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familychoice

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 5, 2015
73
14
I was hoping for a 27" iMac update yesterday as a desktop replacement for an ailing Windows PC, but it didn't happen and the 24" doesn't appeal.

Instead I'm looking at the base model Mac Mini, which is only £650 on Amazon, and seems to have similar specs to the new base model iMac. I already have a couple of 24" monitors here (though not as good as the iMac's), keyboard, mouse etc., so the Mini would save me £600.

I'd be using it for general office stuff - email, web etc., plus web design and web graphics (using the Affinity apps). I realise 8gb is not really recommended these days, but would it be ok for non-print graphic design, and web development? I don't do any video, gaming etc. Usually I like to get as much RAM as I can afford to future proof my purchase, but I'm thinking that at £650 if I get a couple of years use from it it's a cost effective purchase.

256 storage isn't ideal either, but I'd use an external SSD for file storage and just keep my main apps on the Mini drive.

If I do need a bit more grunt, then I have a 16" Intel Macbook Pro with 16gb - which is a lovely machine. I could hook that up to a monitor, but I need a desktop backup too.

Ideally I'd go for a 16/512 Mini, but that's over a grand, so if I can get away with the base model it'll save a few hundred quid I can put towards a 27/30" iMac when they appear.

Any feedback gratefully received! I realise I'm being a bit stingy here and I'd love to spend more, but with the current economic situation, plus the possibility of new products arriving soon, it'd be great if I can get away with a base model as a short-term fix.

Cheers :)
 

opeter

macrumors 68000
Aug 5, 2007
1,907
783
Slovenia, EU
If you buy the 16GB RAM/512 SSD version it will be enough. More than enough. At least for a couple of years.

If you need more storage, you can always add/connect in external form.
 
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familychoice

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 5, 2015
73
14
If you buy the 16GB RAM/512 SSD version it will be enough. More than enough. At least for a couple of years.

If you need more storage, you can always add/connect in external form.
Thanks - yeah I was hoping I could get away with the base model (8/256) though, as the 16/512 starts getting a bit pricey. I'm thinking of this as a short-term relatively cheap solution, then get something better in a couple of years when my finances have improved.

Do you think the 8/256 would cope ok with medium use Affinity Photo/Designer/Publisher use? My 16" 16gb Macbook Pro sails through them, but I've read that the RAM on the M1 is more efficient than with the Intels, so hoping I can get away with 8gb on the M1 Mini.
 
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opeter

macrumors 68000
Aug 5, 2007
1,907
783
Slovenia, EU
My only problem is the 8GB RAM, that cannot be upgraded. At all.

You can live with smaller a storage (256 GB) by adding external storage options, use a cloud storage etc., but the RAM. The amount of RAM memory after a while will simply not be enough. Don't forget, even the internet and web services get's more and more demanding... and that is today categorized as everyday/basic usage.

But it is you wallet, you know, how much you can spend. So, try to get the best possible option, that you can afford.
 
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MacCheetah3

macrumors 65816
Nov 14, 2003
1,030
346
Central MN
Will it work? Yes. Far from ideal though. That amount of RAM is not sufficient for anything more than (lighter) Web browsing, email, light productivity, etc. The mini will certainly be throwing down at least some swap files if doing Web/image work with only 8GB RAM. Adding the strain of those swap files to a 256GB SSD isn’t going to be pretty either.

Being blunt... I’d recommend either pulling the trigger on the config that will truly satisfy your workflow or waiting. The upper tier Macs (next gen M series SoC) could come as soon as fall (~6 months away). I was optimistically hoping for now (i.e., Spring) as well, but clearly Apple isn’t quite ready yet.
 
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Tomacorno

macrumors regular
Sep 29, 2009
190
5
You could keep an eye on the apple refurb store also. Like new computer with warranty and save a bit over $100. There are not any online at this moment but that was what I did - just kept checking back every couple of days. I was eligible for other discounts so I don't remember what the basic refurb discount was. Good luck. Very happy with my refurb 16/521, have not had any of the bluetooth problems I saw people talk about.
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
21,693
7,902
I would not recommend ANY m-series Mac unless it's bought with 16gb of RAM.

This is due to the extreme disk swapping that is occurring with the "unified memory" of the m-series design. We're talking many terabytes of writes for little obvious reason at all, resulting in premature drive wear.

I believe it may be possible to eliminate or significantly reduce this by turning off virtual memory disk swapping and compressed memory, but don't have an m-series Mac upon which to test it.

So... 16gb of RAM, and if you can't afford the 512gb SSD, 256 will have to do.
 
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familychoice

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 5, 2015
73
14
The mini will certainly be throwing down at least some swap files if doing Web/image work with only 8GB RAM. Adding the strain of those swap files to a 256GB SSD isn’t going to be pretty either.
I would not recommend ANY m-series Mac unless it's bought with 16gb of RAM.

This is due to the extreme disk swapping that is occurring with the "unified memory" of the m-series design. We're talking many terabytes of writes for little obvious reason at all, resulting in premature drive wear.
Ah, ok thanks guys - good point. I've just read up on disk swapping, and agree, I don't think 8gb would be a god idea, particularly with such a small SSD.

My only problem is the 8GB RAM, that cannot be upgraded. At all.
I was thinking of it as a short-term solution, but thanks yeah, considering the disk swapping I don't think it's a good idea.

You could keep an eye on the apple refurb store also. Like new computer with warranty and save a bit over $100. There are not any online at this moment but that was what I did - just kept checking back every couple of days. I was eligible for other discounts so I don't remember what the basic refurb discount was. Good luck. Very happy with my refurb 16/521, have not had any of the bluetooth problems I saw people talk about.
Thank you. I've never bought a refurb before, but I think I'll keep an eye out for this one, as even though it's a temporary fix it seems I will need at least 16gb of RAM.

Shame the new iMacs are so pricey, it's nearly £2k for a 16/512. I'd expect a 27" screen for that price.
 
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familychoice

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 5, 2015
73
14
Your welcome. Good luck and wish you all the best! :)
Thank you! I'll keep an eye on the refurbished 16/512 Mini prices - I think the 27/30" iMac update when it comes will be way out of my budget - going by the price of the 24", and carry on with my Macbook Pro for the time being.
 
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Binary Wizzard

macrumors newbie
Dec 5, 2020
12
12
I personally have the 8GB M1 Mini and it's a great machine. I have multiple browsers open, multiple tabs in them, Spotify, RDP, VMware console, etc. No problem at all. It never felt slow and unable to keep up.

I'm not too worried about premature wear on the disk because it's "only" 8GB. If that were the case, then I'm pretty sure there would be a class action against Apple and they would have to pay a hefty fee for that.
 
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familychoice

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 5, 2015
73
14
I personally have the 8GB M1 Mini and it's a great machine. I have multiple browsers open, multiple tabs in them, Spotify, RDP, VMware console, etc. No problem at all. It never felt slow and unable to keep up.

I'm not too worried about premature wear on the disk because it's "only" 8GB. If that were the case, then I'm pretty sure there would be a class action against Apple and they would have to pay a hefty fee for that.
Thanks for the reply.

I am tempted by the 8gb base model, as even if there is an issue with wear over a long period of time, it's only £650 which is less than a Pro iPad. If I can get away with a year of light graphic/office use for that cost - and then sell it on when a better solution arrives - then it's been a good purchase. Or if I keep it and it gives up after a couple of years, it's not a major issue.

I may bite the bullet though and add another 8gb and learn to live with the small hard drive and use my external SSD's for storage, though the reported bluetooth/monitor issues are putting me off investing too much into this machine.

I think the current pricing/models available at the moment are pshing me into short-term fixes, rather than investing all my cash into something I'll keep going for a longer period.
 
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opeter

macrumors 68000
Aug 5, 2007
1,907
783
Slovenia, EU
I'm not too worried about premature wear on the disk because it's "only" 8GB. If that were the case, then I'm pretty sure there would be a class action against Apple and they would have to pay a hefty fee for that.
These class action lawsuits applies only in the US of A, outside of that not really...
I mean, I just want to say that they would get away with it elsewhere.
 
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Apple_Robert

Contributor
Sep 21, 2012
24,473
29,593
In the middle of several books.
I would not recommend ANY m-series Mac unless it's bought with 16gb of RAM.

This is due to the extreme disk swapping that is occurring with the "unified memory" of the m-series design. We're talking many terabytes of writes for little obvious reason at all, resulting in premature drive wear.

I believe it may be possible to eliminate or significantly reduce this by turning off virtual memory disk swapping and compressed memory, but don't have an m-series Mac upon which to test it.

So... 16gb of RAM, and if you can't afford the 512gb SSD, 256 will have to do.
Not everyone is having an extreme disk swapping problem. In fact, the numbers affected look to be low, given the amount of feedback seen on here and elsewhere. It seems to a limited problem.
 
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Bodhitree

macrumors regular
Apr 5, 2021
124
101
The M1 is very capable of doing the kind of workloads you are envisaging. Watch some of the YouTube clips of people stress-testing the base model, it really holds up pretty well.
 
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The_Interloper

macrumors 6502
Oct 28, 2016
493
1,059
I am tempted by the 8gb base model, as even if there is an issue with wear over a long period of time, it's only £650 which is less than a Pro iPad. If I can get away with a year of light graphic/office use for that cost - and then sell it on when a better solution arrives - then it's been a good purchase. Or if I keep it and it gives up after a couple of years, it's not a major issue.
I can echo this line of thinking as I picked up the 8/256 base model recently as it was just £550 on Amazon (sure it was a misprice). I wanted the 16Gb model but no way in hell was I paying £350 more for an extra 8Gb of RAM. At that price I figured I would use it as a stopgap until upgraded models arrive then sell it.

To be honest, it's pretty excellent and I'm used to having 32Gb in my PCs and Macs. I don't think anything you're proposing using it for would remotely tax it. I replaced an i5 six-core 2018 Mini with 32Gb RAM and eGPU with this little M1 and it trounces the Intel machine in just about everything. The gulf in performance in some areas (e.g. rendering video) is huge, with no fan noise.

I also added an external USB-C enclosure (as I already had a 1Tb SATA SSD) to expand storage. No issues. I think you'd be shocked at how capable the base model is and this video goes a long way to demonstrating this in real-world workflows.

There are also some refurbs popping up at £589 right now (they go in and out of stock).
 
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familychoice

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 5, 2015
73
14
I can echo this line of thinking as I picked up the 8/256 base model recently as it was just £550 on Amazon (sure it was a misprice). I wanted the 16Gb model but no way in hell was I paying £350 more for an extra 8Gb of RAM. At that price I figured I would use it as a stopgap until upgraded models arrive then sell it.

To be honest, it's pretty excellent and I'm used to having 32Gb in my PCs and Macs. I don't think anything you're proposing using it for would remotely tax it. I replaced an i5 six-core 2018 Mini with 32Gb RAM and eGPU with this little M1 and it trounces the Intel machine in just about everything. The gulf in performance in some areas (e.g. rendering video) is huge, with no fan noise.

I also added an external USB-C enclosure (as I already had a 1Tb SATA SSD) to expand storage. No issues. I think you'd be shocked at how capable the base model is and this video goes a long way to demonstrating this in real-world workflows.

There are also some refurbs popping up at £589 right now (they go in and out of stock).
Thanks for sharing your experiences!

The video link is useful, as it reminded me I can check RAM usage via Activity Monitor.

I've read a number of reports of issues with Affinity Publisher and 8gb RAM machines, and just checked that one and the other Affinity apps, and they're running just a whisker under 8gb (on my 16gb Macbook pro) so I think a base model is going to be out of the question for my uses.

So my choices are now a 16/256 Mini for £899, or 16/512 Mini for £1099 (from Apple, Amazon doesn't offer a 16gb option), which is a bit pricely for a potentially short-term fix. Or a longer term 24" 16/512 iMac for £1849.

Think I'm still on the fence for now!
 
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weaztek

macrumors 6502
Aug 28, 2009
312
144
Madison
I can echo this line of thinking as I picked up the 8/256 base model recently as it was just £550 on Amazon (sure it was a misprice). I wanted the 16Gb model but no way in hell was I paying £350 more for an extra 8Gb of RAM. At that price I figured I would use it as a stopgap until upgraded models arrive then sell it.

To be honest, it's pretty excellent and I'm used to having 32Gb in my PCs and Macs. I don't think anything you're proposing using it for would remotely tax it. I replaced an i5 six-core 2018 Mini with 32Gb RAM and eGPU with this little M1 and it trounces the Intel machine in just about everything.
I kind of figured this was the case but I have kept quiet since I don't have an M1. I think the base 8GB model should be fine for the OP unless they start editing 30MP+ photo files.
 
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KaliYoni

macrumors 6502
Feb 19, 2016
250
195
You could keep an eye on the apple refurb store also
OP: if you haven't ever bought a refurb from Apple before, I just want to say that I have had very positive experiences with Apple's USA refurb program. I've bought multiple Macs, iPods, and iPads as refurbs, beginning with a beige G3 tower years and years ago. I've never been let down or felt dissatisfied. So, if you see a machine you want offered as a refurb, you can save some money and get what is effectively a new product.
 
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familychoice

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 5, 2015
73
14
OP: if you haven't ever bought a refurb from Apple before, I just want to say that I have had very positive experiences with Apple's USA refurb program. I've bought multiple Macs, iPods, and iPads as refurbs, beginning with a beige G3 tower years and years ago. I've never been let down or felt dissatisfied. So, if you see a machine you want offered as a refurb, you can save some money and get what is effectively a new product.
Thanks - no I haven't bought a refurb before, good to hear positive feedback. Just had a look on the store, and a 16/256 at £140 saving would definitely be tempting, though they're out of stock at the moment. I'll keep an eye out!
 
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familychoice

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 5, 2015
73
14
I kind of figured this was the case but I have kept quiet since I don't have an M1. I think the base 8GB model should be fine for the OP unless they start editing 30MP+ photo files.
The only concern I have is with Affinity Publisher, as that seems to be a bit of a RAM hog.

I'm going to keep an eye on Amazon prices - if they do a silly deal for the 8/256 then I'll grab one and see how it goes, otherwise I may consider a 16gb refurb.

I don't have a brilliant monitor here, so I don't want to spend too much on a Mini at the moment (that's why I'm penny pinching) - I really want a 27" M1 iMac. Waiting to see what happens with those, but I'm guessing they might be out of my budget. If they are, and I haven't already bought one, I'll go full-in for a decent spec Mini, and probably a monitor upgrade.
 
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Coheebuzz

macrumors 6502a
Oct 10, 2005
503
135
Nicosia, Cyprus
The M1 is waaay overkill for basic design work, our entire graphics industry runs on 10-20 yo Macs, i think you will be very happy with either Mini model.

If you ever find yourself getting projects with more specialised requirements then it would at least make financial sense to upgrade, but until then you could spend those extra cash on software, a tablet, a camera lens and such, you'll get more creative power out of those than a hardly perceivable performance increase.
 
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Aggedor

macrumors regular
Dec 10, 2020
129
76
I would not recommend ANY m-series Mac unless it's bought with 16gb of RAM.

This is due to the extreme disk swapping that is occurring with the "unified memory" of the m-series design. We're talking many terabytes of writes for little obvious reason at all, resulting in premature drive wear.

I believe it may be possible to eliminate or significantly reduce this by turning off virtual memory disk swapping and compressed memory, but don't have an m-series Mac upon which to test it.

So... 16gb of RAM, and if you can't afford the 512gb SSD, 256 will have to do.
That doesn't happen on all M1 machines. My M1 MBA with 8GB RAM is not showing any unusual disk swapping.

For the original poster, the Mini will be absolutely fine. 16GB RAM would be better, but 8GB will be fine. One problem with asking for advice on this forum is that a lot of people (being dedicated Mac fans like myself!) often go for overkill options. As someone above pointed out, people are doing pro work with machines 10+ years old. You'll be fine. The 8GB Mini will outperform your 16" MBP easily.
 
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familychoice

macrumors member
Original poster
Mar 5, 2015
73
14
The M1 is waaay overkill for basic design work, our entire graphics industry runs on 10-20 yo Macs, i think you will be very happy with either Mini model.

If you ever find yourself getting projects with more specialised requirements then it would at least make financial sense to upgrade, but until then you could spend those extra cash on software, a tablet, a camera lens and such, you'll get more creative power out of those than a hardly perceivable performance increase.

Thanks, it's really just the issues reported by Affinity Publisher users that's making me pause, everything else will be fine.

I've already got two MacBook Pros (Intel 16" and 2012 15") and an Air 4, the Mini/iMac will replace the deceased Dell desktop which I kept going for years.

That doesn't happen on all M1 machines. My M1 MBA with 8GB RAM is not showing any unusual disk swapping.

For the original poster, the Mini will be absolutely fine. 16GB RAM would be better, but 8GB will be fine. One problem with asking for advice on this forum is that a lot of people (being dedicated Mac fans like myself!) often go for overkill options. As someone above pointed out, people are doing pro work with machines 10+ years old. You'll be fine. The 8GB Mini will outperform your 16" MBP easily.
Thanks for the feedback. I've just tested Affinity Publisher on my 2012 8gb Macbook Pro (not used for work) - pushed it pretty hard with Photo, Designer, Publisher, and a web browser with lots of tabs open, and the Activity Monitor stayed at around 6.8gb. It's running an ancient version of the OS (High Sierra), and Activity Monitor is reporting just under 3gb used without anything running.

In contrast, my 16" Intel MacBook Pro running Catalina is reporting 4.2gb used, without anything else running. Not sure if this is due to having more headroom (16gb RAM installed), or the newer OS taking more resources.

I think though, the conclusion is that 8gb will actually do the trick - not perfect or particularly future proof, and for bigger Publisher docs I may have to use the laptop - but for £650 certainly a decent temporary fix.
 
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jakeenzo

macrumors member
Sep 18, 2014
84
67
People saying go for the 16GB are just trying to justify their own purchasing decisions. I've got the 8GB version and it's perfectly fine for light/average use. I also do some light python scripting on it and it's fine. If you're doing music/video editing then sure go for the 16GB, otherwise 8GB will do the trick.
 
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