As to why the 2012 is better for me than the 2014.
First of all, I'm coming from using an Early 2011 MacBook Pro 13.
Geekbench as measured by me on my own MacBook Pro i5 dual core at 2.3Ghz
- 64-bit Single-Core 2222
- 64-bit Multi-Core 4819
In retrospect, being someone who makes a living coding, I probably should have gotten the i7 version of this computer.
Look at the Mac Mini 2012 i7 quad core @2.3Ghz, again measured by me
- 64-bit Single-Core 3110
- 64-bit Multi-Core 11998
Primate Labs estimates the Mac Mini 2014 build to order i7 dual core @3.0Ghz
- 64-bit Single-Core (est.) 3137
- 64-bit Multi-Core (est.) 6358
Pretty obviously, the 2012 quad core beats the pants off the 2014 dual core at multi-core and is almost identical at single core. And this is with a 2014 custom build to order that costs $1199 (with a 1TB Fusion Drive and 8 GB of RAM) versus a stock 2012 that costs $749 (with a 500GB spinning platter and 4 GB of RAM).
I want to recreate the other specs of my MacBook, so I will move my 480GB SSD and 1TB hybrid drive over (I have a 2nd hard drive in the MacBook's optical bay). And I want to upgrade to 16GB. With the 2014, I can't do that. I can't put 2 2½ inch drives in the new mini. I guess I could order a 512GB SSD with the 2014 and void the warranty by installing my 2½ inch 2nd drive, I think. But this would bump the price up to $1499.
Then there's the matter of the RAM. I have to buy it from Apple with the 2014. Bump the price to $1699.
With 2012 (and 2 drives I already own)
- Stock i7 quad core $749
- 16GB of RAM $136
- OWC 2nd Drive Kit $29
- 480 GB SSD (already own)
- 1TB hybrid (already own)
- Total $914
- End product: Faster, 1 Thunderbolt port, 480GB SSD, 1TB hybrid, Intel Graphics 4000
If you don't already own the drives, this will be more expensive.
With 2014 (and 1 drive I already own, which I can apparently install while voiding the warranty).
- Build to order i7 dual core $1699
- 1TB hybrid (already own)
- End Product: Slower, 2 Thunderbolt ports, Intel Iris Graphics, 512GB SSD, 1TB Hybrid
The one thing that I wish I could get is 4K display support. The new Mini has Intel Iris graphics which are not only considerably faster depending on how you use them, but are also capable of driving 3840×2160@30Hz and 4096×2160@24Hz. The 2012 maxes out at 2560×1600@60Hz. As an Amazon Vine member, I get sent monitors for evaluation occasionally, and it'd be nice to be able to accept a 4K display. Regardless, no Mac Apple currently ships is future proof against the inevitable Retina Thunderbolt Display that will ship after Apple/Thunderbolt starts supporting DisplayPort 1.3, so the 2014 Mac Mini will not be driving 5K Retina displays.
I don't care about the loss of the FireWire port. I don't care about the improved WiFi as this will be hooked up via Ethernet. Another Thunderbolt port would be nice for driving either 2 largish monitors or getting maximum data throughput, but Thunderbolt is daisy chain able. And presumably, the PCIe SSD in the new Mini will be faster than the SATA III SSD I'll be using.
Given what I'll be using it for: computationally intensive, non-graphically or throughput intensive Xcode development, the 2012 model was far and away the better value, and I'm almost saddened that Apple couldn't put together the kind of hot rod that a user like myself would find compelling.