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Reader Comments: Just How Does the 2018 Mac mini Pan Out When Deploying for Professional Use?

See my Mac wishlist.

Consult with Lloyd on computing performance issues or choice of Mac and its setup, backup strategy and more!

My post Moving from a 2010 Mac Pro to Newer Mac such as 2018 Mac mini generated additional reader comments, all positive.

Peter A writes:

How do the older Mac Pro's compare to the 2018 Mac Mini in tests like this? I've been using the following 2 machines. 2010 cMP 3.46GHz 6-core, 64GB ram, 1TB SSBUX SSD (1000MB/s from MacBook Pro) 2013 nMP 3.5GHz 6-core, 64GB ram, 1TB internal SSD

I mainly have huge photoshop files, 6GB-30GB 8bit with hundreds of layers. Converting the document to 16bit is my biggest headache as I have to do this every time I save a flat. Working in 16bit is just too slow. I need to add another machine and was wondering if a 2018 Mac Mini would be up to the task.

DIGLLOYD: how do... not well. For starters, the Mac mini SSD is about 3X (or at least 2X) faster than the SSD in the 2013 Mac Pro (depends on build version).

Peter A says “I read this on your blog when you first posted it several years ago. Unfortunately my file ended up 270GB!”.

Why 64GB Memory Matters, and Why It Might Not Be Enough

For files that greatly exceed what 64GB can handle, any machine that can take 128GB memory will easily outpace any machine that can take only 64GB. The iMac Pro is the right choice for that need as of March 2019.

It amazes me that Photoshop users still cripple performance via the wrong settings, but I blame Adobe for poorly executed interface, as it is not at all obvious, and not even offered as an option in the Save As dialog:

Optimization for Photoshop Users: Speed up Save/Open by up to 20X

Below, for 64GB memory, you can save about $200 by using slighty slower 2400 MHz DDR4 SO-DIMM PC4-19200 memory instead of 2666MHZ DDR4 SO-DIMM PC4-21300. It’s not likely to make more than a 5% speed difference, and usually much less.

CLICK TO VIEW: Recommended memory for Mac mini

Marco R writes:

Hi, I’m a freelance consultant and in my work I usually try to suggest the most powerful configuration my customers can afford considering workloads and budget limitations. I have many clients that in the near future will have to transition from old fashion Mac Pros to something new but sooner than the next Mac Pro will materialize. I rarely consider the iMac Pro because of the hefty price tag and also tend to offer iMacs (always rigorously maxed out) only where color precision is not mandatory. That means that I mostly work with 2013 Mac Pros with OWC enhancements and EIZO monitors.

Well, this scenario changed when Apple finally released the new 2018 Mac mini. As soon as you wrote your assessment of the new 2018 Mac mini I knew I had a valid alternative for the situations where 64 Gb RAM is enough and an Apple monitor is no good. When MacWorld UK published their review I decided to give the new machine a try and suggested an advertising agency to change 4 of their battered cheese graters with 4 maxed out Mac minis.

I’m talking of a workgroup that I had in the years continuously kept in shape with additions of RAM, SSDs and RAID HD configurations (following your advice…) In the end they all had 32 Gb RAM and Accelsior boot SSDs, but always more complex Adobe CC and Microsoft Powerpoint files started to reduce efficiency, plus video cards kept on failing and a complete replacement was in order.

With a bit of apprehension I personally migrated the accounts of the 4 old Mac pros to the brand new minis, the configuration I sold was i7 6 core, 64 Gb RAM and 2 TB SSD and comparing to 4 new 2013 Mac Pros with 6-core Xeon, 64 Gb RAM and 2 Tb OWC SSD allowed to save about 1,000 euros per each machine (ca 3,500 euros each Mac mini vs ca 4,500 each 2013 Mac pro).

I only had some doubts about performance in comparison with the substituted machines and a very small fear for excessive heat, but the first disappeared when I heard the first words from the senior illustrator: “Wow, this Mac rocks !!!”.

And for the heat concern, as of this moment nobody called me from that agency and those 4 minis have been running 8 hours five days a week since January. Of course that might change as climate [diglloyd: weather] gets warmer in the months ahead, but we’ll see and for the moment my client is so happy with their new 4 Mac minis that they have just ordered 5 new MacBook Air to replace 5 Windows laptops and upgrade from PowerPoint to Keynote.

I will monitor closely the situation in that agency, as I want to be sure the new Mac minis are capable of substituting both old and 2013 model Mac pros in all cases where 64 GB RAM and a 2 TB SSD are enough, plus I have great expectations for eGPUs and Thunderbolt 3 peripherals in the price tier below the iMac Pro.

DIGLLOYD: the 2018 Mac mini is a mature and seemingly robust product resulting from years of half-assed versions—after a decade Apple seems to have nailed it. It now measures up to most all usage scenarios that area reasonable versus its core capabilities.

CLICK TO VIEW: Recommended Mac mini(add memory)

Ron K writes:

The new 2018 Mac mini arrived, and it is an awesome machine. I love the small footprint! My 2010 Mac Pro sold quickly, and the 2012 Mini auction ends tonight.

I also received the pair of OWC 32GB memory chips, though OWC sent the wrong TORX (T-6) wrench kit. I called to let them know, and they sent out the replacement kit immediately, with postage paid and a full refund for the wrong kit, which I’ve returned via their RMA. As an aside, the 2018 Mini screws have security fittings that require a TR-6 wrench (apparently it has a small indentation in the driver tip that matches a small bump in the center of the screws’ head, causing the T-6 to not engage the screw). Live and learn! OWC now has a kit specifically for the 2018 mini. What a great company; excellent customer service!

The dual display port adapter is also working perfectly for my pair of NEC MultiSync monitors, though the NEC 24” didn’t have a mini display port connection (my fault for not checking), so it’s temporarily hooked in via HDMI.

I’m curious to know how you would connect my pair of Elite Pro Dual enclosures, running standard 7200 3.5” HDs. Both enclosures have USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, which I believe will be faster than either Firewire 800 or eSATA, and I'll likely connect both to the Mini with a Sabrent USB 3.0 hub. Following your workflow, I’ll import into LR and complete my initial processing on the partitioned SSD master, then move the RAW files and prepared prints to the HD’s. One last question: after moving files to the HD, would you clone your backups (HD to HD)or use a simple RAID mirror. I’ve a pair of 4TB drives for the RAW files, and 2TB drives for finished work, and that should hold up for a while longer. Thanks again for your great advice.

DIGLLOYD: as to the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual enclosures, Iam not a fan of using USB through a hub, but it will probably work fine. Just remember that the bandwidth is rather limited, so if 4 drives are going at once through the hub and/or other stuff also needs that bandwidth, it’s going to hit bandwidth limitations. A better solution is the OWC Thunderbay 4, but it’s more costly. Or put each enclosure on its own USB bus, which means another form of expansion, like the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock.

As to backup, it is better (at least with a limited number of backups), to clone to drives individually and not use a RAID-1 mirror. A mirror protects against drive failure, but other types of issues (e.g., files corrupted or deleted by accident) it faithfully replicates. Better to have two independent backups, preferably not in the same enclosure. For this reason, I recommend single-drive backups such as the OWC Mercury Elite Pro, as shown below. I currently use 14TB hard drives for both primary storage and backups, some in OWC Mercury Elite Pro enclosures (easily portable) and some in the OWC Thunderbay 4.

CLICK TO VIEW: Recommended for Mac mini

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