ANIMAIONIC turns your Mac Mini into a Workstation

Would you buy this for your Mac mini 8,1?


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    48

iAssimilated

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 29, 2018
181
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This came from @Billrey in a Mac Pro 7,1 thread:

"Interesting Kickstarter campaign to turn a Mac Mini into a mini-tower with GPU bays:


"

Question, would current Mac mini 8,1 owners be interested in this product?

For me, not at the moment, I currently have everything I need with my mini + ASUS XG Station Pro w/ Sapphire RX Vega 56 + Samsung T5. Although, if my needs change and this product is available I would possibly change my mind. I am disappointed they only included an SD Reader on the front of the box.
 
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redheeler

macrumors 604
Oct 17, 2014
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This is pretty neat. Pricy, but neat. Would like to see a docking station like this for TB3 MacBook Pros as well.
 

pdxplm

macrumors member
Sep 29, 2006
36
9
Portland, OR
This is totally amazing..but I agree, the price point is crazy! If you aren't ordering with a video or extra storage, it should be a lot less.
 
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Stephen.R

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Nov 2, 2018
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As I said in the other thread, it looks interesting - and the addition of 4 dedicated, easy-access M2 slots is a nice feature. I doubt I'd ever need two GPUs but the second slot could no doubt house another quad-M2 controller card, or some other I/O card.

What I can't work out is: what happened to the fourth TB3 port. The PCI slots are presumably one port each, and the M2 bay is surely a third. But then, what is the fourth one used for? I'd hope that the Ethernet, HDMI and USB-A on the rear are essentially pass-through.

Looking closer, it seems that one TB3 port makes it to the rear of the case. But then the description lists "USB-C" as one of the rear ports, rather than "TB3"...

Personally I'd prefer if it offered perhaps a USB type-a and/or type-c slot on the front in place of the SD card slot. I really don't understand the obsession with every "dock" type device adding an SD card reader.
 

frou

macrumors 6502a
Mar 14, 2009
685
749
That seems nice. As someone who's already invested in a traditional eGPU it's too late for me to want to spend money though.

Thermals with 2x 5700XT running flat out would be rather toasty?

Satechi's little flat expansion which sits under the Mini, that was announced recently, would be nice if it came in a variant that connected by TB3 and had nothing but several M.2 slots inside.
 
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Krevnik

macrumors 68040
Sep 8, 2003
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I like the idea, but it leaves me thinking it's missed the mark a bit:

  • Needs a couple more USB ports in general, especially in the front.
  • I'd rather that the second TB3 bus was split into a couple single-height slots. Set it up so you can use two GPUs or a GPU + 2 I/O cards. I could easily go for something like: Vega 56 + M.2 Carrier + USB or Ethernet. I've kinda wished that there was something that'd merge together the Sonnet PCIe boxes with the Sonnet eGPU boxes. This setup would likely make the box a little cheaper too.
  • That exhaust channel for the Mini is weird. It feels like it is going to choke airflow a bit by boxing it in without something helping it move beyond the Mini's own fan.
  • >900$ US is hard to stomach for an all-in-one unless it does exactly what you need. I can stay under 500$ if I just need a GPU and a single I/O Card. I can get more slots, and flexibility for less money, at the cost of not having it match the Mini perfectly.
The form factor is spot on, the feature set I think needs to evolve a bit before I'd be willing to jump onboard. I also would just be happy with a 3 slot dual-bus box I can put under the desk, TBH. On my desk, it's easier to slip the Mini under the monitor, so this box demands a certain footprint on my desk that my eGPU currently doesn't.
 
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Stephen.R

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It needs drive bays.
It has 4x M2 bays.

Anything serious aimed at "workstation" use with mechanical drives will have them in hot-swappable bays, and the size of this would get pretty extreme (either in height or length) if you added hot-swap bays to the front or side, and allowed for sufficient airflow past the mechanical drives and PCIe slots at the back.
- - Post merged: - -

 
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ActionableMango

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Sep 21, 2010
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Anything serious aimed at "workstation" use with mechanical drives will have them in hot-swappable bays
Well if we are talking about serious workstation use, I don't think people are buying Mac Minis with Kickstarter-funded Thunderbolt to PCI adapters, they are buying actual workstations.

In any case, there are plenty of enthusiasts and hobbyists like myself who want an affordable PC-like Mac desktop with modern industry-standard interfaces, slots, and bays--and this is the closest we can get at the moment. One or two drive bays in the bottom would appeal to us, whether those bays were hot swappable or not.
 

Krevnik

macrumors 68040
Sep 8, 2003
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Well if we are talking about serious workstation use, I don't think people are buying Mac Minis with Kickstarter-funded Thunderbolt to PCI adapters, they are buying actual workstations.

In any case, there are plenty of enthusiasts and hobbyists like myself who want an affordable PC-like Mac desktop with modern industry-standard interfaces, slots, and bays--and this is the closest we can get at the moment. One or two drive bays in the bottom would appeal to us, whether those bays were hot swappable or not.
Eh, I could use the PCIe slots, but I don't want/need spinning drives for the Mac Mini for my use. I'll keep those in the NAS tucked far away, thanks.

This is part of the problem though, use cases are too different depending on what you are doing. Making a one-size fits all here is nearly impossible.
 

Xenobius

macrumors newbie
Dec 10, 2019
14
4
They just added a Thunderbolt port to the ANIMAIONIC back panel instead of USB-C which is great. I'm not sure if that's possible, but it would be perfect if there were two Thunderbolt ports at the back.
 

Stephen.R

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Nov 2, 2018
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As I said above, the other three are surely used 1 each, for the two PCI slots, and the M2 bay.

What I don't understand is why the "newly added" TB3 port on the back is only 20Gb/s - that implies it's not a straight through connection.
 
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Xenobius

macrumors newbie
Dec 10, 2019
14
4
In FAQ section is stated they are working on 40GB/s. I'd prefer two 20Gb/s ports than one 40Gb/s. 20Gb/s is enough for most tasks.
 

Krevnik

macrumors 68040
Sep 8, 2003
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What I don't understand is why the "newly added" TB3 port on the back is only 20Gb/s - that implies it's not a straight through connection.
I'm suspecting it is because it is passive. TB3 requires active cables past 0.7m or so if you want 40Gb/s, otherwise you get 20Gb/s. And so I would bet good money that this is passive, and the length ensures that existing 0.5/0.7m cables will trigger a drop to 20Gb/s. It being a passive extension probably also makes active cables not work right.

In FAQ section is stated they are working on 40GB/s. I'd prefer two 20Gb/s ports than one 40Gb/s. 20Gb/s is enough for most tasks.
Generally not how it works with TB.

But it would be possible to enable daisy chaining off the internal TB3 controllers that this thing has to be using (and it's got to be using at least 2, but I suspect it's using 3), and get extra ports that way.

It depends a lot on how they've wired things up, but if they are using 3 controllers like I suspect, it also might explain the cost.
 

ActionableMango

macrumors G3
Sep 21, 2010
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3.5"?

just let them die already
That sounds lovely, and I would be happy to when SSDs can reasonably replace HDDs for bulk storage.

A single 10TB HDD is $250.

A single 10TB SSD is... well, not commercially available. But you could fill all slots with 4+2+2+2 for 10TB at about $1200.
 
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Ploki

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Jan 21, 2008
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That sounds lovely, and I would be happy to when SSDs can reasonably replace HDDs for bulk storage.

A single 10TB HDD is $250.

A single 10TB SSD is... well, not commercially available. But you could fill all slots with 4+2+2+2 for 10TB at about $1200.
Absolutely, but do you really need bulk 10TB in an enclosure? And old obsolete SATA3 connections taking space?