Can't decide between 256gb or 512gb SSD

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by blueapplepaste, Nov 9, 2018.

  1. blueapplepaste macrumors newbie

    Nov 30, 2013
    I'm going to purchase a new Mac mini and have decided on the i5 with 8gb (plan to upgrade to 32) and am struggling to decide between the 256 and 512. This will be my first computer w/o an upgradable hard drive.

    I currently have a 2012 Mini with a 750gb DIY fusion drive. Currently using ~250gb of that on the OSX volume and a 50gb Bootcamp volume. About 100gb is music and photos I can easily swap to an external drive to store, so now I'm down to 150gb.

    I've also just restored from Time Machine backups for my past 5+ computers leading to this one. So there's tons of junk apps and files that I no longer use either (no idea, but probably another 30-50gb of junk that'll get wiped). Bootcamp is only used to literally run a single app, so it can probably go from 50 down to 15gb as well.

    My dilemma is I think 256 should be enough, but I also want to get 5+ years out of this computer. I'm worried about OS size creep, or other stuff starting to take up space that can't really be avoided, which might cause the drive to get filled in a few years.
  2. pl1984 macrumors 68000

    Oct 31, 2017
    The new Mini offers some great external expansion capabilities so my recommendation would be to go with 256GB internal and add external storage should your needs dictate.
  3. blueapplepaste thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 30, 2013
    That's my inclination as well. No reason for me to think that updated Mac OS versions would start taking up huge amounts that would start to limit storage on internal drive?
  4. pl1984 macrumors 68000

    Oct 31, 2017
    I don't foresee anything in the short term that would dramatically increase the OS size. Apple seems to keep the OS size in check by removing / dropping outdated (according to them) features. If the OS should grow substantially then maybe disk space won't be your only concern.
  5. archer75 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2005
  6. Oculus Mentis macrumors member

    Oculus Mentis

    Sep 26, 2018
    I got the 1TB version but, looking at your requirements, I would consider the 512GB version.
    If you are looking to keep this mini for the long term (we may not see another update until 2024) I wouldn't run its ssd close to capacity in order to avoid temp data being written always on the same few free cells...
  7. thisismyusername macrumors 6502

    Nov 1, 2015
    I'd go with 512GB but I also tend to install a bunch of apps and have lots of stuff in my home directory. Yes, there's always external storage (and that's perfectly fine for lots of stuff) but the internal storage is very fast and I like that kind of performance. In fact, if I get one I might even go with 1TB.

    Also keep in mind how long you're going to keep this computer and if 256GB will still be good 5+ years from now. My old MBP only had 256GB and it was always a hassle for me.
  8. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I'd get the 512 if it was me, that will give you a bit more flexibility
  9. brentsg, Nov 9, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018

    brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    I initially ordered the 256, then I was faced with the task of figuring out how to move my existing environment (that was on 1TB) .. And the reality of the external drives became a thing on my desk.

    In the end I think I'll compromise on 512 since 1TB is just so overpriced.

    For those looking for a nice external, I purchased this NVMe enclosure.. and added a drive I had on hand. Black Friday might get better, but the 970 EVO 1TB drives are pretty reasonable now.

    Note that this enclosure didn't play nice with my 2015 Macbook.
  10. michaelb5000 macrumors member

    Sep 23, 2015
    I got a 128, but I am too cheap to pay 25% more just to get a larger SSD, that is still too small for my user directory, once I include my iPhoto and iTunes libraries. But this is a hard choice. Anyway, the default install of the OS was around 26 GB, and after installing some apps and other stuff, including Office, it seems to be around 29 GB. So there is a lot of room overhead to fit on even the 128 SSD.

    for $200-300, I can get an external 1 TB SSD, if need more space or speed for my user files. That is using USB 3.1; getting a drive with a thunderbolt interface costs more and would be a lot faster, and so hopefully in a few years if I need that upgrade, I could pick up a large fast thunderbolt external SSD (for less than the cost of getting a 256 SSD now).
  11. Partron22 macrumors 68020


    Apr 13, 2011
    256 is a bit tight.
    My 512 has 275GB on it.
    I could trim stuff off to externals, in fact I already do, but that can get to be bothersome.
  12. blueapplepaste thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 30, 2013
    Appreciate the feedback guys. I had considered if I ever got to situation where things were edging close to getting full if that'd negatively affect anything. So looks like I'll go 512 for peace of mind.
  13. appletvbob macrumors member


    Feb 9, 2009
    Backing up my daily driver MacBook Pro 2013, prepping for the new Mini... I see my Photos Library is 82gb. I had moved it to an external drive years ago as 256gb filled up quickly on the laptop.

    I went with the 512gb this time and will likely move the Photos Library back to the Mini. I use two spinning hard drives for redundant backup and Time Machine: 2TB and 3TB. The smaller drive is clicking, thus multiple backups; afraid the end is nigh for that one.

    My peripheral tech is old: USB 3, Firewire 800. My MBP adapter for the FW800 is Thunderbolt 1. I guess I'll need to sink a few bucks into updating my side game to 2018 and hopefully, future-proof out 5 more years.
  14. Upgrader macrumors 6502


    Nov 23, 2014
    Is it not the case of the bigger the SSD the faster it is?
  15. ztw2002 macrumors member

    Oct 2, 2012
    New York City
  16. hvfsl macrumors 68000


    Jul 9, 2001
    London, UK
    Anandtech have a review of the latest usb c NVME enclosures. While not quite as fast as TB3 ones, they seem to be a lot faster than standard USB3 SATA ones. So worth considering if you want NVME SSD speeds without the TB3 premium.
  17. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    For what it's worth, I tried the MyDigitalSSD enclosure and returned it. The enclosure slides together, rather than sandwiching together. If you want to use the thermal interface that is included, it's sticky on both sides and prevents the necessary sliding. It was suggested to compress the material as much as possible, then quickly slide.. but that made me concerned that I'd never get it apart again.

    The sticky material has a plastic covering that you're supposed to remove. One other reviewer that looked at this enclosure just decided to leave that in place and hope that it didn't inhibit heat transfer too much.
  18. StellarVixen macrumors 6502a


    Mar 1, 2018
    Mac OS is a real storage hog these days. If you can, go with 512.
  19. BillyBobBongo macrumors 68020


    Jun 21, 2007
    On The Interweb Thingy!
    Whilst I agree with your suggestion to purchase 512GB, I do not agree with your reasoning.

    macOS is not a storage hog.

    On my MacBook Air (128GB) I've got about 85GB currently available and my home folder takes up about 21GB.
  20. StellarVixen macrumors 6502a


    Mar 1, 2018
    Then we definitely have different experiences.
  21. Acronyc macrumors 6502a

    Jan 24, 2011
    I got the same config (i5/8GB) and decided to go with the 512GB SSD. I thought a lot about it, but going to 512 is just over $200 more and considering how long I plan to use the machine (4 to 6 years) it’s a small price to pay. I’m coming from a 2014 mini with a 1TB fusion drive and having the space has been great because the mini is a family computer with multiple user accounts. Managing all of that and everyone’s apps and files on an external drive would be a pain. So I quickly decided 512 was necessary (would do 1TB but it is a bit pricey).

    For your use I’d totally recommend 512. You never know how you will use your machine in the future and 512 gives you some breathing room. If you think 256 is tight now it probably be even more so in the future. It’s not that much of an extra cost if you are getting the i5 config.

    Good luck whatever you decide and enjoy your mini!
  22. Jrys macrumors newbie

    Oct 31, 2018
    I have the 256 right now and considering going to 512. iPhoto’s took up 50gb even though I am using iCloud storage and optimization is on. After installing 1 game and the Apple Pro apps I have about 100 left. I haven’t installed office or boot camp yet. I want to learn final cut and logic and concerned I won’t have enough space.
  23. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    I'll probably get the 512, but I'll have that partitioned 3 ways:
    - Boot (OS, apps, slimmed-down accounts)
    - Main (personal data)
    - Media (photos, music)
    ... with an additional SSD connected for other stuff.

    I prefer separate partitions for quick backup (this morning backed up my "main" partition to another SSD -- took all of 8 seconds using CarbonCopyCloner).
  24. SkiHound2 macrumors member

    Jul 15, 2018
    The system should not be a memory hog. But look around in the help forums. Lots of folks, including me, have bloated systems. At least sometimes it seems to be related to Time Machine snapshots. I ran one of the commands given in that forum to get rid of the snapshots and gained 40-50 gb. But My system is still way larger than it should be. I'm trying to figure it out. I'm using close to 512gb on my current computer's main drive. My music, photo storage, etc. account for a fair bit of that, but the system is using way too much. I'm planning to buy a new Mini and I'm trying to clean things up. My plan was to go for the 512gb, but I'm even a little scared of that. I'm also going to want my LR catalog and at least some working image files on the ssd, since it's so speedy. The brunt of my photos are on external disks.
  25. F-Train, Nov 10, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2018

    F-Train macrumors 6502

    Apr 22, 2015
    New York
    Looks like we've read some of the same discussions on this issue.

    My applications, in total, take 17GB. That includes the operating system, included apps, Final Cut, Logic, Photoshop/Lightroom, etc, etc. "System" takes up a lot more. I stand to be corrected, but my understanding is that this is temporary storage, and the size depends on how much spare room there is on the disk. It sounds like it has something to do with AFPS and snapshots, but I don't claim to understand it. Apparently, it is not something to be concerned about, or that needs to be taken into account when choosing the size of your internal drive.

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