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M1/M2 Mac Observations. (1 Viewer)

JohnRice

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I now have three M1/M2 Macs, and have found a few interesting things.

1) If you're doing more than mostly reading mail and web browsing, despite the marketing, I strongly recommend not getting an 8GB model. I mean, yeah, you can do more if needed, but expect a lot of spinning wheels, even just to come back from a screen saver. I don't put the computer to sleep. I just have a screen saver come on, and it takes as long as a minute for it to actually start working after the screen saver is on.

2) There seems to be some downgrade of the USB capability, at least on the base (aka: non-Pro) configuration of the Mini. Preparing for the possibility of getting one as my work office computer, I consolidated the USB cords a bit, since it only has two USB 3 and two Firewire ports. This involved daisy chaining two USB 3 hubs, which I never did before. It worked fine on my 2018 i5 Mini, but it did not work at all on the M2. I haven't had time to dig into it further, but an Epson document scanner I have refuses to work unless it is connect directly to the computer. I can't even connect it to a hub, when it worked fine on the old computer connected through two daisy chained hubs. The hubs both external power supplies.

3) If you really want to turbocharge things, there are benefits to loading up on memory. My Studio has 64GB, which is overkill. However, last weekend I purchased and downloaded several GB of high res music. I directly download that to a platter drive, and then duplicate it to an NVMe drive to long term backup. When I duplicated them (several GB) to the NVMe, it copied almost instantly. There was no way the platter drive I downloaded them to read them that fast. So I looked at Activity Monitor and saw there was 25GB cached memory. It has so much memory available, it had cached the files I downloaded and was able to fully access them pretty much instantly. I expect this can lead to significant speed boosts for heavy demand use.

I will demote this computer to do shipping, which only requires Mail, Firefox and the USPS shipping app. I really don't even need to have Mail running all the time on that computer, so it should be just fine there. It's annoying as my main computer, but it was cheap, I wanted to find out if it would do the job as my main computer, and knew I could move it it didn't.

Due to the USB issue I encountered, I'm thinking that I need a Pro Mini for my main work computer. It has double the RAM bandwidth and two extra Firewire ports.
 

Ronald Epstein

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Interesting reading, John.

The only part that I can relate to is the memory.

Apple, naturally, will never come out and tell consumers this but it has become quite apparent...

M1/M2 memory demand is vastly different than Intel.

64GB is overkill. I don't even exceed 32GB on a normal basis and you know how memory-demanding my setup is.

I can totally see why users are reporting that 8GB on a silicon computer is enough for general use. However, I am with you in not recommending it for those that want to future-proof their purchase.

I am so incredibly happy with my Studio. It's a powerhouse.
 

Clinton McClure

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I wonder if you’re running an app that is not optimized for Apple silicon and is eating up your system resources. I say this because my M1 Mac Mini with only 8GB of RAM always has the following open:

Safari with at least 3 tabs open
Music
Excel with at least two spreadsheets open
My Movies Pro
PCalc
Mail

When idle, my mini has the default screensaver on but instantly snaps back to the desktop when I bump the mouse and log in. I don’t think I’ve seen the beach ball yet.

There is no lag when switching apps or opening new ones.

Speaking of mouse…. I do agree that the USB ports exhibit strange behavior. My Magic Keyboard 2 will charge when plugged into a power strip, however, my Magic Mouse will ONLY charge when plugged directly into one of the mini’s USB ports.

EDIT: The mouse issue is probably more to do with the firmware of the mouse and less to do with the Mini’s USB ports.
 
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DaveF

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1) If you're doing more than mostly reading mail and web browsing, despite the marketing, I strongly recommend not getting an 8GB model. I mean, yeah, you can do more if needed, but expect a lot of spinning wheels, even just to come back from a screen saver. I don't put the computer to sleep. I just have a screen saver come on, and it takes as long as a minute for it to actually start working after the screen saver is on.
Strong agree, from watching my wife use (and complain about) an 8GB M1 iMac professionally. It has gotten better the past year, presumably due to a combination of Apple's macOS updates and app optimizations for m1. But especially for multiple, large applications with large files, get at least 16GB.

My guess on the original reviews on the 8GB m1 macs was they were fixated on video and music production: Single application with large data being pulled from the SSD. I believe Apple optimized for that use case because. And I think that use case is not representative of running Adobe Creative Cloud for memory usage.

But who knows. I've never seen this discussed in depth. More scattershot comments on the quirks of 8GB models.
 

Clinton McClure

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I’ll also add that the only times my Mini reboots are after an OS update is installed. Other than that, it’s always on and my uptime is 5 nines like a Stratus server (99.999%).
 

JohnRice

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I wonder if you’re running an app that is not optimized for Apple silicon and is eating up your system resources. I say this because my M1 Mac Mini with only 8GB of RAM always has the following open:
The base apps are Mail, Music and Firefox, but Adobe Creative Cloud and Clean My Mac always run in the background. When I moved to the M2 Mini, Creative Cloud and the related apps all re-installed to native versions. Clean My Mac ran before I installed Rosetto for another app, so it seems good. Then I also use Filemaker Pro (relational database) most of the time, and of course, Photoshop when needed, plus Endicia occasionally, which is the USPS shipping app. Even when I'm running the base stuff and Filemaker, it's too much. That computer gets shut down at the end of each day. My home Studio runs 24/7 and never goes to sleep.
 

JohnRice

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I am so incredibly happy with my Studio. It's a powerhouse.
Not just a little tinge, knowing an M2 is probably coming later this year? ;)

I can't remember. Did you get the same Studio I have? 64GB/1TB?

Seriously though, I was looking at the Mini options, and once you step up to the Pro model, if you want more RAM and go to 32GB you're only $100 less than a refurb, base model Studio. As I looked at those options, honestly I'd just go ahead with the refurb Studio. What I expect I will do, though, is wait for Amazon to have the M2 Pro Mini on sale again for $1099 and get that. I do not need a Studio at work.
 

Ronald Epstein

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Surprisingly, knowing an M2 Studio may be out shortly doesn't bother me.

I was watching a video about lackluster M2 sales due to the fact that the M1 was such a revolutionary step over Intel while the M2 is only an incremental one. Some say Apple made their M1 chip too powerful.

Yes, I got the exact same specs on my Studio as you
 

JohnRice

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Clean my Mac and Firefox are likely culprits.
CleanMyMac doesn't seem to be a problem, looking at Activity Monitor. You're right that Firefox is a pig. Not enough in itself to be the main problem, but definitely a memory hog. The biggest culprit is Adobe Creative Cloud, which probably isn't a surprise. I don't have to be running an actual app.

Music is a pig as well. Second only to Firefox.
 
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JohnRice

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OK, the biggest memory hog of the apps that run all day is Music. After playing for six hours, it's using 1.12 GB of memory. That seems kind of absurd.

Firefox on the M2 is now using 875MB, which seems like a lot, but on the shipping computer, which only uses it to access our shopping cart, it's using 355MB. Also, the shipping computer is Intel, for whatever difference that makes.

I quit and relaunched Music and now it' using 230MB.

I quit and relaunched Firefox and now it's using 430MB. And now I notice there's an AirPlayHelper using 925MB. I use AirPlay to play music around the facility. So, music playback is clearly the biggest culprit, taking up more than 2GB later in the day.
 
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JohnRice

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Finally... I restarted the computer and now the AirPlayHelper is only using 30MB, down from over 900MB, and Music is using 230MB down from over 1.1GB. There's my main memory hog. Seems absurd to me. It must be caching the music I play.
 
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JohnRice

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I suppose my best option while I use this computer as my main work one is to restart it after lunch.
 

JohnRice

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I've gotten tired of the memory limitations with the 8GB M2 Mini. An M2 Pro Mini (16/512) is on the way, and this one will be demoted, probably to shipping. That computer only runs Firefox, Endicia shipping software, and Mail, though it really doesn't even need to run Mail most of the time.

Also, the lack of ports ended up being a problem, since there seems to be some kind of reduced Bus capability. That's why I went with the M2 Pro instead of just increasing the integrated memory. FWIW, the Pro model doubles the RAM Bus speed, and goes from 2 to 4 Firewire ports. I recall it also doubles the number of Firewire/USB Busses, but I need to double check on that

The main things that are killing the 8GB model are Creative Cloud and Music.
 

Ronald Epstein

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I've gotten tired of the memory limitations with the 8GB M2 Mini. An M2 Pro Mini (16/512) is on the way, and this one will be demoted, probably to shipping. That computer only runs Firefox, Endicia shipping software, and Mail, though it really doesn't even need to run Mail most of the time.

Also, the lack of ports ended up being a problem, since there seems to be some kind of reduced Bus capability. That's why I went with the M2 Pro instead of just increasing the integrated memory. FWIW, the Pro model doubles the RAM Bus speed, and goes from 2 to 4 Firewire ports. I recall it also doubles the number of Firewire/USB Busses, but I need to double check on that

The main things that are killing the 8GB model are Creative Cloud and Music.

8GB just doesn't cut it for anything above general use.

Congrats on your new purchase, John!
 

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Also, the lack of ports ended up being a problem, since there seems to be some kind of reduced Bus capability. That's why I went with the M2 Pro instead of just increasing the integrated memory. FWIW, the Pro model doubles the RAM Bus speed, and goes from 2 to 4 Firewire ports. I recall it also doubles the number of Firewire/USB Busses, but I need to double check on that
Thunderbolt
 

JohnRice

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So... to clarify, it turns out the USB weirdness on the base model M2 Mini wasn't due to the computer, but a couple crappy USB-C cables. One went from a Thunderbolt port on the computer to a USB 3.0 hub, and has almost all my peripherals connected to it.
 

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USB 3.0 external drives I’ve bought most recently (a couple of years ago) have a weird connect on the drive itself. Are there high-speed USB 3.1 cables with that connector? It’s not USB-A nor USB-C. Something I only see on standalone hard drives.
 

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