Mac Mini 2018 vs Hades Canyon NUC

N9JIG

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Original poster
Feb 25, 2019
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In February 2019 I bought an Intel Hades Canyon NUC to replace an older NUC I use for some radio programs that run in Windows and to evaluate if I wanted to switch to Windows to replace my aging iMac 5K which was having graphics card issues. I bought an 8th Gen i7 3.1 GHz Hades Canyon NUC and also bought 2 16GB SO-DIMMS and a 1/2 TB NVME SSD. All in it was just over $1000. When I got home I installed Windows 10 Pro and then downloaded all the Windows updates and Intel drivers etc. to make it all work properly. All said, it took about an hour to assemble the memory and storage and install Windows and another hour or two to run thru the updates and drivers with 4 or 5 restarts. I used an existing monitor, KB and mouse. Windows is very easy to install to a blank SSD with my install USB drive.

The NUC has a fast processor married to a nice Radeon GPU on the same wafer and supports up to 6 4K monitors with the 2 HDMI, 2 MDP and 2 Thunderport ports. It has a pair of GB Ethernet ports, a half dozen USB 3.1g1 ports and an SD card slot. The memory and storage (2 SO-DIMM slots and 2 M.2 SSD slots) are easy to upgrade, since it doesn't come with memory or storage this is kind of required.

Two weeks later I replaced my iMac 5K with a tricked out Mac Mini 2018, with the 3.2 GHz 8th Gen i7 with 6 cores, 32 GB of RAM, the 2TB SSD, 10GB networking and Apple Care, all in for about $3500. I used the Migration Utility and copied over all my applications and files and then it took a few minutes to set up the WiFi, reinstall a couple passwords and I was all done.

The Mac Mini replaced my iMac 5K daily driver that I use for my work-from-home sales and support job as well as my personal use, Netflix/Hulu watching, Live Streaming bits and Youtube videos for work and general playing around. The NUC is used mostly for unattended logging of radio data and running a radar screen for aircraft. None of this stuff is really intensive but I do run 2 or 3 screens on both computers, currently 2K but will likely upgrade to 4K soon.

Last week I swapped in my NUC to replace the Mac Mini for work and daily use, mostly just to see how it works and secondly to set it up as a backup in case the Mac has issues or needs to go to the shop. Other than the power cord and the TimeMachine drive it was "unplug this and plug it into that" and takes only a minute or two to transfer from one to the other. I had exported my many book marks from the various browsers (I use one for POS, one for our Support system and a third for our in-house communications) and imported them to the NUC. By using DropBox and SkyDrive I can access my files from anything.

I was and remain extremely impressed with the NUC platform and seriously considered getting anther one to run my business instead of the Mac Mini. I decided however that I REALLY prefer MacOS to Windows for everyday tasks even though everything I do on the Mac can be done with the same software on Windows. MS Office, Adobe CS, FileMaker Pro and the browsers I use all are cross-platform. Pretty much the only reason I didn't go NUC for my daily driver is the preference for the MacOS and the more polite Updates procedures. I also really love TimeMachine!

The advantages I see for the NUC include:
  • Cost (roughly a third of the Mac Mini with similar specs)
  • Ease of upgrades for memory and storage
  • Tons of IO ports
  • Great graphics, even for gaming guys (of which I am not)
  • Supports up to 6 4K monitors
  • Ports on the front panel (2 USB, USB-C, SD Card, HDMI and audio)
  • Includes VESA Mounting bracket
The disadvantages of the NUC include:
  • Runs Windows instead of MacOS (a fatal flaw!)
The advantages of the Mac Mini include:
  • It is a Mac and runs the MacOS
  • AppleCare
  • TimeMachine
  • Support for 5K monitors
  • It is a Mac and runs MacOS (I know, I said it twice but it is really that important!)
The disadvantages of the Mac Mini include:
  • Cost (compared to the similar spec'd NUC)
  • No included VESA mounting hardware
  • No front panel IO
  • Difficulty in upgrading memory and internal storage
  • Self-generated heat (The case is markedly warmer than the NUC)
While I plan on staying with the Mac this was the first time since 1985 (when I get my first Mac) that I seriously considered Windows to replace it.
 
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F-Train

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Apr 22, 2015
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I think that hardware is irrevant and that it comes down to what operating system one prefers and what applications one uses.

Having used both Windows and Mac extensively, and indeed Linux (specifically, Arch Linux), I prefer macOS. If someone else prefers Windows or Linux, great. As far as I’m concerned, arguing about which is “better” is a complete waste of time.

When it comes to applications, I use Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro rather than competitors like Ableton, Avid, Adobe Premier, etc. I have better ways to spend my time than to debate whether Logic or Ableton is “better”.

When people get into debates over cost of hardware, and start driveling on about an “Apple tax”, they completely ignore the fact that hardware is useless without applications and that true cost includes (a) the cost of applications and (b) the value of your time in training or retraining.

On (a), it is just a fact that Logic and Final Cut have saved their users serious amounts of money. In the roughly seven years that I’ve used these apps, Apple has not once raised the price (US$300) and has not charged for a single upgrade, let alone put its apps, as Adobe has done with Adobe Premiere and Adobe Audition, on forced annual subscription.

As of right now, my cost for each of these applications works out to $42 per year, and this number will be less next year, specifically $37.50/year. How much does it cost to buy the full version of Ableton tomorrow? $750, plus the cost of upgrades to stay current.

You say that you just write stuff and it’s Word or Pages? Decide what your time is worth, and regardless of which way you're thinking of switching, put a number to (b).

Debating NUC vs Mac mini misses the forest for the trees.
 
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N9JIG

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Original poster
Feb 25, 2019
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If it were a straight hardware battle then the NUC would win hands down, especially considering the cost difference. For me the reason the Mac Mini wins here is the MacOS. While I am pretty sure I could convert the NUC into a Hackintosh (and I might try that down the road when I get a second SSD...) that has issues in itself (lack of support for WiFi, BT and others).

For me, someone who is not into video editing and other stuff the Mac excels at, the Mac wins in spite of the fact that I could use either platform with similar results. It is like when my wife asked why I never went back to my old GF, the answer was that "she wasn't you". The only reason the Mac wins for me is that the NUC is not a Mac.
 

palebluedot

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Jun 29, 2008
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Why not use both with Synergy? I share my keyboard and mouse between a Mini and gaming PC, it really is the best of all worlds. You can even drag and drop files between the two.
 

pl1984

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I think that hardware is irrevant and that it comes down to what operating system one prefers and what applications one uses.
To a certain point. I prefer classic Mac OS but I wouldn't be recommending systems which can natively run it as such systems are woefully obsolete. Despite my preference for classic Mac OS I had to move on. Apple has let their high end headless option languish for years and they offer don't offer anything between the Mini and their high end systems (with, apparently, no plans to change that)
 

N9JIG

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Original poster
Feb 25, 2019
50
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Why not use both with Synergy? I share my keyboard and mouse between a Mini and gaming PC, it really is the best of all worlds. You can even drag and drop files between the two.
I would do exactly that but the NUC is used for my radio stuff and is in a different part of the room. I either access it with Anydesk or directly by rolling over to that desk. I rarely need to share files, the ones I may need to are on Dropbox anyway.
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To a certain point. I prefer classic Mac OS but I wouldn't be recommending systems which can natively run it as such systems are woefully obsolete. Despite my preference for classic Mac OS I had to move on. Apple has let their high end headless option languish for years and they offer don't offer anything between the Mini and their high end systems (with, apparently, no plans to change that)
Before I ended up buying the Mac Mini I was waiting to see how the new Mac Pro was going to turn out and had budgeted for one if it met my expectations, the alternative was planned to be an iMac Pro or new 5K to replace the old iMac 5K. My old one developed heat related graphics cards issues and I didn't want to wait in case the thing died altogether and lost all it's trade-in/resale value. As it turned out Apple gave me more for it as a trade-in than I had intended to sell it for and I didn't have to worry if the graphics card failed totally for my sister.

I looked at my needs and realized that since I am not into heavy video editing and that the current Mac Mini has pretty competitive specs to the iMac Pro for a little over half the price it would be right for me. I could pull the trigger now on the tricked out Mini and wait to see how the new Mac Pro ends up. I can even invest in an eGPU if needed (should I start doing more with video than I am now) and still be ahead of the game. If I really like the upcoming Pro I could still get it and pass the Mini to the sister.

Apple has certainly stepped back from the desktop professional market, the fact that it took 4 years for them to update the Mini or the Pro proves it. The iMac Pro is a nice touch but now you are stuck with a 27 inch monitor and whatever external ones you want to bring. It is difficult to match the size and resolution to provide synergy between them. I have now had 2 iMacs with failure of the graphics cards after several years of heavy use, thankfully the first one was covered by AppleCare so I wanted to get out of that platform. I saved enough money to get a couple 32-inch 4K monitors to replace the 3 HD monitors I use now.

The Mini was the right computer for me now, and it probably would be the right choice after the new Pro comes out unless it provides much higher performance at a reasonable price. It probably would not be the right computer for video editors (without an eGPU) or other professionals needing more cores etc. I realized I had another choice as the NUC platform provides a competitive alternative at a much lower price. I chose the Mini, YMMV.
 

pl1984

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The Mini was the right computer for me now, and it probably would be the right choice after the new Pro comes out unless it provides much higher performance at a reasonable price. It probably would not be the right computer for video editors (without an eGPU) or other professionals needing more cores etc. I realized I had another choice as the NUC platform provides a competitive alternative at a much lower price. I chose the Mini, YMMV.
The question is: Is the Mini the right computer for you or is it the right computer given Apple's limited offerings? I do not mean to challenge you on your decision to purchase a Mini, it sounds as if it was a wise choice. But I have to wonder if Apple offered something in between the Mini and the Mac Pro (assuming the new Mac Pro will be a high end system) would you have preferred it? Of course this is difficult to answer because no such system exists and if it were the right fit would depend on its configuration and price. However something along the lines of a PowerMac G4 sized chassis with updated internals. I think such a system would be well received by many users in this forum. Mini is a great computer but I feel many buyers are choosing it given they have no other option.
 

N9JIG

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Original poster
Feb 25, 2019
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The question is: Is the Mini the right computer for you or is it the right computer given Apple's limited offerings? I do not mean to challenge you on your decision to purchase a Mini, it sounds as if it was a wise choice. But I have to wonder if Apple offered something in between the Mini and the Mac Pro (assuming the new Mac Pro will be a high end system) would you have preferred it? Of course this is difficult to answer because no such system exists and if it were the right fit would depend on its configuration and price. However something along the lines of a PowerMac G4 sized chassis with updated internals. I think such a system would be well received by many users in this forum. Mini is a great computer but I feel many buyers are choosing it given they have no other option.
I think you are absolutely correct. I had to choose from what was available, as would anyone else. One advantage with Windows is that there are many multitudes more choices, but then again is that really an advantage?
 
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pl1984

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I think you are absolutely correct. I had to choose from what was available, as would anyone else. One advantage with Windows is that there are many multitudes more choices, but then again is that really an advantage?
I think it is. I am OS agnostic and use Windows, macOS, and Linux depending on my requirements. Given Apples weak product offering I am finding it more and more difficult to justify using macOS. If they were to offer a mid-range system, something along the lines of my Z440 system, I'd be all over it.
 

oneafour

macrumors newbie
Jun 25, 2017
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can you post some benchmarks?

when looking into Hades and the Mini I felt the mini i7-8700b/128gb/8gb for 1050$ provided a very good value relative to the the fastest i7-8809G hades for 850$

the mini offered 6 cores while the hades only offered 4 cores and that sort of justified the price difference imo.

the mini comes with 8gb of ram and 128gb ssd while the hades requires you to buy these things separately

when looking at just the cpu bench mark here https://cpu.userbenchmark.com/Compare/Intel-Core-i7-8809G-vs-Intel-Core-i7-8700/m422264vs3940

the mini out performs the hades

i understand the hades provides better gfx, but realistically if i wanted a power house for graphic performance I would get an egpu for both computers.
 
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astrocramp

macrumors member
Aug 27, 2011
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The disadvantages of the Mac Mini include:
  • Cost (compared to the similar spec'd NUC)
  • .
This is what I'm struggling with. It's almost $1200 difference between equivalent high end specs. I don't *need* MacOS, although I'd like to have it. And I refuse to put a bunch of crap and spaghetti wire all over my desk with external GPU's and storage (defeats the purpose of the nicely designed Mac Mini).

Are you using multiple monitors? I'm wondering how that works out with the Mac Mini - either configure as 2x TB3 ports to DP, use 1x TB3 to DP with MST to daisy chain one display to the next, or use TB3 and the onboard HDMI. Also, in my case I need more than the onboard Mac Mini USB ports so would need to have a TB3 to USB3 hub (which is definitely a downside in terms of a clean desktop).
 

N9JIG

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I had originally been using 3 ASUS 32-inch 2560x1440 monitors but recently cut down to two of these monitors with occasional use of the nearby 50-inch 4K TV in my office. I tried a direct swap out of the HC NUC for a week (when was still using the 3 ASUS monitors) and it worked fine except I was in Windows instead of the MacOS. It was all pretty much a direct cable swap except for the power supply.

With 3 monitors one is connected to the HDMI and 2 to 2 of the USB-C/TB3 jacks. My monitors do not have the ability to daisy-chain. I am trying to convince the CFO (wife) to allow me to replace these with 4K 32-inch monitors but she has cut off the credit card access.

I too have the issue with not nearly enough USB ports available. This is compounded by the BlueTooth issue which appears to be worse when one uses the outboard USB-3 jack which apparently shares a bus and interferes with the BT connectivity. I have been using an outboard hub connected to the remaining USB-3 port.

I would be hiding the peripherals (USB Hub, Ethernet switch, 2 outboard hard drives for TimeMachine etc.) if I wasn't already using a standing desk. I am thinking about adding a shelf under the desktop to remove some if these things, perhaps even the Mac Mini itself. This would clear off almost everything from the desktop itself. One of these weekends I might tackle this of I can find a decent black colored shelf (to match the desk) that I can mount to the desk strongly enough to support the weight of the Mac, hard drives and the various power supplies. The whole desk is self-contained so I can slide it out to get at the rear, there is only the power cable, and antenna wire for my radios (don't ask...) and an Ethernet cable. The UPS sits on one of the table legs. The shelf would really clean things up and allow me to hide a lot of wiring and power bricks.

The desktop I have is a very close match for the Mac Mini and really hides it well!
 
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russell_314

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How about Samsung Note 9 vs iPhone XS Max. This discussion is about the same. They have different hardware specs but the main difference is what OS they use. You buy one or the other based on the OS you want to use not the hardware.
 
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N9JIG

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Feb 25, 2019
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How about Samsung Note 9 vs iPhone XS Max. This discussion is about the same. They have different hardware specs but the main difference is what OS they use. You buy one or the other based on the OS you want to use not the hardware.
Very true. I am sure the Note is a fine phone and stacks up well to the iPhone. I have never really tried an Android so I can't really comment on how they work. At the end of the day the main difference between Androids and iPhones (as well as Windows and Macs) is the OS. I prefer Mac and iOS to Windows and Android but I do not degrade the other alternatives. I have needs for Windows so I run it on my Macs (MM and MacBook Air) via Parallels and it works great. I have other Windows needs and the NUC's and Surface Pro I have fill those needs very well and I really like them. I plan on making one into a Hackintosh one of these days for grins and giggles as well.

While a scientific study might well say the NUC is a superior machine it just ain't a Mac and I am an Apple Snob, proud and loud!
 
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russell_314

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Very true. I am sure the Note is a fine phone and stacks up well to the iPhone. I have never really tried an Android so I can't really comment on how they work. At the end of the day the main difference between Androids and iPhones (as well as Windows and Macs) is the OS. I prefer Mac and iOS to Windows and Android but I do not degrade the other alternatives. I have needs for Windows so I run it on my Macs (MM and MacBook Air) via Parallels and it works great. I have other Windows needs and the NUC's and Surface Pro I have fill those needs very well and I really like them. I plan on making one into a Hackintosh one of these days for grins and giggles as well.

While a scientific study might well say the NUC is a superior machine it just ain't a Mac and I am an Apple Snob, proud and loud!
The Note is a great phone for Android. A Hackintosh would technically be the better alternative price wise because the OS is pirated thus free. Granted you won't get the technical support that's attached to the Apple OS but for most people this isn't a big deal. I thought about building a Hackintosh desktop as a project, but now that I have a Mac mini it wouldn't really serve a useful purpose. Maybe I also could throw Linux on it.
 

N9JIG

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Original poster
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One thing I would love to see would be a dock solution for the Mac Mini with these things:
  • Stacking case style that matches the Mini
  • A cooling solution to better distribute the heat generated by the Mini as well as the dock itself
  • Front panel I/O with USB, SD & CF Card slots and headphone jack
  • Integrated USB hub
  • Internal HDD/SSD storage bays for Time Machine and extended storage
  • Pass thru power cord
  • GPU bay
 

russell_314

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Feb 10, 2019
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One thing I would love to see would be a dock solution for the Mac Mini with these things:
  • Stacking case style that matches the Mini
  • A cooling solution to better distribute the heat generated by the Mini as well as the dock itself
  • Front panel I/O with USB, SD & CF Card slots and headphone jack
  • Integrated USB hub
  • Internal HDD/SSD storage bays for Time Machine and extended storage
  • Pass thru power cord
  • GPU bay
There has been rumors of a modular Mac Pro like this. I don't see this happing with the mini though.
 

N9JIG

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Feb 25, 2019
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One could hope for a third party solution. I am not holding my breath though!
 

F-Train

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One thing I would love to see would be a dock solution for the Mac Mini with these things:
  • Stacking case style that matches the Mini
  • A cooling solution to better distribute the heat generated by the Mini as well as the dock itself
  • Front panel I/O with USB, SD & CF Card slots and headphone jack
  • Integrated USB hub
  • Internal HDD/SSD storage bays for Time Machine and extended storage
  • Pass thru power cord
  • GPU bay
I wonder whether there's a market for this. My take:

I have two Mac minis and if I really want to stack them I don't need a special rack to do it.

As far as I'm concerned, AppleCare+ addresses cooling.

I no longer care about USB-A (except for one audio interface) or SD/CF card slots, and I haven't used a 3.5mm audio port in years. In five years, this stuff will be extinct.

I don't know how you incorporate a significant external GPU without a separate, dedicated enclosure.

External storage bay units already exist.

Cheers
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Maybe I also could throw Linux on it.
Unless you have a concrete reason to run Linux, it's mostly useful as a learning tool. Any old computer will do. I ran Arch Linux for years. It taught me a few things about computers, but I can't say that I got much practical use out of it. The one lasting effect is that I respect the fact that macOS continues to include Terminal, which I continue to use from time to time.
 
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astrocramp

macrumors member
Aug 27, 2011
67
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I too have the issue with not nearly enough USB ports available. This is compounded by the BlueTooth issue which appears to be worse when one uses the outboard USB-3 jack which apparently shares a bus and interferes with the BT connectivity. I have been using an outboard hub connected to the remaining USB-3 port.
Sounds like a great setup, I really want a standing desk too but I have a lot of desk space in my office so would cost a fortune if I want things to match. Interesting that there's Bluetooth hiccups, I probably won't use it though because my keyboard is the other radio variety (and needs to be Windows compatible for dual boot).
I've wondered about PCI lanes and the Mac Mini - with 4x TB3, the USB ports, 10Gbps NIC, Bluetooth etc, I wonder which of those are using direct to CPU lanes and which are squished through DMI (if that's even applicable on a Mac).
[doublepost=1553745857][/doublepost]
Stacking case style that matches the Mini
100%. Mac Mini and TB3 would be fantastic if you could buy TB3 modules - storage, I/O, graphics - that stack and were the same cosmetically and in shape as the mini. With graphics that they could use MXM modules to fit external graphics in a mini sized case (although MXM would be slower than full size).
 

N9JIG

macrumors member
Original poster
Feb 25, 2019
50
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SW USA
Parallels allows me to use almost any of the Magic Mouse and Keyboard functions in Windows, I do not use BootCamp or other dual boot solutions so the Apple KB and mouse work fine other than the BT issue. I have been using a Logitech Ultra Thin mouse for a day or so borrowed from the NUC and so far have not had any of the hiccups I have had with the Magic Mouse so that might be the solution if it continues that way.

I am looking at a Lander L-shaped Standing desk to replace my current 30x60 desktop (the wife wants my current one for her crafting stuff). This comes out to be 30x83" for the main desktop and 30x47 for the return, so gives me a total of 27 SF of space vs the 12.5 my standard sized desk does now. This would allow a lot more room for my stuff and help reduce the clutter in my office by eliminating other shelves and stuff. It will cost about $3200 all tricked out so it will have to wait a bit but it is a lifetime investment rather than a 3 year item like a computer or smart phone.

The standing desk is great, I end up standing about a third of the time during the work day and it allows me to access the power strip and a couple other things I mount underneath without crawling on the floor. The Lander will more than double the desktop space and allow me to put the Windows computer there as well and then maybe Synergy will make sense for me. Even though it is larger it will free up quite a bit of room in my office.
 

Duncan68

macrumors regular
Sep 22, 2018
207
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Maybe they will make a newer version for the 2018 mini with both types of USB. Unfortunately this one isn't made anymore and not available in the USA.
That thing seems to be really big to only have 4 ports, anyway. I get that it matches the dimensions of the mini, but you'd think they would have been able to include more.
 
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