Compared: New Apple Silicon Mac mini versus Intel Mac Mini

2

Comments

  • Reply 21 of 48
    I'm trying to find out whether the new M1 Mac mini will support 2* Apple Thunderbolt displays. I'm coming to the conclusion that it won't, meaning it's a none-starter for me (I'm running a pair of Apple TB displays currently connected to a 2012 Mac mini server).

    Looking at the commentary so far it appears that only a single display (regardless of resolution) is supported over TB plus an additional display over HDMI (no use for a TB display).

    Anyone know if this is correct? Really need an upgrade at the moment, and the M1 looks really nice, but fear it's still a bit limited and am not sure investing in an Intel version makes much sense anymore.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 22 of 48
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,428administrator
    I'm trying to find out whether the new M1 Mac mini will support 2* Apple Thunderbolt displays. I'm coming to the conclusion that it won't, meaning it's a none-starter for me (I'm running a pair of Apple TB displays currently connected to a 2012 Mac mini server).

    Looking at the commentary so far it appears that only a single display (regardless of resolution) is supported over TB plus an additional display over HDMI (no use for a TB display).

    Anyone know if this is correct? Really need an upgrade at the moment, and the M1 looks really nice, but fear it's still a bit limited and am not sure investing in an Intel version makes much sense anymore.
    One display is all that is claimed, but we will be looking at it when we get our hands on one.
    spidersoft_ukwatto_cobrajdb8167beowulfschmidt
  • Reply 23 of 48
    k2kw said:
    beeble42 said:
    I'd like to see actual benchmark results, especially for graphics performance, including against a mac mini with an egpu with a reasonable card in it, like a vega64 or something. Saying the integrated graphics are 6 times faster than the previous intel one is fine, but that isn't a particularly high bar when you're removing any option of more powerful gpu technology which the previous one had. The new integrated gpu is competing (from a performance perspective) against the fastest gpu you could get in an egpu box that was supported by the previous model. I doubt the new model is actually faster than that, but it may well be fast enough to beat a moderate egpu setup, and without the expense, meaning a win for Apple. Or maybe it isn't and people will wait longer to upgrade until performance catches up to what they're leaving behind. Or switch platforms.
    Without the eGPU support this feels unfinished.   More like 0.8 version.   And why can’t they have 32 or 64 GB RAM .   Step backwards.   Are they trying for it to be no so successful.
    I thought about this as I was also bothered by the 16gb limit. In theory the benefit of an SoC may lead to memory being so fast that the ‘swapping’ in case of no more free memory may not be so much of a problem as before, and therefore less memory could be fine. 

    This is just a theory; this is a multitasking platform after all, with multiple apps running fully at the same time (as opposed to iOS/iPadOS where multitasking works differently). Curious about the benchmarks!
    I think the 16 GB limit will be an issue for some users. I think the 13" MacBook Pro is the most obvious example of this. But there may be some mitigations for this issue.  1st, unified memory, a really fast SSD and compression/decompression on the SoC may make this easier for some applications.  But users who need more for larger memory tasks will either want to wait or continue to buy the Intel model for the meantime.

    As for me, I've been looking to buy a Mac mini to replace my household media server (Plex, iTunes, Roon), which is an ancient 2008 Mac Pro hacked to run Catalina. I cannot take that machine any further and even the current Intel Mac mini will runs rings around it. The ASi Mac Mini is faster still and being a media server, I can probably live with 16 GB of memory (the 2008 Mac Pro is a 16GB machine). Given that it sits in the basement, I don't care about graphics performance.

    One thing about all this is I'm wondering how many SKUs are there of the initial M1 chip?  It looks like there are only 2 right now.....a 8 GB chip and a 16 GB chip. The 7 GPU entry level MacBook Air model I'm betting is just a deactivated GPU unit in firmware. Any other differences just depend on the thermal profile depending on if the chip is sitting in an Air (no fan) or the MBP or Mini (fan and bigger fan+AC power respectively). 

    Apple moved to PCI 4.0 with this architecture.  That got lost in the shuffle of other news.

    As we look toward future models, next stop would be the 16" MBP and the iMacs (non-Pro).  Both of those machines will need higher performance options....either an M1X with options (I hope) up to 64 GB of RAM, comparable SSDs to the Intel versions (8 TB is the top end right now) and even faster graphics to keep up with the AMD options users had.  Like the Mini and 13" MBP, I would expect the Intel versions of both machines would stick around for at least a year for corporate customers or customers will specific certification issues.  One issue will be if the unified SoC memory model will keep the larger iMac from upgradable memory.

    Lastly, the iMac Pro and Mac Pro should be the last ones upgraded, next year at this time at the earliest but probably 2022.  I expect something radical from Apple on this one considering the customers who buy these products. They will want the moon and Apple will have to deliver.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 24 of 48
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 598member
    Thinking about this some more, the 16 GB RAM limitation is clearly about on-package RAM. Apple apparently decided two Thunderbolt ports and on-package RAM was great for the MacBook Air and 13" MacBook Pro with two Thunderbolt ports. Sure, I can see that.

    They also introduced it in a new Mini with better performance, but limitations. Only two Thunderbolt ports. Only 16 GB of RAM.

    I think the next chip to be introduced (M1 Pro?) will be one with
    1. More cores
    2. Four Thunderbolt ports
    3. Some external PCIe
    4. External RAM
    Still with an integrated GPU. I think it will be introduced with updates to the 13" MacBook Pro with four Thunderbolt ports, the 16" MacBook Pro, the 21.5" iMac, and maybe a higher-end Mini with four Thunderbolt ports.

    The M1 only needs about as many pins as a phone chip has. Drops the multi-camera array and Face ID, adds the Thunderbolt ports, some USB, and RGMII. Same ballpark. The features I described above would need around 40% more pins. I think the four Thunderbolt variant is waiting on larger packaging which supports the pin counts needed for the added features.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 25 of 48
    I'm trying to find out whether the new M1 Mac mini will support 2* Apple Thunderbolt displays. I'm coming to the conclusion that it won't, meaning it's a none-starter for me (I'm running a pair of Apple TB displays currently connected to a 2012 Mac mini server).

    Looking at the commentary so far it appears that only a single display (regardless of resolution) is supported over TB plus an additional display over HDMI (no use for a TB display).

    Anyone know if this is correct? Really need an upgrade at the moment, and the M1 looks really nice, but fear it's still a bit limited and am not sure investing in an Intel version makes much sense anymore.
    One display is all that is claimed, but we will be looking at it when we get our hands on one.
    Thanks Mike, I'll be waiting for that information less than patiently!! :-).

    I'm quite eager to upgrade my slightly ageing 2012 model, albeit it's got an SSD in it (nowhere near as quick as the latest generation ones) and the 2.3Ghz quad core i7. Would love to get the M1 edition, max out the SSD and bump to 16GB RAM as I expect that would be a noticeable step up. But can't do that if I can only drive one of the Thunderbolt displays - if that's the case then I'd likely wait, rather than buy what is essentially a 3 year old Intel.

    Will be waiting for the update :-).
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 26 of 48
    I have the fully loaded BTO i7 Model and have ordered a fully loaded ARM Mac mini. 
    When I get a chance to benchmark I will happily post them.

    The only thing I wonder about is why they returned to the silver case.

    I will be keeping both of them, I imagine the Core i7 with 16GB should make a pretty nice Windows Machine.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 27 of 48
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,428administrator
    I'm trying to find out whether the new M1 Mac mini will support 2* Apple Thunderbolt displays. I'm coming to the conclusion that it won't, meaning it's a none-starter for me (I'm running a pair of Apple TB displays currently connected to a 2012 Mac mini server).

    Looking at the commentary so far it appears that only a single display (regardless of resolution) is supported over TB plus an additional display over HDMI (no use for a TB display).

    Anyone know if this is correct? Really need an upgrade at the moment, and the M1 looks really nice, but fear it's still a bit limited and am not sure investing in an Intel version makes much sense anymore.
    One display is all that is claimed, but we will be looking at it when we get our hands on one.
    Thanks Mike, I'll be waiting for that information less than patiently!! :-).

    I'm quite eager to upgrade my slightly ageing 2012 model, albeit it's got an SSD in it (nowhere near as quick as the latest generation ones) and the 2.3Ghz quad core i7. Would love to get the M1 edition, max out the SSD and bump to 16GB RAM as I expect that would be a noticeable step up. But can't do that if I can only drive one of the Thunderbolt displays - if that's the case then I'd likely wait, rather than buy what is essentially a 3 year old Intel.

    Will be waiting for the update :-).
    It's one on HDMI, and one on USB-C.

    https://appleinsider.com/articles/20/11/11/how-apple-silicon-on-a-m1-mac-changes-monitor-support-and-what-you-can-connect
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 28 of 48
    samrodsamrod Posts: 48unconfirmed, member
    cloudguy said:
    "Now the RAM is what Apple calls unified memory ..."

    Unified memory was invented and named by Nvidia - back in 2013 - and is a widely known and used technology. So their options for calling it something else were a bit constrained. 
    Not sure why Nvidia would claim to have invented or named a technology that's been around since the last century, but I first saw Unified Memory Architecture when SGI introduced it in the O2 workstation back in 1996.
    dewmewatto_cobrajdb8167
  • Reply 29 of 48
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,680member
    Seems that we should b seeing the last version of the intel mac mini starting at about $400 shortly.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 30 of 48
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,428administrator
    eightzero said:
    Seems that we should b seeing the last version of the intel mac mini starting at about $400 shortly.
    Apple is still selling a higher-end version of the Intel one for over $1000.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 31 of 48
    I've ordered the base M1 Mac mini, with 8gb ram and a 256gb SSD. I got it with educational pricing from the UK Apple Store for £628 inc. I'm actually quite excited to be buying in at launch... I'm usually several years behind in my tech (I'm still rocking an iPhone 6s Plus!) but felt like I wanted to jump in and be an early-adopting guinea pig for a change.

    I'm going to be comparing it to my Mac mini (2018) base i3 model with a 128gb SSD, that I've upgraded to 32gb RAM myself (somewhat of an overkill for me really, but the RAM was cheap!).  I've also added an external USB-C 512Gb NVMe SSD for my files. I currently have this little beastie plugged into an Iiyama 32" 4K monitor via a Razer Core X eGPU with a Radeon RX580.

    I only bought the i3 mini a few months back in a sale at a UK electrical store for £499 (reduced from £799). I picked up the eGPU and Radeon card secondhand on Ebay for under £300 total not long after. This combo replaced a self-built gaming PC I got bored with and a lowly 12" MacBook that wasn't cutting the mustard any more.

    I mostly use it for homeworking: web development, some Adobe graphics stuff, some light video editing, music production, and a bit of casual game dev... Oh, and casual gaming too. I did try Bootcamping but it proved to be a pain with the limited internal SSD and I couldn't get the eGPU working under Windows 10 properly, so sacked it off.

    I've not really been fully utilising the eGPU... I'd rather leave it turned off most of the time because it can be a bit noisy even at idle (compared to the virtually silent Mac mini, anyway), but I find I have to leave it plugged in or else the macOS UI can be really sluggish using the crappy Intel UHD 630 integrated GPU at 4K, and it's really temperamental swapping between the internal and external graphics as well. 

    If the M1 Mac mini proves as good as the Intel for general stuff, works okay with the apps I use, and handles the UI, graphics and video better than the UHD 630 crap, then I'll be flogging my 'old' Intel variant and the eGPU. Hopefully it will work with my Epson EcoTank printer and generic HD webcam too! As for gaming, I could imagine that the M1 graphics will handle the sort of stuff I play okay, but if not then I'm not too bothered really... I've got a PS4, and am considering upgrading to a PS5 when they are readily available and aren't being put on Ebay for 3 times their price by scummy scalpers!

    Anyway, the signs all point to the M1 blowing the i3 out of the water.... and taking on the more powerful Intel variants too.


    edited November 2020 watto_cobrarazorpit
  • Reply 32 of 48
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,653member
    beeble42 said:
    I'd like to see actual benchmark results, especially for graphics performance, including against a mac mini with an egpu with a reasonable card in it, like a vega64 or something. Saying the integrated graphics are 6 times faster than the previous intel one is fine, but that isn't a particularly high bar when you're removing any option of more powerful gpu technology which the previous one had. The new integrated gpu is competing (from a performance perspective) against the fastest gpu you could get in an egpu box that was supported by the previous model. I doubt the new model is actually faster than that, but it may well be fast enough to beat a moderate egpu setup, and without the expense, meaning a win for Apple. Or maybe it isn't and people will wait longer to upgrade until performance catches up to what they're leaving behind. Or switch platforms.
    The new mini is NOT competing against mini with egpu.  There is no intent on Apple’s part.  They were very clear to specify in the announcement that they were comparing the graphics performance with computers with integrated graphics.   Very few people run egpu systems and Apple is not competing against them.  The new mini is for the masses, not the few power users with egpu, 64gb ram, many screens, and a tone of TB peripherals.  (I sympathize with such users as my iMac is maxed RAM, a few TB docks/expansions/disks and 2 external screens in addition to the internal screen — just that is not yet who Apple is aiming for with their new M1 machines).  When we get M2 or M3 we’ll see them also aiming for the power user. 
    watto_cobraDetnatorjernaugurgeh
  • Reply 33 of 48
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,653member
    I am guessing the reason egpu is not supported is related to drivers.  Apple is not shipping AMD drivers for Apple Silicon and doesn’t use a default firmware that speaks VGA etc.  with proper drivers added they would probably work.  Just a guess.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 34 of 48
    I'll guess that over 90% of users of MacBooks (I'm sure Apple has a fairly good idea what percent it is) don't use any of the TB ports, so even two TB is two TB too many. 
  • Reply 35 of 48
    flydog said:
    k2kw said:
    beeble42 said:
    I'd like to see actual benchmark results, especially for graphics performance, including against a mac mini with an egpu with a reasonable card in it, like a vega64 or something. Saying the integrated graphics are 6 times faster than the previous intel one is fine, but that isn't a particularly high bar when you're removing any option of more powerful gpu technology which the previous one had. The new integrated gpu is competing (from a performance perspective) against the fastest gpu you could get in an egpu box that was supported by the previous model. I doubt the new model is actually faster than that, but it may well be fast enough to beat a moderate egpu setup, and without the expense, meaning a win for Apple. Or maybe it isn't and people will wait longer to upgrade until performance catches up to what they're leaving behind. Or switch platforms.
    Without the eGPU support this feels unfinished.   More like 0.8 version.   And why can’t they have 32 or 64 GB RAM .   Step backwards.   Are they trying for it to be no so successful.
    Why on earth would anyone buy a $700 entry level computer and then spend at least $1,000 to add an eGPU. 
    Because the $700 entry level computer has more than enough performance in every metric GPU constrained workload except in the GPU. You end up paying around $2-2.5k either way but without the sleek form factor or the upgradability. And you get to pick your own display configuration rather than have to accept one of your displays be the size and resolution that Apple specify and the other's not match or line up. I'd really like a 48" wide aspect screen and a Mac mini with an egpu would make that possible. Should I use a 27" imac and put it on the floor and just lose all the performance from it drawing on a screen I don't want?

    The Mac Mini plus an external PCIe enclosure meets the "Mac Tower" needs of most of people. The Mac Pro is overkill, in compute and massive overkill in price for most people who need more graphics performance than what Apple have traditionally offered or numerous other PCIe needs. It's a workstation, for an entirely different purpose, and in that space it's a great package at a reasonable price.

    The increase compared to Intels integrated offering is welcome, but it's a very low bar. 6 times nothing is still nothing. That's why I'd like to see some benchmarks to quantify if this increase really offsets for loss of egpu for my use case. If it doesn't, I can wait and see if Apple's integrated gpu ever catches up to other gpu vendors (they may eventually, but it's taken a decade to catch up to Intel on CPU), I can buy a PC and deal with all the pain and annoyance that would involve or I can stay on my existing Mac and rent screen share time on a PC which is less annoying than option 2 but eventually more expensive. None of those three options involve a sale for Apple. Two of them involve sales for other companies.
  • Reply 36 of 48
    k2kw said:
    beeble42 said:
    I'd like to see actual benchmark results, especially for graphics performance, including against a mac mini with an egpu with a reasonable card in it, like a vega64 or something. Saying the integrated graphics are 6 times faster than the previous intel one is fine, but that isn't a particularly high bar when you're removing any option of more powerful gpu technology which the previous one had. The new integrated gpu is competing (from a performance perspective) against the fastest gpu you could get in an egpu box that was supported by the previous model. I doubt the new model is actually faster than that, but it may well be fast enough to beat a moderate egpu setup, and without the expense, meaning a win for Apple. Or maybe it isn't and people will wait longer to upgrade until performance catches up to what they're leaving behind. Or switch platforms.
    Without the eGPU support this feels unfinished.   More like 0.8 version.   And why can’t they have 32 or 64 GB RAM .   Step backwards.   Are they trying for it to be no so successful.
    You're overthinking it.  And you are stuck with your ISA glasses on.  Unified memory is just a buzzword, but what it actually means is the the memory interface is not nearly as constrained as with the ISA, both in width and depth.  Ditto the GPU.

    This is a deeply impressive piece of silicon. Granted it's an 8th-generation design (since the 64 bit Cyclone), but the Firestorm microarchitecture is extremely impressive compared to those of AMD and Intel.  A few examples:
    1) 8-wide decode block (2x AMD, Intel a 1-4); 
    2) 192KB L1 cache (6x Intel , 3x AMD), with a 3-cycle latency (Intel 5-cycle, AMD, 4-cycle);
    3) Re-order Buffer; 600+ instructions (!!!) = Intel Sunny Cove 320, AMD Zen 3 - 256;
    4) 4x FADDs and 4x FMULs per cycle with 3 and 4 cycles latency. 4x Intel, 2x Zen 3.

    There is a bunch of other stuff that the tech sites are unpicking, but as I said, Apple would not BS the numbers, as they have WAY too much to lose.  I expect that you will find the opposite in actual fact, that the chip performers better than expected.  Yes, really.

    Note to the author of the article, you need to make clear that the M1 chip is NOT the same in the MBA as the Mini.  The use of the fan in the MBP and Mini speaks to a different implementation philosophy so you would expect that the M1 is engineered in the MBP and Mini to have higher wattage, 
    which means that the performance will be better on the cooled platforms.
    jdb8167philboogie
  • Reply 37 of 48
    I thought about this as I was also bothered by the 16gb limit. In theory the benefit of an SoC may lead to memory being so fast that the ‘swapping’ in case of no more free memory may not be so much of a problem as before, and therefore less memory could be fine. 

    This is just a theory; this is a multitasking platform after all, with multiple apps running fully at the same time (as opposed to iOS/iPadOS where multitasking works differently). Curious about the benchmarks!
    I think it's pretty clear - if you want more memory, buy the Intel part.  If you want more CPU, and can live within 16GB, buy the M1 part.  
    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that an M2 is on the horizon for the iMac, and 16" MBP - but at the moment, buy what fits your requirements.  I'm still quite happy with my 16GB 16" MBP, which has lower single thread performance than my iPhone 11Pro...
  • Reply 38 of 48
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,471member
    I have a suspicion we are all going to be surprised at how much less RAM is needed with Apple's new technologies to achieve as good or better results.  Everyone is judging the M1 by what just could be old school Intel thinking.
  • Reply 39 of 48
    MacPro said:
    I have a suspicion we are all going to be surprised at how much less RAM is needed with Apple's new technologies to achieve as good or better results.  Everyone is judging the M1 by what just could be old school Intel thinking.
    Outside of very fast memory compression and fast swap, what could Apple do to reduce memory requirements? I’ve seen people compare it to the iPhone versus Android but that doesn’t track. Android uses garbage collection (GC) which is far less memory efficient than Apple’s automatic reference counting (ARC). 

    I can’t come up with any reason to think that memory intensive apps will have their requirements lessened because of a CPU architecture. 
    anonconformist
  • Reply 40 of 48
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,471member
    jdb8167 said:
    MacPro said:
    I have a suspicion we are all going to be surprised at how much less RAM is needed with Apple's new technologies to achieve as good or better results.  Everyone is judging the M1 by what just could be old school Intel thinking.
    Outside of very fast memory compression and fast swap, what could Apple do to reduce memory requirements? I’ve seen people compare it to the iPhone versus Android but that doesn’t track. Android uses garbage collection (GC) which is far less memory efficient than Apple’s automatic reference counting (ARC). 

    I can’t come up with any reason to think that memory intensive apps will have their requirements lessened because of a CPU architecture. 
    The answer is probably that professional, more memory-intensive apps will have to wait for the next M chips but for the vast majority of users, these first-gen Macs will perform far better than similar priced Intel machines fitted with more RAM.  That is what I was trying to say.
Sign In or Register to comment.