Mac mini 2018 Review: Apple's mightiest mini yet

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  • Reply 121 of 152
    macroninmacronin Posts: 1,174member
    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.
    The only way to get the i5 is with the $1,099 model, which has the 256GB SSD as default, with no option to downgrade to the 128GB SSD...

    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. 
    tipoo 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. 

    Yeah, there must be a market for that and someone's probably already working on it. A GPU enclosure that's shaped like it would also be a great idea. 
    OWC has the miniStack, which is a chassis with the same footprint of the Mac mini, we just need TB3 versions of that (in varying heights & in Space Grey) to stack under the new SG mini...

    An eGPU module that has either RX580 or Vega 56 GPUs on MXM format cards...

    A RAID module with four m.2 NVMe SSDs...

    A Time Capsule module with various options for the capacity of a single 3.5" HDD & a four port 10Gb Ethernet hub (three LAN & one WAN)...

    And well-engineered / constructed shorty TB3 / USB-C interconnects...
  • Reply 122 of 152
    macronin 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.
    The only way to get the i5 is with the $1,099 model, which has the 256GB SSD as default, with no option to downgrade to the 128GB SSD...

    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. 
    tipoo 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. 

    Yeah, there must be a market for that and someone's probably already working on it. A GPU enclosure that's shaped like it would also be a great idea. 
    OWC has the miniStack, which is a chassis with the same footprint of the Mac mini, we just need TB3 versions of that (in varying heights & in Space Grey) to stack under the new SG mini...

    An eGPU module that has either RX580 or Vega 56 GPUs on MXM format cards...

    A RAID module with four m.2 NVMe SSDs...

    A Time Capsule module with various options for the capacity of a single 3.5" HDD & a four port 10Gb Ethernet hub (three LAN & one WAN)...

    And well-engineered / constructed shorty TB3 / USB-C interconnects...
    I'd buy some of those modules if OWC ditched the outboard power supplies. They won't, though. The way they are now, with a big power brick hanging off each device, you wind up with a nice, tidy stack of components with a hellish nightmare of cable management behind it.
  • Reply 123 of 152
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,603member
    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. 
    easy for whom...  a move to Aseries 'burns the ships' for Mac OS and app development on Intel. You will need to take 100M Mac users and tell them they are running on obsolete hardware.    There better be a serious performance envelope increase to make any Intel laptop look like it's weak sauce compared to the A Series alternative (and it's gotta start at the Pro levels and iMac levels, and that requires a WinTel emulation package built in). That's a serious undertaking, and will require a skunkworks effort to avoid Osborning the current Mac line and orphaning a 100Million Mac Users. 

     I see it 3 years out a new chip variant (BSeries?) that has less power constraints, and is designed for true multi-user/Multi-process management (A-Series are designed to support 1-3 active apps).  The performance is gonna have to be 2X+ faster than the fasted Intel chips on the horizon before most people are going to accept that risk of abandoning/emulating 100s of niche applications compiled for Intel.

    I repeat, easy for whom?




    to give you an idea of how fast the A12X SoC is:

    https://www.laptopmag.com/reviews/laptops/new-ipad-pro-2018-129-inch

    "The Surface Pro 6 took 31 minutes to transcode a 12-minute 4K video clip. The MacBook Pro fared a bit better, just under 26 minutes. But the new iPad Pro? 7 minutes, 47 seconds."
    williamlondon
  • Reply 124 of 152
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,603member
    lewchenko said:

    While I like this product marginally better than the revised MacBook Air, I feel that Apple is still missing the mark with its price point on the Mini. An existing Windows user should be able to unplug their existing box and plug in a Mac mini at a price that doesn't break the bank. You can get a powerful PC desktop for this price.
    When Apple produced a very-cheap mini for switchers, the complainers said it wasn't powerful enough. Now they've gone more powerful, and the complainers say it costs too much. Do you see the catch-22 here? Anyway, I'd argue the mini is no longer a cheap intro product designed for switchers -- that job was fulfilled by iPods, iPads, and iPhones. This is a small Mac.
    It doesn’t have to be a catch 22. 
    Apple decides the price and spec and could have easily accommated an affordable specification in the line up. 
    But that’s not who Apple are. Ultimately they don’t care about low end switchers. By not having one forces people to pay more or go elsewhere.
    The price of these things buys quite a powerful PC in comparison. People have to decide whether the Mac OS is worth the premium over and above a PC (far more expandable no doubt)

    to sum up apple these days - “for people with boat loads of money, or those willing to consider older tech for slightly less money - eg old Air, older 7 iPhone, older mini” 
    Like I said elsewhere, the Mini is no longer a PC switch box. People are using mobile devices now: laptops and cell phones and tablets. In 2005 80% of the market used desktops, that time is over. I moved my parents off desktops to iPads. 

    $500 in 2005 was cheap, but it couldn't perform. Now it can, and its $150 more than inflation-adjusted pricing. If you can't afford $150 you aren't in the game. You won't even buy one anyway so why complain.

    There are iPhones and laptops at many price points. To whine that you're entitled to the top-tier performance at the entry-level price means you're out of touch with reality. Save more money and get what you need if you need the top-tier.
    "the Mini is no longer a PC switch box"

    That might not be the market that Apple is targeting with this machine but doesn't mean it can't be used for that.  I'm seriously looking at the base model to switch my Windows box. 
  • Reply 125 of 152
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,550member
    entropys said:

    Rayz2016 said:
    The Apple Mouse has the lightning port on the bottom because a mouse with a hole you can see would look like crap 
    This would qualify as a perfect example of form over function, in my opinion. Unlike you (with respect for your preference), I would rather be able to continue using the mouse while it's charging, like I can with the keyboard. Besides, that would put the port on the side facing away from you so you'd never see it anyway! :)
    The mouse could be given a bit of an overbite too to further hide it.
    Or Apple builds a wireless mouse that charges on a charging mat that can optionally function as a mouse pad, iPhone charger, AirPods charger, etc. Maybe call it  AirPower Magic Mouse Pad. 
  • Reply 126 of 152
    I'm thinking of getting the i7 with the 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM, and upgrading the RAM to 32GB myself, and also adding an external 1TB TB3 NVME drive linked in the thread ($1299 Mini + $387 TB3 1TB + $285 32GB RAM = $1971, not incl. tax)

    But the same Mini configured with the 1TB internal BTO option at $1899 + 32GB RAM (3rd party, at $285) comes out to only about $213 difference in price.

    So now I'm thinking that is not a huge difference in price to get the increased performance of the internal 1TB SSD, plus not have an external drive sitting outside of the mini. Is that about right?

    Can anyone link to some good quality 3rd party RAM upgrades for the new Mini? I'm not sure I'm finding the right sticks.

    TIA.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 127 of 152
    bryanus said:
    I'm thinking of getting the i7 with the 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM, and upgrading the RAM to 32GB myself, and also adding an external 1TB TB3 NVME drive linked in the thread ($1299 Mini + $387 TB3 1TB + $285 32GB RAM = $1971, not incl. tax)

    But the same Mini configured with the 1TB internal BTO option at $1899 + 32GB RAM (3rd party, at $285) comes out to only about $213 difference in price.

    So now I'm thinking that is not a huge difference in price to get the increased performance of the internal 1TB SSD, plus not have an external drive sitting outside of the mini. Is that about right?

    Can anyone link to some good quality 3rd party RAM upgrades for the new Mini? I'm not sure I'm finding the right sticks.

    TIA.
    With the external 1TB you keep the internal 256, so add the loss of internal 256 to $213 price difference.

    Maybe the external (modular) way is what Apple wants us to go? Maybe we really don’t need so large internal SSD, which comes at a cost? Apple’s SSDs are the most mysterious things in today’s tech world. The only thing everyone knows they are blazingly fast. Common forms such as M.2 and alike are out of question, NVMe over PCIe is known but Apple uses proprietary connectors, proprietary controller and no one knows the type of the NAND modules. 256 internal is enough to hold the macOS, all your productivity applications and a couple of high end games. Of course usage patterns differ and I may be proven wrong with specific use cases, but if price is such an issue going external without philosophizing too much may be  the best way of action, IMHO.
    edited November 2018
  • Reply 128 of 152
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,007member
    entropys said:
    vulpine said:
    So if I want to add a 1TB SSD to this machine for casual desktop use, what's the most sensible option? Will a SATA drive + USB-C adapter give me good performance for the lowest price? Is it worth it to move up to an NVMe drive + USB 3.1 Gen 2 adapter, even though this is faster than the USB port's 10G/s capability? Or is Thunderbolt 3 performance enough of a difference that it's worth it to get NVMe + TB3, even though the TB3 adapter is more than $200?

    It still looks like NVMe is less expensive than SATA, even though NVMe is also faster - is this correct?
    Anything with a SATA connection will not get better than about 0.5 Gbps or so regardless of port in the back of the mini. Still, it would be heaps faster than a HDD and you could use the internal SSD as the boot drive anyway, and the external for storage.
    NVMe through USB3.1/USB-C will get to 10 Gbps
    NVMe through TB3 up to 40 Gbps.

    10 Gbps would be plenty fast enough, especially for a Mac Mini.  However as Apple has left such a massive amount of price room to compete with, why not go for TB3 and still feel justified?


    TB2 is seriously fast as it is.  I use my 12TB 6-drive Promise RAID tower on TB2 and I still can't saturate the TB2 bandwidth.  I get close to 1GB/s on it.  That's one GIGABYTE of data per second.

    So TB3 to my knowledge can get one about 2.5GB/s so really... either one will be fine for use mortals.  Adapters are available to connect pretty much anything to TB3.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 129 of 152
    macroninmacronin Posts: 1,174member
    bryanus said:
    Can anyone link to some good quality 3rd party RAM upgrades for the new Mini? I'm not sure I'm finding the right sticks.
    With the external 1TB you keep the internal 256, so add the loss of internal 256 to $213 price difference.
    OWC has RAM upgrade packages...

    I do not understand the logic, how does one lose the internal 256GB SSD by adding a 1TB external SSD...?
  • Reply 130 of 152
    macronin said:
    bryanus said:
    Can anyone link to some good quality 3rd party RAM upgrades for the new Mini? I'm not sure I'm finding the right sticks.
    With the external 1TB you keep the internal 256, so add the loss of internal 256 to $213 price difference.
    OWC has RAM upgrade packages...

    I do not understand the logic, how does one lose the internal 256GB SSD by adding a 1TB external SSD...?
    Other way around. If he chooses to buy the 1TB internal upgrade he only gains 750GB. If he buys an external 1TB, he winds up with the sum of the internal plus the external. Thus the price difference of $213 isn't a direct comparison, because it yields 20% less storage.
  • Reply 131 of 152
    nhtnht Posts: 4,522member
    bryanus said:
    I'm thinking of getting the i7 with the 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM, and upgrading the RAM to 32GB myself, and also adding an external 1TB TB3 NVME drive linked in the thread ($1299 Mini + $387 TB3 1TB + $285 32GB RAM = $1971, not incl. tax)

    But the same Mini configured with the 1TB internal BTO option at $1899 + 32GB RAM (3rd party, at $285) comes out to only about $213 difference in price.

    So now I'm thinking that is not a huge difference in price to get the increased performance of the internal 1TB SSD, plus not have an external drive sitting outside of the mini. Is that about right?
    Others have pointed out that its $213 + 256GB storage.

    256GB became a little tight on my older MBP.  Unfortunately the 512GB upgrafe is poor on the bang for the buck curve.  Each 256GB upgrade costs you $200 from Apple.  The higher you go the better but it never becomes good.  Still, personally, I’d probably get the 500GB upgrade and grab a USB-C SSD for secondary storage as that’s cheaper than TB3.

    On the other hand, it’s a desktop so external storage is set up once and forget.  256GB is enough for OS and lots of large beefy apps.

    Depending one what you do 256GB is enough even for working on but you have to be pretty consistent in moving stuff to the external.  For photos I can move all of a 64GB card onto the desktop and cull.  For video, not so much but then even 1TB can be tight.

    Eh, between your two options I’d probably do 256GB unless I was going to use an eGPU.  If I was going that route I’d go with 1TB internal and leave TB3 for the eGPU and nothing else.
  • Reply 132 of 152
    davgregdavgreg Posts: 983member
    In case anyone might be interested. I ran Geekbench on my new Mac mini
    Specs: 16GB RAM 256GB SSD i7 6 Core CPU Intel UHD Graphics 630

    Open CL Score 23688, exactly the same as the reference for Intel Iris Pro Graphics 540
    Single Core 5898 Multi Core 25921 That puts it higher than the iMac Pro for Single Core and in the middle of Trashcan Mac Pro for Multi-Core.

    I am sure different BTO setups will yield different results, but that is what I got. Hope it helps the curious.
    williamlondonlarz2112
  • Reply 133 of 152
    YP101YP101 Posts: 142member
    If anyone paying 2018 mini over $1700 then I suggest buy 2019 iMac(after Apple upgrade at least new intel CPU).

    That will be more bang for the bucks you spent. Either you buy iMac or Mini at over $1700, and you are still going to use external SSD as boot drive via TB3 then what matters to internal HDD or SSD size? Just stick to base configuration and upgrade only i7 6 core CPU.

    Don't forget, you get 5K 27' monitor built in iMac. Also if Apple still keep 4 RAM slot user upgrade on 2019 iMac then you should not buy Mini over $1700.

    If I configure 2018 mini passing $1299 then I rather buy 2019 iMac 27'. At least I can use original RAM+ upgrade module and don't need to buy eGPU either.

    if you are developer or professional job requires high end GPU then I suggest wait until Apple lunch new 2019 MacPRO.
    MacMini should be remain entry level "PRO" configuration. Not worth to spend over $1299.
    Myself, I wouldn't pay more than $1099 as base i3 to i7 upgrade only.

    I just saw replace ram module for 2018 mini, and if Apple just half inch thicker than 2017 mini, They could add PCI-E SSD module slot instead solder to board.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 134 of 152
    YP101 said:
    If anyone paying 2018 mini over $1700 then I suggest buy 2019 iMac(after Apple upgrade at least new intel CPU).

    That will be more bang for the bucks you spent.
    Your cost comparison assumes the 2019 iMac will be the same price after an upgrade. Given that every other Mac upgrade in the last year or so has come with a price increase, I don't think that's a safe assumption.

    YP101 said:
    Don't forget, you get 5K 27' monitor built in iMac.
    I doin't WANT a built-in display. My mini is on a shelf in the living room, feeding iTunes content to the Apple TV and transcoding video. I access it via Screen Sharing. A fancy 5K display adds cost for something I don't need or want. More importantly, an iMac is a great big box that requires a lot of space whereas the mini is a little one I can put just about anywhere.
  • Reply 135 of 152
    nhtnht Posts: 4,522member
    sirozha said:
    I believe that the quad-core i3 CPU in this Mac Mini has only four threads instead of eight threads; that is there’s only one thread per core. Please confirm that.

    If this is the case, the multi-threading performance of this i3 CPU should be inferior to the multithreading performance of the 2012 Mac Mini’s quad-core i7, which has eight threads (two threads per core).  
    This is wrong.  The strong single core performance of the i3 Mac mini means the 4 single threaded cores out performed the 4 hyper-threaded cores of the 2012 Core i7.  On single core performance the i7 mini is #2 on geek bench and the i3 outperformance many recent model Core i7 MBPs.

    The Core i3 mini (13773) is faster than the Core i5-7500 21.5" 2017 iMac (13700) and only a little behind the Late 2016 MBP with the i7-6820HQ (13829).

    The top Core i7 Mac Mini its #6 on the Mac Geekbench at 23762 ahead of the every Mac except for the 4 iMac Pro models and the 12 core Mac Pro.

    Folks claiming that the Mac mini is "overpriced" are on crack.  These little machines are fantastic for CPU oriented tasks.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 136 of 152
    nhtnht Posts: 4,522member
    With 2 TB3 controllers the new mini is a beast and wins the bang for the buck category for MacOS users.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 137 of 152
    nht said:
    With 2 TB3 controllers the new mini is a beast and wins the bang for the buck category for MacOS users.
    Earlier reports were ONE controller with two busses. Were they wrong? Do you have new information?
  • Reply 138 of 152
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,553administrator
    nht said:
    With 2 TB3 controllers the new mini is a beast and wins the bang for the buck category for MacOS users.
    Earlier reports were ONE controller with two busses. Were they wrong? Do you have new information?
    We do, yes. There are two TB3 controllers, and that makes the fourth piece of bad information Apple gave us on the demo floor at the event.
    vulpine
  • Reply 139 of 152
    nht said:
    With 2 TB3 controllers the new mini is a beast and wins the bang for the buck category for MacOS users.
    Earlier reports were ONE controller with two busses. Were they wrong? Do you have new information?
    We do, yes. There are two TB3 controllers, and that makes the fourth piece of bad information Apple gave us on the demo floor at the event.
    "Dear Apple: Thanks a lot. Sincerely, Appleinsider." LOL!

    I wonder if there's a way to determine which ports are tied to which buss? Then one could choose which ports to use to balance bandwidth requirements between devices that are demanding, like an eGPU, and those that can stand to share, like a RAID.
  • Reply 140 of 152
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,553administrator
    nht said:
    With 2 TB3 controllers the new mini is a beast and wins the bang for the buck category for MacOS users.
    Earlier reports were ONE controller with two busses. Were they wrong? Do you have new information?
    We do, yes. There are two TB3 controllers, and that makes the fourth piece of bad information Apple gave us on the demo floor at the event.
    "Dear Apple: Thanks a lot. Sincerely, Appleinsider." LOL!

    I wonder if there's a way to determine which ports are tied to which buss? Then one could choose which ports to use to balance bandwidth requirements between devices that are demanding, like an eGPU, and those that can stand to share, like a RAID.
    I can answer that question for you when mine arrives later today.
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