I was doing some testing and wanted to go back to "factory" so used the Apple Configurator 2. I found that the recovery partition needs to be there to be able to install MacOS. Otherwise you get an error installing saying can't get to the firmware partition. This was new for me so here are a few notes.
- With a MacBook the key sequence and timing to get to DFU mode was frustrating. Following along with a YouTube video helped a lot. I used https: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5xmA3lDz3g and let them count to ten as I am too impatient.
- With a mini simply unplugging and replugging doesn't work. You do need to keep the power cord disconnected for a while. Apple docs state at least 10 seconds. Again, patience.
- The first time with a mini it would enter DFU mode (front LED goes amber) but would not be recognized by the other Mac running the Configurator 2 program. I was using a TB3 monitor (LG UltraFine 5K) but when I switched to a monitor attached to the on board HDMI and restarted all was good. For what it's worth after the revive/restore the TB3 monitor worked for successive DFU access. Guessing it was updated firmware? Also verified a USB-C to DVI dongle worked.
- You can use a USB-C to USB-A "charge and sync" cable for a pre USB-C host. I was able to use it with a 2013 Mac Pro.
- Doing a restore with Configurator 2 erases the drive, sets up Macintosh HD and Data, and installs MacOS. That makes it a nice tool for prepping a Mac before swapping it out.
- Restore does not do a PRAM/NVRAM reset (I saw AHT results saved).