Mac mini (2018) analisis
The rumors that preceded the first Mac mini were so accurate that no one believed them. I remember those years as the age of discoveries in the world of computing, and a real moment of recovery for a full-fledged Apple on the iPod. «Hey! That computer you’re using is my mp3 brand!»
The popularity of the iPod made people look up at the Macs but they were so far removed from the «traditional» PC concept that you could plug in anywhere, they end up attracting a few. Crazy people, you know. The rest only had the Reference of the PowerMac G5 but it was too expensive to test the jump. the iMacs involved not reusing anything they used on their current computer. If they got iPods the size of a deck of cards, what if the Macs were the size of a CD drive?
On January 11, 2005, Steve Jobs introduced the Mac mini as the logical consequence of calling users who were interested for the platform but wanted a sign that that was the way. This first version was released with switchers in mind and those in doubt, and for many people, it was the first Mac and its gateway to Apple’s world. And we get to 2018, and when you enter the Apple website about this new product, this new version of that idea, the sense is the opposite. Welcome to the Mac Pro mini, which we’ll call from now on Mac mini.
-The Mac mini appeared as a switcher-oriented product at the height of the iPod’s success but has become much more-
A little story about its design
The exterior design of the Mac mini is exactly the same as the previous generation. But the company didn’t want it to be like this. Apple was looking for a more radical, perhaps more minimalist design – we’d never know for sure, the truth – but it asked users who used these machines the most than they thought the idea was. «Don’t change it.
Apple listened to them and promised not to touch the outer dimensions, but if you’ve updated the connections and connectivity possibilities that any Mac mini as standard had to offer. One connection cable without an external adapter, one Gigabit Ethernet port (with 10 Gb Ethernet configuration option, by the way), four Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, one HDMI port, two USB 3 ports (perfect for those «old» peripherals) 3.5mm headphones.
All of them make this the perfect Mac for almost any peripheral, monitor or external system that we want to connect, as soon as we leave the box. And it is also worth talking about another redesign, less visible but very important: the cooling system. It has been completely created from scratch with a larger fan that produces less noise if it gets up and running and features wider ventilation slots from the base circle to the body to extract heat from the box.
Even the internal power supply has been changed to take advantage of the air convection flows and cooling of the entire system. The result is an incredibly quiet Mac mini, with very occasional occasions where the fan gets going – and yet, it’s discreet. Simply put, the next generations of the Mac mini may be smaller, but for now, this design is perfectly appropriate.
Mac mini + LG UltraFine 5K
If we have a monitor we can connect this Mac mini to it without problems, but if we also want to renew it and we choose to aim for a 5K model, this computer supports wonders like the LG UltraFine 5K 27″ – a fantastic monitor from LG that has the welcome d and Apple that even sell in their own stores.
It has a resolution of 5120×2880 that the Mac mini moves with complete ease, connecting it with the Thunderbolt 3 USB-C interface the monitor will become a hub that will provide us with three additional USB-C ports to connect more peripherals. It has an integrated camera for video conferencing, ambient light sensor, microphone and speakers, so we’ll have almost everything we need ready just when we connect the Mac mini to it without having to configure anything.
The panel offers the P3 color gamut – the standard of the Hollywood film industry – and nothing more than 14.7 million pixels. It has varying degrees of orientation and has support for VESA media. The tests of the Mac mini with this monitor were perfect, not a single slowdown or malfunction – this is surely one of the best 5K monitors that you can buy on the market (1399 euros in the Apple Store).
Powered Mac mini
Apple has spared no options for this Mac, with good starting points in the basic models – perhaps 8 GB of RAM are the weakest point for this type of machine, in any case. We start from two base configurations, the 3.6Ghz quad-core Core i3 model with 128 GB and the six-core Core i5 model at 3 GHz with 256 GB of storages. Both options can be uploaded to a six-core Intel Core i7 at 3.2. All Intel processors are eighth generation, based on the Coffee Lake microarchitecture. This is precisely the model we have analyzed.
The power of the computer for a professional job is more than assured. You can work with video editing, photo editing or sound editing with ease and with up to three external monitors at the same time. The graphics have no change or update options, it is an Intel UHD Graphics 630 that will allow you to play in 720p with the low/medium configuration in next generation games.
-The best option to upgrade is to increase the capacity of the hard drive because it also improves its write speed. The RAM is user-expandable and can be done any time.
If you need to work with 4K streams my advice would obviously point to the Core i7 model instead of expanding the RAM, improve the internal hard drive. This is for two reasons: the RAM is updatable by the user since it uses DDR4 SO-DIMM memory at 2666 Mhz, the same one that you can find for any PC – so you can start with a low amount and improve if you need more. The internal hard drive can be supplemented with an external hard drive, but if we use the internal for the operating system, the PCIe SSDs work better the greater the amount of storage in terms of write speed.
The reading on all models is 2GB/s, but the write varies from 600MB/s for the 128GB model, the 1.3GB/s for 256GB, 1.9GB/s for 512GB and 2.6GB/s for 1TB. My minimum purchase option if we need to move a lot of data in video with heavy files (type 4K) and where the transfer speed is important, would be the 256GB model at best for this reason.
As an extra, the ability to combine multiple Mac minis into parallel processing farms gives you an important life in the sense of enlargement: we can start with a couple of minis for our rendering needs – for example – and expand the system as we grow in need. If you plan to use them as part of a network, I recommend investing in the 10G Ethernet interface, but only if you are going to use it on a regular basis in the professional field with large working files. For home, an office, or even a small occasional parallel work network, Gigabit Ethernet will be more than enough.
Chip T2, an unexpected co-pilot
As we have seen in the latest Apple devices, the T2 chip makes its appearance and in this case is not to use Touch ID (since the mini lacks it), but it still controls also the security and digital image process and sound settings , freeing the processor from these tasks.
It is also important to have this chip on a machine like this that we can target for the professional market, since it encrypts with cryptographic key the files necessary to boot the Mac and prevents anyone from accessing or modifying them. Another important point is that it is capable of encoding and decoding in real time files encoded with FileVault, so that transfer times will not be impacted by this even if we have this security measure activated.
A Pros-ready Mac mini switcher
It started out as a Trojan horse for those who wanted to try the Mac and has now become a product for those who want to consolidate within the brand. This reinvention of the Mac mini doesn’t abandon the idea of the input Mac for anyone who wants to get started, but it has options for anyone who wants to take it very seriously.
The basic entry model, as is, has a reasonable price – 899 o – for a measured product and thought daily performance at home or in the office, and more complex sporadic work. With 350 more, we’ll have a six-core Core i7 that will give us extra power if we’re going to use it in high-load computational applications. As an improvement point, my recommendation is that you go to the 256GB of SSD storage for 240 euros more from the basic model, rather than aiming for the i7. If you’re interested in both, you’d better start with the 1249-degree model that includes the two as standard.
Whether you’re going to use it as a home-use computer or as an office server, this Mac mini and its connection and expansion capabilities make it tremendously interesting within Apple’s current range of desktop computers – also mostly because of its network size and its easy transport. It is still the smallest Mac of all that Apple has created, but without a doubt the one that has the most aspirations for its possibilities.