Thursday, November 8, 2018

Mac mini 2018

Jason Snell:

In the intervening 13 years, the Mac mini has become something different. As the one Mac without a built-in monitor that isn’t an expensive and large Mac Pro, it’s become a bit of a Swiss army knife, fitting as a tiny Internet or file server (I’ve had a Mac mini running in my house more or less constantly for more than a decade), running lights and audio in theaters and at rock concerts, and thousands of other small niches that are vitally important for the people who live in them.


Apple has witnessed how the Mac mini has gone from being the best Mac it could build for $499 to one that’s a vital tool for professional and home users in a variety of contexts. And so, after a long time in the wilderness, the Mac mini has at last been updated—the right way. The last time the Mac mini got updated, Apple took away the highest-end configurations. This time, the Mac mini has been built with those many niche uses in mind.


This update allows it to span a wide range from basic server needs all the way up to high-end applications that require a great deal of processor power, fast storage, ultra-fast networking, and even beyond (via Thunderbolt 3). The high-end configurations might actually provide enough power for people to consider them over buying the Mac Pro, whenever it comes out.

Marco Arment (video):

It’s the same size as the old one, which is the right tradeoff. I know zero Mac Mini owners who really need it to get smaller, and many who don’t want it to get fewer ports or worse performance.


The base price has increased to $800, and that’s not great. It’s partly justifiable because it’s much higher-end than before — the processors are much better, the architecture is higher-end and includes big advances like the T2, and all-SSD is standard — but it’s still an expensive product in absolute terms.


Geekbench results are very strong. The i7 Mac Mini scored better on single-core performance than every other Mac today (!) at 5912, and its multi-core score of nearly 24,740 beats every Mac to date except the iMac Pro and the old 12-core 2013 Mac Pro.


And since every T2 so far performs identically, all T2 machines — from the 2018 MacBook Air to the iMac Pro — encode HEVC this way at the same speed, and all in complete silence because they’re barely touching the CPU.

Rene Ritchie:

Tom Boger is Sr. Director of Mac Product Marketing at Apple. I had the pleasure of sitting down with him and talking about the past, present, and future of the Mac.

Wojtek Pietrusiewicz:

The new Mac Mini has an option to upgrade to 2 TB of flash storage. The upgrade from 128 GB costs 1600 USD. You can buy a faster Samsung 970 Evo M.2 drive for 500-600 USD — that’s around three times cheaper. The price difference between the two is even larger in Europe — Samsung’s M.2 drive is over four times cheaper in Poland, for example.

Kyle Bradbury:

New #apple #macmini ram upgrade notes:

1. Need a TR6 to remove antenna plate
2. Chassis needs to be removed from body
3. Memory is under a cage and the spring loaded arms are hiding under rubber covers
4. 8gb config came with 2x4gb SO-DIMMS

I’d recommend having an authorized service provider do this unless you are very comfortable with this sort of thing.

Brandon Geekabit:

How to take apart/disassemble the new late (November) 2018 Mac Mini, and looking at what we can upgrade. Only the RAM is user upgradable/serviceable in this generation Mac Mini.

See also: MacRumors.

Previously: October 2018 Apple Event.

Update (2018-11-12): Brian Stucki:

The documents for the new Mac mini were just released. Includes the Essentials, the Quick Start and the Info Guide. Also includes this picture of the Retina display that Apple should definitely make and sell.

Nick Heer:

The biggest downside to the new Mac Mini, to my eyes, is that there are simply no good Thunderbolt 5K displays out there. That market just doesn’t exist yet.

See also: Rich Stevens, Hacker News, Apple.

Update (2018-11-13): Paul Haddad:

Assuming best CPU, ignoring GPU. Mini significantly faster than any iMac (non Pro) and the MBP 13”, non noticeably faster than the 15”.

Update (2018-11-21): Paul Haddad:

It’s here.


Mini i7 vs Mac Pro 12 core @3.33 with NVMe boot

TB Mac Archive build:
53s vs 94s

TB iOS clean build + simulator startup/launch:
26s vs 43s

TB iOS 1 file recompile to simulator re-launch”
5.5s vs 7.5s

RIP Cheese Grater, you’ve served me well!

Update (2018-11-26): Peter Bright (via Andrew Grant):

The Mac mini does nothing out of the ordinary here. Thermal management seems good—I couldn’t provoke any serious thermal throttling issues—but the performance peak just isn’t as high as it would be with a desktop chip or a discrete GPU. SSD performance is good, though.


It’s the machine Apple is pushing for a range of usage scenarios, and while it might be the best fit for at least some of them, it’s never a great fit.

So, for example, Apple suggests using the Mac mini for build and render farms. If you’re writing software for macOS or iOS then fair enough; it’s the smallest Mac by far, so it’s probably the one to use in your build farm. But if you were designing a machine to go into a build farm, you probably wouldn’t come up with the Mac mini.


The Mac mini represents an enormous compromise. It’s rarely, if ever, going to be the best form factor for any given role. Hell, it doesn’t even have “cheap” going for it this time around, really: the 2014 version at launch had a base price of $499. The hike to $799 represents astonishingly bad value. Though spec-wise the new machine is unambiguously superior to the old one, it’s by no means a high-end machine. It simply scratches one crucial itch: you’re wedded somehow to the macOS ecosystem and need a computer.


It’s the Mac you buy when you know you need to buy a Mac… and you’ve already ruled out all the other systems Apple has on offer.

Update (2018-11-28): See also: Hacker News.

Update (2018-11-29): Colin Cornaby:

One theory on why Apple doesn’t seem to want to really redesign the Mac Mini: A lot of us users with a lot of Mac Minis have custom mounting or racking solutions. Messing with the form factor in the slightest could mess with that.

Update (2018-12-19): See also: Lloyd Chambers.

Update (2018-12-23): Lloyd Chambers:

Adobe has made progress in using CPU cores over the past several years, so this test shows that the 2018 Mac mini and its six CPU cores offer a substantial advantage of the 2017 iMac 5K with its 4 CPU cores.

Update (2019-01-28): Marcel Weiher:

Speaking of Mac Mini 2018: was having problems with my Apple Bluetooth Mouse and the new Mini. <search interwebs> Apparently, it’s a shielding problem with the outermost USB-A port, which was connected in my case. Rearranged to leave it empty, seems to have cured it. 🤦‍♂️

Update (2019-04-08): Lloyd Chambers:

Readers might remember that in my review of the 2018 Mac mini I noted some display syncing issues with NEC displays. While I’m no longer having issues and 10.14.4 seems to have helped (unclear if all issues resolved for all users), it seems that Thunderbolt 3 is flawed on the 2018 Mac mini.

Issue: bus-powered Thunderbolt 3 devices connected directly to the 2018 Mac mini spontaneously disconnect.

6 Comments RSS · Twitter

David B Lection

Where is a good place to ask a technical question about the USB C / Thunderbolt ports on the new Mac Mini? I plugged in two different USB C drives into the USB C ports on my new Mac Mini, but the Mac did not recognize them. Any thoughs?

Pricey? Yes.

But I took the plunge and I’m pretty happy with my box. I’m kind of looking at it through the frame of it being a really squished modern-day PowerMac G4 tower (equivalent).

I spec’d mind out to about $1.5k, which is in line with the prices of the old PowerMac line.

The performance is great for my uses, and it’s performs so well beyond the retina MBP it replaced that I actually enjoy sitting in front of it to do work.

Overall, I’m really happy that this product line got refreshed. I was seriously considering hackintosh or Windows.

For the price you paid, your vendor should be able to answer the question (hr hr)

Generally MacOS seems to have problems with detecting external drives reliably. I have to turn my TimeMachine drive on and off, so that it gets recognized. Not quite the Apple experience I would expect.
I like the Mac Mini (have one) but the RAM and SSD prices Apple asks are **** ridiculous. For a 2TB NVM SSD I pay retail < 500EUR, Apple asks +1200 EUR! 64 GB DDR4 on the free market is ~550 EUR, Apple wants +€1000. And I am sure Tim Apple doesn't pay retail prices.

Forgot to add @David B Lection.

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