2018 Mac Mini’s internal SSD question

getrealbro

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I’m planning on ordering a 2018 Mac Mini with the 6Core i7 CPU and installing 32GB of RAM on day one, But I need some help understanding any benefits of ordering more than a 128GB of PCIe SSD.

The 2018 Mac Mini will be replacing my 2014 Mac Mini with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB spinner. I have ALWAYS partitioned any Mac internal drive into System and Data. Currently Mojave comfortably fits on a 128GB “system” partition with the remainder allocated to "current Data". I also have a pair of 8 TB USB 3 external drives for Time Machine and a decade of Photos libraries respectively. I will happily add an external SSD drive to handle the “current Data”. So…

Is there any reason to order more than 128GB of hardwired PCIe SSD?
Is the internal PCIe SSD significantly faster than an external SSD for data?
What is the projected life expectancy of the hardwired PCIe SSD?

Thanks in Advance — GetRealBro
 
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casperes1996

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Larger SSDs typically perform better and have longer lifetimes. The 256GB writes faster than the 128GB model and you can write more data to it before it's expected to fail.
Unless you get ridiculously good drives your external won't be as fast, but the significance of the performance gap cannot be concluded without knowing more about what type of data and what operations will be performed on said data. Playing back music files is drastically different from editing 8K video files, but it's all data
 

phrehdd

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I’m planning on ordering a 2018 Mac Mini with the 6Core i7 CPU and installing 32GB of RAM on day one, But I need some help understanding any benefits of ordering more than a 128GB of PCIe SSD.

The 2018 Mac Mini will be replacing my 2014 Mac Mini with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB spinner. I have ALWAYS partitioned any Mac internal drive into System and Data. Currently Mojave comfortably fits on a 128GB “system” partition with the remainder allocated to "current Data". I also have a pair of 8 TB USB 3 external drives for Time Machine and a decade of Photos libraries respectively. I will happily add an external SSD drive to handle the “current Data”. So…

Is there any reason to order more than 128GB of hardwired PCIe SSD?
Is the internal PCIe SSD significantly faster than an external SSD for data?
What is the projected life expectancy of the hardwired PCIe SSD?

Thanks in Advance — GetRealBro
Given the nature of SSD, you should reconsider making a 2 partition setup on an SSD. As for volume, I find that 250 would be my minimum and 500 ideal (as I work with various file sizes and amounts depending on projects). The alternative would be 250 internal and high speed external connection to SSD (USB3 / 3.1 / c etc.).
 

casperes1996

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Given the nature of SSD, you should reconsider making a 2 partition setup on an SSD

If it's APFS "partitioning" it doesn't really make a difference to the physical characteristics. APFS is all in one container partition, and the logical volume management can be done separate of the physical level so you can have many logical partitions on a single physical partition.
 
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phrehdd

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If it's APFS "partitioning" it doesn't really make a difference to the physical characteristics. APFS is all in one container partition, and the logical volume management can be done separate of the physical level so you can have many logical partitions on a single physical partition.
Again, there is no need. It really has no value. I'm familiar with logical drives, extended etc. (DOS, OS2, Linux/Unix etc.) As someone who was keen on similar long ago, it turns out unless there is some sort of advantage to "housekeeping," it serves no purpose.
 

russell_314

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I’m planning on ordering a 2018 Mac Mini with the 6Core i7 CPU and installing 32GB of RAM on day one, But I need some help understanding any benefits of ordering more than a 128GB of PCIe SSD.

The 2018 Mac Mini will be replacing my 2014 Mac Mini with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB spinner. I have ALWAYS partitioned any Mac internal drive into System and Data. Currently Mojave comfortably fits on a 128GB “system” partition with the remainder allocated to "current Data". I also have a pair of 8 TB USB 3 external drives for Time Machine and a decade of Photos libraries respectively. I will happily add an external SSD drive to handle the “current Data”. So…

Is there any reason to order more than 128GB of hardwired PCIe SSD?
Is the internal PCIe SSD significantly faster than an external SSD for data?
What is the projected life expectancy of the hardwired PCIe SSD?

Thanks in Advance — GetRealBro
I guess it depends on what you're using the computer for. If you're just browsing the web, social media, chatting, looking at cat pictures then 128 GB is more than enough. If you're playing games or installing multiple applications I don't think 128 GB is enough. 128 GB is going to be less due to formatting and space taken up by the OS. I know on Windows PC there is usually ten percent "over provisioning space" that extends the life of the SSD. My current MacBook has a spinning drive so not sure if that's the case with Mac. As someone said above larger SSD will have a longer lifespan. I know the SSD isn't user replaceable but not sure if Apple can replace it.
 

getrealbro

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Thanks for the replies.

I guess I just don’t get the whole SSD worship thing. Are people so caught up on performance that they are willing to give up capacity? There’s a reason I have 16TB of USB 3.0 external storage attached to my current Mac Mini. Even a 1TB internal hard drive/SSD only holds a fraction of the “Data” that I’d like to access when needed, without fumbling to find the right external backup/archive drive.

OTOH the Mojave OS is a pig on spinning drives — my 2014 Mac Mini runs much faster when my Mojave system partition is on a 128GB Micro SD. So I do want improved performance for the MacOS activities. But frankly I really don’t care if internal SSDs are faster for DATA access. There aren't any SSDs large enough to handle my data that don't require a bank loan. I’ve been using spinning drives for decades, They are rarely the real bottle neck for me. So maybe I should reword my first question…

Is there any reason to order more than 128GB of hardwired PCIe SSD -- if it will only used for the macOS with minimal data (e.g downloads will be directed to an external drive/SSD, etc.)?

Thanks Again — GetRealBro

p.s. FWIW my main use of our Mac Mini is…Firefox, Mail, Google earth (2GB of myplaces including numerous historical aerial photo overlays), QGIS (processing shape files -> KML), Photos (decades of photos and videos), Preview (photo processing), iMovie (video processing), Quicktime (video review), Quicken (financial records), MS Excel (financial modeling). Sorry, no social media or cat videos :(
 

F-Train

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I guess I just don’t get the whole SSD worship thing.
So I'm reading this thread and I'm not seeing anything that amounts to what you call SSD worship.

What I do see is that you are the umpteenth person who has asked this question and that you could have saved yourself and others a lot of time if you'd done a basic search of the forum.
 
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getrealbro

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So I'm reading this thread and I'm not seeing anything that amounts to what you call SSD worship.

What I do see is that you are the umpteenth person who has asked this question and that you could have saved yourself and others a lot of time if you'd done a basic search of the forum.
I did search and if I missed it, I apologize. But my question was and still is…

“Is there any reason to order more than 128GB of hardwired PCIe SSD -- if it will only used for the macOS with minimal data (e.g downloads will be directed to an external drive/SSD, etc.)?”

So please let me know exactly where you found “this question” elsewhere on this forum?

GetRealBro
 

F-Train

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I did search and if I missed it, I apologize. But my question was and still is…

“Is there any reason to order more than 128GB of hardwired PCIe SSD -- if it will only used for the macOS with minimal data (e.g downloads will be directed to an external drive/SSD, etc.)?”

So please let me know exactly where you found “this question” elsewhere on this forum?

GetRealBro
This has been discussed ad nauseum on this forum, and no, I’m not going to do the search for you.

The mini base models are 128GB and 256GB. What people need, and whether 128GB is enough for their needs, has unsurprisingly been raised, and discussed, to death.

Hey, if people want to answer yet again, cool, and if they want to parse their responses to ensure that they aren’t open to the charge of “SSD worship”, also cool.
 
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russell_314

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Thanks for the replies.

I guess I just don’t get the whole SSD worship thing. Are people so caught up on performance that they are willing to give up capacity? There’s a reason I have 16TB of USB 3.0 external storage attached to my current Mac Mini. Even a 1TB internal hard drive/SSD only holds a fraction of the “Data” that I’d like to access when needed, without fumbling to find the right external backup/archive drive.

OTOH the Mojave OS is a pig on spinning drives — my 2014 Mac Mini runs much faster when my Mojave system partition is on a 128GB Micro SD. So I do want improved performance for the MacOS activities. But frankly I really don’t care if internal SSDs are faster for DATA access. There aren't any SSDs large enough to handle my data that don't require a bank loan. I’ve been using spinning drives for decades, They are rarely the real bottle neck for me. So maybe I should reword my first question…

Is there any reason to order more than 128GB of hardwired PCIe SSD -- if it will only used for the macOS with minimal data (e.g downloads will be directed to an external drive/SSD, etc.)?

Thanks Again — GetRealBro

p.s. FWIW my main use of our Mac Mini is…Firefox, Mail, Google earth (2GB of myplaces including numerous historical aerial photo overlays), QGIS (processing shape files -> KML), Photos (decades of photos and videos), Preview (photo processing), iMovie (video processing), Quicktime (video review), Quicken (financial records), MS Excel (financial modeling). Sorry, no social media or cat videos :(
You said you don't get the SSD worship thing as you call it but also complain that the latest Mac OS is slow on older spinning drives. As hardware components improve speed so does the demand from the OS and programs. Newer operating systems are going to suffer on older slower hardware. This is the same with Windows as well. As to your needs of internal drive space only you can truly answer that question based on what you plan to do with it. I know for my purposes 256 GB barely suffices so 128 GB wouldn't work. The only advantage of more free space on an SSD is in theory it will last longer.
 

MacNeal

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FWIW, I got a 2018 mini with a 500GB SSD a few months back and I presently have 339.4 GB used and 164.91 GB available. The vast bulk of my files are on external 1-3TB spinner drives, but I have a good number of apps installed on my SSD as well as iTunes files, lots of Mail archives, etc. I found it worth it to not skimp on the hard-wired SSD size in order to not have to keep looking over my shoulder over whether I was about to max out my internal SSD storage space. This all works great for me at present.
 
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wardie

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FWIW, I got a 2018 mini with a 500GB SSD a few months back and I presently have 339.4 GB used and 164.91 GB available. The vast bulk of my files are on external 1-3TB spinner drives, but I have a good number of apps installed on my SSD as well as iTunes files, lots of Mail archives, etc. I found it worth it to not skimp on the hard-wired SSD size in order to not have to keep looking over my shoulder over whether I was about to max out my internal SSD storage space. This all works great for me at present.
My experience too (1TB drive) I’d say my usage goes in between 400-600GB depending on what I’m doing. Given I have the space I work on stuff on the internal drive and whenever I can be bothered ship things out to either an 1TB T5 SSD or large-TB HDDs after. Main exception is Lightroom, I. Have scratch space on the internal drive and the masters on the T5 SSD otherwise that quickly eats space with large raw imports. All down to personal use case at the end of the day.
 

Ploki

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Thanks for the replies.

I guess I just don’t get the whole SSD worship thing. Are people so caught up on performance that they are willing to give up capacity? There’s a reason I have 16TB of USB 3.0 external storage attached to my current Mac Mini. Even a 1TB internal hard drive/SSD only holds a fraction of the “Data” that I’d like to access when needed, without fumbling to find the right external backup/archive drive.

OTOH the Mojave OS is a pig on spinning drives — my 2014 Mac Mini runs much faster when my Mojave system partition is on a 128GB Micro SD. So I do want improved performance for the MacOS activities. But frankly I really don’t care if internal SSDs are faster for DATA access. There aren't any SSDs large enough to handle my data that don't require a bank loan. I’ve been using spinning drives for decades, They are rarely the real bottle neck for me. So maybe I should reword my first question…

Is there any reason to order more than 128GB of hardwired PCIe SSD -- if it will only used for the macOS with minimal data (e.g downloads will be directed to an external drive/SSD, etc.)?

Thanks Again — GetRealBro

p.s. FWIW my main use of our Mac Mini is…Firefox, Mail, Google earth (2GB of myplaces including numerous historical aerial photo overlays), QGIS (processing shape files -> KML), Photos (decades of photos and videos), Preview (photo processing), iMovie (video processing), Quicktime (video review), Quicken (financial records), MS Excel (financial modeling). Sorry, no social media or cat videos :(
SSD is just stupidly faster and everything works smoother, and it has a smaller failure rate.
I have 512GB internal on the mini + 1TB NVMe external (as fast as the internal).
No way am i going back to spinners for daily use.

128GB seems fine for your use, but i don't know how much space you have free.
Apps and OS tends to get chunkier over time, and if you only have 20GB free on a 128GB partition you are pushing it. SSD performance tends to drop when you approach the upper limit of free space.

256GB is not that much of expense and could last you longer when future updates get chunkier.
 
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MandiMac

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Is there any reason to order more than 128GB of hardwired PCIe SSD -- if it will only used for the macOS with minimal data (e.g downloads will be directed to an external drive/SSD, etc.)?
Nope, there isn't. If you don't care about access speed on your external 16 TB of data, you'll be completely fine.
 

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getrealbro

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Thanks all for your input.

Ploki’s point that “…if you only have 20GB free on a 128GB partition you are pushing it. SSD performance tends to drop when you approach the upper limit of free space.” hit home. I tend to run my system partition pretty full. Often I let it get down to 20GB of free space before offloading stuff the MacOS insists on putting in my Home folder. So a 128GB internal SSD looks less doable.

FWIW I do get that SSDs are very attractive because they are a lot faster/reliable. But this will be my first Mac, in over 2 decades, where the “internal drive” is not replaceable. Since I tend to keep Macs well beyond their use-by-date, I assume the internal SSD, regardless of size, will fail before I stop using the Mini. So I’ve been assuming that I would be running the OS off of an external SSD for much of the life of the Mini. Hence my reluctance to buy a larger internal SSD from Apple.

OTOH If I was sure that an external SSD (e.g. Samsung T5) would boot and run roughly as fast as the internal SSD, I’d buy the 128GB Mini and invest is a good quality external SSD. Turn the internal SSD into a scratch/backup/emergency boot “drive”, install Mojave on the external SSD and never look back.

Is anyone regularly booting their 2018 Mac Mini from an external SSD? If so which drive? And how well does that work?

Thanks Again — GetRealBro
 

MandiMac

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“…if you only have 20GB free on a 128GB partition you are pushing it. SSD performance tends to drop when you approach the upper limit of free space.”
Nope. That's exactly why a 256 GB SSD drive gets you 250,69 GB of actually usable space - the manufacturer already took care of that overprovisioning for you. The only free space you should really leave is around 1-2 GB for the swap file that macOS sometimes like to create. I'd say buy the SSD you want and use it normally - no need for getting an external SSD and configuring it in the first place. SSDs are said to have a long life, so enjoy :)
 

Ploki

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Nope. That's exactly why a 256 GB SSD drive gets you 250,69 GB of actually usable space - the manufacturer already took care of that overprovisioning for you. The only free space you should really leave is around 1-2 GB for the swap file that macOS sometimes like to create. I'd say buy the SSD you want and use it normally - no need for getting an external SSD and configuring it in the first place. SSDs are said to have a long life, so enjoy :)
Depends, but on older Macs (2012-2015) that wasn't true. Performance degraded terribly when you approached the limits of the drive. Anyway, i wouldn't count on that.

Thanks all for your input.

Ploki’s point that “…if you only have 20GB free on a 128GB partition you are pushing it. SSD performance tends to drop when you approach the upper limit of free space.” hit home. I tend to run my system partition pretty full. Often I let it get down to 20GB of free space before offloading stuff the MacOS insists on putting in my Home folder. So a 128GB internal SSD looks less doable.

FWIW I do get that SSDs are very attractive because they are a lot faster/reliable. But this will be my first Mac, in over 2 decades, where the “internal drive” is not replaceable. Since I tend to keep Macs well beyond their use-by-date, I assume the internal SSD, regardless of size, will fail before I stop using the Mini. So I’ve been assuming that I would be running the OS off of an external SSD for much of the life of the Mini. Hence my reluctance to buy a larger internal SSD from Apple.

OTOH If I was sure that an external SSD (e.g. Samsung T5) would boot and run roughly as fast as the internal SSD, I’d buy the 128GB Mini and invest is a good quality external SSD. Turn the internal SSD into a scratch/backup/emergency boot “drive”, install Mojave on the external SSD and never look back.

Is anyone regularly booting their 2018 Mac Mini from an external SSD? If so which drive? And how well does that work?

Thanks Again — GetRealBro
SSD failure rates are ridiculous, i doubt your computer will outlive the SSD and in any case, a slightly larger drive will have more life.

Some people here run them from external drives.
T5 will not run as fast as the internal drive, X5 however will probably run even faster
 

MandiMac

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getrealbro

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Thanks for the links and comments about SSD life expectancy. I guess I was remembering the horror stories of reduced performance in the early, pricy SSDs.

FWIW it’s not really about the money. I just don’t like supporting Apple’s penchant for soldering in stuff and charging high prices for generic hardware that could be user upgradable, RAM, SSDs etc.. For example, I have used Mac PowerBooks/MacBooks since the PowerBook 240c era. But Apple no longer makes any laptop that I would consider buying because of the lack of user RAM/SSD upgrades or repairs. The iMac is inching toward my Don’t Buy list. So the 2018 Mac Mini is the only Mac still on my Buy list :(

Thanks Again — GetRealBro
 

Ploki

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Thanks for the links and comments about SSD life expectancy. I guess I was remembering the horror stories of reduced performance in the early, pricy SSDs.

FWIW it’s not really about the money. I just don’t like supporting Apple’s penchant for soldering in stuff and charging high prices for generic hardware that could be user upgradable, RAM, SSDs etc.. For example, I have used Mac PowerBooks/MacBooks since the PowerBook 240c era. But Apple no longer makes any laptop that I would consider buying because of the lack of user RAM/SSD upgrades or repairs. The iMac is inching toward my Don’t Buy list. So the 2018 Mac Mini is the only Mac still on my Buy list :(

Thanks Again — GetRealBro
i have the 2018 13" and 2018 Mini, and i like them both

I think 256GB is still passable as far as price concerns go... Not great, sure, but you only get ripped off 100% instead of 400% like higher capacities.

i personally bought 512GB for both, but since i bought a very fast NVMe thunderbolt external i have most of stuff on the external and i only use about 76GB of the internal lol. Could have gone with 256GB easily, but hey... i might rely on the internal more in the future.

but no way am i getting anything larger than 512GB from Apple ever again. 750€ for 256gb to 1TB upgrade? insanity.

Soldered isn't even the full story, the iMac Pro has blades, but they're hardcore proprietary so there's been no 3rd party upgrades and probably won't be anyway.
 

casperes1996

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Again, there is no need. It really has no value. I'm familiar with logical drives, extended etc. (DOS, OS2, Linux/Unix etc.) As someone who was keen on similar long ago, it turns out unless there is some sort of advantage to "housekeeping," it serves no purpose.
No need is very different from an active detriment which was what I was arguing that it isn't. Our OP was talking about partitioning into data and system which is exactly a housekeeping partitioning scheme. It also serves to facilitate multi-boot environments, though granted unless both systems are versions of macOS, the APFS logical partitioning wouldn't then be the trick.

Is there any reason to order more than 128GB of hardwired PCIe SSD -- if it will only used for the macOS with minimal data (e.g downloads will be directed to an external drive/SSD, etc.)?
Write speeds are better, the drive will have a longer endurance rating, i.e you'll be able to write more data to it before it's expected to die. Whether that's worth it is a different story, but there are reasons.

SSD is just stupidly faster and everything works smoother, and it has a smaller failure rate.
Regarding failure rates that's both true and false. If the objective is cold storage, SSDs will never really catch on since they fail much sooner than hard drives or tape. But yes, under the discussed circumstances, sure.

FWIW I do get that SSDs are very attractive because they are a lot faster/reliable. But this will be my first Mac, in over 2 decades, where the “internal drive” is not replaceable. Since I tend to keep Macs well beyond their use-by-date, I assume the internal SSD, regardless of size, will fail before I stop using the Mini. So I’ve been assuming that I would be running the OS off of an external SSD for much of the life of the Mini. Hence my reluctance to buy a larger internal SSD from Apple.
The internal SSD will likely outlive the other components, like the CPU or PSU. Or maybe not, but it'll at the very least (assuming no spectacular conditions), your SSD will last a very, very long time.
 
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vbctv

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Usually yes the larger SSD's have longer life and are faster, but these are custom Apple SSDs they use that are soldered to the board. I think they are all the same speed and likely have the same lifetime. I have the Mac mini with a 128GB SSD and it works fine, I keep my Photos & iTunes library and all non-essential files on my 500GB T5.
 

casperes1996

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Usually yes the larger SSD's have longer life and are faster, but these are custom Apple SSDs they use that are soldered to the board. I think they are all the same speed and likely have the same lifetime. I have the Mac mini with a 128GB SSD and it works fine, I keep my Photos & iTunes library and all non-essential files on my 500GB T5.
The reason larger SSDs last longer and have faster write speeds comes down to the nature of how SSDs physically work.