2018 Mac mini: what you need to know

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited October 2018
It's been four years since Apple last updated its Mac mini, but the company apparently heard calls to refresh the beloved headless Mac and on Tuesday delivered a machine worth waiting for.

Mac mini
The 2018 Mac mini was introduced at Apple's Oct. 30 event.


The mini was unveiled during Apple's recent media event on Oct. 30. In its marketing materials Apple seems to be positioning its diminutive Mac at professional users, showing off rendering farms with hundreds of Mac minis working together, touting its capabilities as a server and even illustrating how well the machine can handle live music gigs.

But how will the new Mac mini benefit the average user?





Simply put, it's the cheapest way to get a Mac outside of buying one used. Just bring a mouse, keyboard and display, and you've got a full-fledged Mac that packs some serious power.

For 2018, Mac mini ditches the raw aluminum look for a Space Gray finish. On the back are a variety of ports, including HDMI 2.0, two USB 3 ports, four Thunderbolt 3 ports, a headphone jack and -- for an extra $100 -- a 10-gigabit ethernet port. With the Thunderbolt 3 ports, users can transfer data at blazing fast speeds, connect an eGPU or even run up to two 4K displays.

Mac mini
Mac mini sports a wide array of ports.


Like the rest of Apple's recent Macs, the Mac mini comes with a T2 security chip, which handles different system functions including automatic storage encryption. The machine sports SSDs with up to 3.4GHz sequential read speeds, and users can configure their mini with up to 2TB of storage.

This year's machine gets the same base 8GB of RAM that was offered with the 2014 model, except the memory is now much faster. The Intel processor powering the desktop can address up to 64GB of RAM, which users can configure at purchase or add on later.

A new cooling system doubles the airflow, allowing the machine to run at a maximum sustained power that is 70 percent higher than before. The improved cooling system, and four years of advancements in the chipmaking industry, equate to massive performance gains.

According to Geekbench 4 scores, the standard 4-core CPU nears the performance of the 2017 5K iMac's base processor.

Mac mini Benchmark
Mac mini benchmarks based on previous i3-8100 tests.


Compared to the previous Mac mini, Apple claims the 2018 model boasts 60 percent faster integrated graphics and a five fold boost to overall system performance. Those numbers are based on a Mac mini with a 3.2GHz 6-core 12-thread Core i7 processor that turbo-boosts up to 4.6GHz.

The base $799 model gets buyers a 3.6Ghz quad-core Core i3, which interestingly lacks support for Turbo Boost and Hyperthreading. A 6-core processor with those options is available as a $300 upgrade. The entry level mini comes with 128GB of storage, with an options to upgrade to 256GB for $200. A step-up model includes a 6-core processor and 256GB of storage, but that chip also lacks Hyperthreading.

Overall, the Mac mini is the cheapest way to get a Mac, and this year performance is up there with the rest of Apple's lineup.

Apple's new 2018 Mac Mini is available to order now starting at $799.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,888member
    There’s an upgrade to the 6-core model that gives hyper threading.

    this is a nice computer. Too late for me, but a nice option for people who were able and willing to wait.
  • Reply 2 of 39
    How do you get voice into the Mini? I see only a headphone jack.
    dtb200
  • Reply 3 of 39
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,004member
    GHammer said:
    How do you get voice into the Mini? I see only a headphone jack.
    I'm guessing it's combined headphone/microphone, like the iPhones used to have.AppleInsider said:

    Overall, the Mac mini is the cheapest way to get a Mac, and this year performance is up there with the rest of Apple's lineup.

    Apple's new 2018 Mac Mini is available to order now starting at $799.
    The new mac mini packs a lot of power in a small box. I think a lot of the other complaints I've seen regarding price are partially due to people thinking the mini is a 'mac lite.' It really isn't. It's just a small package.
    randominternetpersonargonautcgWerks
  • Reply 4 of 39
    laytechlaytech Posts: 127member
    GHammer said:
    How do you get voice into the Mini? I see only a headphone jack.
    Exactly my question. I am very surprised at the lack of a microphone, basically making Hey Siri or Siri at all, useless. 

    I also think this blurs the line between a geek product, mini-pro product and a budget mac. The latter being further from the truth because the price doesn't reflect it. I just purchased one with the i5 chip (standard option) 16GB ram and I could almost have got a 27" iMac for the same price (new). So its not cheap, whoops let me correct that, the word cheap infers something is lacking quality, where Apple products are not cheap in any sense of the word, so lets just say, the mac mini does not seem on the surface great value but if you consider it a mini pro with pro components then I think it brings it more into perspective. However, the omission of the microphone is bitterly disappointing. I tried mics on my current mini all have not worked. So suggestions welcome.
  • Reply 5 of 39
    there are USB mic's that play just fine with OSX

    mdriftmeyercaladanianGHammerhodarargonaut
  • Reply 6 of 39
    The RAM appears to be user upgradable to 64GB. So if you're a pro, no reason to buy more than 8GB and swap it out for a 3rd party upgrade at half the price.
    williamlondonhodarargonaut
  • Reply 7 of 39
    laytech said:
    GHammer said:
    How do you get voice into the Mini? I see only a headphone jack.
    Exactly my question. I am very surprised at the lack of a microphone, basically making Hey Siri or Siri at all, useless. 

    I also think this blurs the line between a geek product, mini-pro product and a budget mac. The latter being further from the truth because the price doesn't reflect it. I just purchased one with the i5 chip (standard option) 16GB ram and I could almost have got a 27" iMac for the same price (new). So its not cheap, whoops let me correct that, the word cheap infers something is lacking quality, where Apple products are not cheap in any sense of the word, so lets just say, the mac mini does not seem on the surface great value but if you consider it a mini pro with pro components then I think it brings it more into perspective. However, the omission of the microphone is bitterly disappointing. I tried mics on my current mini all have not worked. So suggestions welcome.
    I bet it has a remote that works with Siri just like the Apple TV does, I remember when I had a Mac mini many years ago it had a remote. 
  • Reply 8 of 39
    docno42docno42 Posts: 3,270member
    Ugh, once again integrated graphics only.  Once again Apple pays lip service to pro users.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 9 of 39
    FatmanFatman Posts: 218member
    Apple should not make any computer with less than a 512GB capacity drive. For music applications I assume you use The DA converter in your USB or TB interface as opposed to the onboard DAC/sound chip. Can anyone that uses Macs for audio apps (main stage/garage band, etc) comment on this.
    dtb200
  • Reply 10 of 39
    davgregdavgreg Posts: 200member
    GHammer said:
    How do you get voice into the Mini? I see only a headphone jack.
    Bluetooth & USB.
    Apple AirPods will work. Companies like Plantronics make USB & Bluetooth headsets. Any number of makers sell USB mikes.
    Also, some webcams include mikes and they usually connect via USB.
    edited October 2018 hodarargonaut
  • Reply 11 of 39
    docno42 said:
    Ugh, once again integrated graphics only.  Once again Apple pays lip service to pro users.
    For pro users who are fed up with integrated graphics, Apple is definitely all-in on promoting eGPUs. You want pro GPU performance from one of their more consumer-oriented systems, that's where they'll tell you to go, having pretty firmly settled into no discrete GPU in anything other than the highest end 15" MacBook Pro and high end desktops. 

    Blackmagic just added a Vega to their eGPU enclosure and Apple is pushing both Blackmagic's original and Pro eGPUs on their MacBook Pro page and Thunderbolt page, with an eGPU mention on the Mac Mini page, and an Accessories recommendation on the MacBook Air tech page.

    And since there has never been a discrete GPU in a unibody 13" MacBook Pro, I for one am grateful for the eGPU option for staying portable and powerful. Right now, the eGPU is an improvement on the best discrete GPU you can get in 15" Pro as well, but they've also just announced Vega GPUs will be an option for 15" MacBook Pros in November.

    All of this points to Apple serving professionals better this year than any time in recent memory. If they release a new Mac Pro next year, you'll have the most diverse pro-friendly lineup they've ever had, with the option of plugging in an eGPU into whatever Apple computer you'd like, or spending 3+ months worth of rent on an iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Pro, or 15" Vega MacBook. That's more pro choice than I can recall them offering in the last 20 years.
    edited October 2018 randominternetpersonmacpluspluschiawilliamlondonargonautcgWerks
  • Reply 12 of 39
    there are USB mic's that play just fine with OSX

    More like, all USB mics play seamlessly with OS X/macOS. But if you're serious about vocals you're running an USB/Thunderbolt hardware audio interface and working with Logic Pro X.
    argonaut
  • Reply 13 of 39
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,497member
    Pro users don’t buy NUCs like this mini.

    I need a new machine real soon now, but will wait to see what the iMac is like, my current iMac is dying from overuse.  
    If I had to buy a machine right now, it would be the i7 mini with minimum ram and ssd. I will update the ram myself. I will wait until someone comes up with a matching external TB3 case that stacks with the mini in space grey, and add an external M.2 SSD. I currently boot my old iMac off a TB2 external SSD anyway, but I would like better than SATA.  No way am I paying Apple’s evil prices for ram and ssd. And if I wanted a dedicated GPU, I am sure there will end up a eGPU case that matches too.

    Cook is making it real hard not to switch to the dark side. The prices are getting stupidly expensive.
    mike54williamlondonargonaut
  • Reply 14 of 39
    laytech said:
    GHammer said:
    How do you get voice into the Mini? I see only a headphone jack.
    Exactly my question. I am very surprised at the lack of a microphone, basically making Hey Siri or Siri at all, useless. 

    I also think this blurs the line between a geek product, mini-pro product and a budget mac. The latter being further from the truth because the price doesn't reflect it. I just purchased one with the i5 chip (standard option) 16GB ram and I could almost have got a 27" iMac for the same price (new). So its not cheap, whoops let me correct that, the word cheap infers something is lacking quality, where Apple products are not cheap in any sense of the word, so lets just say, the mac mini does not seem on the surface great value but if you consider it a mini pro with pro components then I think it brings it more into perspective. However, the omission of the microphone is bitterly disappointing. I tried mics on my current mini all have not worked. So suggestions welcome.
    Nothing on the Apple Mac mini page positions the mini as a "budget mac."

    First text on the page says:

    Part racehorse. All workhorse.

    In addition to being a great desktop computer, Mac mini powers everything from home automation to giant render farms. And now with eighth-generation Intel quad-core and 6-core processors and Intel UHD Graphics 630, Mac mini has even more compute power for industrial-grade tasks. So whether you’re running a live concert sound engine or testing your latest iOS app, Mac mini is the shortest distance between a great idea and a great result.


    The typical consumer isn't running a live concert or developing iOS apps.

  • Reply 15 of 39
    DPDP Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    SSDs with up to 3.4GHz sequential read speeds...
    ------
    tell me more about these GHz.
  • Reply 16 of 39
    docno42 said:
    Ugh, once again integrated graphics only.  Once again Apple pays lip service to pro users.
    If you need a powerful GPU... that is what the Mac Pro is for... you have to wait.
  • Reply 17 of 39

    entropys said:
    Pro users don’t buy NUCs like this mini.

    I need a new machine real soon now, but will wait to see what the iMac is like, my current iMac is dying from overuse.  
    If I had to buy a machine right now, it would be the i7 mini with minimum ram and ssd. I will update the ram myself. I will wait until someone comes up with a matching external TB3 case that stacks with the mini in space grey, and add an external M.2 SSD. I currently boot my old iMac off a TB2 external SSD anyway, but I would like better than SATA.  No way am I paying Apple’s evil prices for ram and ssd. And if I wanted a dedicated GPU, I am sure there will end up a eGPU case that matches too.

    Cook is making it real hard not to switch to the dark side. The prices are getting stupidly expensive.
    Thanks for talking for all us 'pro' users again...  not all 'pro' users are video professional creative 'pro's.

    The mac mini is most widely used by professionals for specific purposes... which is why Apple pivoted the niche that the little Mac Mini is for.  

    I will be buying one of the i7/32GB RAM ones 'for professional purposes'.  I know of another company that will order a significant number more than me (by the skid).  

    williamlondonargonautrandy hillrandominternetpersondocno42
  • Reply 18 of 39
    aknabiaknabi Posts: 136member
    DP said:
    SSDs with up to 3.4GHz sequential read speeds...
    ------
    tell me more about these GHz.
    Indeed... and SSD write speeds of over 1000 MIPS...  all possible with the flux capacitor used in the Mac Mini
  • Reply 19 of 39
    hattighattig Posts: 830member
    Wait, is that $200 to add 128GB to the SSD? Sheesh.

    It would have been nice to see an option with discrete graphics - say that small Vega 16/20 that is coming to the MacBook Pros.

    But, failing that, how about an eGPU in a matching case that you can stack under the Mac Mini? A tiny thunderbolt cable between the two (shame there isn't a direct PCIe slot for this built into the base of the Mac Mini to avoid the cable and thunderbolt), and boom, nice setup with GPU.
  • Reply 20 of 39
    hattig said:
    Wait, is that $200 to add 128GB to the SSD? Sheesh.

    It would have been nice to see an option with discrete graphics - say that small Vega 16/20 that is coming to the MacBook Pros.

    But, failing that, how about an eGPU in a matching case that you can stack under the Mac Mini? A tiny thunderbolt cable between the two (shame there isn't a direct PCIe slot for this built into the base of the Mac Mini to avoid the cable and thunderbolt), and boom, nice setup with GPU.
    Not the market this machine is aimed for... there is still the missing piece ... the modular mac pro... if you want discrete graphics internally... that is what that machine will be for (IMHO).  You are trying to 'adapt' the Mac Mini to what it is not meant for.  

    You forgot that included in the increase in price is the SSD (not spinning rust), 8GB of RAM instead of 4GB, and the quad-core not the anaemic 2 core CPU.
    edited November 2018 williamlondonargonautcgWerks
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