Buy a Mac Mini, or wait for the new Pro?

Should I get the mini?

  • Wait

  • Get it


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uBetchya

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 16, 2016
4
0
I'll be honest, my patience is beginning to wear thin with Apple on their new professional/ modular desktops. I do video editing for clients and I can't edit 4K footage on my Mid 2014 13" Macbook Pro, and other projects in general can just become a chore with the slow rendering. I thought about getting the iMac Pro, but don't want to be stuck with the same specs for years. Plus, I already bought a 4K monitor, USB hub, etc. With the release of the new Mac Mini, and it's competitive price point, I'm thinking of folding and just going with that as my option and then spending the extra money on a good eGPU.

The other reason for getting the new Mac Pro would be to also do some gaming, like Overwatch, nothing too heavy. So I'm considering that maybe the Mini can help facilitate that need as well? But what do you guys think? This is my first time posting to the forum and engaging in this community. I hope you can guys can give me some solid advice. Much appreciated :)
 

Graham King

macrumors member
Mar 27, 2011
63
9
Oakland, CA
I’m thinking about the same thing. I have a 2012 Mac Pro 12-core with GTX 780 and this year I switched to 2x Intel X5690 3.46GHz. Basically same multi core geekbench as new i7 Mini.

I edit video and always have to transcode everything to ProRes to get smooth playback in Premiere. I want to know if an i7 Mini with Vega 64 eGPU can handle smooth playback of long GOP native formats from cameras like C300 II, 5D IV, and Mavic 2. And I transcode huge amounts of footage to H.264 for delivery so improvements there would be great as well.

I’m considering buying everything to see if it makes a big difference in my workflow and returning everything if it does not.
 

uBetchya

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 16, 2016
4
0
That sounds like a good plan, I'd like to hear about your results!
 

pl1984

Suspended
Oct 31, 2017
2,230
2,603
Without knowing anything about the new Mac Pro you have to make your decision based on the ability of the new Mini to meet your requirements. If the Mini offers everything you will need then there's a solid case to move forward with it. If not but it would offer you a better than what you are currently using then there's a good case to be made to move forward with it, at least in the short term (you can always sell it, historically they've held their value exceedingly well). If it's merely an improvement over what you're currently using but has a lot of compromises then it may be worth waiting at least until we know something about the new Mac Pro.

Perhaps you could provide us with an idea of what configuration Mini you feel is appropriate for your tasks, what you're willing to spend, where you think various aspects of the Mini can benefit you, etc.
 

StellarVixen

macrumors 68000
Mar 1, 2018
1,963
3,201
Earth
You are comparing apples to oranges. I can only imagine what the price of the new Mac Pro will be, if it ever gets released.

Mac Mini has very good performance and power, for at least somewhat acceptable price. Mac Pro will be a very powerful machine, that's for sure, but it is gonna cost at least 3 grand, at base config.

If money is not an issue, and you can wait indefinitely, wait for the Pro.
 

thisismyusername

macrumors 6502
Nov 1, 2015
346
430
but it is gonna cost at least 3 grand, at base config.
That's true but it's not hard to get close to that kind of price tag with a mini-based solution. i7+512GB+32GB RAM (even if going aftermarket and doing the upgrade yourself)+10GbE+eGPU and you're starting to approach $3k. Also consider the base iMac Pro starts out with 1TB SSD storage so I'd guess the base Mac Pro would as well. Spec out a similar mini with 1TB internal storage and an external GPU and you're probably over $3k.

Personally, if I needed a really beefy Mac Mini with a powerful external GPU, I'd just wait and see what the new Mac Pro looks like.
 
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Cashmonee

macrumors 65816
May 27, 2006
1,168
832
So, I suspect for pricing, the Mac Pro will be to the iMac Pro what the Mac mini is to the iMac. Think close to $4000 to start.

If you are willing to spend that kind of money on a Mac Pro, then you must be making money from this computer. Which means your current setup is hampering your ability to make money. From a business standpoint, I would think you should get the Mac mini to bridge the gap if for no other reason than you have no idea when the Mac Pro is coming and this is how you make a living. Once the Pro comes out, keep the mini as a second rendering machine or something, or sell it. If you truly need a Mac Pro, then this is what makes sense, and if you don't think this is reasonable, then you likely don't need the Mac Pro at those prices, and therefore should get a mini anyway.
 

now i see it

macrumors 601
Jan 2, 2002
4,009
8,010
I used to work for a photographer who had six Macs in his studio and I was using 4 of the fastest ones concurrently, each of them performing a different task. Automated.

You need more than one computer. I sure the heck did.
 

uBetchya

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 16, 2016
4
0
If you truly need a Mac Pro, then this is what makes sense, and if you don't think this is reasonable, then you likely don't need the Mac Pro at those prices, and therefore should get a mini anyway.
Very true. I have been considering if I generally "need" a Mac Pro, I mean, I don't do 3D graphics/ effects beyond perhaps 3D text every now and then. I really just need something powerful enough to handle 4K as it is basically the standard now. So, maybe this is just more than a want. Also, money is a limiting factor for me, as I really don't have that much to spend. As far as my business stands in digital media, I haven't made the leap yet to make it my full time job (I'm very hesitant at doing so for many reasons.) If anything, it helps me earn extra cash here and there.

I will say, my only interest in a Mac Pro would be that of a safety net. As in, it would facilitate my need to ever need to "upgrade" an entire system and would give me more flexibility. However, since the Mac Pro hasn't been released, it's all still speculation at this point. We don't know how far Apple will allow its users to upgrade the components and the compatibility thereof.
 

mikehalloran

macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2018
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The Sillie Con Valley
The new Pro is being developed to run new, bleeding edge AV apps for the film industry. Apple told us this when they invited the TechCrunch article. The fact that CNET and others didn't read and understand it before writing all their "Apple must..." and "Apple will fail if they don't..." nonsense doesn't mean that you shouldn't.
https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/05/apples-2019-imac-pro-will-be-shaped-by-workflows/

Since competing workstations like the Maya Box Rendering Station cost $13K (8core) to $150K (52core 1T RAM 8T SSD), I and many others expect the new New Mac Pro to $tart about where the iMac Pro ends. If it's a dime under $14,999.99 for the base model, I'll be very surprised. Then there's the new monitor Apple intends to introduce simultaneously that will add to the cost.

The real question is loaded Mac Mini vs iMac Pro. When the price of a 5K monitor is added (plus eGPU if you need to run more than one), the iMP starts looking like the better deal to me.
 

k2focus

macrumors member
Oct 25, 2018
75
57
Scotland
i'm not sure i really understand the question. its like asking if you should buy a tricycle now or wait for the newest lamborghini.

i can't imagine if you have any need for a new mac pro if you see a mini as a viable replacement - in which case just get the mini.

I will also say that i was in your shoes a little while ago. i used macs for the alst 15 years, and i needed a powerful new computer for photo editing, and none of the current ones are very good. sure the imac pro is nice, but i'm not going to spend money on ecc memory and an amd GPU that i have zero need for.

i ended up just building a custom PC for super cheap. the thing is an effing beast at what it's meant for, so i'm really glad i switched. for me all the software i use runs the same on windows and mac, so it wasn't a big deal. if your stuff is OSX only then you're really just stuck like all the other "power/creative" users waiting for a nice mac option.
 
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adamk77

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2008
510
148
What's your budget?

Mac Mini (with i7, 32GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 10 Gigabit Ethernet) and a Vega 56 eGPU can be had for under $2300.

I'd be surprised (though pleasantly) if the new Mac Pro does not get a price hike. The new Mac Mini did. It's been a trend with Apple lately.
 

k2focus

macrumors member
Oct 25, 2018
75
57
Scotland
What's your budget?

Mac Mini (with i7, 32GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 10 Gigabit Ethernet) and a Vega 56 eGPU can be had for under $2300.

I'd be surprised (though pleasantly) if the new Mac Pro does not get a price hike. The new Mac Mini did. It's been a trend with Apple lately.
you're failing to mention that an egpu is not going to perform very closely to an internal one, so if he needs that type of a gpu specifically, then it won't really work.
 
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mikehalloran

macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2018
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The Sillie Con Valley
i used macs for the alst 15 years, and i needed a powerful new computer for photo editing, and none of the current ones are very good. sure the imac pro is nice
Yes it is and, if that's your need, an iMac Pro is the one to get.
but i'm not going to spend money on ecc memory and an amd GPU that i have zero need for.
...but you write that you need a powerful machine for photo editing...
i ended up just building a custom PC for super cheap.
Good for you, then. Whatever works, works. Many people have built PC equivalents to the iMac Pro — in the Silicon Valley where I live, it's a common hobby. They aren't super cheap or even cheap, however, not if you're going to try and match the horsepower of those beasts.
I'd be surprised (though pleasantly) if the new Mac Pro does not get a price hike.
Yea... very little chance of that. Seeing Apple's stated goals for the next Mac Pro... Oh, it will be a bargain—I'm positive of that—but only when stacked up against its competitors in the bleeding edge AV market where the base begins around $20K and the top end sells for $150K (56 Core 1TB RAM 8TB SSD Maya Box Rendering Station). From what I've seen, $40,000 of linked 2018 Minis can handle similar loads so, if Apple can put it into a box... Don't count on it being less expensive than the current iMac Pro.

What's surprising to me is that, though the iMac Pro blows it out of the water, the current Mac Pro 6.1 still costs as much as it does. Whose still buying these and for what?
 

nutmac

macrumors 601
Mar 30, 2004
4,170
2,031
i'm not sure i really understand the question. its like asking if you should buy a tricycle now or wait for the newest lamborghini.
To be fair, Mac mini isn't exactly a tricycle. With an exception of graphics performance and apps that can utilize more than 6 cores properly (e.g., Final Cut Pro X), the highest tier Mac mini compares very favorably to even iMac Pro.

Although we have very little information about the new Mac Pro, it's a safe bet that it will be at least as capable of iMac Pro, but more upgradable with even better thermal design.

Comparing Mac mini against iMac Pro, I would draw that:
  • Mac mini = Telsa Model 3
  • iMac Pro = Tesla Model X
  • Mac Pro = Tesla Semi
 

adamk77

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2008
510
148
you're failing to mention that an egpu is not going to perform very closely to an internal one, so if he needs that type of a gpu specifically, then it won't really work.
What do you mean by "perform" exactly? The people who complain the most about performance are gamers for frames/sec. The penalty happens because of the TB3 bandwidth constraint. Even then, it's more nuanced. I just ran Division 2 in 2K in Ultra Settings and I was getting near 60 FPS.

I'll copy and paste what I posted in another thread.

The penalty is in %, not in absolute terms because of the bandwidth constraint.

What this means is that the faster the frame rate, the higher the % penalty. For example, you may be able to get 100 FPS via the internal PCIe but only 80 FPS via an eGPU at a loss of 20%.

The % penalty starts to drop once you go into higher resolutions, which starts shifting the bottleneck more towards the GPU. At 1440p, it'll be around 8% and at 4k it'll be around 5% performance drop. This was shown in benchmarks from a member on the eGPU forum.

If you absolutely want 100 FPS, then an eGPU is not your savior. However, I think even a 40% drop to 60 FPS is playable for me. And as games get more demanding or you want to play at a higher resolution, the shift away from TB3 and more towards the GPU will decrease the % performance penalty.
 

adamcz

macrumors regular
Jun 21, 2003
117
5
I wouldn't 100% rule out the possibility of an entry level Mac Pro that isn't absurdly expensive. My reasoning:

#1: the base MacBook Pro is $1,300, which is the same price as the base MacBook and only $100 more than the base MacBook Air. On the laptop side, Apple is saying you can pick more power or smaller size, but one isn't intrinsically more expensive than the other.

#2: I distinctly remember buying a reasonably priced entry-level PowerMac G4 tower back in the day. It's possible that Apple will once again build a system that mostly caters to video professionals but also decides to offer a configuration that is appropriate for software developers, amateur recording studios, gamers, etc.