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I'm considering buying the Mac mini 2018 the following specs (copied off of Apple's cart page)...

  • 3.2GHz 6‑core 8th‑generation Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz)
  • 8GB 2666MHz DDR4 (Upgrading to 32GB of RAM myself)
  • Intel UHD Graphics 630
  • 1TB SSD storage
  • Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet using RJ-45 connector)
  • Accessory Kit

Now I've not purchased a Mac in some time now so I'm not up on all of the latest info. My only concern is I keep seeing the lack of a quality GPU being raised as an issue in some reviews. But I saw on on twitter this tweet about the affinity products not using GPU for much right now. 

Besides all of the Affinity products I still occasionally need to use Adobe apps (which I try to avoid).

So my question is, is there any reason not to buy the Mac mini as my primary design work station? (Perhaps some of the Serif staff could clue me in?)

 

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4 hours ago, HYR said:

So my question is, is there any reason not to buy the Mac mini as my primary design work station?

You should buy a computer you are most comfortable with.
The Affinity products will run beautifully on Mac Mini 2018.

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4 hours ago, HYR said:

So my question is, is there any reason not to buy the Mac mini as my primary design work station?

It should be a very good, maybe even great, choice for use with the Affinity apps, but for other work that relies heavily on the GPU it probably won't be the best choice unless you invest in one of the (currently quite pricy) external GPU solutions that connect to the new Mini via Thunderbolt 3.

Personally, my 2012 iMac is getting a bit long in the tooth & underpowered for my needs, but I am going to wait & see if Apple introduces any new iMacs in the first quarter of 2019 before deciding on what the best replacement choice for me might be. iMacs, expensive as they are compared to typical PC's, offer very good value for the money, not the least part of which is top notch built-in displays.


Affinity Photo 1.6.7 & Affinity Designer 1.6.1; macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 iMac (27-inch, Late 2012); 2.9GHz i5 CPU; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M; 8GB RAM
Affinity Photo 1.6.11.85 & Affinity Designer 1.6..4.45 for iPad; 6th Generation iPad 32 GB; Apple Pencil; iOS 12.1.1

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45 minutes ago, R C-R said:

not the least part of which is top notch built-in displays.

Just curious here, can the iMac still be hooked up to be an insanely expensive 2nd display? Could years back, and I actually tried it out but hey, insanely expensive.


MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2012) Mac OS 10.12.6 || Mac Pro (Late 2013) Mac OS 10.12.6

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1 hour ago, Old Bruce said:

Just curious here, can the iMac still be hooked up to be an insanely expensive 2nd display? Could years back, and I actually tried it out but hey, insanely expensive.

Current iMacs come with 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports that support up to two external displays at 4096 x 2304 px resolution or one external display at 5120 x 2880 px resolution, plus the internal display. The insanely expensive iMac Pro ups that to two external displays at 5120 x 2880 px resolution or up to four external displays at lower resolutions. With adaptors, just about any kind of display can be hooked up, including modestly priced ones.


Affinity Photo 1.6.7 & Affinity Designer 1.6.1; macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 iMac (27-inch, Late 2012); 2.9GHz i5 CPU; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M; 8GB RAM
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I wasn't clear ... Several years back you could hook up a MacBook or mac mini to an iMac and use it as a display. Yes, take an iMac and just use the display part. It was possible. <just because you can doesn't mean you should> Everybody tried it once, it was so stupid. hence my comment about ridiculous expensive.

48 minutes ago, R C-R said:

Current iMacs come with 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports that support up to two external displays at 4096 x 2304 px resolution or one external display at 5120 x 2880 px resolution, plus the internal display. The insanely expensive iMac Pro ups that to two external displays at 5120 x 2880 px resolution or up to four external displays at lower resolutions. With adaptors, just about any kind of display can be hooked up, including modestly priced ones.

 


MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2012) Mac OS 10.12.6 || Mac Pro (Late 2013) Mac OS 10.12.6

Affinity Designer 1.6.1 | Affinity Photo 1.6.7 | Affinity Publisher beta 1.7.0.238 | Affinity Photo beta 1.7.0.110 | Affinity Designer Beta 1.7.0.4

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5 minutes ago, Old Bruce said:

Several years back you could hook up a MacBook or mac mini to an iMac and use it as a display.

That feature, called Target Display Mode, is only supported on a few older iMac models. It is (sorta) useful if you have a newer, more powerful Mac & want to use the older, less powerful iMac as an external display for it.


Affinity Photo 1.6.7 & Affinity Designer 1.6.1; macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 iMac (27-inch, Late 2012); 2.9GHz i5 CPU; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M; 8GB RAM
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Thanks to @Old Bruce asking about Target Display Mode (TDM), it just occurred to me that users who still have an older working iMac that supports TDM & are considering buying the new 2018 Mac Mini might also consider using the older iMac as a display for the new Mini. Depending on the cost of the cable & adaptor(s) needed to connect them together, that may or may not make sense.

From what I can tell from Apple & other sources, an Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter ($50 USD) is required. For the Mid 2011-Mid 2014 iMacs, a Thunderbolt 2 or Thunderbolt 1 cable (about $25-40 USD, depending on length & brand) is also required. For the 2009 & 2010 27" iMacs, a cheaper Mini DisplayPort cable should work, but I would check with Apple about that to make sure.

So... it probably does make sense, depending on the old iMac model, its size, & condition; because it would likely be a considerably better display than any regular computer monitor users could get for the same cost.


Affinity Photo 1.6.7 & Affinity Designer 1.6.1; macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 iMac (27-inch, Late 2012); 2.9GHz i5 CPU; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M; 8GB RAM
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I'm pretty comfortable with any Mac, just can't afford most of them. :22_stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: I'm interested in the Mac mini above because I could upgrade the RAM myself up to 64GB and it seems like a decent machine. My only concern was the GPU issue. How will this affect my experience with Affinity products now (which based on the tweet thread above, not much at all) and in the future?

@MattP mind sharing your thoughts?

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2 minutes ago, HYR said:

I'm interested in the Mac mini above because I could upgrade the RAM myself up to 64GB and it seems like a decent machine.

You might want to check out this article (& steps 1-6 of the iFixit teardown) before deciding if a DIY RAM upgrade is something you want to try. It is doable but far from as simple or easy as with the old ones that had user upgradable RAM. o.O


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Hi HYR,
Despite the RAM in the new Mini being upgradeable, it's not a user friendly operation. I would wait for the next Affinity versions (the customer betas should be out in a couple weeks) before taking any hardware decisions. They may run a little better on your current hardware and delay the upgrade (or not).

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Hey thanks guys! Good feedback. I'll wait.

I did see it's not an easy process but I'm tired of being stuck with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD. I'd like a machine with 32GB of RAM and 1TB SSD because I keep running out of memory and storage on my laptop. But I'll wait a bit. Thanks!

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32 minutes ago, HYR said:

I'd like a machine with 32GB of RAM and 1TB SSD because I keep running out of memory and storage on my laptop.

In the new Mini, the SSD is not replaceable (it is soldered in place), so upgrading to a 1 TB SSD at purchase time will add (gulp!) $600 or $800 to the price. Apple uses high performance PCI Express (PCIe) based SSD's, which are much more expensive (& faster) than typical SATA III based ones, but that is still a lot of money to spend on internal storage, particularly when compared to reasonably fast & cheap USB 3 externals drives. Since the Mini is a desktop computer, if you end up opting for one, it might be worth getting one or two multi-TB external USB 3 drives for mass storage (& backups!) & going with a smaller & more modestly priced internal SSD in the Mini.


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Has always been my way of keeping the cost down and the performance levels high.

At the moment a 512Gb internal and 24Gb RAM hold the performance level at acceptable , 1TB usb3external SSD for in use library and 4TB of optical (2x2TB RAID) for collection.

When I upgrade (if necessary) only the front end will need it as the further back in time the images fall the less likely I will need to work on them.

Just a thought! What will I do with them all when the big day arrives or what will happen to my collection if I just pop off? };-(

3 hours ago, R C-R said:

In the new Mini, the SSD is not replaceable (it is soldered in place), so upgrading to a 1 TB SSD at purchase time will add (gulp!) $600 or $800 to the price. Apple uses high performance PCI Express (PCIe) based SSD's, which are much more expensive (& faster) than typical SATA III based ones, but that is still a lot of money to spend on internal storage, particularly when compared to reasonably fast & cheap USB 3 externals drives. Since the Mini is a desktop computer, if you end up opting for one, it might be worth getting one or two multi-TB external USB 3 drives for mass storage (& backups!) & going with a smaller & more modestly priced internal SSD in the Mini.

 


MacPro (late 2013), 24Gb Ram, D300GPU, Eizo 24",1TB Samsung 850 Archive, 2x2Tb Time Machine,X-t2 plus 50-140mm & 18-55mm. AP, FRV & RawFile Converter (Silkypix).

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9 minutes ago, v_kyr said:

See also: Mac mini Late 2018 Teardown in terms of limited internal expandability!

FWIW, that links to the same iFixIt article I mentioned yesterday. Anyway, considering that the CPU & SSD are not upgradable after purchase, regarding the original question about the advisability of buying a 2018 Mini, I think that for use with Affinity buying one with the factory 3.2 GHz i7 CPU upgrades would be a good idea. With a 256 GB SSD & 8 GB of RAM, that goes for $1300 in the U.S., or with the 512 GB SSD for $1500.

Not cheap, but even with just 8 GB of RAM, because of Affinity's efficient use of memory combined with very fast VM paging with the NVMe SSD controller, that should offer loads of performance. Add an inexpensive multi-TB external USB3 drive or two & it seems to me like a good choice.


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13 minutes ago, R C-R said:

FWIW, that links to the same iFixIt article I mentioned yesterday.

Ah Ok didn‘t followed the whole thread, thus didn‘t saw that. - Price wise nothing is cheap lately in the Apple universe, so it‘s always also a matter of needs and taste etc. The new Minis can get quite expensive dependent on configuration and the fact that they don‘t come along with a Keyboard/mouse combo or any monitor like an iMac. So one has to compare here what‘s finally more valuable and overall useful as a desktop computer.

In Europe the Mini configurations advertised by Apple (just two by now) on their website are actually still very limited.


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3 hours ago, v_kyr said:

In Europe the Mini configurations advertised by Apple (just two by now) on their website are actually still very limited.

Click the "Select" button for either of the two base configurations and then you are presented with customisation options.

 

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37 minutes ago, >|< said:

Click the "Select" button for either of the two base configurations and then you are presented with customisation options.

I know, but I'm always scared to click there, because I might get dizzy considering the config prices. ;)

 
 
 
 
 
 

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46 minutes ago, v_kyr said:

I know, but I'm always scared to click there, because I might get dizzy considering the config prices. ;)

xD I get dizzy just trying to understand why there is such a huge spread in the price & performance of these high end SSD's, what all the tech that goes into them does, & how much of it is in the Apple products.

I understand that NVMe over PCIe is much faster than AHCI over SATA (& I even know what all those buzzword abbreviations stand for) but there is much more to it than that. Since Apple annoyingly does not provide full specs about their SSD's, I have to rely on other sources like this PC World article for clues about the differences. From that I learned that SLC NAND is fastest (& so expensive that it is impractical for high capacity consumer storage SSD's); that '2-bit' NAND is faster than '3-bit' or '4-bit' (except when it isn't); & that just going from 3-bit (a.k.a. "TLC") to 2-bit (a.k.a. "MLC") can roughly double the price.

So, without knowing what Apple uses, there is no good way of knowing if its dizzying SSD prices are reasonable or not. :(


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Yes that's the common problem in urging about price politics ...

25 minutes ago, R C-R said:

So, without knowing what Apple uses, there is no good way of knowing if its dizzying SSD prices are reasonable or not. 

... and something why sources like Ifixit or the suppliers and Original Equipment and Component Manufacturers named by DigiTimes etc. are often valuable sources of informations.

 


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On 11/10/2018 at 3:16 PM, v_kyr said:

... and something why sources like Ifixit or the suppliers and Original Equipment and Component Manufacturers named by DigiTimes etc. are often valuable sources of informations.

The iFixIt teardown shows what seems to be the part numbers printed on the four soldered in place Toshiba NAND flash memory modules, but I can't find any other specific info about them. From the "Configuration of SSDs" section of this Toshiba SSD webpage, it appears they could be either MLC (faster & more expensive) or TLC (slower but less expensive) modules.

Since there is no separate SSD circuit board in the Mini like there would be for pre-packaged SSD's, the controller that would normally be on that circuit board has to be somewhere else on the Mini's motherboard. That almost certainly is what the teardown identifies as the "Intel SR40E CM246 platform controller hub." That is a chipset family that can be configured with different embedded options, so there is no way to know how similar it is to whatever Toshiba uses in their SSD's.

Some early benchmarks like this one from Tom's Guide suggest even the base model with 128 GB of flash storage & i3 CPU can do file operations at > 2500 MBps transfer rates (& the ones with larger SSD's might even be faster), which suggests Apple is using MLC NAND & possibly controllers that together deliver real world performance comparable to the fastest Samsung Pro SSD's. That still makes Apple's SSD prices higher than the Samsung's, but by a lot less than it might otherwise seem.

Regardless of all that, a 2018 Mini with an i7 upgrade & any of the SSD options should be a good choice for running the Affinity apps.


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Hard to tell since there actuallly isn't much information about the new Mini's Mobo internal components, beside the usual tech site talks. Maybe it's also already too new to find related infos here, since it's often difficult to find concrete up-to-date semiconductor component tech specs, manuals and the like. - Related to Toshiba flash memory modules, they seem to be in transition here too, like other players in that field.


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1 hour ago, v_kyr said:

Hard to tell since there actuallly isn't much information about the new Mini's Mobo internal components, beside the usual tech site talks.

We will probably never know the whole story about that because a big part of it depends on interrelated factors like the details of how macOS interacts with SSD's used as boot drives, how much provisioning there is in the NAND modules, how good the controller's error correction is, & anything else that affects the SSD's reliability vs. its performance.

Apple is usually pretty good about finding a good balance but even so, I don't think I would count on a new Mini' longevity exceeding 4-5 years of heavy use at most. :(


Affinity Photo 1.6.7 & Affinity Designer 1.6.1; macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 iMac (27-inch, Late 2012); 2.9GHz i5 CPU; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M; 8GB RAM
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That's right, since they design and highly integrate (do solder) chips and components nowadays directly on their MoBos, so only long time benchmarking and the like might tell here for SSD reliability vs. performance.

3 hours ago, R C-R said:

Apple is usually pretty good about finding a good balance but even so, I don't think I would count on a new Mini' longevity exceeding 4-5 years of heavy use at most.

Hmm I think today most actual industry hardware isn't as longevity as in the pasts (and computers are no exception here). This could also be deliberate and intended by the industry for buyers and end users, so they sometime have to buy earlier new things too.

BTW, the Ifixit iPad Pro 11" Teardown also shows Toshiba embedded flash storage. - Also interesting NVMe SSDs extends server RAM (from this german news article).

 


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