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bxs

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 20, 2007
1,150
528
Seattle, WA
Subject: I must admit, I'm very impressed with how my Mac mini (M1, 2020) is performing

After listening to the Apple event introducing the M1 models I will admit I was a bit skeptical about all the claims being made. I started reading up on the various Reviews who mostly were applauding Apple's move from Intel to SoC and the benefits they were seeing on the M1 Macs, and who started to agree with Apple's claims.

Yesterday I received my Mac mini (M1, 2020) that is the base/stock model with the measly 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD. I was able to set it up quickly without any fuss at all.

I plugged the mini into my KILL A WATT device to be able to monitor the electrical draw in watts. I connected a Thunderbolt cable to my 10G LAN using a Promise SANLink 3 adapter, and used an ancient Sony Bravia 26" TV via HDMI for a starting display (will later connect to a TB LG wide screen later when I get it from the office). The SONY TV is a bit of a wonky display as I have to always reset its Underscan in the System Preferences -> Displays so the left side vertical Dock, menu bar, and rightside desktop items are in full view. No matter, no big issue for me.

So having setup the mini, I went about perform various daily tasks over a day and a bit more. I looked at the RAM used via Activity Monitor, and did see some swap had been used (about 2.5 GB at the time I looked), and there was some MB of compressed RAM. Even so, doing all my daily activities I was unaware of any slow downs or response hesitations. So far so good, I thought.

When the mini is at idle it draws just 3 watts. Awesome.

So at this point I wanted to see how the mini would handle a very heavy CPU, memory intensive, and i/o load all happening at same time.

  • I cranked up Safari and opened some 50 web sites.
  • I launched 10 Stockfish chess applications and got then running.
  • I played a few Youtube videos.
  • I launched Time Machine to backup for the first time to my Apple 2TB TC via wire (not Wi-Fi).
  • I started to reply to many unanswered e-Mails.
  • I navigated/scooted about in my Calendar windows.
  • I launched Maps and selected a number of locations to be displayed.
  • I had Activity Monitor running with all the various CPU and GPU windows open.
  • I launched Terminal and set in motion a very intensive 'find' command.
  • I launched Disk Utility and ran First Aid on the internal boot device several times (of course this does lockup the system briefly doing this).
  • I flitted around through my 50 Safari web pages.
  • I launched Messages and issued a ton of messages to the family saying I'm just testing and to ignore me.
  • I took many screen shots and manipulated them with Preview.
  • I used Finder to navigate around the file system several times.
  • I cranked up News and spent a fair amount of time reading through a number of articles.
  • I launched Numbers and whaled away updating several large spreadsheets.
  • I launched Pages and read and updated several publications.
  • I cranked up Netflix in Safari and watched short bursts of movies.
With all the above activities being done and performed continuously over some 2 hrs, the electrical draw never went above 26 watts, the mini's top surface got a tad warm, no fan noises were heard, swapping as seen in Activity monitor was not happening in any significant way, all the activities I made ran smoothly, the system did not stall/freeze at any time, the 10 Stockfish chess applications did at one time crash but when relaunched continued without crashing again, and I was getting every thing I tried done expeditiously with no fuss, knowing all the time the system had to be under duress. The Activity Monitor CPU and GPU window displays showed all 8 cores were being plugged 100%, the GPU was very active, and i/o was raging away at several 100s of MB/s.

I have to say, doing all the above has made me a believer of the Apple claims for this 'mighty' small Mac mini (M1, 2020). I'm completely gob-smacked by how well the mini handled all the abuse I threw at it.

If the stock M1 mini can stand up to the above abuse it will IMO simply behave well under normal daily use for sure. Based on this, I'm please I saved the $200 not going for the 16GB RAM upgrade. The 256GB SSD does not bother me as when I later get my 74 TB of Promise Pegasus storage online, that is where all the big data will be residing. I traditionally keep a very small data footprint on my internal boot device. Just have to wait for Big Sur to sort itself out for allowing connecting and mounting the Pegasus units. :)

At this point after using this stock Mac mini (M1, 2020) for a little over a day doing all the above, I'm mightily please, and would give a solid 10/10 rating for it.
 
Last edited:

4sallypat

macrumors 68040
Sep 16, 2016
3,508
3,318
So Calif
..... I'm please I saved the $200 not going for the 16GB RAM upgrade. The 256GB SSD does not bother me as when I later get my 74 TB of Promise Pegasus storage online, that is where all the big data will be residing. I traditionally keep a very small data footprint on my internal boot device. Just have to wait for Big Sur to sort itself out for allowing connecting and mounting the Pegasus units. :)

At this point after using this stock Mac mini (M1, 2020) for a little over a day doing all the above, I'm mightily please, and would give a solid 10/10 rating for it.
100% agree - this is a revolutionary Mac that I am quite impressed.

Glad I didn't shell out $200 more for 8GB of unified memory!

I thought I had the hottest Mini in 2012 when the i7 quad core server BTO came out.

Well I have just been blown over.

With Apple's efficient (both power and computational) M1 processor and unified memory, it's got to be the best thing since sliced bread!

I love it so much after 2 days that I am now selling my i7 quad core w/ 16GB RAM because it can't keep up with the M1 and it's measly 8GB UNIFIED MEMORY.

Storage not an issue - I have tons of 1TB SSD Thunderbolt 2 drives....
IMG_6545.jpg
 

bxs

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 20, 2007
1,150
528
Seattle, WA
Holy cow. That’s a ton of stuff to throw at a system all at once. And presumably Chess was running through Rosetta 2? Not bad for a computer that cost less than my Apple Watch.

Are you running multiple displays?
Stockfish is a Universal application downloaded from the Mac App Store.
I'm running just one display via HDMI at this time (see my OP stating this).
 

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Jimmy James

macrumors 603
Oct 26, 2008
5,488
4,067
Magicland
Incredible. Hmm, still tempted by 16GB for a multiple user mini and to prevent drive wear with swap files. Sounds like not even necessary in that case.
 
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cpnotebook80

macrumors 65816
Feb 4, 2007
1,214
530
Toronto
When would 16gb come into play in this Mac mini? What software or process would warrant one to get that ram upgrade. I keep thinking about the intel macs as it was always the ram or hdd upgrade we were debating. Will having more 16gb mean more tasks can be done or just intensive apps run faster in the new m1?
 

Mechanism

macrumors member
Nov 18, 2020
37
36
The Davinci Resolve on a base-model Mac Mini videos on Learn Color Grading's channel are super impressive!
 

bxs

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 20, 2007
1,150
528
Seattle, WA
When would 16gb come into play in this Mac mini? What software or process would warrant one to get that ram upgrade. I keep thinking about the intel macs as it was always the ram or hdd upgrade we were debating. Will having more 16gb mean more tasks can be done or just intensive apps run faster in the new m1?
If your pocket/budget allows the extra Ram (8GB -> 16GB) then go for it. It will help some if for nothing else but to hold frequently used data in the Kernel buffer cache that is RAM resident. Access data from RAM is always much faster than accessing it from the internal SSD or external SSD/Disk devices. You cannot lose by adding RAM, so long as you can afford it.
 
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Selfie

macrumors newbie
Nov 19, 2020
24
6
Subject: I must admit, I'm very impressed with how my Mac mini (M1, 2020) is performing

After listening to the Apple event introducing the M1 models I will admit I was a bit skeptical about all the claims being made. I started reading up on the various Reviews who mostly were applauding Apple's move from Intel to SoC and the benefits they were seeing on the M1 Macs, and who started to agree with Apple's claims.

Yesterday I received my Mac mini (M1, 2020) that is the base/stock model with the measly 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD. I was able to set it up quickly without any fuss at all.

I plugged the mini into my KILL A WATT device to be able to monitor the electrical draw in watts. I connected a Thunderbolt cable to my 10G LAN using a Promise SANLink 3 adapter, and used an ancient Sony Bravia 26" TV via HDMI for a starting display (will later connect to a TB LG wide screen later when I get it from the office). The SONY TV is a bit of a wonky display as I have to always reset its Underscan in the System Preferences -> Displays so the left side vertical Dock, menu bar, and rightside desktop items are in full view. No matter, no big issue for me.

So having setup the mini, I went about perform various daily tasks over a day and a bit more. I looked at the RAM used via Activity Monitor, and did see some swap had been used (about 2.5 GB at the time I looked), and there was some MB of compressed RAM. Even so, doing all my daily activities I was unaware of any slow downs or response hesitations. So far so good, I thought.

When the mini is at idle it draws just 3 watts. Awesome.

So at this point I wanted to see how the mini would handle a very heavy CPU, memory intensive, and i/o load all happening at same time.

  • I cranked up Safari and opened some 50 web sites.
  • I launched 10 Stockfish chess applications and got then running.
  • I played a few Youtube videos.
  • I launched Time Machine to backup for the first time to my Apple 2TB TC via wire (not Wi-Fi).
  • I started to reply to many unanswered e-Mails.
  • I navigated/scooted about in my Calendar windows.
  • I launched Maps and selected a number of locations to be displayed.
  • I had Activity Monitor running with all the various CPU and GPU windows open.
  • I launched Terminal and set in motion a very intensive 'find' command.
  • I launched Disk Utility and ran First Aid on the internal boot device several times (of course this does lockup the system briefly doing this).
  • I flitted around through my 50 Safari web pages.
  • I launched Messages and issued a ton of messages to the family saying I'm just testing and to ignore me.
  • I took many screen shots and manipulated them with Preview.
  • I used Finder to navigate around the file system several times.
  • I cranked up News and spent a fair amount of time reading through a number of articles.
  • I launched Numbers and whaled away updating several large spreadsheets.
  • I launched Pages and read and updated several publications.
  • I cranked up Netflix in Safari and watched short bursts of movies.
With all the above activities being done and performed continuously over some 2 hrs, the electrical draw never went above 26 watts, the mini's top surface got a tad warm, no fan noises were heard, swapping as seen in Activity monitor was not happening in any significant way, all the activities I made ran smoothly, the system did not stall/freeze at any time, the 10 Stockfish chess applications did at one time crash but when relaunched continued without crashing again, and I was getting every thing I tried done expeditiously with no fuss, knowing all the time the system had to be under duress. The Activity Monitor CPU and GPU window displays showed all 8 cores were being plugged 100%, the GPU was very active, and i/o was raging away at several 100s of MB/s.

I have to say, doing all the above has made me a believer of the Apple claims for this 'mighty' small Mac mini (M1, 2020). I'm completely gob-smacked by how well the mini handled all the abuse I threw at it.

If the stock M1 mini can stand up to the above abuse it will IMO simply behave well under normal daily use for sure. Based on this, I'm please I saved the $200 not going for the 16GB RAM upgrade. The 256GB SSD does not bother me as when I later get my 74 TB of Promise Pegasus storage online, that is where all the big data will be residing. I traditionally keep a very small data footprint on my internal boot device. Just have to wait for Big Sur to sort itself out for allowing connecting and mounting the Pegasus units. :)

At this point after using this stock Mac mini (M1, 2020) for a little over a day doing all the above, I'm mightily please, and would give a solid 10/10 rating for it.
Thanks for this, and for staying on top of the Promise Pegasus issue. I, too am waiting for an update that solves it for us!
 

LeeW

macrumors 601
Feb 5, 2017
4,320
9,392
Over here
still tempted by 16GB
I went for the 16GB, today it may well be fine but give it some time, developers will start to utilize the M1 and do more with it which will lead to higher memory expectation. Plus, if I keep this device for a few years before upgrading, people looking for used devices at that time will more likely be looking at 16GB for their needs.
 

russell_314

macrumors 603
Feb 10, 2019
6,148
9,197
USA
100% agree - this is a revolutionary Mac that I am quite impressed.

Glad I didn't shell out $200 more for 8GB of unified memory!

I thought I had the hottest Mini in 2012 when the i7 quad core server BTO came out.

Well I have just been blown over.

With Apple's efficient (both power and computational) M1 processor and unified memory, it's got to be the best thing since sliced bread!

I love it so much after 2 days that I am now selling my i7 quad core w/ 16GB RAM because it can't keep up with the M1 and it's measly 8GB UNIFIED MEMORY.

Storage not an issue - I have tons of 1TB SSD Thunderbolt 2 drives....
View attachment 1675259
Very good advice. I have the i7 with 512 GB and I'll probably get the new one early next year. Unless you have money to burn to get both the $200 for RAM would be better spent for a larger SSD. I'm thinking 1 TB this time since I only have a little under 70 GB free currently. :)
 
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yoak

macrumors 68000
Oct 4, 2004
1,672
203
Oslo, Norway
Great write up OP.
My use is different than yours (more video editing).
After reading as much as I can find about the M1, I decided to try the 8gb mini. I could get it next week, not next year, and it was a 60 day open return so well with trying out.
 

Lowhangers

macrumors regular
Nov 26, 2017
195
305
Wow. You did more than I did to test it. I just got mine a couple of days ago, and I'm impressed too.

I've just been doing my usual stuff and it hasn't even gotten warm yet. For what I do, this mini is more than enough. I still can't get over how fast it is compared to the Intel ones I used to have.

For 700 bucks, you can't beat this thing.
 

VitoBotta

macrumors 6502a
Dec 2, 2020
837
324
Espoo, Finland
I am a web developer and for the stuff I use everyday I regret buying a Mini with 8GB. Frequent high memory pressure resulting in slowdowns for me. I ordered another one with 16GB a few days ago and I will sell the 8GB soon.
 
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