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$ 799 Mac mini review: Testing of 3.6GHz quad-core Core i3



It has been a while since Mac mini received an update so that we can see how fans of Apple's smallest Mac would be happy some improvements . On the flip side, because the mini has not been updated for four long years, you may have convinced yourself that Apple would make dramatic changes, but the update is quite limited to a processor upgrade.

If you anticipate a greater overhaul, your disappointment is understandable. But get over it because the new Mac mini is a worthy Mac for $ 799. In fact, in our benchmarks, performance is fast enough to give iMac some competition. If you buy a new Mac, you should definitely consider the Mac mini because you can end up saving money and still get a soild, fast Mac.

And if you own a older Mac mini and love the form factor, you will upgrade. Performance ̵

1; especially with multi-core professional software – is worth the money. This review takes a look at Mac mini $ 799, which is now Apple's cheapest Mac.

Who is the Mac mini for?

Mac mini was debut in 2005 and was marketed as the cheap entry point for Mac newcomers. All it needed was an external display (the first mini came with a VGA to DVI adapter) and USB input devices. With the base model priced at $ 499, it was behind Apple's faster, more expensive Mac, but it was a good performer for the price.

  mac mini 2018 completely 02 Dan Masaoka / IDG

Mac mini has proven to be popular with the general consumers and demanding professionals.

But as it turned out, Mac mini found a market with pro users thanks to its small footprint. It has been popular with software developers and content creators, and has even found a home in co-location data centers. In response, Apple has changed its Mac mini message, aimed at professionals and utilizes mini-performance instead of affordable price. Apple's Mac mini webpage calls the new Mac "All Workhorse" and the entire "Switcher" message from the original Mac mini is gone.

But that does not mean that the minia is no longer for swappers and everyone else. It's still a good Mac for the general consumer, and in fact it offers significant bang for money. The main drawback is that it's no longer a price of less than $ 500 in Apple's Mac setup (though the Mac mini of $ 799 is cheaper than 21.5-inch iMac).

Inside the Mac mini: CPU, SSD, RAM, T2

During an orientation, Apple told us that faster Mac mini performance was on top of customers' wish lists. To this end, Apple upgraded the CPU with eighth generation Intel Core processors desktop processors, not mobile CPUs. Apple says the new Mac mini is up to five times faster than the previous one (probably published in October 2014).

The CPU in Macintosh $ 799 is a 3.6GHz Core i5. This is a quad-core processor that offers two processor cores than the chip in the previous Mac mini. Please note that this Mac mini CPU does not support Turbo Boost, a feature that allows a processor to run faster than the specified frequency if the processor is running below its power, power, and temperature limits. But Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz is available in the 3.0GHz 6-core Core i5 processor specified for $ 1,099 Mac mini.

You'll also find a performance upgrade in the Mac Mini storage hardware type. In the past, you could choose between a hard drive (slow but spacious), a Fusion Drive (capacity at a hard drive, but at a better rate), or flash storage (a fast and costly solid state drive). Apple offers only solid state drives, which provide the best speed.

The $ 799 model comes with a 128GB drive, but if that's not enough, Apple upgrades will offer you up to 2TB if you're willing to pay. The SSDs are PCI e-cards, and Apple does not consider those user-upgradeable. So if you prefer to save the storage space inside your computer instead of adding an external drive, consider shelling out more money for an upgrade.

  Mac mini 2018 bottom open hatch Dan Masaoka / IDG

The plastic bottom cover extends, but then you'll find an aluminum hatch held in place with six screws. And when you get rid of it, you'll find that the inside is not easily accessible to users.

Mac mini $ 799 comes standard with 8GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory installed as a pair of 4GB SO-DIMMs. Your mini device supports a maximum of 64 GB, and you can upgrade the memory later, but Apple considers Mac mini not user-configurable, and it is recommended that memory upgrades be performed by a certified Apple service provider. Doing it on your own will void your warranty.

You can easily open the Mac mini on your own: The circular plastic cover at the bottom of the Mac mini appears to reveal an aluminum lid held in place with torx screws. But what you find when removing the lid is that the memory is placed in a kind of cage and that you must remove the fan and other components for access. It's not a trivial task.

The Mac mini contains a T2 Security Chip to relieve security features away from the main processor. T2 handles Mac mini's secure boot function and storage encryption for FileVault, and it contains a Secure Enclave coprocessor, which operates the Touch ID. Unfortunately, there is currently no keyboard with Touch ID support that can be connected to the Mac mini. Having said that, iMac is due to an update soon, so maybe we'll see a new Magic Keyboard with Touch ID when the desktop computer comes.

How fast is the Mac mini?

To test the speed of $ 799 Mac mini, we used Geekbench 4 benchmark tool. We compared the Mac mini results to the three Mac mini models from 2014, the current $ 1,499 iMac and 2013 3.5 GHz 6-Core Xeon E5 Mac Pro.

Geekbench 64-bit single-core test results

  799 mac mini 2018 geekbench single cpu IDG

Higher points / longer posts indicate better performance. Click to enlarge.

Not surprisingly, the Mac mini offers $ 799, with its eighth generation 3.6GHz Core i3 processor, a nice single-core boost over its predecessors in 2014. We saw a 29 percent jump over $ 999 2.8GHz Core i5 model, an increase of 34 percent over the 2.6 GHz Core i5 model, and a 45 percent improvement over the $ 499 1.4 GHz Core i5 Mac mini.

The question is, Are these improvements enough for owners of the Mac mini 2014 to upgrade? Even in single core applications (such as e-mail, browsers, iTunes, and even some consumer video and image actors), boost is significant thanks to the 8th generation of Intel chip enhancements and clock speed bump. So if you have a 2014-year $ 499 or $ 699 Mac mini, you've probably earned your money from the machine and upgrading to the new $ 799 model is a great investment. And even if you purchased the 2014 $ 999 model, upgrading should be a serious consideration.

Interestingly, the single-core performance of the Mac mini 799 $ is far from the 2017 21.5-inch 3.4 GHz Core i5 iMac that sells for $ 1,499. IMac is only 4 percent faster. Another interesting data point: The new Mac mini surpasses the 2013-3.5 GHz Xeon E5 Mac Pro by 23 percent. Keep in mind that this is in single-core performance, and the Mac mini versus Mac Pro story changes in our next series of tests.

Geekbench 64-bit multi-core test results

  799 mac mini 2018 geekbench multi cpu IDG

Higher points / longer bars indicate better performance. Click to enlarge.

Because Apple has changed the marketing announcement with the new Mac mini, its multi-core performance will draw more attention than before. Macintosh $ 799 has four processing cores, two more than in the previous models. So the newer CPU and additional processing cores combine to make Macintosh $ 799 a powerful machine for multi-core applications (pro-level video and image editors, as well as developer tools, for example).

In the Geekbench 64-bit Multi-Core test, the Mac mini has 799 $ more than doubled the performance of the three older models. Bottom line: If you are using applications that can utilize multiple kernels, you will see a big speed increase with the new Mac mini. It is well worth the price of upgrading.

Comparing the Macintosh $ 799 to $ 1,499 21.5-inch iMac with a quad-core 3.4 GHz Core i5, you'll find an eye-opening result: The Geekbench 4 points are practically the same. We drove a few more benchmarks to compare the Mac mini to 799 $ iMac and we found that in terms of graphics performance, the iMac and the 4 GB Radeon Pro 560 graphics card provide a significant edge in the frame performance over the Mac mini, Intel UHD Graphics 630. But in two other benchmarks, the Cinebench R15 CPU test and Blender BMW test – Mac mini and iMac are finished with neck and neck. You can see the additional Mac mini versus iMac references here.

However, the Mac mini is slower than the 6-core 3.5-GHz Xeon E5 Mac Pro 2013, which is five years old and costs $ 2,299. However, considering the price difference, Mac mini's multi-core speed is impressive.

Connecting and Porting on the New Mac Mini

One of the reasons Mac mini has been such a loved machine among Mac users is that it comes with so many ports in such a small package. Fortunately, it still has many ports, but Apple has updated the equipment to match its current philosophy, which currently focuses on Thunderbolt / USB-C.

Mac mini comes with four Thunderbolt / USB-C ports, and you can connect two or three screens through these ports, depending on the display resolution used for each screen. If you do not have a USB-C equipped display like the LG UltraFine 4K Display, you will need an adapter (we have a Thunderbolt 3 adapter guide to find the ones you need). You can also connect an HDMI-equipped display to the Mac mini HDMI 2.0 port.

  Mac mini 2018 ports Dan Masaoka

2018 Mac Mini's backports. Do you have more than two USB-A devices? You must buy a hub.

If you have many USB-A devices to connect, you will be disappointed in the reduction of USB-A ports from four to two. However, if you do not use all of the Mac mini min USB C ports and you want to connect to a USB device, you can use a USB-C to USB-A adapter, like the $ 19 one from Apple. An even better investment will be a USB hub, such as Anker 4-Port USB 3.0 Data Hub, which connects to the Mac mini via USB-A or AmazonBasics USB 3.1 Type-C to 4 Port USB Hub, connected via USB-C.

For networks, the Mac mini comes with a gigabit Ethernet connector and Wi-Fi. Apple offers a $ 100 upgrade to 10Gb Ethernet, which will be of interest to pro users, render farm implementations, and more. The Mac mini also has Bluetooth 5.0 and a headphone jack.

Same Mac mini design as before

The long gap between updates went to speculation, with Apple fans who composed the wish list for the new Mac mini. Macworld writers and editors have probably not been shy about our thoughts on the subject. Much of speculation focused on the Mac mini form factor, and many of us thought the new machine could be less than the 2014 model, an idea inspired by small PCs like Intel NUC and even Raspberry Pi.

But eventually Apple decided not to change the Mac mini design at all, except now it's in rom gray instead of silver. It is the same shape and size as before, a square with pages measuring 7.7 inches, a height of 1.4 inches and rounded corners. You can stack it on top of the previous Mac mini, and it's perfect. Mac Mac Air is like the Mac Mac Air case made of 100 percent recycled aluminum.

  mac stage mac mini Apple

MacStadium Co-location Center uses thousands of Mac minis. Apparently, installations like this have affected Apple's decision to stick to Mac mini design.

Probably the main reason Apple is stuck in the design in "The Secret World of Mac mini" feature that the company published during Mac mini announcement. Among other good uses for Mac mini, we see them in a co-location data center where 8000 Mac minis is distributed. The image of MacStadium's plant is impressive, in line with the line of Mac mini, but can you imagine what to do to replace all the old mines in order to accommodate a new form factor? It may safely discourage upgrading of the machines in corporate environments.

Perhaps it would be nice if the Mac mini was smaller, lent itself to even more user, but Apple seems to find that a reduction in footprints was not a priority. For a majority of people, Mac mini works, and the new Mac mini can only slide into the old, without mice, without fuss.

Bottom line

It's customers who regret the fact that Apple no longer offers a Mac for less than $ 500 and that Apple went from offering three desktop Macs for under $ 1000 to just one. But this is the new reality: $ 799 is the new entry point, and it will not go any lower.

As mentioned, at $ 799, the 3.6GHz quad-core Core i3 Mac mini offers an exciting combination of performance and value. In many cases – especially with multi-core apps – the Mac mini is as fast as the current $ 1,499 21.5-inch Core i5 iMac in the Core i5 series (released in 2017). You can decide to buy a refurbished 4K display and recording device with a $ 799 Mac mini instead of a $ 1,499 iMac, saving you some money while getting comparable performance.

Whether to upgrade from the previous Mac Mini is a no-brainer: Do it. If you're using applications that can utilize multiple kernels, you'll see a big improvement that's well worth the price. Even if you do not use multi-core apps and use only consumer-level software, you see a noticeable improvement in speed. You may need to buy a USB hub and a video card, but it's worth it.


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