad Pro when I need a laptop.

    I am still running a 2007 Mini Core 2 Duo as a Music server. I upgraded it to an SSD and 4 GB Memory and it is now running iTunes Match 24/7 for at least 5 Years. I run Lion and Boot Camp with Win7 and have no intention of replacing it as long as I can find parts for it.

  9. This past February I treated myself to a 13 inch retina MacBook Pro, which BestBuy had on a sale that I couldn’t resist. Come to find out it was sort of a ‘liquidation’ sale as the new(er) replacement MBPs were introduced (these lacking USB 3 and SD card slot). The laptop came with Sierra installed.

    Not that these subtle shortcomings matter much to me, but according to https://everymac.com/mac-answers/macos-high-sierra-faq/macos-high-sierra-1013-compatible-macs-system-requirements.html, my particular MBP, while more than capable of handling macOS High Sierra, and despite being a very recent purchase, does not support hardware accelerated HEVC. Furthermore, only Macs with “Kaby Lake” processors — released in 2017 — support hardware accelerated HEVC with 10-bit color.

  10. This past February I treated myself to a 13 inch retina MacBook Pro, which BestBuy had on a sale that I couldn’t resist. Come to find out it was sort of a ‘liquidation’ sale as the new(er) replacement MBPs were introduced (these lacking USB 3 and SD card slot). The laptop came with Sierra installed.

    Not that these subtle shortcomings matter much to me, but according to https://everymac.com/mac-answers/macos-high-sierra-faq/macos-high-sierra-1013-compatible-macs-system-requirements.html, my particular MBP, while more than capable of handling macOS High Sierra, and despite being a very recent purchase, does not support hardware accelerated HEVC. Furthermore, only Macs with “Kaby Lake” processors — released in 2017 — support hardware accelerated HEVC with 10-bit color.

  11. Apple doesn’t seem to want customers who hang on to old equipment too long. Their business model has evolved into non-repairable or upgradable hardware, buggy software, iCloud rental fees, and change for the sake of change.

  12. Apple doesn’t seem to want customers who hang on to old equipment too long. Their business model has evolved into non-repairable or upgradable hardware, buggy software, iCloud rental fees, and change for the sake of change.

  13. I use a 2011 mini as my main mac at home, running El Capitan so I can keep using Aperture. It’s the higher end model, with i7 and Radeon graphics, and with the 16GB RAM and SSD I put in over the summer, it runs Aperture like a champ along with all the other regular stuff. It even manages the latest Final Cut Pro and Logic adequately for hobby level. For resale value, 2011 minis, assuming you can find one from a reliable vendor with a bit of warranty, are selling for about the same price as they did new in 2011. They’re one of Apple’s best Macs in a lot of ways. They shipped with Lion, but they can run everything from Snow Leopard through High Sierra (assuming you don’t care about Handoff etc), and maybe the next system or two. Reasonable ports, including FW 800 and Thunderbolt. It’s easy to open up for upgrades, too–mine is getting a bigger SSD this evening. I’ve been kicking myself for not buying another one a few months ago when OWC had a batch in.

    • They are so easy to upgrade it is not surprising that they hold their value so well.
      I forgot to mention that in addition to the other upgrades a Kanex Thunderbolt to eSATA + USB 3.0 Adapter was also added to my 2011 Mini about four years ago years when they first became available along with USB 3 hub which has given me 7 USB 3 ports as well as still having the 4 original USB 2 ports to use with my three obsolete 5th generation iPod Classics. ( They do not work well with USB 3 ). The Classic iPods are another great obsolete Apple device that still continue to work just fine.

  14. I use a 2011 mini as my main mac at home, running El Capitan so I can keep using Aperture. It’s the higher end model, with i7 and Radeon graphics, and with the 16GB RAM and SSD I put in over the summer, it runs Aperture like a champ along with all the other regular stuff. It even manages the latest Final Cut Pro and Logic adequately for hobby level. For resale value, 2011 minis, assuming you can find one from a reliable vendor with a bit of warranty, are selling for about the same price as they did new in 2011. They’re one of Apple’s best Macs in a lot of ways. They shipped with Lion, but they can run everything from Snow Leopard through High Sierra (assuming you don’t care about Handoff etc), and maybe the next system or two. Reasonable ports, including FW 800 and Thunderbolt. It’s easy to open up for upgrades, too–mine is getting a bigger SSD this evening. I’ve been kicking myself for not buying another one a few months ago when OWC had a batch in.

    • They are so easy to upgrade it is not surprising that they hold their value so well.
      I forgot to mention that in addition to the other upgrades a Kanex Thunderbolt to eSATA + USB 3.0 Adapter was also added to my 2011 Mini about four years ago years when they first became available along with USB 3 hub which has given me 7 USB 3 ports as well as still having the 4 original USB 2 ports to use with my three obsolete 5th generation iPod Classics. ( They do not work well with USB 3 ). The Classic iPods are another great obsolete Apple device that still continue to work just fine.

  15. “Apple this week added all Mac mini models released in mid 2011 to its public-facing vintage and obsolete products list. […] The only regions exempted include California and Turkey, where customers may still obtain service for up to two additional years.” Two additional years! (I guess we Californians have more in common with Turkey than just pistacios and apricots.)

    Apparently Mac mini co-location hosting (you own it, ship it to them, and they host at a high-speed server farm) is still going as strong as ever. Macminicolo.net explains the thriving market for used Mac minis:
    https://macminicolo.net/blog/files/the-market-for-used-mac-minis

    And they apparently sell them … “The following minis are available for hosting or shipment: No machines currently available.” And recommended upgrades for 2010-2014 minis: https://macminicolo.net/blog/files/its-a-pretty-great-time-to-upgrade-your-mac-mini.html

    Full disclosure – I have no affiliation at all with macminicolo and have never been a customer, I just think they’re a cool company with a lot of helpful mini tips. I bought a refurb mini quad-core i7 (late 2012) from Apple in 2014 and use it as my main desktop computer.

  16. “Apple this week added all Mac mini models released in mid 2011 to its public-facing vintage and obsolete products list. […] The only regions exempted include California and Turkey, where customers may still obtain service for up to two additional years.” Two additional years! (I guess we Californians have more in common with Turkey than just pistacios and apricots.)

    Apparently Mac mini co-location hosting (you own it, ship it to them, and they host at a high-speed server farm) is still going as strong as ever. Macminicolo.net explains the thriving market for used Mac minis:
    https://macminicolo.net/blog/files/the-market-for-used-mac-minis

    And they apparently sell them … “The following minis are available for hosting or shipment: No machines currently available.” And recommended upgrades for 2010-2014 minis: https://macminicolo.net/blog/files/its-a-pretty-great-time-to-upgrade-your-mac-mini.html

    Full disclosure – I have no affiliation at all with macminicolo and have never been a customer, I just think they’re a cool company with a lot of helpful mini tips. I bought a refurb mini quad-core i7 (late 2012) from Apple in 2014 and use it as my main desktop computer.

  17. My mid-2012 MB Pro is still going pretty strong, although I had to upgrade the RAM to 8 GB and an SSD as it wasn’t exactly speedy before that.

  18. My mid-2012 MB Pro is still going pretty strong, although I had to upgrade the RAM to 8 GB and an SSD as it wasn’t exactly speedy before that.

  19. While I wasn’t a Mac user when Apple transitioned from floppies to optical discs I was around for the changeover from FW400 to FW800, which cost me and I’m sure many other users additional dough for different adapters and cables.

    My recent purchase of a 2015 retina 13 inch mentioned earlier was decided primarily on price, but even if the then-current MBPros had cost the same I would still have chosen the 2015 model, mainly because of the exorbitant pricing on the adapters and cables required for the two (count ’em: two) fancy-Dan Thunderbolt 3 ports on Mac laptops marketed today.

    I also have a 2011 Airport Extreme—the ‘n’, looks-a-little-like-a-white-Mini version, not the taller ‘ac’ one which is no longer made. I ran into a jam with it about a month ago. The issue was of my own doing (or undoing). I checked with some User Guides I’d saved to try to remedy the situation. No luck. I finally decided to call Apple, where a human with a pulse answered on the second or third ring. By the end of a little over a half an hour, John (the support tech) had my AirPort up and running again. The age or obsolescence of my device mattered not, though I was informed that Apple no longer provides any more software updates for it as 802.11n devices are no longer being marketed.

    I really couldn’t comment on whether owners of other brand routers of a similar vintage could hope to expect this kind of support and service.

  20. While I wasn’t a Mac user when Apple transitioned from floppies to optical discs I was around for the changeover from FW400 to FW800, which cost me and I’m sure many other users additional dough for different adapters and cables.

    My recent purchase of a 2015 retina 13 inch mentioned earlier was decided primarily on price, but even if the then-current MBPros had cost the same I would still have chosen the 2015 model, mainly because of the exorbitant pricing on the adapters and cables required for the two (count ’em: two) fancy-Dan Thunderbolt 3 ports on Mac laptops marketed today.

    I also have a 2011 Airport Extreme—the ‘n’, looks-a-little-like-a-white-Mini version, not the taller ‘ac’ one which is no longer made. I ran into a jam with it about a month ago. The issue was of my own doing (or undoing). I checked with some User Guides I’d saved to try to remedy the situation. No luck. I finally decided to call Apple, where a human with a pulse answered on the second or third ring. By the end of a little over a half an hour, John (the support tech) had my AirPort up and running again. The age or obsolescence of my device mattered not, though I was informed that Apple no longer provides any more software updates for it as 802.11n devices are no longer being marketed.

    I really couldn’t comment on whether owners of other brand routers of a similar vintage could hope to expect this kind of support and service.

  21. My iMac is a medium-spec 27″ model from late 2010. It’s still running fine, even software like Logic Pro. The depreciation is far less noticeable in machines that were well above entry level at new. Entry level models such as mac-minis are false economy. It’s always been that way with Apple. If my 2010 iMac dies sometime in the New Year which, I accept, is quite possible, it will have given great service.

  22. My iMac is a medium-spec 27″ model from late 2010. It’s still running fine, even software like Logic Pro. The depreciation is far less noticeable in machines that were well above entry level at new. Entry level models such as mac-minis are false economy. It’s always been that way with Apple. If my 2010 iMac dies sometime in the New Year which, I accept, is quite possible, it will have given great service.

  23. Yes, very frustrating that Apple obsoletes its computers way before Windows are.
    I run Windows 7 through bootcamp on my 2006 imac. My early 2008 Mac Pro I run Windows 10. When Windows 7 support ends in 2020 I am looking at installing Cloud Ready by Nevermore to turn them into Chrome devices. Except for high end intensive graphics use the “Apple” devices will continue to live another five years I believe.

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