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Mac mini pricey to expand

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I'm looking for something cheap to replace a 2006 iMac and avoid being forced to a Windows machine at work.  Doesn't need to scream, and I've got keyboard/mouse/monitors, so the new 2014 entry mini would be good.  But I'd prefer 8GB, and a small amount of SSD (even 128GB would do) would be nice instead of an HDD, and it is the upgrade that I run into Apple's pricing.
It looks like with soldered RAM there's no alternative to the $100 4GB->8GB Apple upgrade; I wouldn't mind the price as much if you didn't have to commit to a memory decision when the unit is bought. And the 256GB SSD option isn't available, so SSD means the $250 Fusion option - that makes a $850 unit, and you might as well spend an extra $50 to get the mid-range 2.6GHz (with Fusion or 256GB SSD) at $900; but you've strayed from cheap!  It would be nice if you could get a base unit with 8GB and just a 128GB SSD (no HDD) for $700-$750.  I'll have to see how horrible/impossible adding 3rd party SSD is.
One of Intel's NUC (little Mini-like computer without RAM or storage) configurations uses almost the same i5 processor as the new entry-level 2014 Mini.  I roughly priced out NUC and additions on Amazon to make something similar to the Mini (NUC=$350 + 500GB HD=$50 + 4GB Memory=$45 + WiFi=$30) and it is $475 without an OS, almost the same as the $500 mini.  Considering the mini adds Thunderbolt, OSX, SDXC and audio-in, the basic Mini seems to be very competitively priced, but Apple gets you on configurations!
Given the base unit, upgrades seem to nominally look like: $50 to bump the HDD from 500GB to 1TB, $100 for every 4GB of memory, $200 for the 128GB SSD (in Fusion), $50 for the i5-4278U in the mid-range Mini.  All of these seem to be 100-150% more than Amazon pricing for rough equivalents, and Apples cost would be better than that, so they really seem set things up with a lower-margin base unit and make the big money off everything else.      
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The best answer: I went through the same dilemma -- do yourself a favor and go grab an entry-level 2.5 ghz I-5 2012 Mac Mini while they are still in inventory (plenty of authorized Apple resellers still have them in stock, but good luck finding a mid or upper tier quad core I7 for a decent price!).  On Monday, I got a sick deal on an open-box (still considered "brand new" by Apple for warranty purposes) for $350 at Best Buy (you have to hunt, but it is a worthy prey).  The specs are similar and the 2012 is slightly faster (per geekbench tests), although I don't know if you would notice in real-world testing.
Besides the performance, what really sold me on the 2012 is that I can pop open the bottom (by DESIGN) and install up to 16gb of ram in 2 minutes.  I also like having the firewire 800 port to communicate with my old mac mini (early 2009 C2D--also a great little machine).  The 2012 also has a thunderbolt port should I want an external SSD at some point.  I've read the 2012's are easier to upgrade the internal drive, but I doubt I'll ever do that and may simply use thunderbolt. The 2014 on the other hand is practically impossible to upgrade.
With the (much) discounted entry level 2012 still around, the new entry level model does not justify the price premium for what you get (which some would argue is a SLOWER, non-upgradeable machine).  Good luck!