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Mac mini review-a testament to Apple's stubbornness



  2018 Mac mini.
Enlarge / 2018 Mac mini.

Peter Bright

This is probably not the line you expected for a review of some Apple hardware. It's a shock to both of us, to be honest, but here we are: I have a Mac mini on my desktop, along with a Magic Trackpad and Magic Keyboard. It's all hooked on a LG 4K 21

.5-inch screen, all delivered by Apple.

To put your mind safe; This is not the first Mac I've used. I've owned some MacBook Pros over the years and it was a while a couple of years to go where I seriously considered giving up windows and switching all the way to Mac OS X. For now, it's enough to know that if I should come back into Using MacOS as my daily driver, Mac mini is probably the machine I want to get.

With the latest Mac mini, the two-core, four-threaded 28W Haswell processor has up to 16GB of soldered RAM. This machine has Coffee Lake processors, either a four-core, four-wire Core i3 base or the six-core, 12-wire Core i7 disc, found in my review system. This processor is paired with up to 64GB socketed, user-service RAM. Storage has also been shaken up. Instead of a variety of hybrid and SSD options, the new Mac mini is all SSD, from 128GB to 2TB. There are four Thunderbolt 3 ports, a wired Ethernet port (usually gigabit, but upgraded to 10 gigabit), an HDMI 2 port, two USB 3.1 generation 1 ports and a 3.5 mm headset connector.

Hardware turns out to be much better when you wait four years between upgrades.

  Left to Right: Power Button, Power, Ethernet, Four Thunderbolt 3 / USB 3.1 Generation 2, HDMI 2.0, Two USB 3.1 Generation 1. "src =" https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/ uploads / 2018/11 / mac-mini-ports-640x111.jpg "width =" 640 "height =" 111 "srcset =" https: //cdn.arstechnica .net / wp content / uploads / 2018/11 / mac -mini-ports.jpg 2x
Enlarge / Left to Right: Power Button, Power, Ethernet, Four Thunderbolt 3 / USB 3.1 Generation 2, HDMI 2.0, Two USB 3.1 Generation 1.

Apple

Specifications: Apple Mac mini (2018)
Base spec Top spec As reviewed
OS [19659016] MacOS 10.14 Mojave
CPU Intel Core i3-8100 4 core, 4 wire, 3.6 GHz, no turbo) Intel Core i7-8700B (6 core, 12 wire, 3.2 GHz, 4.6 GHz turbo)
GPU Intel UHD Graphics 630
RAM [19659018] 8GB DDR4 2666MHz 64GB DDR4 2666MHz ] 32 GB DDR4 2666MHz
Storage 128GB NVMe 2TB NVMe 1TB NVMe
Wireless Network 802.11a / b / g / n / ac, Bluetooth 5.0
Wired Network 1 gigabit Ethernet 10 gigabit Ethernet
Ports 4 Thunderbolt 3, 2 USB 3.1 Generation 1, HDMI 2.0, 3.5mm Headset
Size 7.7 × 7, 7 × 1.4 inch
Weight 2.9lb (1.3kg)
Price $ 799 $ 4.199 $ 2.199

T2: Great movie, great chip

The new system includes Apple's new T2 security chip and it is honest that this is an area where Apple's ability and willingness to build things that are not quite PCs are a virtue. About a thousand years ago, or perhaps in the early 2000s, various key players in the PC industry came together to try to make computers 'trusted'. What is trusted means that here is to provide a system where the PC can detect and block certain types of manipulation.

Some of these are valuable to end users: for example, a system can ensure that neither firmware nor operating system has been modified, thus blocking any attempt to attack a boot boot system or modifications of core system files. Windows BitLocker encryption uses TPM to store encryption keys, with TPM just allowing BitLocker to see the keys when it can show that it has not been changed. But other features are more controversial: The same protection against manipulation can, for example, be used to enforce DRM in digital media.

The main production of the Trusted Computing project was "Trusted Platform Module" (TPM). This is usually a small piece that contains some private cryptographic keys, a random speech generator, some storage space for secrets and some cryptographic hardware. (Modern Intel and AMD systems also offer a firmware-based TPM.) TPMs are abundant in PC laptops and in corporate desktops, but they are often omitted from enthusiastic systems and motherboards – while many boards have a track for TPM, It is usually left empty. Trusted Computing and TPM caused a lot of distrust among some parts of the PC community, with the DRM implications that are particularly concerned.

Some of Apple's earliest x86 systems, those used by software developers ahead of the company's actual transition from PowerPC, including a TPM on the motherboard. However, Apple has never used it, and no Macs today include a TPM. But they include a T2 chip … which is a TPM and so some.

T2 has a number of similarities with a TPM. To start, it contains secure storage for keys that it uses to validate the boot process to protect against firmware and operating system manipulation. But it goes on. It includes SSD controls, and T2 encrypts and decrypts everything that is written and read to the SSDs in the system. In a way, it converts essentially some SSD to a self-encrypted drive. Apple has moved a number of encryption and key management tasks to T2, making it an integral part of the platform.

It is also likely that T2 can be used in all the bad ways that caused so much concern with Trusted Computing and TPM. However, the security implications are convincing and in many ways the world seems to have made peace with DRM. The exploitation of streaming media services is overwhelming and generally DRM is so well hidden that you never notice it's there.

This is useful innovation, and it's a lot easier for Apple to do (as Apple does not have the same compatibility issues) than the PC industry. There is nothing special that prevents a PC manufacturer from building its own SSD controller, high performance encryption engine and secure TPM or TPM-like chip; they just do not have it. It's probably not worth it for a single PC manufacturer because you need software support in Windows, and not even Microsoft has the ability to enforce this kind of thing from above. The company wanted to make TPMs compulsory on desktop systems to get a design for Windows sticker, but had to divert and remove the requirement.

Listed image of Peter Bright


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