3.6 GHz Mac Mini for Video editing

sonofpear

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Original poster
Jul 16, 2018
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Hello everyone. I tried a search and I didn't find what I was looking for so sorry if this has been asked to death. I do light video editing like 3-5 min videos usually of my kids or some you tube content. I am usually using like action cameras and an Iphone XS and usually about 1080p. What I want to know is for what I am doing would the base Mac Mini work and do ok? I am still using a 2009 macbook pro and its pretty excruciating to edit on. As an every day computer its fine but editing no thanks. I wouldnt mind making the jump to 4K but my concern is if the base setup would be able to handle what I need. What configuration do you suggest. I dont have a ton to spend as this is just hobby and not professional work here. Thanks in advance.
 

jackerin

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Jun 29, 2008
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I was using an old Mac mini 2012 i7 for my photo/video editing up until last year, and it handled most HD video fine. From what I hear the new i3 Mac mini is about on the same level processor-wise but with much better integrated graphics and faster storage, so I'd say it should be just fine. If you can, then I'd recommend upping the RAM to 16gb since the graphics chip shares RAM with the rest of the system.
 

Boyd01

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Feb 21, 2012
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I agree. I currently use a 2012 2.6ghz quad Mini to edit 1080p video and it's fine. As @jackerin said, the base 2018 and 2020 Mini's have about the same CPU rating but much better graphics and faster ports. Should be just fine for your needs.

If you are really concerned about cost, you could try to find a used 2012 quad-core i7 Mini. These used to be rather expensive, but have gotten pretty cheap ever since the 2018 Mini was introduced.
 

sonofpear

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Original poster
Jul 16, 2018
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I agree. I currently use a 2012 2.6ghz quad Mini to edit 1080p video and it's fine. As @jackerin said, the base 2018 and 2020 Mini's have about the same CPU rating but much better graphics and faster ports. Should be just fine for your needs.

If you are really concerned about cost, you could try to find a used 2012 quad-core i7 Mini. These used to be rather expensive, but have gotten pretty cheap ever since the 2018 Mini was introduced.
That’s helps a little. I have about 1,200 to spend so I’m trying to decide do I go with the ext level up or should I plop in more ram? I would like to do some 4K without pulling my hair out and maybe dabble into some other stuff. Also I’m a big fan of future proofing so I don’t make this purchase again anytime soon.
 

sonofpear

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Original poster
Jul 16, 2018
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In that case, I would put all the money into a big SSD, since that cannot be upgraded later. You could add more RAM anytime.
I had thought about that but I already use external hard drives to hold my media so I was planning to use external SSD to hold that stuff. Or would it be better to spend the money and go with the 3.0 Ghz 6 core?
 

Boyd01

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I don't know. But I've never heard anybody say "damn, I wish my SSD was smaller" after a few years. :)

For me personally, I would buy the top spec everything, which is quite expensive. And that is why I'm still using my 2012 quad - which is just fine for the time being. And, considering current events, this strikes me as a good time to "love the one you're with". I wouldn't be surprised to see some big sales in a few months.
 
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sonofpear

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Original poster
Jul 16, 2018
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I don't know. But I've never heard anybody say "damn, I wish my SSD was smaller" after a few years. :)

For me personally, I would buy the top spec everything, which is quite expensive. And that is why I'm still using my 2012 quad - which is just fine for the time being. And, considering current events, this strikes me as a good time to "love the one you're with". I wouldn't be surprised to see some big sales in a few months.
Valid point. I’d love to go full top of the line but I just can’t. A guy by me is selling this but do I get this or save the money and buy something else?
 

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Boyd01

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Ugh, why would you want that?


Geekbench is only half of my 2012 quad, USB 2.0 ports. I know it's cheap, but personally I wouldn't take it as a gift. Sure isn't a machine I would want for video editing. Does Final Cut Pro even support a video card with only 256MB of memory?

If you want a used mini, the oldest that I'd even consider is a 2012 i7 quad-core.
 
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sonofpear

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Original poster
Jul 16, 2018
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Ugh, why would you want that?


Geekbench is only half of my 2012 quad, USB 2.0 ports. I know it's cheap, but personally I wouldn't take it as a gift. Sure isn't a machine I would want for video editing. Does Final Cut Pro even support a video card with only 256MB of memory?

If you want a used mini, the oldest that I'd even consider is a 2012 i7 quad-core.
Thank you for that information. Do you think they might drop the price of the new one or anything?
 

Boyd01

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Of course, nobody knows what Apple might do with prices. But - just my personal opinion - I wouldn't buy anything right now unless you really need it. Stores may need to get rid of inventory at some point, and (unfortunately) there could be lots of used machines coming on the market. OTOH, my track record of predicting the future is terrible, LOL. 😂

There have already been some pretty good sales on the base 128gb 2018 Mini, there was a front page article about this here at MacRumors recently, and of course there are also refurbs at Apple's online store.
 
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sonofpear

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 16, 2018
17
2
Of course, nobody knows what Apple might do with prices. But - just my personal opinion - I wouldn't buy anything right now unless you really need it. Stores may need to get rid of inventory at some point, and (unfortunately) there could be lots of used machines coming on the market. OTOH, my track record of predicting the future is terrible, LOL. 😂

There have already been some pretty good sales on the base 128gb 2018 Mini, there was a front page article about this here at MacRumors recently, and of course there are also refurbs at Apple's online store.
I’ll keep my eyes open. I’d like to go i5 or i7 processor with a bit bigger ssd. Your opinion would it be better to go i5 and less ssd or i3 with more ssd?
 

sonofpear

macrumors newbie
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Jul 16, 2018
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If it were me, I would rather just wait until I could afford a better machine, rather than make a compromise I would regret later.
Well I wasn’t buying tomorrow so I’ve got some time to save a little bit more
 
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iluvmacs99

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Apr 9, 2019
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Hello everyone. I tried a search and I didn't find what I was looking for so sorry if this has been asked to death. I do light video editing like 3-5 min videos usually of my kids or some you tube content. I am usually using like action cameras and an Iphone XS and usually about 1080p. What I want to know is for what I am doing would the base Mac Mini work and do ok? I am still using a 2009 macbook pro and its pretty excruciating to edit on. As an every day computer its fine but editing no thanks. I wouldnt mind making the jump to 4K but my concern is if the base setup would be able to handle what I need. What configuration do you suggest. I don't have a ton to spend as this is just hobby and not professional work here. Thanks in advance.
The base Mini is more than capable editing 1080p and exporting it super quick thanks to the T2 chip. The integrated graphics on the base mini (2018-2020) is very capable compared to the 2009 Macbook Pro which is based on the Nvidia 9400M (I have the 17", though it's now running Mint 19.3) so yeah, it's no wonder it is pretty excruciating to edit on. Having said that, video editing is NOT only about how fast your CPU is, but how capable your GPU is. The reason your Macbook Pro 2009 is so slow is because its CPU (Dual Core) is too weak to process the highbit rate off your iPhone XS and the action cam let alone the higher FPS (60fps and up). When you edit the video, the software like iMovie have to transcode your intraframe footage (compressed h.264 or h.265 files) into a set of interframe clips so you can edit them. After you finished editing the footage, you then export the edited project back to intraframe so you can play it back on your TV, your phone or your computer. This process is called "transcoding" and traditionally, it was done by the CPU. With the Mac Mini 2018, it is now done with a T2 security chip that is on the base Mini as well as the top end i7 model. With the T2 chip, the transcoding process is amazingly quick. What took my Mac Pro 5,1 to transcode a 1080p in 1hr, it will take a base Mini only less than 10 minutes for the same file!! So yes, the base Mini 2018 will easily smoke the 2012 Quad Core i7. I know, cause I tested them when I was working as IT for a Mac, PC and Linux recycling organization. Basically, your base Mini would be fine. If you want more capability, you should be focusing on getting an eGPU (external GPU) like the Akitio Node and marry it with a Radeon RX580 with 8Gb of ram. Basically the more video ram you have, the more fluid the editing on the time line it is for your video. So it does not matter if you get a Core i7 Mini 2018 or 2020 because it will be limited by its weak built-in iGPU which supports up to 1.5Gb of video ram. A base mini with a Radeon external GPU would easily edit any 4K video providing that you have fast USB-C external storage for your footages and finish products as 4K is 4 times the information of 1080p so file sizes and the speed necessary to read and write need to be fast as well. Hope this helps.
 

sonofpear

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 16, 2018
17
2
The base Mini is more than capable editing 1080p and exporting it super quick thanks to the T2 chip. The integrated graphics on the base mini (2018-2020) is very capable compared to the 2009 Macbook Pro which is based on the Nvidia 9400M (I have the 17", though it's now running Mint 19.3) so yeah, it's no wonder it is pretty excruciating to edit on. Having said that, video editing is NOT only about how fast your CPU is, but how capable your GPU is. The reason your Macbook Pro 2009 is so slow is because its CPU (Dual Core) is too weak to process the highbit rate off your iPhone XS and the action cam let alone the higher FPS (60fps and up). When you edit the video, the software like iMovie have to transcode your intraframe footage (compressed h.264 or h.265 files) into a set of interframe clips so you can edit them. After you finished editing the footage, you then export the edited project back to intraframe so you can play it back on your TV, your phone or your computer. This process is called "transcoding" and traditionally, it was done by the CPU. With the Mac Mini 2018, it is now done with a T2 security chip that is on the base Mini as well as the top end i7 model. With the T2 chip, the transcoding process is amazingly quick. What took my Mac Pro 5,1 to transcode a 1080p in 1hr, it will take a base Mini only less than 10 minutes for the same file!! So yes, the base Mini 2018 will easily smoke the 2012 Quad Core i7. I know, cause I tested them when I was working as IT for a Mac, PC and Linux recycling organization. Basically, your base Mini would be fine. If you want more capability, you should be focusing on getting an eGPU (external GPU) like the Akitio Node and marry it with a Radeon RX580 with 8Gb of ram. Basically the more video ram you have, the more fluid the editing on the time line it is for your video. So it does not matter if you get a Core i7 Mini 2018 or 2020 because it will be limited by its weak built-in iGPU which supports up to 1.5Gb of video ram. A base mini with a Radeon external GPU would easily edit any 4K video providing that you have fast USB-C external storage for your footages and finish products as 4K is 4 times the information of 1080p so file sizes and the speed necessary to read and write need to be fast as well. Hope this helps.
That was really helpful. So really I could go with the basic but spend more on the eGPU and external SSD. my other thought was an iMac but I really don’t need a third screen on my already full desk. Anything else you would recommend? Sounds like tO some extent the mini has the best expansion possibilities if I start doing more
 

iluvmacs99

macrumors 6502
Apr 9, 2019
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That was really helpful. So really I could go with the basic but spend more on the eGPU and external SSD. my other thought was an iMac but I really don’t need a third screen on my already full desk. Anything else you would recommend? Sounds like tO some extent the mini has the best expansion possibilities if I start doing more
I think iMac is a better deal since it comes with a screen (4K or 5K depending on which model you go for), a dedicated GPU so you don't need to get an eGPU for your type of video editing and decent expansion of TB3 (USB-C) ports for external SSD storage. But like you said, you already have the screen so the mini would be the best for expansion wise. I don't have anything to recommend other than keeping in mind for 4K edit, you would need a minimum of 16Gb of RAM to start and 8Gb of video ram. 8Gb RAM is fine for 1080p and about 2 to 4Gb of video ram.
 

sonofpear

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 16, 2018
17
2
Now this is where I get a little muddy. If I go iMac I can only afford maybe the base 21.5 without the 4K if I want to upgrade the hard drive or the ram. Upgrading to the fusion on the 4K well blow my budget and 27” isn’t even in the realm plus I can’t downsize my screens because they are for work and we use pc. However! If I go Mac mini I could go with the i5 or i7 do the ram myself a little later as I get deeper into editing and then eGPU if or as I get deeper. Honestly still torn but trying to stay in that 1200 dollar initial budget. That is the budget now with adding as I go if or when I do more intense work. Remember my video is all hobby and never more than maybe 5 min. I’m not going pro or cutting a movie anytime soon.
 

iluvmacs99

macrumors 6502
Apr 9, 2019
438
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Now this is where I get a little muddy. If I go iMac I can only afford maybe the base 21.5 without the 4K if I want to upgrade the hard drive or the ram. Upgrading to the fusion on the 4K well blow my budget and 27” isn’t even in the realm plus I can’t downsize my screens because they are for work and we use pc. However! If I go Mac mini I could go with the i5 or i7 do the ram myself a little later as I get deeper into editing and then eGPU if or as I get deeper. Honestly still torn but trying to stay in that 1200 dollar initial budget. That is the budget now with adding as I go if or when I do more intense work. Remember my video is all hobby and never more than maybe 5 min. I’m not going pro or cutting a movie anytime soon.
I do not see you having the need to go beyond the i3 Mini 2018 since video is your hobby and you are editing no more than 5 min footage. Surely you can spend more for i5 and i7, but as a longevity future proof standpoint, I would not recommend it as it seems very clear to me that Apple is planning on migrating away from Intel and towards ARM and that gives Apple more flexibility and marketing with their computers moving forward. I had been caught by Apple last time when they went through the transition from PowerPC to Intel and then within a few years, the PPC platform became obsolete and got caught with a few dead ducks.
 
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sonofpear

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 16, 2018
17
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I do not see you having the need to go beyond the i3 Mini 2018 since video is your hobby and you are editing no more than 5 min footage. Surely you can spend more for i5 and i7, but as a longevity future proof standpoint, I would not recommend it as it seems very clear to me that Apple is planning on migrating away from Intel and towards ARM and that gives Apple more flexibility and marketing with their computers moving forward. I had been caught by Apple last time when they went through the transition from PowerPC to Intel and then within a few years, the PPC platform became obsolete and got caught with a few dead ducks.
So with that being said why wouldn’t I want to go with the i5 or i7? Is it just because I’d be spending more for something I’d never need or use? I’m all about saving money and using it for more ram or external SSD. I don’t like that the iMac has that 5400 rpm drive so that’s my big turn off there.
 

iluvmacs99

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Apr 9, 2019
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So with that being said why wouldn’t I want to go with the i5 or i7? Is it just because I’d be spending more for something I’d never need or use? I’m all about saving money and using it for more ram or external SSD. I don’t like that the iMac has that 5400 rpm drive so that’s my big turn off there.
I was trying to keep you within your budget and steer you towards the best bang for your buck. Basically, the bottleneck for any video editing is the transcoding process which slows down even the fastest machines including even the latest MacPro 7,1! Before I got laid off my last job recently, I worked in a non-profit community organization where I helped a number of commercial Indie video and movie award winning producers and most of them are still using a 2nd/3rd generation Core i5 and i7 like the Quad core 2012 Mini and Macbook Pro and they all work great with their commercial video and movie projects at 1080p and 4k. The key to their ability to work with older machines was their understanding between interframe and intraframe footage and because they had transcoded their h.264/h.265 footage to ProRES, which is an intermediate codec, which makes working in that codec very manageable even on an older Macbook Pro 2012 or MacPro 5,1 or even 3,1. My process has always been to use the Macbook Air and Quicksync to transcode h.264 footage to ProRes; work the footage on my Mac Pro harnessing my RX580 GPU and then send the final footage back to Macbook Air to transcode it back to h.264 MP4. I have the best of both worlds. But because the T2 chip in the Mini is doing the brunt of this transcoding for you, buying an i5 or i7 is simply future proofing since later and later OS will become more bloated (Catalina is already demanding on older machines). When you will face this challenge with the Core i3 Mini is unknown. RAM, external SSD are more important in video editing than the processor.
 

sonofpear

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 16, 2018
17
2
I was trying to keep you within your budget and steer you towards the best bang for your buck. Basically, the bottleneck for any video editing is the transcoding process which slows down even the fastest machines including even the latest MacPro 7,1! Before I got laid off my last job recently, I worked in a non-profit community organization where I helped a number of commercial Indie video and movie award winning producers and most of them are still using a 2nd/3rd generation Core i5 and i7 like the Quad core 2012 Mini and Macbook Pro and they all work great with their commercial video and movie projects at 1080p and 4k. The key to their ability to work with older machines was their understanding between interframe and intraframe footage and because they had transcoded their h.264/h.265 footage to ProRES, which is an intermediate codec, which makes working in that codec very manageable even on an older Macbook Pro 2012 or MacPro 5,1 or even 3,1. My process has always been to use the Macbook Air and Quicksync to transcode h.264 footage to ProRes; work the footage on my Mac Pro harnessing my RX580 GPU and then send the final footage back to Macbook Air to transcode it back to h.264 MP4. I have the best of both worlds. But because the T2 chip in the Mini is doing the brunt of this transcoding for you, buying an i5 or i7 is simply future proofing since later and later OS will become more bloated (Catalina is already demanding on older machines). When you will face this challenge with the Core i3 Mini is unknown. RAM, external SSD are more important in video editing than the processor.
I really do appreciate all the help. I also have some external SSD already which could be used for iMac or mini. So one last question so I can put this to bed. Would it be better to get a base iMac? Or buy a mini for 700 bucks and spend the money I save on eGPU? If you were in my position what are your thoughts.
 

iluvmacs99

macrumors 6502
Apr 9, 2019
438
251
I can only share my experience with you with my Mac Pro 5,1 with the Radeon RX580 which has multi-core performance of the i3 Mini 2018, except that the Radeon RX580 is a godsend in regards to movie editing. I came from a Mini 2011 and got a performance boost mainly from my Radeon RX580 GPU; how much more fluidity I got from editing within iMovie (thanks to Radeon's 8Gb video ram) and my SSD RAID system in my Mac Pro 5,1 makes time line editing so much more comfortable. I do my main editing with Davinci Resolve and that requires a good beefy GPU anyhow. And I am not doing 5min movies. So having a GPU and fast SSD help my editing case immensely both in 4K and 1080p. The CPU speed not so much unless I'm going further than High Sierra which I won't. The iMac is a better solution if you don't already have a nice 4K monitor and need one. But you can always get a nice 4K later for your Mini if you're going towards the 4K solution. With 4K, you definitely will need 8Gb video ram minimum and I am thankful my Radeon has that. I was in the same quandary as you did, but chose the Mac Pro 5,1 with GPU because I already use my Macbook Air to transcode materials back and forth when I use the Mini as my main video machine. Otherwise, I would have personally went with the Mini i3 and a Radeon eGPU and external SSD and be done with it. I hope my experience with my system I have now will help you decide what is best for you.
 

sonofpear

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 16, 2018
17
2
I can only share my experience with you with my Mac Pro 5,1 with the Radeon RX580 which has multi-core performance of the i3 Mini 2018, except that the Radeon RX580 is a godsend in regards to movie editing. I came from a Mini 2011 and got a performance boost mainly from my Radeon RX580 GPU; how much more fluidity I got from editing within iMovie (thanks to Radeon's 8Gb video ram) and my SSD RAID system in my Mac Pro 5,1 makes time line editing so much more comfortable. I do my main editing with Davinci Resolve and that requires a good beefy GPU anyhow. And I am not doing 5min movies. So having a GPU and fast SSD help my editing case immensely both in 4K and 1080p. The CPU speed not so much unless I'm going further than High Sierra which I won't. The iMac is a better solution if you don't already have a nice 4K monitor and need one. But you can always get a nice 4K later for your Mini if you're going towards the 4K solution. With 4K, you definitely will need 8Gb video ram minimum and I am thankful my Radeon has that. I was in the same quandary as you did, but chose the Mac Pro 5,1 with GPU because I already use my Macbook Air to transcode materials back and forth when I use the Mini as my main video machine. Otherwise, I would have personally went with the Mini i3 and a Radeon eGPU and external SSD and be done with it. I hope my experience with my system I have now will help you decide what is best for you.
Yes yes yes. You helped out tremendously on this. I think I have some more thinking to do but you have opened options for me.
 

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