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Purchasing a Mac Mini - general questions


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We are considering purchasing a Mac Mini to pair with a 21.5" monitor (which I believe is the LG Ultraline, which was discontinued in May 2019). 

 

This would be for general use only, such as email, web, editing a Wordpress sight, social media, etc.

 

In other words, it will not be used with Photoshop, Pro Tools, and either no video editing or very light (maybe in the future I might run Davinci Resolve on it, but have no intention of doing so now).

 

1.) Would you recommend getting a new M1 Mac Mini? If so, can we get by with 8G of RAM? Adding 16G bumps the price by $200 to $1099, although I do see one here for $899 with 16G RAM or $699 for 8G RAM.

2.) Would an older Mac Mini be fine for this light use? If so, which one? What type of Mac Mini should I avoid, if any?

 

Thanks!

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An older Mac mini would be fine for this use. 

 

However, the M1 will run much cooler, quieter, use less electricity, and will probably be supported with system and security updates for considerably longer. 

 

I would opt for 16 GB, even if your use case really doesn't require it — you never know what might come up, and the M1 is a *more* than capable production machine. 

 

That puts you at $899 at the Apple Store. 

 

It's worth checking out the Apple Refurbished Store for discounts, as well: https://www.apple.com/shop/refurbished/mac/mac-mini 

 

I see no reason not to look around for used M1 models, either — there's not too much that can go wrong with them, and they're all going to be fifteen months old, at the very most. 

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^^^ What Analogika said. 

 

I got an Apple Refurbished and popped for the 512gb SSD. Glad I did too, I have all the software I need for my recording studio and about 100gb still open. 

Costs a little more but running out of drive space isn't fun either. 

I've been recording to a LaCie hard drive using a Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter (Apple) and have had no problems with latency at all. In fact, it rips. 

 

I back up my files on USB drives plugged into an Ankar USB hub. It's not as fast but I can go do something else while data transfers and USB drives are easy to find plus affordable. 

 

I agree that even if you aren't planning on recording or doing video on the Mini, you might still end up doing it. It won't cost much more to get it to that level now.

I also agree that you might want to avoid the older Minis and play the long game with Apple Silicon. 

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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14 minutes ago, analogika said:

An older Mac mini would be fine for this use. 

 

However, the M1 will run much cooler, quieter, use less electricity, and will probably be supported with system and security updates for considerably longer. 

 

I would opt for 16 GB, even if your use case really doesn't require it — you never know what might come up, and the M1 is a *more* than capable production machine. 

 

That puts you at $899 at the Apple Store. 

 

It's worth checking out the Apple Refurbished Store for discounts, as well: https://www.apple.com/shop/refurbished/mac/mac-mini 

 

I see no reason not to look around for used M1 models, either — there's not too much that can go wrong with them, and they're all going to be fifteen months old, at the very most. 

 

Thanks. Part of the reason I asked about 8G vs. 16G were because of pages such as this or this. These even go over video editing and say that it's not really needed. 

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2 minutes ago, KuruPrionz said:

^^^ What Analogika said. 

 

I got an Apple Refurbished and popped for the 512gb SSD. Glad I did too, I have all the software I need for my recording studio and about 100gb still open. 

Costs a little more but running out of drive space isn't fun either. 

I've been recording to a LaCie hard drive using a Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter (Apple) and have had no problems with latency at all. In fact, it rips. 

 

I back up my files on USB drives plugged into an Ankar USB hub. It's not as fast but I can go do something else while data transfers and USB drives are easy to find plus affordable. 

 

I agree that even if you aren't planning on recording or doing video on the Mini, you might still end up doing it. It won't cost much more to get it to that level now.

I also agree that you might want to avoid the older Minis and play the long game with Apple Silicon. 

 

Thanks. If I do get an old Mac Mini, I could get one for $400, using that as a stop-gap measure instead of ponying up for $899 or $1099 Mac Mini M1 with either 8G or 16G. That's a significant difference in price. 

 

But the Apple Refurbished is also intriguing as well since that might knock a bit off the price. Not sure yet. I am getting this largely for my wife to use, so I will talk to her as well, but I wanted to have some options.

 

I also back up onto USB drives. I don't care if they're a little slow. They work fine, and I just leave it backing up either in the background or run it when I am not using the computer. Doesn't take that long, and I have an enormous amount of storage needs, so for "normal" people, it would be more than adequate anyway.

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FWIW, I think I paid $925 for the Apple Refurb with 16gb RAM and 512K SSD. 

That's a fair chunk but my 2014 Mac Book Pro could be updated to Big Sur so Apple does support them for a long time. I've left it on Catalina, it will still be viable for few more years. That used to be my recording computer but the speed difference is notable - both have 16 gb RAM and 512 gb SSD but the Mini runs circles around the MBP. 

And the Mini should be viable for at least another 8-10 years. 

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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I think you are better off with a M1 with no upgrades over a refurbished Intel with memory upgrades. I agree with the others thinking that the base model will be fine with no upgrades. However, when I bought my M1 Air I opted for the 16GB upgrade because I was planning to use it for music. I like my M1 Air but I still use my 5 year old MacBook Pro a lot because of the larger screen. If it goes down, my 10 year old MacBook Pro is still usable. Unlike a Windows computer, I can count of 10 good years out of a Mac. One reason is I always get extra memory and drive space.

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I shall see how much my wife wants to spend on this. I would prefer 16G of RAM and 512G SSD, of course. I think waiting and purchasing a refurbished or gently used one might be the answer. Thanks again.

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Ken, I have a 2020 M1 Mac Mini with 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB drive. I bought it new in December, and it's just been sitting on my desk (with light use) ever since. Apple wasn't going to give me much for it, and an online shop was only going to give me a bit more... It's a great machine, and I've been thinking about keeping it as a backup, but if you want it, I can give it to you for much less than Apple will charge you for a new one... 

 

 

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11 minutes ago, Philip OKeefe said:

Ken, I have a 2020 M1 Mac Mini with 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB drive. I bought it new in December, and it's just been sitting on my desk (with light use) ever since. Apple wasn't going to give me much for it, and an online shop was only going to give me a bit more... It's a great machine, and I've been thinking about keeping it as a backup, but if you want it, I can give it to you for much less than Apple will charge you for a new one... 

 

 

 

Okay, thanks! Let me get back to you on this. 

 

In a bizarre turn of events....my wife's friend wanted to know if we wanted a 21.5" 4k monitor. I thought this might be great, and I would purchase a Mac Mini to go along with it and life would be good.

 

I asked my wife to send me a photo of the monitor that she was going to give us. 

 

She sent me the photo. And uh, well, it's not a monitor. It’s an iMac, and if the rest of what she is saying is accurate, which is that she got one of the last 21.5” before they were discontinued, that would mean that we are getting a 2021 iMac!!! 

 

So I'm now in a holding pattern since I just found this out about five minutes ago. Weird turn of events.

 

I am attaching the photo that she sent.

IMG_2542.jpeg

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Re 8 vs 16 GB...my office computer (Windows) had 16 GB of RAM. One of the RAM sticks went bad, and I didn't notice enough of a difference to bother replacing it. Realistically, for office-type work 8 GB has been fine for me. OTOH my studio computer has 32 GB, and I don't think I'd be happy with any less.

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7 hours ago, Philip OKeefe said:

Ken, I have a 2020 M1 Mac Mini with 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB drive. I bought it new in December, and it's just been sitting on my desk (with light use) ever since. Apple wasn't going to give me much for it, and an online shop was only going to give me a bit more... It's a great machine, and I've been thinking about keeping it as a backup, but if you want it, I can give it to you for much less than Apple will charge you for a new one... 

 

 

 

How does the 2020 M1 compare to your Mac Studio computer? Is the Studio an incremental improvement, or night and day, or...?

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7 hours ago, Anderton said:

 

How does the 2020 M1 compare to your Mac Studio computer? Is the Studio an incremental improvement, or night and day, or...?

 

 

The entry-level Mac Studio has twice the performance CPU cores (8 vs 4), and twice the RAM (32 GB vs 16 GB) compared with the M1 Mac mini. The single core performance of the two models is nearly identical, so they can function similarly, depending on what you're trying to do with them. However, for larger, more RAM-intensive tasks, and for programs that can utilize multiple CPU cores (such as most DAW programs), the baseline Mac Studio has twice as much horsepower. It also has significantly improved memory bandwidth (400GB/s memory bandwidth vs 68.25GB/s), so it moves data in and out of memory much faster, which makes that 32 GB of RAM even more efficient. Add to that three times (24 vs 8 ) the number of GPU cores, and the Studio has a big edge over the mini when it comes to GPU-intensive tasks. The GPU difference doesn't really make a difference for audio recording, but for video, it's a significant improvement.  

 

The Mac mini with 16 GB of RAM is certainly no slouch (I would recommend against the 8 GB version if you want to use it for music), and depending on your workflow, it may be more than enough for your needs. Paired with an Avid Carbon, I have been able to run sessions on it that my 32 GB RAM, quad core i7 3770K PC with Pro Tools HD4 Accel struggled with, and with the CPUs sitting at around 25% use on the Mac mini. And all with zero fan noise (the mini's definitely quieter - as in silent - than the very quiet but audible Studio), and with a 32 sample buffer setting. 

 

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I'd go with a mini - 16GB + 512GB.  Sure you'd be fine with 8GB but for how long.  If this is your daily home machine - email, social media, etc. -- these kinds of machines are lasting much longer these days and it could easily be useful for 10+ years.   I can still use my 2009 macbook pro and run PianoTeq 6 on it.  Last year I finally retired my custom built PC that was my daily driver for 10 years.

 

Bumping up the RAM gives you the headroom to handle technology changes.  Who knows how Web 3.0 will play out.  So much focus on web tech for a long time now.  The browsers have almost become their own operating systems and developers will keep pushing the tech forward.  While a 20 year old P4 processor may handle a modern browser, the machine with 1GB of memory would choke.

 

tl;dr -- Adding more RAM may increase longevity if that's important to you.

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On 3/30/2022 at 4:44 PM, Philip OKeefe said:

Ken, I have a 2020 M1 Mac Mini with 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB drive. I bought it new in December, and it's just been sitting on my desk (with light use) ever since. Apple wasn't going to give me much for it, and an online shop was only going to give me a bit more... It's a great machine, and I've been thinking about keeping it as a backup, but if you want it, I can give it to you for much less than Apple will charge you for a new one... 

 

 

 

After some hemming and hawing, my wife and I decided to take you up on your kind offer!! Thanks. I'm gonna try to get a cheap monitor that is about 21.5" now.

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On 4/2/2022 at 10:37 PM, Philip OKeefe said:

Thanks, Ken. It should get there on Tuesday. I can't wait to hear your thoughts about the M1 mini once it gets there and you have a chance to play with it a bit... :popcorn:

 

Thanks! It probably will be difficult to evaluate fully since we will be using it for relatively mundane tasks and is replacing a 2011 iMac 21.5", which is very very slow now.

 

But I feel like this points the way forward. Currently, I am super happy with my mid-2017 27" iMac with 40G RAM. I use this for Photoshop, some video and whatever else. But eventually, this will no longer be really fast and efficient, and I clearly, getting a Mac Mini M1, or better yet, a Mac Studio M1, seems to be the way forward for me. 

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On 4/1/2022 at 6:24 PM, KenElevenShadows said:

 

After some hemming and hawing, my wife and I decided to take you up on your kind offer!! Thanks. I'm gonna try to get a cheap monitor that is about 21.5" now.

I've had great luck buying monitors at thrift stores. At this moment, I am using a 27" Dell monitor with an HDMI cable and it works perfectly. $30 at Goodwill. 

I've got a 24" HP that I got at Value Village for $24. It works well too. 

Persistence is key but you can save a lot of money buying used. Keep an eye on craigslist as well. 

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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I had to get a specific size, so I purchased a refurbished HP Pavilion from Amazon. It should arrive tomorrow. I spent $89 for it. But I LOVE that idea! You know from the our camera discussions how much I favor purchasing used things. Or actually, my guitars and synths and recording equipment too, for that matter. I don't know how anyone affords any quality stuff brand new. I sure can't.

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Phil's Mac Mini showed up yesterday. It hopped off the truck, sauntered up, knocked on the door, and said hello. I let it in.

 

Today, the HP Pavilion showed up. It shook hands with the Mac Mini.

 

All is good. Everything fired up all good, and I installed one or two things.

 

The only real issue I had was trying to find the "ON" button for the HP Pavilion. I could not find it at all, swapped out power supplies and extension cords, and finally....well, the damn button is at the bottom of the monitor. 

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I was trying to adjust one of my Acers the other day, and I couldn't remember where they hid the buttons. They're underneath, and slightly towards the back, which makes it next to impossible to see the labels on the buttons and the screen at the same time. But it keeps the monitor looking clean and sleek from the front, which was probably the design intention - but functionally, it's less than ideal. 

 

Enjoy the Mac mini and new monitor, Ken! 

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I kept pressing what I thought was the button. It turns out that this was some sort of indicator light in the shape of what is often a button. I swapped out cables, tested a bunch of stuff, looked around, and couldn't find anything. I was actually close to boxing it back up and sending it back. Good thing I found it. I don't know if placing the on button on the bottom, away from the power supply, is common, but I've certainly never seen that before. Then again, when I first got an iMac, it took me a while to find the on button for that as well.

 

I feel like I'm like Al Kooper playing organ on Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone", where he had no idea where the on button was, and if the organ hadn't already been turned on, he would have had no idea where to find it.

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On 4/1/2022 at 9:24 PM, KenElevenShadows said:

After some hemming and hawing, my wife and I decided to take you up on your kind offer!!

I think that is both an excellent move and from a very nice offer.

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On 4/7/2022 at 1:46 PM, RABid said:

I think that is both an excellent move and from a very nice offer.

 

I think so. It's about future proofing. M1 processors, double the RAM, double the storage. We have a tendency to keep things going until they can go no more or no longer serve a practical function, whether it's computers, phones, cameras, or even cars. We kept the iMac that the Mac Mini is replacing for eleven years, but it's really slow, so we'll sell it to someone else who can use it. There's always someone who can use it. 

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