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Can you run Big Sur on a 2012 Mac mini?

Excited to upgrade to Big Sur? Read this first. We discuss compatibility and provide useful information on how to upgrade to the latest macOS.

Big Sur on 2012 Mac mini?

Like most of you, we’ve been anticipating the launch of Big Sur - and it’s finally here. We know you’re thinking about updating your machines ASAP. We don’t blame you (so are we!). We’ve been testing the macOS 11 betas from the very beginning to provide you with the best information and we have a word of caution for 2012 and earlier Mac minis.

We knew from the get-go (thanks to 9to5Mac for sharing a compatibility list!) that Big Sur will be compatible with only 2014 and later Mac minis. This incompatibility with 2012 minis was confirmed during our beta testing. Our senior data center technician, Justin Weathersbee, found that after installing Big Sur on a 2012 Mac mini, the machine wouldn’t boot. The macOS 11 boot loader doesn’t work natively with the 2012 and older hardware and that means there is no recovery from this - nothing short of a complete wipe and reinstall of the correct OS, or pulling the drive mounting via external USB/thunderbolt sled and pulling your data off would bring the machine back to life.

To prevent any potential loss of data, we recommend that you either don’t update your 2012 Mac minis, backup your data before you do an update (this advice applies for any update!) or reach out to us about upgrading to later model Mac minis. We currently have several 2014 and 2018 Mac mini configurations that are Big Sur compatible, and we’ll be offering new M1 minis very soon. Note that it might take us a couple of weeks after the release to stage minis with Big Sur pre-installed for instant activation. However, since you have root access to all of your MacStadium infrastructure, you can install Big Sur to any machine when you’re ready. Have more questions? Let us know – a MacStadium sales engineer would be happy to help.