Ars Technica reviews Apple’s new Mac mini: ‘A jack-of-all-trades system’

“With the newest Mac mini, gone is the two-core, four-thread 28W Haswell processor with up to 16GB soldered RAM,” Peter Bright writes for Ars Technica. “This machine boasts Coffee Lake processors, either a four-core, four-thread Core i3 base model or the six-core, 12-thread Core i7 chip as found in my review system. This processor is paired with up to 64GB socketed, user-serviceable RAM. Storage has also been shaken up. Instead of a range of hybrid and SSD options, the new Mac mini is all SSD, from 128GB to 2TB. There are four Thunderbolt 3 ports, one wired Ethernet port (usually gigabit, but optionally upgraded to 10 gigabit), an HDMI 2 port, two USB 3.1 generation 1 ports, and a 3.5mm headset jack. It turns out that hardware can get a lot better when you wait four years between upgrades.”

MacDailyNews Take: Chuckle.

“The Mac mini is a kind of jack-of-all-trades system, with everything that implies. For some use cases, Apple already has better systems,” Bright writes. “For others, the Mac mini isn’t a great fit, but it’s the only hardware that Apple is actually offering that’s even vaguely suitable, so Mac users can like it or lump it. It’s just… it’s not portable; it’s not a full size, upgradeable desktop PC; it’s not particularly cheap; it’s not a great building block for server or render farms.”

“Instead, the new Mac mini is a compromised box that’s engineered to be quite small. If you’re wedded to macOS, then it does the job well enough,” Bright writes. “It’s not bad as such, and it’s certainly a solid upgrade over the 2014 system. But there’s nothing this device particularly excels at, and there’s no real scenario where it leaps out at me as being the ideal, obvious choice. 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.”

Tons more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: That’s about the size of it.


    1. This:

      Overall, the mac Mini gives me the feeling that it has been designed not for any particular use-case or kind of user. It has been designed for its size. It’s small not because that makes it do its job any better—quite the reverse, in fact. It’s designed as such simply for the sake of being small. Why Apple’s engineers should optimize for size as opposed to any other design parameter, I don’t know. The Mac mini is far from the smallest computer I’ve used, and for me, the size and form factor doesn’t open up exciting new use cases (unlike, say, the Intel Compute Stick, which is a pocketable computer). This size offers only constraints and limitations.

      This is a system that’s going to be permanently plugged into the wall and other peripherals. Apple could have made it literally ten times bigger, and I daresay the vast majority of Mac mini users would never even notice the change in dimensions on a day-to-day basis; they’d just stick it on the floor or behind their monitor, out of sight, out of mind.

  1. Having invested in both an entry level i3 mini and the top end 6 core i7; both which for each use case provide significant performance improvements over the aging models they replaced, what bugs me is this:

    Is this just a flash in the pan? – A once off update, or is the beginning of a continued commitment to delivering updated machines at predictable intervals? For any developer or business who might want to invest in, or even stay on macOS, this is a crucial question.

    Again, our man Timmy is MIA.

  2. The Mac Mini was a good entry level machine. I bought one in 2009 as a home media server. Worked extremely well and was upgraded with ram and HD/SSD over the years.
    When I looking for a replacement, it was very hard to consider the mini again.
    First a 128/256 hard drive space really does not cut it any more. I even had trouble with backing up my iPhone (256) to a machine that had 512GB drive. I won’t buy anything unless it has 512GB.
    Second, RAM needs to be 16GB nowadays. Having base models with 8GB does not cut it. Yes you can upgrade either via Apple or yourself (probably voiding the warranty) but that will raise the cost.
    Third, is the price. $800 for the base model with 128GB SSD and 8GB RAM. To bring it up to the 512/16 spec would cost $1399. To pay that much for a non-portable / non-pro machine is ridiculous.
    When I was looking for the replacement to my Mac mini, I ended up repurposing my 1st gen rMBP. I replaced the battery (which also changed out the mouse pad and keyboard). Bought a 3rd party SSD to bring it up to 512GB. Apple replaced the screen for free. All in all, a $400 investment for a machine that could last 3-4 years more. Plus it has built in power backup so when the power goes out the machine keeps going.
    I would have liked Apple to cut the price of the base model by $100 and have the base model include a 256GB drive. Then I think it would be a more compelling sale to customers who are on a budget.

    1. I am using 256 GB and that includes a full version of Windows 10 Pro running on Parallels. There is no real need to have a large amount of internal storage with cloud storage, NAS and any number of external boxes.

  3. If you are not a gamer and want a headless Mac it is just about perfect.

    For all the whining about price, the original G4 Mac mini would be 650 2018 Dollars. You are getting a vastly better computer.

    My i7 16 GB 256 SSD is an excellent desktop. My only request would be a BTO model with a discrete GPU and an easier path to upgrade memory. I would love to see someone build a stackable matching eGPU enclosure- not for a bleeding edge gamer card, but one more capable than what Intel offers.

    1. Why can’t Apple simply make a Mac mini with the same options for RAM, Storage, and GPU as the iMac?
      RAM: 8GB –>64GB
      HD: 1TB Fusion–>3TB Fusion–>2 TB SSD
      GPU: Integrated GPU–>8GB discrete GPU

      It could literally be 2 or 3 times the size of the current MacMini and people wouldn’t care, especially if it were easier to swap out RAM, HDs, and (God forbid) the GPU or the power supply.

  4. I’ve said before it’s a compromise device, not bad but could be so much more.

    If they had made the Case bigger (no reason for a desktop to be so small) they could have done so much more like maybe had a GPU option, made the RAM easier for user upgrades (the early Mini’s you could upgrade the RAM in a minute or so, it’s just held by an easy release clip). ETC.

    It’s almost like they tried to squeeze all that tech into that (unnecessary) tiny box to prove a point “see we can do it”.

  5. This article nails exactly what is wrong with Apple and why Wall Street is slapping the crap out of its stock.

    Pipeline’s Apple is a fraud.

    Pipeline has no idea what Apple customers truly want.

    Or, Pipeline is afraid to build what customers want because it does not deliver enough $$$ to his greedy little hands.

    Instead, Pipeline orders up flawed machines to be built, to force customers to pay more.

    This will work, but not for long.

    The market sees this and slaps the sh!t out of Pipeline’s stock.

    25% and falling.

    No end in sight.

    No buyers appearing, despite an AMAZING deal on AAPL stock.

    Nope, only sellers.

    Relentless selling.

    Pipeline has been doing NOTHING but riding Steve Jobs coattails.

    It pleases me to know that very soon, Pipeline’s free ride is over.

    Eddy Cue’s ride is almost over.

    The dead weight in Apple will have to carry themselves.

    Pipeline is nothing but dead weight for Apple.

  6. Yep. The fastest machine Apple has ever made (single core) isn’t good for anything.
    Sorry but my 2012 does just about everything. Im pretty sure a machine 5 times faster can do it too. 99% of people never open their machine.

    1. @ Tim:

      1) comparing the new Mac mini to a prehistoric model is pointless. Prospective buyers compare current models from all companies. Apple isn’t competitive.

      2) what is not competitive? Price and capability both. Upgradeabilty as well. One might forgive one issue, but not all.

      3) when a 2012 Mac Pro, still available used for a few hundred bucks, can literally run circles around the new mini, then you know major fashion compromises were made.

      4) its a desktop fer goshsakes. Apple’s choice to solder in the ssd drive is a slap in the face.

      But fanboys will be fanboys.

  7. All Apple had to do was not solder the storage.

    f***ing stupid. Absolutely idiotic. They soldered the storage.

    Hey Apple: FIRE IVE! He used to do good work, but he’s gone senile. Get him out of there.

    1. You see there are these little holes on the back you can plug things into.
      Sorry it’s 2018 few people care about storage anymore. For those that do internal storage will never be sufficient.They need the redundancy, integrity ,and portability of external/network storage.

      1. Why buy a miniature computer if I have to fix it by plugging stuff into the little holes on the back? That kind of defeats the miniature part of the equation.
        Make the computer a tiny bit bigger and put everything inside Remember that the Mac mini used to have the option of 2 HDs!

        There is absolutely no advantage gained by making a desktop computer as small as possible, quite the opposite.

      2. Apple used to be all about “balance.” The Mac mini is all about “smallness über alles.”

        And no, I should not be forced to pay $800 to get 1 TB of HD space for an $800 computer. in 2018. If a pro user absolutely has to have the fastest SSDs in the universe, will they really settle for such crappy GPU options? That is not balance.

  8. For me I am not doing video or sound (almost all the other reviews are for/by creative people) … I am just an office worker. I think this Mac is perfection for me … just lite work using all the included Apple software. Considered the iMac, but the ability to use my existing monitors won me over. Don’t need any eGPU for my office work, plus I like the T2 encryption idea. And I think 4 cores is probably the sweet spot for the Apple software I use. Need that gorgeous macOS! Yes, the i5 config gives twice the storage space and a third more cores but I figure the basic machine is 3/8’s cheaper for virtually no change in performance considering what I do. Most of my slowdown is not with the computer but with my brain.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.