2018 Mac Mini Owners Thread

JohnRice

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I thought I'd start a thread for people who have gotten the new Mac Mini. I ordered mine today. It's a custom configuration, with the i7 processor, so it's going to take an extra day or two, but I should have it next week. Even though Apple's memory prices annoy me, I still went ahead and got the 256GB SSD, since that can't be changed. I'll be bumping the RAM from 8GB to 32GB. I'd love to do 64GB, but 32GB dimms are just too expensive.
 
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Cameron Yee

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With my new monitor and the hood, I've been calling it "Darth." :D

I'll also eventually update to 32GB RAM, but I'm curious to see how 8GB does for a time.

I went with the 128GB SSD and don't foresee needing more than that for system and applications I'm using. My former machine had a lot of cruft applications going back to the first generation Macbook, so it feels good to start fresh and installing only the applications I use regularly now.
 
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DavidJ

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Following in the hopes that I’m able to join, but in the meantime I look forward to hearing your experiences.
 

Dave Scarpa

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currently I’m running an 2011 I5 iMac with 12gb, I browse, and mainly use it for a Plex server. I do use it occasionally for encoding DVD’s and blu rays for Plex, the iMac is slowly giving up the ghost. I’m wondering how well a stock mini with the I3 would serve as a replacement ? I’d rather the I5 but wondering if I could save the $300. How well would the base encode DVD's and Blu Rays using Handbrake for plex
 

DaveF

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currently I’m running an 2011 I5 iMac with 12gb, I browse, and mainly use it for a Plex server. I do use it occasionally for encoding DVD’s and blu rays for Plex, the iMac is slowly giving up the ghost. I’m wondering how well a stock mini with the I3 would serve as a replacement ? I’d rather the I5 but wondering if I could save the $300. How well would the base encode DVD's and Blu Rays using Handbrake for plex
As a server, an i3 is fine. Many HTPC builds I've seen recommend going with a low power i3 for a silent server build. If you're doing a lot of transcoding, the i3 is not as a good as the i5 -- though if you can use the IGP with settings for Intel's integrated encoding, then the i3 will be much less of a hindrance. Handbrake supports this feature; it can be a 5x to 10x speedup over just CPU transcoding in my experience.

And my recommendation remains: storage is cheap, so don't transcode media to lower quality when you don't need to. :)
 

JohnRice

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though if you can use the IGP with settings for Intel's integrated encoding, then the i3 will be much less of a hindrance. Handbrake supports this feature; it can be a 5x to 10x speedup over just CPU transcoding in my experience.
Dave, where do you set that in Handbrake?
 

Thomas Newton

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currently I’m running an 2011 I5 iMac with 12gb, I browse, and mainly use it for a Plex server. I do use it occasionally for encoding DVD’s and blu rays for Plex, the iMac is slowly giving up the ghost. I’m wondering how well a stock mini with the I3 would serve as a replacement ? I’d rather the I5 but wondering if I could save the $300. How well would the base encode DVD's and Blu Rays using Handbrake for plex
I'm not sure how much this helps, but currently, the top Geekbench 4 multi-core score for a quad-core Core i3 Mini is 15036. For the six-core Core i5 Mini, it is 22681. For the six-core Core i7 Mini, it is 27824. For a 27" 2011 Core i5 iMac, it is 11316.

So say you had an encoding job that took 80 minutes on the iMac. It might take 60 minutes on the Core i3 Mini, 40 minutes on the Core i5 Mini, or 32 minutes on the Core i7 Mini.

These are VERY wild guesses that assume that the encoding is CPU-bound and that your encoding application makes efficient use of all of your cores. Take them with a grain of salt.
 

JohnRice

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currently I’m running an 2011 I5 iMac with 12gb, I browse, and mainly use it for a Plex server. I do use it occasionally for encoding DVD’s and blu rays for Plex, the iMac is slowly giving up the ghost. I’m wondering how well a stock mini with the I3 would serve as a replacement ? I’d rather the I5 but wondering if I could save the $300. How well would the base encode DVD's and Blu Rays using Handbrake for plex
Referring back to Thomas' post, Handbrake takes advantage of the hyperthreading in the i7, so I suspect upgrading the base i3 model to an i7, which keeps the 128GB SSD (which should be plenty) might be your best bang for the buck.
 

Dave Scarpa

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Referring back to Thomas' post, Handbrake takes advantage of the hyperthreading in the i7, so I suspect upgrading the base i3 model to an i7, which keeps the 128GB SSD (which should be plenty) might be your best bang for the buck.

yeah that would bump it to about a grand. I go back and forth on encoding i have used plex only and i don't encode, but if i want to put it in iTunes and limit the amount of transcoding needed to be done for my devices then i have to encode.
 

Dave Scarpa

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As a server, an i3 is fine. Many HTPC builds I've seen recommend going with a low power i3 for a silent server build. If you're doing a lot of transcoding, the i3 is not as a good as the i5 -- though if you can use the IGP with settings for Intel's integrated encoding, then the i3 will be much less of a hindrance. Handbrake supports this feature; it can be a 5x to 10x speedup over just CPU transcoding in my experience.

And my recommendation remains: storage is cheap, so don't transcode media to lower quality when you don't need to. :)

well storage isn't that cheap, i just have about 5 eternal drives connected to my iMac i really set up some sort of fileserver or was i just never got around to it
 

DaveF

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well storage isn't that cheap, i just have about 5 eternal drives connected to my iMac i really set up some sort of fileserver or was i just never got around to it
An 8 TB external drive is under $170, watching the sale prices. That’s 200 to 300 complete, full quality blu-Ray rips. Those blu-rays cost about $6000 to get in the first place. Storage is cheap. :)
 

Cameron Yee

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Engadget review, from a video editor's perspective.

I admittedly haven't been pushing my i7 Mini very hard, but I have no complaints about the performance for my home use, which comes down to using Lightroom / Photoshop, backing up my BDs to hard drives, and streaming video content. I sort of miss the space efficiency of the iMac, but it's nice having an updated machine with a SSD system drive, USB 3, and Thunderbolt 3.
 

DavidJ

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Engadget review, from a video editor's perspective.

I admittedly haven't been pushing my i7 Mini very hard, but I have no complaints about the performance for my home use, which comes down to using Lightroom / Photoshop, backing up my BDs to hard drives, and streaming video content. I sort of miss the space efficiency of the iMac, but it's nice having an updated machine with a SSD system drive, USB 3, and Thunderbolt 3.
Thanks for sharing. That was a good analysis of the Mini.
 

JohnRice

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So, the takeaway from the "review" is that a $799 Mac Mini isn't as all-around powerful as a $5,000 iMac Pro, and that's some kind of disappointment? Not to mention that upgrading to the i7 and adding an external GPU for $500 to get it to virtually match the iMac Pro is completely absurd?

This guy actually gets paid for these astounding observations?
 
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JohnRice

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Something I'm realizing is that if I really want to make it a Photoshop powerhouse, I can get a bundled eGPU enclosure with a Radeon 580 for $440, and keep the eGPU (or upgrade the card) with newer Minis, if I want. Between home, work and the folks, I manage six Minis, and I always get the newest, most powerful one at home, then they get demoted to other locations. It would be kind of like using external power amps. It's just a thought.
 

Cameron Yee

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I'm curious to see what an eGPU would do for me, but I can't say I use any of the applications that are said to be prime candidates for one.

There's been an odd behavior when I plug in some external drives, the message pops up saying it wasn't ejected properly. But I just plugged in...so I don't know what's triggering that message when the drive just mounted.
 

JohnRice

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I'm curious to see what an eGPU would do for me, but I can't say I use any of the applications that are said to be prime candidates for one.

There's been an odd behavior when I plug in some external drives, the message pops up saying it wasn't ejected properly. But I just plugged in...so I don't know what's triggering that message when the drive just mounted.
My understanding is that the eGPU will boost gaming, video playback & editing, and Photoshop the most. An i7 will boost video processing and rendering software, like CAD/CAM due to hyperthreading. So, a Mini with the i7 and an eGPU could match or even beat the top iMac and compete with the base iMac Pro. You can get that for as little as $1,540. $1099 for a base Mini upgraded to the i7, and $440 for a Sonnet eGFX/Radeon 580 bundle. You'd have to add more RAM to that, of course. But, at a grand total of about $1,800 it's still a seriously good deal for a Mac with that much power.

What port are you using for the external drive? It sounds like it could be a hub problem, if you're using a hub. I've found a lot of USB 3 hubs are junk.
 

Cameron Yee

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It is via a hub, but it's *supposed* to be a good one. :)

I do have my back up drive and my primary working files drive connected directly though, for that reason.
 

JohnRice

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I went through so many bad USB 3 hubs. I finally have three that have worked flawlessly, though. One is an Anker, and the other two are Amazon Basics. They were relatively expensive.
 

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