Mac Mini 2018 versus Intel NUC8

astrocramp

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Aug 27, 2011
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*sigh* I really want a Mac Mini 2018, but I don't know how to justify it.

Intel NUC8 Core i7, Vega graphics, 1TB Samsung SSD, 32GB RAM, + Win10: $1308
Mac Mini with Core i7, integrated graphics, 1TB SSD, 32GB RAM + OSX: $2500

Even scaling back the Mac Mini to 8GB RAM and 512GB, it's $1499 with half the storage, 1/4 the RAM, and far worse graphics. I need to dual boot for certain applications, so Mac OS is a nice to have but not a must.

Does anybody think Apple will cut prices on storage and RAM considering the massive price drops we've seen since Mac Mini was launched? It's frustrating that Apple didn't (1) implement Vega graphics and (2) allow "serviceable storage" where users could swap in sticks of m.2 SSD. Storage is simply collapsing in price, I imagine we'll have 4TB of SSD dirt cheap over the next few years.
 

F-Train

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There is a whole thread on this that was started two weeks ago: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/mac-mini-2018-vs-hades-canyon-nuc.2173297/#post-27179130

Lord knows how you think that Apple is going to put a full-size Vega graphics card in a Mac mini. However, if you are serious, there is an entire thread, with 550 posts and over 50,000 views, on using a Mac mini with an external GPU: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/external-gpu-egpu-resources.2154653/

There are also lots of threads/posts - not hard to find - complaining that Mac mini storage is not upgradeable.

Soon enough, your thread will get contributions from a small group of posters who don't actually own a 2018 Mac mini, but love threads like this.

Cheers
 
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astrocramp

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There is a whole thread on this that was started two weeks ago: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/mac-mini-2018-vs-hades-canyon-nuc.2173297/#post-27179130

Lord knows how you think that Apple is going to put a Vega graphics card in a Mac mini.

Cheers
well, Hades Canyon has a Vega-M built in -that's the point of the NUC. It's a chipset that Apple could have adopted. The point of the mini is to have a nice clean design, not have a bunch of crap and wires all over your desktop.

Fair criticism on the other posts. I just went down the list and didn't actually do a search, which I should have. Too bad I can't close this thread.
 

F-Train

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The point of the mini is to have a nice clean design, not have a bunch of crap and wires all over your desktop.
.
Excuse me, but who says? Those of us who are using cards like the Vega 56 don't consider it to be "a bunch of crap and wires all over your desktop".

In my case, this makes for an extremely portable computer that I can travel with and, when desired, connect to an external graphics card for video editing and gaming.

Maybe it's possible that some people use a mini differently than you would.

Maybe there's a reason why there are 550 posts and over 50,000 views on doing it, not one post of which talks about "a bunch of crap and wires all over your desktop."
 
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Sarpanch

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*sigh* I really want a Mac Mini 2018, but I don't know how to justify it.

Intel NUC8 Core i7, Vega graphics, 1TB Samsung SSD, 32GB RAM, + Win10: $1308
Mac Mini with Core i7, integrated graphics, 1TB SSD, 32GB RAM + OSX: $2500

Even scaling back the Mac Mini to 8GB RAM and 512GB, it's $1499 with half the storage, 1/4 the RAM, and far worse graphics. I need to dual boot for certain applications, so Mac OS is a nice to have but not a must.

Does anybody think Apple will cut prices on storage and RAM considering the massive price drops we've seen since Mac Mini was launched? It's frustrating that Apple didn't (1) implement Vega graphics and (2) allow "serviceable storage" where users could swap in sticks of m.2 SSD. Storage is simply collapsing in price, I imagine we'll have 4TB of SSD dirt cheap over the next few years.
I don’t think it’s a valid comparison. The CPU in the Intel NUC8 is a quad core mobile version, whereas the Mac Mini i7 is a hex core desktop version. The raw processing power boost is significant.

Secondly, if price is a factor, I would not recommend succumbing to Apple’s greedy SSD prices. An equivalent upgrade using Samsung X5 or DIY solutions will be more economical. Also, upgrading the RAM yourself would save you another 400$.

When Hades Canyon was released, I was hoping Apple would utilize those chips for the upcoming Mini, but I am so glad that Apple offered hex core i5 and i7 desktop processors. Would have loved to see upgradeable Nvme slots, but I guess we can’t have it all.
 

Stephen.R

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well, Hades Canyon has a Vega-M built in -that's the point of the NUC.
it has a mobile, 4 core processor as opposed to a desktop 6 core processor.

if you want to worry about “wires and crap all over your desk” I have one question for you: why would you want a HDMI port on the front of the machine?
 

astrocramp

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Aug 27, 2011
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Excuse me, but who says? Those of us who are using cards like the Vega 56 don't consider it to be "a bunch of crap and wires all over your desktop".
"
It's still a bunch of crap and wires on the desktop, whether it bothers you or not. It bothers me, but maybe not you. I have two monitors, external USB speakers, a headset charging station, and a Rode USB mic. Adding an external graphics card in a box that also needs power is one more piece of crap on the desktop.

Do you use multi-monitor? Do you know if MST works via TB3 to DP so you can daisy chain one display to the other on the mini?
 
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F-Train

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It's still a bunch of crap and wires on the desktop, whether it bothers you or not. It bothers me, but maybe not you. I have two monitors, external USB speakers, a headset charging station, and a Rode USB mic. Adding an external graphics card in a box that also needs power is one more piece of crap on the desktop.

Do you use multi-monitor? Do you know if MST works via TB3 to DP so you can daisy chain one display to the other on the mini?
First of all, my external GPU is not on my desktop. Secondly, I don't think that you know what you're talking about and I don't think that you have any interest in listening, let alone learning.
 
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astrocramp

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Aug 27, 2011
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I don’t think it’s a valid comparison. The CPU in the Intel NUC8 is a quad core mobile version, whereas the Mac Mini i7 is a hex core desktop version. The raw processing power boost is significant.

Secondly, if price is a factor, I would not recommend succumbing to Apple’s greedy SSD prices. An equivalent upgrade using Samsung X5 or DIY solutions will be more economical. Also, upgrading the RAM yourself would save you another 400$.
Well that's a good point and maybe my justification :). Raw CPU is important for me in my data science apps, although I'm not blasting millions of rows only 10's of thousands. If I buy a Mini, I for sure will upgrade the RAM myself although I'm voiding the warranty. I really would like to avoid external storage, and will likely spring for the 10Gbps NIC for the future "just in case" (if my mini is forever 512GB, then I'll likely need to routinely move stuff off it).
[doublepost=1553737126][/doublepost]
First of all, my external GPU is not on my desktop. Secondly, I don't think that you know what you're talking about and I don't think that you have any interest in listening, let alone learning.
LOL ok. Maybe you do, maybe you don't have multi-monitor. If you do, I'd be interested to know how you setup your mini with it - by using TB3 to DP and HDMI, TB3 to DP with MST and daisy chain from one monitor to the other, or 2x TB3 to DP. I'm asking because I had trouble getting MST to work with my Dell laptop TB3 port. Or you can continue to harrumph my questions, that's fine too.
[doublepost=1553737270][/doublepost]
it has a mobile, 4 core processor as opposed to a desktop 6 core processor.

if you want to worry about “wires and crap all over your desk” I have one question for you: why would you want a HDMI port on the front of the machine?
I definitely don't want HDMI on the front, at least for this setup. That's a good option for VR, where you connect the headset in the front, but not necessary for me. The NUC has I think 2x display port on the back, but is an ugly mess compared to the Mini, one of the reasons I want the mini (plus the option to dual boot).
 
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Stephen.R

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Do you use multi-monitor? Do you know if MST works via TB3 to DP so you can daisy chain one display to the other on the mini?
I looked into this when I was ordering mine. It wasn’t a clear cut “works” or “doesn’t work” in the end - I got to the point where I believed it would work, but my displays (2x Dell P2415Q 24” 4K) only support MST at 30Hz so I gave up any further attempts and just bought a TB3 to dual DP adapter.
 
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F-Train

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. That's a good option for VR
As I've already suggested, you need to do some basic homework. You're in Neverland if you think that you're going to use the internal graphics of a NUC or mini for virtual reality games/applications.

A Vega 56 card, which is the minimum I would use for VR, is larger than either of those computers. I'm not even including the enclosure. Here's the Asus version, which I happen to own:
https://www.asus.com/us/Graphics-Cards/AREZ-STRIX-RXVEGA56-O8G-GAMING/

I don't know what to say. You have strong opinions, but you don't have a clue what you are talking about, and you clearly aren't interested in listening. If you want to do things that are graphics intensive, maybe stop ranting about whether it will take up space additional to your RØDE USB mic (no, I'm not impressed) and learn about what's involved in running an external GPU. In post #2, I gave you a link. Maybe look at it.

Either that, or purchase a big computer that will house a serious AMD or Nvidia card, or a computer with serious integrated graphics, and stop fantasizing about a NUC or a mini.
 
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astrocramp

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Original poster
Aug 27, 2011
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As I've already suggested, you need to do some basic homework. You're in Neverland if you think that you're going to use the internal graphics of a NUC or mini for virtual reality games/applications.

A Vega 56 card, which is the minimum I would use for VR, is larger than either of those computers. I'm not even including the enclosure. Here's the Asus version, which I happen to own:
https://www.asus.com/us/Graphics-Cards/AREZ-STRIX-RXVEGA56-O8G-GAMING/

I don't know what to say. You have strong opinions, but you don't have a clue what you are talking about, and you clearly aren't interested in listening. If you want to do things that are graphics intensive, maybe stop ranting about whether it will take space away from your RODE USB mic (no, I'm not impressed) and learn about what's involved in running an external GPU.
You're just intent on arguing with me for some reason, and don't even read my posts - I said, regarding the NUC's front HDMI port, that the front HDMI port is for VR, and "not necessary for me". I have both an Oculus Rift and HTC Vive which run on gaming desktops at home. Both PC's have nVidia 1080's to run those headsets. Intel put a front HDMI port on the NUC specifically for VR - it's right there on the front page of the NUC site. I personally wouldn't run less than a 1070 for VR, but maybe the NUC works OK (I haven't tested it), particularly with lower spec headsets like Windows Mixed Reality.
The MM or NUC will be my work computer at my office, will run multiple monitors, do light video editing and moderately heavy number crunching, but no games. I'd like it to be reasonably powerful across the board if I'm going to sink $2k in a machine. Somebody else pointed out that the NUC CPU is mobile versus MM's 6 core which was actually a good point since I need CPU more than graphics.
You can carry on like a lunatic about how I don't have a clue, but at least there are some others here that are actually willing to share info. And don't act like you're not green with envy for my $100 RODE USB MIC.
[doublepost=1553744094][/doublepost]
I looked into this when I was ordering mine. It wasn’t a clear cut “works” or “doesn’t work” in the end - I got to the point where I believed it would work, but my displays (2x Dell P2415Q 24” 4K) only support MST at 30Hz so I gave up any further attempts and just bought a TB3 to dual DP adapter.
Interesting that you run two DP off one TB3 with a y-cable - I actually didn't know that was possible. That will help with my laptop setup.
 

Stephen.R

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Interesting that you run two DP off one TB3 with a y-cable - I actually didn't know that was possible. That will help with my laptop setup.
Sort of. It’s a little dongle and I’m fairly certain it’s an active adapter (rather than just a passive cable). https://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/TB3ADP2DP/
[doublepost=1553748704][/doublepost]Most other TB3 accessory makers have their own version of the same thing (and a dual hdmi version too) but they also all essentially look the same except for the company name/logo so I’m fairly sure they’re all the same manufacturer.
 

N9JIG

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Feb 25, 2019
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I have been a Mac guy since the old 512 back in the mid 80's and have had just about everything they have sold over the decades. I am currently using the 2018 Mac Mini as my daily driver but I also have a couple NUCs, a Hades Canyon and a slightly older NUC. The NUC's are great performers for the price and the Hades Canyon has great I/O included. With support for up to a half dozen 4K monitors and the easy upgrades for RAM and storage it really is a great platform for many. For the money it beats the Mac Mini in a scientific comparison. I also appreciate the 3 year warranty included at no extra cost.

As much as I like the NUC though it cannot compete with the Mini in style and the more intangible things that make a Mac a Mac. Yes, the Mac Mini is more expensive in most comparable configurations so if you are already invested in the Mac you have to weigh that in your decision. I bought my HC NUC a couple weeks before the Mini, partly to see if I wanted to use it to replace my aging 5K iMac. It was close, and I ended up getting the Mini because I didn't want to wait for the Pro. Not knowing when the new Mac Pro would be out and with heat related graphics issues on the iMac I had to make a decision. I followed my heart and went with the Mac Mini to stay in the Mac world without having to go with the iMac again. That was the second iMac in a decade with similar graphics issues and I wanted more flexibility in monitors anyway.

On paper the NUC wins. In my heart though the Mac Mini does. There is a scene in an early episode of Friends where Ross is trying to decide between Rachel and Julie. Julie wins on paper but Rachel wins because she is Rachel. Well, here the Mac Mini wins because it is a Mac.
 
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astrocramp

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Aug 27, 2011
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Well, here the Mac Mini wins because it is a Mac.
I get that. I switched to Mac maybe 7 years ago with the 17" MBP, but still use Windows for productivity/work. Over time I'm now back mostly on Windows, just because of inertia and I was seduced by the SurfaceBook when it was released. But I really do want that Mac Mini - that would be the first time I use a desktop Mac since I had a Mac SE a million years ago and I haven't spent a lot of multi-monitor time on Mac (ie sitting in front of the computer all day working). I'm just having a hard time with the price, particularly with the soldered-in storage when we all know m.2 SSD prices are collapsing.

I'll probably pull the trigger - my i7 with 8GB (will upgrade to 32GB myself), 512GB storage, and 10Gbps NIC is sitting in the cart, ready for me to recover from analysis paralysis :).
 
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kevink2

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I went with the Mini because my 2 year experiment of running desktop Mac on a Hackintosh, then within a VM, was more hassle than I really wanted to continue with, what with USB3 not working, and worries that any upgrade to the OS would break something.

But since I already had things like keyboard, 4K display, and limited desk space at home, I didn't want to go the iMac route. The Mini attached via HDMI 2 port to my monitor, which is shared with the full sized desktop I used to hackintosh, them made Windows. I didn't need huge memory, since VMs could be run on the Windows desktop. I bought an external 2TB SSD in a 10gb USB 3.1 enclosure for my "home" directory.

It is nice again not to have to worry about keeping the Mac running. Stable.

But on the other hand, if I already had a Mac desktop, and wanted a standalone Windows machine at this time, I would seriously consider the NUC solution. I assume more stable than the Intel Compute stick, and small on the desktop.
 

astrocramp

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Aug 27, 2011
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worries that any upgrade to the OS would break something.
I didn't want to go the iMac route.
Ages ago I did a hackintosh. I fixed the first update, after the second update that broke it I gave up. I really loved having OSX on my home built windows machine, but you're absolutely right - it's a terrible idea to rely on a machine where you have no idea how much time you'll need to invest to fix a broken update.

Just today I setup my 2010 17" MBP on my desktop to putz around before I commit to the mini. It's been so long since I've used Mac with multiple displays, particularly for work where I have multiple Windows and applications open to work on a project. I'll have to say Windows 10 does a great job with window management, and I need to get good at MacOS again.

Side note - I love my 2010 17" MBP. Best hardware Apple ever released. Beautiful screen, keyboard is fantastic, tons of ports, accessible storage and RAM, and it's lasted 9 years. BUT, it only lasted 9 years because I could upgrade the storage from small HDD to a huge SSD and I upgraded the RAM. If I couldn't do that, this thing would have been on ebay long ago.