Mac mini 2018 Review: Apple's mightiest mini yet

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  • Reply 61 of 152
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,516administrator
    hentaiboy said:
    Mike Wuerthele said:
    We'll be torturing the TB3 subsystem a bit later in the week and next week, but so far, we're not seeing any issues with the high-speed SSD in the red enclosure you see in the pic which can shove data very nearly at 40gbit/sec, in conjunction with the Apple Thunderbolt display. We'll push it to the max with multiple displays and drives.
    Also can you test how much performance boost the T2 chip gives to video encoding vs the old i7 Mac Mini without? Cheers. 
    Can already say right now that between QuickSync and the T2, the answer is "a lot." Better data to come.
    argonaut
  • Reply 62 of 152
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,912member
    Not the mini I was waiting for.  I don't need Pro-level specs, just a solid performer ... and a lower price. $999 CAD is outside my budget. I need two minis, one for each of my retail stores, and don't have $2000 to throw around, even if it is a business expense. Apple needs to address the market that the mini was originally designed for... the budget spender.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 63 of 152
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,912member
    Now I need a mac-mini-shaped hard drive enclosure to put a 6tb hard drive with my media files in there, and stack it under the actual mac mini. My life will be complete. 

    They exist.

    https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/external-drives/owc-ministack

  • Reply 64 of 152
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,733member
    dewme said:
    blastdoor said:
    dewme said:
    blastdoor said:
    dewme said:
    This is a worthy upgrade that predictably builds on Apple's reputation of delivering premium products at a premium price. It is now safe to say the Mini is  not going to be Apple's budget or entry level product that some folks were hoping for. It's one thing for us to say "the ecosystem could use a less expensive one, at a $499 or $599 price-point" but quite another to identify what we're willing to give up on the lowest end configuration to hit that price point. By the way, Apple accepting a lower margin is not a viable answer and is not going to happen. This is still a premium engineered, amazingly industrialized, and thoughtfully sourced product that Apple put a tremendous amount of resources into to preserve what Apple values in a product it is proud to present to customers. They are not simply slapping a bunch of off-the-shelf components into an ugly white box that's stuffed with whatever they can get cheapest this week.

    I'm still hopeful that Apple can find a way to justify delivering a true entry level machine. To do this they will need to approach the problem from a different angle. For example, if Apple decided to significantly ramp up its investment in keeping newbie programmers on the professional development path they could consider something like a Mac "Coding Machine" that consisted of a what is basically a scaled down and spec'd down Mac Mini, perhaps in a poly-carbonate case, that is priced say at $299. Perhaps it only has i3 and fewer ports. I'm thinking something that is in the same sphere of focus as the Raspberry Pi but a full Mac OS machine (with XCode) that is more akin to what professional programmers are using compared to an iPad with Swift Playgrounds, which I as more like Lego Mindstorm for early exposure to programming. Apple needs to create an easy and natural path from Playgrounds to XCode, so having an educational focus coupled with an entry level product relieves Apple from having to have the "premium" wick turned up quite so high as what we see with the new Mini. Apple can do it, but needs to redefine the rationale that's driving their engineering and product development machine to make it happen. Education, STEM, robotics, and "everyone can code" may be exactly the rationale they need.

    Of course an entry level Mini won't please the current crowd here at AI, but Apple can't please everyone all of the time and they still have a business to run. We CAN pay for premium, even though we like to complain about it from our thousand dollar phones.

    The "easy" path to an entry level Mac at a lower price point is to dump Intel. Intel's gross margins are over 60%; TSMC's gross margins are just under 50%. Every time Apple ships a product with a processor fabbed by Intel rather than TSMC they are paying an "Intel tax" of sorts. An A12-based Mini would be a very strong entry level machine at a lower price point. An A12X could be offered as a BTO option for higher performance. 
    I could not agree less that the "easy" path for a high performance low-cost Mini involves a transition to an A-series (ARM) architecture, unless of course you want the Mini to be a headless version of the iPad Pro. There's a high level of Benchmark Fallacy going on right now around Apple's A-series chips. They are amazing components in their own right but don't fall into the trap of believing that just because an A12X can run benchmarks that run circles around the majority of consumer grade Intel based systems that they are a drop-in replacement for Intel x86 chips. Not so.

    Where these benchmark fueled fantasies and marketing "stretches" blow up miserably is in the domain of Software Reality. Moving a very large number of beefy line-of-business applications, not to mention core OS and machine bound services, and third part apps from x86 to ARM is very non-trivial, ridiculously expensive, and very time consuming - like they would have already had to have started 5 years ago to have a shot at hitting dates before the mid-2020s. Perhaps Apple actually started the train rolling 5 years ago, but we don't know. What about partners in the ecosystem? Do you want to rely on warmed-up iOS versions of critical business apps until the ecosystem finally catches up?

    Software developments costs can and often do dwarf hardware development costs for systems. There is no software TSMC fab-for-hire equivalent for Apple to lean on and throw bucketfuls of cash at to expedite software development progress and unburden its in-house development resources from having to do everything themselves. While there have been gains in software development maturity over the past decade, software development in general is still one of the easiest ways to annihilate vast quantities of time and money and have little to show for it. Not to beat a dead horse, but where there are significant software development and integration risks involved things like gross margins between chip/chipset suppliers and Intel taxes are secondary considerations that only come into play once the costliest contributor to overall system costs are brought under control and you have a system that can actually be built before you burn through all of your R&D resources.

    Benchmarks are meaningless until you solve the software problem.


    Apple was a tiny fraction of its current self when it made the transition from PPC to Intel, and tinier still when it made the transition from 68k to PPC. And yet they did it, quite successfully. 

    Today, changing processors would be far easier than in the past. The code base is so much more modular and Apple has vastly more resources. Everything in tech is "hard" in the sense that it costs money, takes time, and requires qualified people. But a transition to ARM is not the herculean task you make it out to be. 
    Are saying you are willing to fund this transition with your money?
    I'm not sure what point you're trying to make other than the fact that Apple's cost are ultimately paid by Apple's customers. if that's all you mean, then I have already funded Apple's transition from 68k to PPC (when I bought my PowerMac 7500) and the transition from PPC to Intel, when I bought a MacBook Pro in 2006, a Mac Pro in 2009, an iMac in 2010, and another iMac in 2014. And I guess you could say I've funded Apple's development of ARM chips over the years with my many iOS device purchases. 

    But this is silly. The costs here just aren't that big, and the benefits are likely to be bigger than the costs. Did Macs suddenly get a lot more expensive when apple switched from PPC to Intel? No -- yet Apple was a smaller company then, selling fewer Macs, the software challenges of that transition were much greater, AND Intel chips were more expensive than PPC chips. 

    Let's suppose that the cost of transitioning to ARM is $1 billion. I think that's actually an overestimate, because so much of the cost is already covered by development efforts for the A chips. But whatever, let's say $1 billion. There are about 20 million Macs sold every year. Spreading $1 billion over two years of Mac sales means about $25 per Mac. The cost savings from paying TSMC to fab those chips rather than buying from Intel are very likely to be larger than that. 


    netmage
  • Reply 65 of 152
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,602member
    entropys said:
    you know, all apple had to do was have both the RAM and the SSD in slots, and I think that would be a worthy Mac Mini. RAM only is only half way there.  Apple should be ashamed of what they charge for SSD upgrades. Ashamed.

    So, if I was to pick a configuration, I would probably go for an i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, then add an extra 8GB RAM myself and have a decent sized thunderbolt 3 external drive to boot off cabled under the desk.
    No external drive would match the internal NVMe speed, even on Thunderbolt 3. So it is understandable that Apple reasonably fix their prices according to “competition” from external devices. Show me an external TB3 drive faster than the internal SSD then I’ll agree with you.
    It’s a Mac mini. I’ll repeat that. It’s a Mac mini.  I don’t care if the Mac Mini’s TB3 connected SSD is marginally slower than the soldered internal drive.  It will drop from ludicrously fast speeds to just astonishingly fast speeds. See Mike’s comment above where he is getting 40 gigabit/s throughput. TB and NVMe mean this ain’t SATA speeds anymore. The only negative will be still thinking of the prices Apple charges for SSD in their cheapest computer every time I boot it up.
    edited November 2018 lorin schultzargonaut
  • Reply 66 of 152
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,602member
    Now I need a mac-mini-shaped hard drive enclosure to put a 6tb hard drive with my media files in there, and stack it under the actual mac mini. My life will be complete. 

    They exist.

    https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/external-drives/owc-ministack

    Yes, just so, but needs to be updated to space grey and have a couple of TB3 ports, not just usb3.1 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 67 of 152
    thttht Posts: 4,497member
    kharvel said:
    What is the word on the Thunderbolt 3 controller? Is there only ONE TB3 controller for all the TB3 ports or does each port have its own TB3 controller?

    This is an important consideration given that one TB3 controller for all ports can become a bandwidth bottleneck when you have multiple heavy bandwidth hardware (eg. eGPU and externals NVME SSD and 5K monitor) connected to the Mac Mini at the same time.  
    It appears to be one controller, with two buses. Titan Ridge is over-provisioned from a bandwidth standpoint versus Alpine Ridge and expressly allows for this. but you're right this would be a problem with the older controller.

    We'll be torturing the TB3 subsystem a bit later in the week and next week, but so far, we're not seeing any issues with the high-speed SSD in the red enclosure you see in the pic which can shove data very nearly at 40gbit/sec, in conjunction with the Apple Thunderbolt display. We'll push it to the max with multiple displays and drives.
    Marco Arment just tweeted that there are two TB3 controllers. Can you look in the hardware profile? It should be there.

    If so, than support for one 5K monitor looks to be limited by UHD630 GPUs not TB controllers, the same way they are limited to one 5K monitor on the MBP13TB, even though it has 2 Titan Ridge controllers.

    For some people, that’s pretty big as they can connect a 3 Gbyte/s SSD box and an eGPU and have optimal bandwidth going back and forth from both.
  • Reply 68 of 152
    hodarhodar Posts: 348member
    Graphics wise, I understand it's not the most powerful GPU on the planet; but how well will it perform? Given the speed of Thunderbolt 3/USB C; having an internal drive that is huge isn't that great of an issue, when you can just add a large HDD or SSD to a USB 3, or a USB C Drive Hub.
  • Reply 69 of 152
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,516administrator
    tht said:
    kharvel said:
    What is the word on the Thunderbolt 3 controller? Is there only ONE TB3 controller for all the TB3 ports or does each port have its own TB3 controller?

    This is an important consideration given that one TB3 controller for all ports can become a bandwidth bottleneck when you have multiple heavy bandwidth hardware (eg. eGPU and externals NVME SSD and 5K monitor) connected to the Mac Mini at the same time.  
    It appears to be one controller, with two buses. Titan Ridge is over-provisioned from a bandwidth standpoint versus Alpine Ridge and expressly allows for this. but you're right this would be a problem with the older controller.

    We'll be torturing the TB3 subsystem a bit later in the week and next week, but so far, we're not seeing any issues with the high-speed SSD in the red enclosure you see in the pic which can shove data very nearly at 40gbit/sec, in conjunction with the Apple Thunderbolt display. We'll push it to the max with multiple displays and drives.
    Marco Arment just tweeted that there are two TB3 controllers. Can you look in the hardware profile? It should be there.

    If so, than support for one 5K monitor looks to be limited by UHD630 GPUs not TB controllers, the same way they are limited to one 5K monitor on the MBP13TB, even though it has 2 Titan Ridge controllers.

    For some people, that’s pretty big as they can connect a 3 Gbyte/s SSD box and an eGPU and have optimal bandwidth going back and forth from both.
    The profiler shows buses, not controllers, doesn't have to be a a 1:1 correlation with Titan Ridge. Titan Ridge can do two buses per controller, plus Apple has explicitly told us that there is one controller for the two buses. We've been given wrong info by Apple before, though, which is why we're relaying what Apple has said, and also waiting for the teardown. Trust but verify.

    GPUs aren't constantly using all 32gbit/sec, even with multiple 4K displays hanging off the box. In most cases, even if limited to 40gbit/sec by the controller -- which Titan Ridge is not -- the user will see no speed issues with that setup you're describing.
    edited November 2018
  • Reply 70 of 152
    Nice mini intro review...  Quick question having nothing to do with the mini.  What is that greenish device sitting below your monitor in the video???
  • Reply 71 of 152
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,516administrator
    gusturner said:
    Nice mini intro review...  Quick question having nothing to do with the mini.  What is that greenish device sitting below your monitor in the video???
    That is an iPod mini.
  • Reply 72 of 152
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,990member
    entropys said:
    Now I need a mac-mini-shaped hard drive enclosure to put a 6tb hard drive with my media files in there, and stack it under the actual mac mini. My life will be complete. 

    They exist.

    https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/external-drives/owc-ministack

    Yes, just so, but needs to be updated to space grey and have a couple of TB3 ports, not just usb3.1 
    Agree... It would need to be a TB3 connected appliance, and while they're at it, slap in some extra USB ports and maybe even an SD card reader.  TB3 is where it's at.

    I'm seriously considering buying one of these.  Just waiting to see what Apple does on the iMac front before pulling the trigger.  
  • Reply 73 of 152
    thttht Posts: 4,497member
    tht said:
    kharvel said:
    What is the word on the Thunderbolt 3 controller? Is there only ONE TB3 controller for all the TB3 ports or does each port have its own TB3 controller?

    This is an important consideration given that one TB3 controller for all ports can become a bandwidth bottleneck when you have multiple heavy bandwidth hardware (eg. eGPU and externals NVME SSD and 5K monitor) connected to the Mac Mini at the same time.  
    It appears to be one controller, with two buses. Titan Ridge is over-provisioned from a bandwidth standpoint versus Alpine Ridge and expressly allows for this. but you're right this would be a problem with the older controller.

    We'll be torturing the TB3 subsystem a bit later in the week and next week, but so far, we're not seeing any issues with the high-speed SSD in the red enclosure you see in the pic which can shove data very nearly at 40gbit/sec, in conjunction with the Apple Thunderbolt display. We'll push it to the max with multiple displays and drives.
    Marco Arment just tweeted that there are two TB3 controllers. Can you look in the hardware profile? It should be there.

    If so, than support for one 5K monitor looks to be limited by UHD630 GPUs not TB controllers, the same way they are limited to one 5K monitor on the MBP13TB, even though it has 2 Titan Ridge controllers.

    For some people, that’s pretty big as they can connect a 3 Gbyte/s SSD box and an eGPU and have optimal bandwidth going back and forth from both.
    The profiler shows buses, not controllers, doesn't have to be a a 1:1 correlation with Titan Ridge. Titan Ridge can do two buses per controller, plus Apple has explicitly told us that there is one controller for the two buses. We've been given wrong info by Apple before, though, which is why we're relaying what Apple has said, and also waiting for the teardown. Trust but verify.

    GPUs aren't constantly using all 32gbit/sec, even with multiple 4K displays hanging off the box. In most cases, even if limited to 40gbit/sec by the controller -- which Titan Ridge is not -- the user will see no speed issues with that setup you're describing.
    There aren’t any GPU compute problems that are storage I/O bound?
  • Reply 74 of 152
    gusturner said:
    Nice mini intro review...  Quick question having nothing to do with the mini.  What is that greenish device sitting below your monitor in the video???
    That is an iPod mini.

    Thanks; I guess it's been awhile since I've seen that generation. 
  • Reply 75 of 152
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,516administrator
    tht said:
    tht said:
    kharvel said:
    What is the word on the Thunderbolt 3 controller? Is there only ONE TB3 controller for all the TB3 ports or does each port have its own TB3 controller?

    This is an important consideration given that one TB3 controller for all ports can become a bandwidth bottleneck when you have multiple heavy bandwidth hardware (eg. eGPU and externals NVME SSD and 5K monitor) connected to the Mac Mini at the same time.  
    It appears to be one controller, with two buses. Titan Ridge is over-provisioned from a bandwidth standpoint versus Alpine Ridge and expressly allows for this. but you're right this would be a problem with the older controller.

    We'll be torturing the TB3 subsystem a bit later in the week and next week, but so far, we're not seeing any issues with the high-speed SSD in the red enclosure you see in the pic which can shove data very nearly at 40gbit/sec, in conjunction with the Apple Thunderbolt display. We'll push it to the max with multiple displays and drives.
    Marco Arment just tweeted that there are two TB3 controllers. Can you look in the hardware profile? It should be there.

    If so, than support for one 5K monitor looks to be limited by UHD630 GPUs not TB controllers, the same way they are limited to one 5K monitor on the MBP13TB, even though it has 2 Titan Ridge controllers.

    For some people, that’s pretty big as they can connect a 3 Gbyte/s SSD box and an eGPU and have optimal bandwidth going back and forth from both.
    The profiler shows buses, not controllers, doesn't have to be a a 1:1 correlation with Titan Ridge. Titan Ridge can do two buses per controller, plus Apple has explicitly told us that there is one controller for the two buses. We've been given wrong info by Apple before, though, which is why we're relaying what Apple has said, and also waiting for the teardown. Trust but verify.

    GPUs aren't constantly using all 32gbit/sec, even with multiple 4K displays hanging off the box. In most cases, even if limited to 40gbit/sec by the controller -- which Titan Ridge is not -- the user will see no speed issues with that setup you're describing.
    There aren’t any GPU compute problems that are storage I/O bound?
    I'm sure there are. But, one SSD array at about 30 gbit/second plus an eGPU at 32 gbit/second on the same controller, with both cranking at 100% speed constantly and simultaneously (which isn't realistic) still won't saturate the Titan Ridge controller.

    And, it probably won't be run on a Mac mini, despite Apple's positioning.
    edited November 2018
  • Reply 76 of 152
    entropys said:
    entropys said:
    you know, all apple had to do was have both the RAM and the SSD in slots, and I think that would be a worthy Mac Mini. RAM only is only half way there.  Apple should be ashamed of what they charge for SSD upgrades. Ashamed.

    So, if I was to pick a configuration, I would probably go for an i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, then add an extra 8GB RAM myself and have a decent sized thunderbolt 3 external drive to boot off cabled under the desk.
    No external drive would match the internal NVMe speed, even on Thunderbolt 3. So it is understandable that Apple reasonably fix their prices according to “competition” from external devices. Show me an external TB3 drive faster than the internal SSD then I’ll agree with you.
    It’s a Mac mini. I’ll repeat that. It’s a Mac mini.  I don’t care if the Mac Mini’s TB3 connected SSD is marginally slower than the soldered internal drive.  It will drop from ludicrously fast speeds to just astonishingly fast speeds. See Mike’s comment above where he is getting 40 gigabit/s throughput. TB and NVMe mean this ain’t SATA speeds anymore. The only negative will be still thinking of the prices Apple charges for SSD in their cheapest computer every time I boot it up.
    Ask him also how much does it cost. This is an Intel Optane SSD 905P (960 GB). Thunderbolt box not included.
    edited November 2018
  • Reply 77 of 152
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,516administrator
    entropys said:
    entropys said:
    you know, all apple had to do was have both the RAM and the SSD in slots, and I think that would be a worthy Mac Mini. RAM only is only half way there.  Apple should be ashamed of what they charge for SSD upgrades. Ashamed.

    So, if I was to pick a configuration, I would probably go for an i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, then add an extra 8GB RAM myself and have a decent sized thunderbolt 3 external drive to boot off cabled under the desk.
    No external drive would match the internal NVMe speed, even on Thunderbolt 3. So it is understandable that Apple reasonably fix their prices according to “competition” from external devices. Show me an external TB3 drive faster than the internal SSD then I’ll agree with you.
    It’s a Mac mini. I’ll repeat that. It’s a Mac mini.  I don’t care if the Mac Mini’s TB3 connected SSD is marginally slower than the soldered internal drive.  It will drop from ludicrously fast speeds to just astonishingly fast speeds. See Mike’s comment above where he is getting 40 gigabit/s throughput. TB and NVMe mean this ain’t SATA speeds anymore. The only negative will be still thinking of the prices Apple charges for SSD in their cheapest computer every time I boot it up.
    Ask him also how much does it cost. This is an Intel Optane SSD 905P (960 GB). Thunderbolt box not included.
    That particular config, the box is included, and it is not cheap. The drive as pictured is $1300, with the enclosure if you want it separately for $199.
  • Reply 78 of 152
    MichalPfeilMichalPfeil Posts: 8unconfirmed, member
    Looks like they got rid of the infrared port. Is this correct? Does this mean one can't use the apple remote with it for home theater use like controlling Plex or what not? 
  • Reply 79 of 152
    entropys said:
    entropys said:
    you know, all apple had to do was have both the RAM and the SSD in slots, and I think that would be a worthy Mac Mini. RAM only is only half way there.  Apple should be ashamed of what they charge for SSD upgrades. Ashamed.

    So, if I was to pick a configuration, I would probably go for an i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, then add an extra 8GB RAM myself and have a decent sized thunderbolt 3 external drive to boot off cabled under the desk.
    No external drive would match the internal NVMe speed, even on Thunderbolt 3. So it is understandable that Apple reasonably fix their prices according to “competition” from external devices. Show me an external TB3 drive faster than the internal SSD then I’ll agree with you.
    It’s a Mac mini. I’ll repeat that. It’s a Mac mini.  I don’t care if the Mac Mini’s TB3 connected SSD is marginally slower than the soldered internal drive.  It will drop from ludicrously fast speeds to just astonishingly fast speeds. See Mike’s comment above where he is getting 40 gigabit/s throughput. TB and NVMe mean this ain’t SATA speeds anymore. The only negative will be still thinking of the prices Apple charges for SSD in their cheapest computer every time I boot it up.
    Ask him also how much does it cost. This is an Intel Optane SSD 905P (960 GB). Thunderbolt box not included.
    That particular config, the box is included, and it is not cheap. The drive as pictured is $1300, with the enclosure if you want it separately for $199.
    Twice the price of basic Mac Mini, (almost, @ $1300). Apple’s 1 TB internal SSD upgrade is $800...
    edited November 2018 williamlondon
  • Reply 80 of 152
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,516administrator
    Looks like they got rid of the infrared port. Is this correct? Does this mean one can't use the apple remote with it for home theater use like controlling Plex or what not? 
    That is correct.
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