Entry Level i3 vs. Moderate Config i7

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by CurtisBilly, Nov 28, 2018.

  1. CurtisBilly, Nov 28, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2018

    CurtisBilly macrumors member

    Nov 1, 2006
    I've now owned two 2018 Mac mini computers.

    1) Returned: Custom order that I returned to Apple after realizing spending over $1800 on a Mac mini wasn't for me.
    $1599 for Mac mini from Apple
    - 3.2GHz i7 6-core with hyperthreading and turbo up to 4.6GHz
    - 512GB storage (the storage is so fast)
    - 10 GBE (because why not - I might eventually need it)
    $269 for 32GB of Corsair RAM that I installed. Sale prices are cheaper, but I just returned this. I only need 16GB.

    2) Recently purchased via Black Friday Sales:
    $699 Entry level i3 ($799 from Apple, $699 from Adorama with AppleInsider code)
    - 3.6GHz i3 4-core
    - 128GB storage (boot drive and apps only)
    $109 for 16GB of G.Skill RAM that I installed.
    $169 for Samsung T5 1TB external (for my Lightroom library).

    I saved about $900 and I'm not sure I will really notice much of a difference for the work I do (Lightroom Perpetual 6.14). The i3 definitely runs cooler when pushed. I can't get it to hit Tjunction=100 degC.

    I feel like I really got wrapped up in wanting to have "the best" whereas, for me, the entry level i3 will be just fine.
    --- Post Merged, Nov 28, 2018 ---
    Screenshot of trying to get the i3 to throttle/hit Tjunction=100 degC.
    1) yes command running to keep the CPU pegged.
    2) Cinebench OpenGL running to keep the Intel 630 GPU generating heat.
    Note: I can't get above ~48 watts total power and 93 deg C temperature. While the i3-8100B and i7-8700B are both "TDP=65W", they aren't really equivalent thermally.

    --- Post Merged, Nov 28, 2018 ---
    Attached are two more screenshots of trying to build up heat with consecutive Cinebench CPU runs. First screenshot is first two runs from an idle temp of ~40 deg C. Second screenshot is after 5 runs.

    Notice the i3-8100B CPU alone will only peg out ~38 watts of power and I can't get the Mac mini to break 90 deg C with just the CPU taxed. The slight dips from 3.6 GHz are just the Cinebench run finishing before I can launch another run.



    Attached Files:

  2. F-Train macrumors 65816

    Apr 22, 2015
    NYC & Newfoundland
    For me, this is very interesting. Two questions:

    Which G. Skill RAM product (code?) are you using, and have you had any issues with it?

    Is the i3 working well with Lightroom? The version that you have is pretty up to date, less than a year old. Are you using it with RAW or .jpeg images? Do you do any Lightroom batch processing, or is it image by image? Assuming that you tested Lightroom processing with the i7, do you see any differences between it and the i3?

  3. CurtisBilly thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 1, 2006
    G.Skill RAM is F4-2666C18D-16GRS. No issues with the RAM so far. Shows up as 2667 MHz in System Information. $109.99 at NewEgg.

    Lightroom - I am on the last perpetual version (don't have to pay every month for CC). It works well with RAW images from my 42mp A7RIII. I am just running image by image for now. I just got the i3 up and running. The i3 with the Catalog and Smart Previews on the Samsung T5 is not quite as ridiculously snappy as running off of the i7 with 512GB internal but it's still pretty snappy.
  4. emboahora macrumors newbie

    Apr 16, 2010
    That’s pretty impressive considering the 512SSD is faster than the 128SSD, meaning if both had 512SSD the difference in performance could be even less noticeable in this scenario.
  5. Mannaerts macrumors member

    Dec 2, 2010
    Belgium, Antwerp
    But in Lightroom there is a noticable difference in loading speed?
  6. Spectrum, Nov 29, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2018

    Spectrum macrumors 65816


    Mar 23, 2005
    Never quite sure
    Good choice. Regarding your results, they make sense if essentially the CPUs are more or less the same silicon just with 2 cores disabled (lower yielding parts) and with/without turbo/hyper threading enabled (only for the best performing parts perhaps).

    So in those terms you should indeed be seeing 4cores at 3.6Ghz be lower wattage than 6 cores at 3.0 or 3.2 GHz.
    Other results also show, though, that if you have a more threaded workload, the i5 and i7 will complete the task in 2/3 of the time due to the additional cores, and also the potential to boost up to 4+ GHz even with six cores loaded.

    Ultimately, even the i3 is a massive boost for anyone coming from a dual core system, and also even for those coming from a top spec 4-core 2012 Mac mini.

    But for me, since the 2011 quad-core has lasted me 7 years...I decided to go for the i7 to see if it can also last that long into the future. Even with 1TB disk and 32GB RAM, that is only about $1 per working day...
  7. Acronyc macrumors 6502a

    Jan 24, 2011
    Looks like you really got a nice config there that works well with your workflow. I also think the i3 will be just fine for a lot of people now and down the road. It’s a big jump from what was previously in the mini and the deal you got on it for $699 makes it even better.

    For me, I actually initially ordered the i3 mini but canceled it and changed to an i5. I live in Switzerland and prices are more expensive here (base i3 starts at $999), and when I ordered an i3 with a 256GB drive (this was minimum for my needs) and 16GB of RAM it was just about $100 difference than the i5. So I got the i5 but upped the internal storage to 512GB. It was more than I wanted to pay for a mini but if it can last as long as my 2012 mini it’ll be worth it. I’ll toss in some more RAM later but I actually don’t need it right now.

    I think any config of the mini will work well for most and last a while. In my experience with owning two minis over a long period they are solid machines.
  8. CurtisBilly, Dec 1, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2018

    CurtisBilly thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 1, 2006
    Going from memory, navigating through Lightroom, the i7 was a little snappier as compared to the i3. But the i3 does not feel sluggish. It's actually quite responsive.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 1, 2018 ---
    I bet you are right about how Intel is probably sorting the same silicon into the different i3/i5/i7 parts.
    Your i7 2018 mini should last you 7 years just like you're 2011! Enjoy
    --- Post Merged, Dec 1, 2018 ---
    Considering the 2018 Mac mini i3 is quite comparable to the processor you would get in the current 2017 $1799 base 27" Retina iMac, I agree any config mini will work well for most and last awhile.
  9. Juggar, Dec 1, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2018

    Juggar macrumors member


    Jun 6, 2016
    I think a lot of people forget that the i3 now = the i5 of the last generation. Both are the same quad core chips.

    Mac people are also not familiar with i3 nomenclature so they automatically scoff at it (perhaps unknowingly or subconsciously) , even if its literally the same silicon as the i5-7500 just rebranded.

    If Apple named the base model as "i5-7500, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD" I feel like more people would have bought it vs the i3 naming scheme.

    Plenty of professionals used the very expensive 5K iMacs with the i5, they'll be fine with the i3 (aka i5-7500) as well. The fact that you can upgrade the memory makes the base mode the most lucrative, since it will do anything the i5 and i7 will do, just taking a bit longer in some cases. It is by no means a slouch.
  10. FilmIndustryGuy macrumors regular

    May 12, 2015
    Manhattan Beach, CA
    How did you save $100 off the i3? was it with AppleCare add in? is this deal still on and if so what's the promo code?
  11. Juggar macrumors member


    Jun 6, 2016
    Its over now. its was a black friday deal.
  12. CurtisBilly thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 1, 2006

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