I'm tempted by the finally-upgraded Mac Mini (pictured above with the new 13" iPad Pro configured as its display), long the black sheep of the Mac lineup but loved for the promise of compact power it (again) justifies. Rather than make the new model smaller, as some expected, they kept the same box and filled it with powerful modern parts like 8th-Gen desktop-class i7 CPUs.
The Mac mini was simple, it was cheap, and it did its job well. So well, in fact, that it took on a second life for many owners as a home media PC, a NAS server, and even as part of a compute cluster.
But the 2018 Mac mini is a different beast. It is much more powerful — it is, without hyperbole, a miniature Mac Pro — and as a result, it is no longer all that cheap. In fact, Apple’s cheapest Mac has moved from a sub-$500 purchase to a $799 one, and much more if you want a larger solid state drive, a faster processor, or more memory. You can spec out a lowly Mac mini all the way up to $4,199 if you really desire. (This time around the RAM is user replaceable, while the SSD is not.)
With other models a generation behind, the i7 model benchmarks faster than everything in the lineup short of the iMac Pro.
The big drag, however, is the integrated graphics. At the price, there should be something more. That said, it is still much smaller than even the smallest MXM-slot game/workstation-class PCs, and it hopefully won't be long before there are external GPUs in the Mac Mini form factor (similar to the Sonnet Puck) to stack atop it.
The big gotcha is that storage is soldered in. You can upgrade the RAM, though.
Photo: Michael Potuck
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