Mac Mini for music production

Tanax

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 15, 2011
940
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Stockholm, Sweden
Hi!

I'm planning on getting a Mac Mini as my new computer as it fits my needs quite perfectly and along with a eGPU, I can get rid of my separate gaming PC and don't have to have two computers.

Apart from all the casual things (browsing, emails, listening to music, etc.) I'm also planning on using it for music production and programming (Go-programming for web services) as well as some light photo and video editing. Apart from programming, I'm not doing any of those professionally, only as hobbies.

Music production is orchestral music though which can sometimes contain a LOT of tracks and libraries.

I was thinking of these specs:
- standard 8GB RAM (will upgrade to 32GB myself, this should be enough, yes?)
- 256GB SSD (will mostly use external storage for my libraries and plugins along with a NAS for all my media)

What I'm wondering is whether the i5 hex-core will suffice or if I will notice a substantial increase in performance by going for the hyperthreading-enabled i7 hex-core?

Thanks!
 

F-Train

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Apr 22, 2015
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If you look at recent posts by @galactic orange, you will find discussion about RAM for orchestral mockups and the prohibitive cost of 64GB for the mini. The issue is that the mini has only two slots, whereas an iMac, for example, has four. Purchasing 64GB of RAM for four slots is quite a bit cheaper than for two.

If you want 64GB, or foresee a need for it down the road, there’s a serious question about whether the Mac mini is a good idea. At current RAM prices, it will certainly be more expensive than an iMac.

On the broader question of 32GB vs 64GB for orchestral work, as you probably know there is quite a lot of discussion on the internet.
 
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keysofanxiety

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Nov 23, 2011
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I've used EastWest's Composer Cloud with pretty much every plugin on a 2012 15" MBP through LPX. Although Symphonic/Hollywood Choirs' word builder recommends a hex core Mac Pro, I've found it works okay on mine. When I have a lot of fat chords going it does tend to stutter with live play, but I think that's more of a limitation of the software rather than the hardware, as general choir/orchestra sounds are fine with fat chords.

They do use some RAM but nowhere near as much as you'd think. The I/O is the main limitation when loading projects, as my SATA SSD can take up to a few minutes for a song with loads of tracks. If you're running similarly sized libraries (40GB+ per plugin), the external drive will make a huge impact. I wouldn't use anything less than a SATA SSD in a USB > SATA dock (avoid a 7200RPM drive).

Alternatively if you can justify an upgrade on the SSD, the internal drives are super quick, around 4-5 times faster than a SATA SSD.

The CPU on yours would be fine but I'd splurge the extra for a hyperthreaded i7 for longevity purposes. Double the cores will make some difference (depending on your DAW of choice).

32GB of RAM would be more than enough - I couldn't possibly see you exceeding that. I've ran crazy tests on mine to try and hit the 16GB memory limit and even with other applications running, it doesn't get close. Of course, the more RAM macOS has, the more it will use - so you may well see 20GB usage if you've got 32GB installed. However there's no way it'll be using more than 32GB and paging to disk.

If there's anything I can clarify, please let me know. :)
 
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expensivefruit

macrumors newbie
Nov 8, 2018
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@Tanax I recently saw a geek bench score showing that the multicore performance of the mac mini matches that of the some of the baseline mac pros and outperforms the 12-core 2008 cheesegraters, ranking no.6 of all macs ever made (including all the iMac Pros and Mac Pros). It's single core performance is apparently no.1 among all macs ever made!

I'm also buying a mac mini for the same reasons - orchestral mock-ups - and I wouldn't be doing it unless I was confident the mini could handle it, although I should note that I'm going for the top spec six-core CPU with multithreading to be safe and to future proof. I'm starting with 8GB RAM also and upgrading to 32GB RAM myself, and eventually will upgrade to 64GB down the line. Yes, it's not as cheap as buying RAM in an iMac which has four slots, but buying external and installing it yourself is still much cheaper than buying it from Apple.

As for whether 32GB RAM is enough, it really depends on the size of your sample libraries, whether you purge your samples, whether you run multi-timbral versions of Kontakt or single instances of Kontakt and what DAW you use. I'm confident I'll be able to get a 100-120 track template with single instrument instances of Kontakt. This would be a lot higher - I would expect around the 200 mark - if I used multi-timbral versions of Kontakt in a DAW like Cubase with 32GB RAM. The reason I don't do this is because Logic sucks at multi-timbral tracks when it comes to CPU distribution.

Hope this helps!
 

F-Train

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Apr 22, 2015
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I'm starting with 8GB RAM also and upgrading to 32GB RAM myself, and eventually will upgrade to 64GB down the line. Yes, it's not as cheap as buying RAM in an iMac which has four slots, but buying external and installing it yourself is still much cheaper than buying it from Apple.
Great post; just want to note that on a 27" iMac you can install your own RAM, and more easily than on a Mac mini. At current prices, 4x16 is much less expensive than 2x32. The former would cost about US$550. The latter is well over $1,000.

This is why @galactic orange, who was planning to purchase a mini, if he hasn't already, said in one of his posts that the iMac was starting to look like the better value proposition.
 
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expensivefruit

macrumors newbie
Nov 8, 2018
13
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Great post; just want to note that on a 27" iMac you can install your own RAM. At current prices, 4x16 is much less expensive than 2x32.
Oh, I wasn't saying otherwise. I was just trying to make the point that if he is set on getting the mini, at least upgrading to 64GB RAM yourself is a lot cheaper than getting it from Apple (even though on balance it is still more expensive than 4 x 16GB).

Regardless, an iMac right now is a bad investment in my humble opinion, even if the RAM makes up a huge saving. They have an older generation of CPUs which are constantly depreciating and are locked into a screen which will become harder to sell because of it. At least with the Mac Mini, the components and peripherals (screens, hard drives, eGPU, etc.) will depreciate individually, thus retaining more of their original value or, at the very least, making it easier to sell. Don't get me wrong, I'd love an iMac as I think they're very elegant and powerful machines overall, just now isn't the right time for one. I also love the compactness and portability of the mac mini.
 
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F-Train

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I own both a 27" 5K Retina iMac and a 2018 Mac mini. I purchased the latter because I want a computer that I can fly with. Were it not for that, the mini is for me a hard sell. I realise that people are trying to convince themselves otherwise, but comparably spec'd, it is the more expensive, and, depending on peripherals, the bulkier, option. Add an external GPU and/or 64GB of RAM, and it gets pricey indeed.

Just sayin' :)
 
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expensivefruit

macrumors newbie
Nov 8, 2018
13
8
I own both a 27" iMac and a 2018 Mac mini. I purchased the latter because I want a computer that I can fly with. Were it not for that, the mini is for me a hard sell. I realise that people are trying to convince themselves otherwise, but comparably spec'd, it is the more expensive, and, depending on peripherals, the bulkier, option. Add an external GPU and/or 64GB of RAM, and it gets pricey indeed.

Just sayin' :)
I'm sorry but I think it's a bit patronising to say that people are "convincing themselves" otherwise. This is hardly the case. If you max out the specs on a 27inch iMac with 5K Retina display you'll get a price of £4,949.00. For the sake of simplicity here, I'm assuming you're buying the RAM from Apple. Comparatively, a mac Mini maxed out in specs is £3,859.00. Pair that with an LG ultra fine 5K screen valued at £1,179.00, you've got a total of £5,038.00. That's an £89 difference (which is negated if you consider that AppleCare is more expensive on the iMac) and that's not counting the fact that you get a more modern CPU as well as better multi-core performance with the mini, plus portability if you ever want to take it somewhere which has a screen that you can just plug into.

For the sake of argument, the saving on the RAM (4 x 16) as opposed to (2 x 32) would be approximately £140 (£620 compared to £480), which I'd hardly call "pricey".
 

IngerMan

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Feb 21, 2011
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I'm sorry but I think it's a bit patronising to say that people are "convincing themselves" otherwise. This is hardly the case. If you max out the specs on a 27inch iMac with 5K Retina display you'll get a price of £4,949.00. For the sake of simplicity here, I'm assuming you're buying the RAM from Apple. Comparatively, a mac Mini maxed out in specs is £3,859.00. Pair that with an LG ultra fine 5K screen valued at £1,179.00, you've got a total of £5,038.00. That's an £89 difference (which is negated if you consider that AppleCare is more expensive on the iMac) and that's not counting the fact that you get a more modern CPU as well as better multi-core performance with the mini, plus portability if you ever want to take it somewhere which has a screen that you can just plug into.

For the sake of argument, the saving on the RAM (4 x 16) as opposed to (2 x 32) would be approximately £140 (£620 compared to £480), which I'd hardly call "pricey".

Let's not forget the eGPU you will need for the mini, keyboard, trackpad and cables ;)
 

Tanax

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 15, 2011
940
96
Stockholm, Sweden
Thanks everyone for your replies!

If you look at recent posts by @galactic orange, you will find discussion about RAM for orchestral mockups and the prohibitive cost of 64GB for the mini. The issue is that the mini has only two slots, whereas an iMac, for example, has four. Purchasing 64GB of RAM for four slots is quite a bit cheaper than for two.

If you want 64GB, or foresee a need for it down the road, there’s a serious question about whether the Mac mini is a good idea. At current RAM prices, it will certainly be more expensive than an iMac.

On the broader question of 32GB vs 64GB for orchestral work, as you probably know there is quite a lot of discussion on the internet.
Thanks! I checked it out, sounds like 32GB RAM should be enough based on his posts? :)
I don't foresee a need to get 64GB RAM right now so I'm not sure it'll be a problem.

I've used EastWest's Composer Cloud with pretty much every plugin on a 2012 15" MBP through LPX. Although Symphonic/Hollywood Choirs' word builder recommends a hex core Mac Pro, I've found it works okay on mine. When I have a lot of fat chords going it does tend to stutter with live play, but I think that's more of a limitation of the software rather than the hardware, as general choir/orchestra sounds are fine with fat chords.

They do use some RAM but nowhere near as much as you'd think. The I/O is the main limitation when loading projects, as my SATA SSD can take up to a few minutes for a song with loads of tracks. If you're running similarly sized libraries (40GB+ per plugin), the external drive will make a huge impact. I wouldn't use anything less than a SATA SSD in a USB > SATA dock (avoid a 7200RPM drive).

Alternatively if you can justify an upgrade on the SSD, the internal drives are super quick, around 4-5 times faster than a SATA SSD.

The CPU on yours would be fine but I'd splurge the extra for a hyperthreaded i7 for longevity purposes. Double the cores will make some difference (depending on your DAW of choice).

32GB of RAM would be more than enough - I couldn't possibly see you exceeding that. I've ran crazy tests on mine to try and hit the 16GB memory limit and even with other applications running, it doesn't get close. Of course, the more RAM macOS has, the more it will use - so you may well see 20GB usage if you've got 32GB installed. However there's no way it'll be using more than 32GB and paging to disk.

If there's anything I can clarify, please let me know. :)
Cool thanks! I'm using Composer Cloud as well.
Will it be slow even if opting for a TB3 external SSD?

Will the i7 really make that much of a difference compared to the i5? They are the same core count, just that i7 has 2 threads per core. Maybe it makes a lot of difference, in that case the relatively small upcharge could be worth it! I'm just trying to determine if it's a noticeable difference or if it's only slightly faster "on paper"? :)

Another post confirming 32GB should be enough, thanks! This makes it a lot easier since 64GB would be extremely expensive, even if installed myself!

Definitely go with the i7 for large virtual instrument track counts.
Maybe it's just better to chuck up the money and go with the i7 :D

@Tanax I recently saw a geek bench score showing that the multicore performance of the mac mini matches that of the some of the baseline mac pros and outperforms the 12-core 2008 cheesegraters, ranking no.6 of all macs ever made (including all the iMac Pros and Mac Pros). It's single core performance is apparently no.1 among all macs ever made!

I'm also buying a mac mini for the same reasons - orchestral mock-ups - and I wouldn't be doing it unless I was confident the mini could handle it, although I should note that I'm going for the top spec six-core CPU with multithreading to be safe and to future proof. I'm starting with 8GB RAM also and upgrading to 32GB RAM myself, and eventually will upgrade to 64GB down the line. Yes, it's not as cheap as buying RAM in an iMac which has four slots, but buying external and installing it yourself is still much cheaper than buying it from Apple.

As for whether 32GB RAM is enough, it really depends on the size of your sample libraries, whether you purge your samples, whether you run multi-timbral versions of Kontakt or single instances of Kontakt and what DAW you use. I'm confident I'll be able to get a 100-120 track template with single instrument instances of Kontakt. This would be a lot higher - I would expect around the 200 mark - if I used multi-timbral versions of Kontakt in a DAW like Cubase with 32GB RAM. The reason I don't do this is because Logic sucks at multi-timbral tracks when it comes to CPU distribution.

Hope this helps!
Very interesting! Which Mac mini would that be? Sounds amazing!

Good to hear! And yeah, 64GB on 2 sticks is a robbery :p
I'm using Eastwest's Composer Cloud so fairly huge libraries. Not everything is used in every project though but still. Sad to hear Logic is not as good as the others :/ I really like Logic's interface.

I own both a 27" 5K Retina iMac and a 2018 Mac mini. I purchased the latter because I want a computer that I can fly with. Were it not for that, the mini is for me a hard sell. I realise that people are trying to convince themselves otherwise, but comparably spec'd, it is the more expensive, and, depending on peripherals, the bulkier, option. Add an external GPU and/or 64GB of RAM, and it gets pricey indeed.

Just sayin' :)
I actually think Mac mini is a much better buy than the iMac for a lot of reasons that you just mentioned as downsides :)

- Allowing me to pick my own screen (prefer 2.37:1 screens)
- Not having GPU inside the computer/screen allows me to update it whenever it gets outdated and not be stuck with an old GPU inside the computer/screen that is not even used anymore (and that I payed money for)
- I'm not moving this computer around so doesn't matter if it's bulkier. eGPU case can be put on a separate shelf to not clutter up the desk so no worries

But everyones' needs are different so it's a moot point anyway :)
 

galactic orange

macrumors member
Feb 20, 2018
60
40
Oh, I wasn't saying otherwise. I was just trying to make the point that if he is set on getting the mini, at least upgrading to 64GB RAM yourself is a lot cheaper than getting it from Apple (even though on balance it is still more expensive than 4 x 16GB).

Regardless, an iMac right now is a bad investment in my humble opinion, even if the RAM makes up a huge saving. They have an older generation of CPUs which are constantly depreciating and are locked into a screen which will become harder to sell because of it. At least with the Mac Mini, the components and peripherals (screens, hard drives, eGPU, etc.) will depreciate individually, thus retaining more of their original value or, at the very least, making it easier to sell. Don't get me wrong, I'd love an iMac as I think they're very elegant and powerful machines overall, just now isn't the right time for one. I also love the compactness and portability of the mac mini.
I ordered the i7, 512GB SSD, 8GB RAM Mac Mini with 32GB Crucial RAM on the way that I’ll install myself. Portability and ease of transport (in the case of possible repairs too) are important to me. I like being able to put my Mini in a bag to take somewhere.

iMacs are great value. If I were to buy one, I’d wait for the next update. However, I’ve waited several years for a Mini update so now was the time to buy. 32GB will have to be enough memory for now. Unfortunately, the Mini I ordered isn’t scheduled to arrive for about another week.

One other plus of using the Mini with another display is being able to connect other non-Mac devices to it, limited by the number of inputs of course. You can run a Mini on an iMac screen with target display mode; something I’ve never tried because I’ve never had an iMac.

I’d go with the i7 for DAW work no matter what, but some people prefer an i5 for a cooler system. If both had hyperthreading it would be a non-issue.
 
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Jorbanead

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Aug 31, 2018
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I own both a 27" 5K Retina iMac and a 2018 Mac mini. I purchased the latter because I want a computer that I can fly with. Were it not for that, the mini is for me a hard sell. I realise that people are trying to convince themselves otherwise, but comparably spec'd, it is the more expensive, and, depending on peripherals, the bulkier, option. Add an external GPU and/or 64GB of RAM, and it gets pricey indeed.

Just sayin' :)
I think it really depends on your use.

For audio production, you really don’t need a powerful GPU, but you DO need a powerful CPU and a fair amount of RAM. The mini beats the iMac in CPU performance and comes with faster ram. It also comes with faster SSD’s which also beat the iMac. All three of those combined will likely give you a better, snappier DAW experience.

There’s also the advantage of having your computer separated from the monitor (for obvious reasons). But also - this allows you to hide the machine, and in return, will minimize the noise from the machine. The mini is reportedly a very quiet machine.

For me, the mini was a no-brainer. I get 2 additional cores, a newer processor, faster ram and MUCH faster storage. I don’t need a great GPU. I already have a great monitor.
 

phunigai

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Nov 12, 2018
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i would get an imac because the mini has monitor loss no matter how xcpus and other abbreviations apple throws at ya! (if the computer is going to be on a desk.) i like my mini 2012 but still hassle trying to plug a usb chord into the back, which is now the left side since the front is facing away from me so the hdmi, power and Ethernet cables are not jammed up against the wall. and i would be surprised if happle made something were someone can install something into some apple product in 2018 so the 8GB might be a tad weak if we are composing a symphony that consists of a bassoon solo during the allegro con brio in dminor
 

F-Train

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Apr 22, 2015
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I think it really depends on your use.

For audio production, you really don’t need a powerful GPU, but you DO need a powerful CPU and a fair amount of RAM. The mini beats the iMac in CPU performance and comes with faster ram. It also comes with faster SSD’s which also beat the iMac. All three of those combined will likely give you a better, snappier DAW experience.

There’s also the advantage of having your computer separated from the monitor (for obvious reasons). But also - this allows you to hide the machine, and in return, will minimize the noise from the machine. The mini is reportedly a very quiet machine.

For me, the mini was a no-brainer. I get 2 additional cores, a newer processor, faster ram and MUCH faster storage. I don’t need a great GPU. I already have a great monitor.

As someone who owns, and is actually using, both a 27" 5K Retina iMac (late 2014, i7, 500GB/32GB) and a 2018 mini, I don't have a dog in this race.

First, I did not say that the iMac is a "better" computer, or anything close to that. I said that the mini is not a better value as a straight matter of cost, and in some configurations could wind up costing significantly more money. This is just a fact; as in, apply grade school arithmetic and add up the numbers. I have no idea why you quoted me, and then completely failed to address what I actually said.

I record regularly to the iMac and have never had an issue with it making noise that is picked up when recording. Not only do I not hear computer noise when playing back with Focal Solo6 speakers or Byerdynamic DT 1990 Pro headphones, I don't see any evidence of computer noise on iZotope RX spectrograms*. I sure see evidence of noise (hard to avoid in NY), but not from the computer.

This week I will be testing for, and am more concerned about, the mini's potential for fan noise. If there is an issue, as a good number of people are saying, it won't exactly be a surprise given the size of the machine and its enclosure. That said, my thinking is that if there is an issue, it is manageable.

I have been using the iMac for music and sound design for four years. The 32GB of RAM works fine, the 500GB SSD works fine, and the idea that it is suddenly inferior is disconnected from real life. It is in fact a more capable machine than many, many people are using.

The main difference is the mini's Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports are obviously faster than those on my 2014 iMac, but they are not faster than ports on the current iMac.

Having regard their budget, people should purchase whatever suits their needs and preferences, but these "what's better" discussions are a complete waste of time, especially when one of the participants doesn't even own the machine that he's plumping for, has never directly compared the machines that he's talking about, and is relying on what he calls "reports".

* For those who aren't familiar with iZotope RX spectrograms, they look like this. They show sound, including sound that is inaudible to humans, by frequency and intensity over time:

Screen Shot 2018-11-12 at 7.24.48 PM.png
 
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expensivefruit

macrumors newbie
Nov 8, 2018
13
8
Let's not forget the eGPU you will need for the mini, keyboard, trackpad and cables ;)
I did forget this, so thank you for reminding me. Let's take it into account then.

A Radeon 580 and an eGPU will set you back another 500 pounds (240 each approx). I suppose for some people that is worth making a saving for and I accept that, but personally I think it is a price worth paying because you're then not locked into using that eGPU, as you are with the screen, and can upgrade down the line. Want to upgrade your iMac? Not impossible, but be prepared for the biggest ballache if it's something like the GPU.

I would also argue that some of that 500 pound difference is offset by the higher CPU performance of the mini, so it's swings and roundabouts. As for the keyboard/mouse, I would imagine most people looking at the mini will already have these peripherals from other devices, but whatever the case you can buy a third party keyboard that does everything you need it to for 14 pounds off amazon, so that's not really a dealbreaker for me.

I should also probably mention that the iMacs are rumoured to be getting an upgrade in 2019, which would depreciate the price of a current iMac even further. That 500 pound saving therefore suddenly won't be that much anymore.

My advice is: if you really want an iMac, wait for the new ones to come out next year. If not, get a mini.
[doublepost=1542067460][/doublepost]I'
As someone who owns, and is actually using, both a 27" 5K Retina iMac (late 2014) and a 2018 mini, I don't have a dog in this race.

First, I did not say that the iMac is a "better" computer, or anything close to that. I said that the mini is not a better value financially, and in some configurations could wind up costing significantly more money. This is just a fact; as in, apply grade school arithmetic and add up the numbers. I have no idea why you quoted me, and then went on to discuss things that have nothing to do with my point.

I record regularly to the iMac and have never had an issue with it making noise that is picked up when recording. Not only do I not hear computer noise when playing back with Focal6 speakers or Byerdynamic DT 1990 Pro headphones, I don't see any evidence of computer noise on iZotope RX spectrographs.

This week I will be testing for, and am more concerned about, the mini's potential for fan noise. If there is an issue, as a good number of people are saying, it won't exactly be a surprise given the size of the machine and its enclosure. That said, my thinking is that if there is an issue, it is manageable.

I have been using the iMac for music and sound design for four years. The 32GB of RAM works fine, the 500GB SSD works fine, and the idea that it is suddenly inferior is disconnected from real life. It is in fact a more capable machine than many, many people are using.

The main difference is the mini's Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, which are obviously faster than those on my iMac, but not faster than ports on the current iMac.

Having regard their budget, people should purchase whatever suits their needs and preferences, but these "what's better" discussions are a complete waste of time, especially when one of the participants doesn't even own the machine that he's plumping for.
I've never said it's a bad machine, it's an excellent machine! As I've just described in another reply above, all I am trying to argue is that given that this range of iMacs have been out a few years now (with some minor updates over that time) they are due an upgrade very soon. From this point of view, I don't think buying an iMac NOW (not in the past) is a good long term investment, especially when something like the mac mini has just hit the market, which has some perks that might benefit certain users.

Edit: just realised you were replying to someone else, lol.
 
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phunigai

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Nov 12, 2018
193
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what machine organizes Dave Brubeck albums better? I would buy that one. see, My Mac mini 2012 has 2 dave brubeck artists thingees were "pick up sticks" is separated from the rest of the "time out" album, on the other dave brubeck artist column
 
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F-Train

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what machine organizes Dave Brubeck albums better? I would buy that one. see, My Mac mini 2012 has 2 dave brubeck artists thingees were "pick up sticks" is separated from the rest of the "time out" album, on the other dave brubeck artist column
That's Dave, just jazzing around.
 

phunigai

Suspended
Nov 12, 2018
193
187
i had to modify a mike and the mechanics album were i needed to type the song listing in order 01, 02,03 etc so itunes.....i dont know? im thinking of getting a dell laptop and boxing up the macmini and mba for good, i had a horrible ipod/ipod experience along with typing issues on these macs
 

ElectronGuru

macrumors 65816
Sep 5, 2013
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How sad. Thanks for clearing that up. Any technical reason why Apple stopped offering that feature?
See here for full info
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/faq-can-i-use-my-existing-imac-as-a-display-for-a-new-2018-mac-mini.2154442/

but my understanding is that when 5k first came out, existing external connectors didn't have sufficient bandwidth. Like to use a normal 5k, you had to bond 2+ connectors just to handle it. Apple did it internally so it didn't matter, but its also meant that it couldn't be shared. FFW a few years, thunderbolt 3 seems like enough but apple hasn't put it back.
 
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Jorbanead

macrumors regular
Aug 31, 2018
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As someone who owns, and is actually using, both a 27" 5K Retina iMac (late 2014) and a 2018 mini, I don't have a dog in this race.

First, I did not say that the iMac is a "better" computer, or anything close to that. I said that the mini is not a better value as a straight matter of cost, and in some configurations could wind up costing significantly more money. This is just a fact; as in, apply grade school arithmetic and add up the numbers. I have no idea why you quoted me, and then completely failed to address what I actually said.

I record regularly to the iMac and have never had an issue with it making noise that is picked up when recording. Not only do I not hear computer noise when playing back with Focal Solo6 speakers or Byerdynamic DT 1990 Pro headphones, I don't see any evidence of computer noise on iZotope RX spectrograms*. I sure see evidence of noise (hard to avoid in NY), but not from the computer.

This week I will be testing for, and am more concerned about, the mini's potential for fan noise. If there is an issue, as a good number of people are saying, it won't exactly be a surprise given the size of the machine and its enclosure. That said, my thinking is that if there is an issue, it is manageable.

I have been using the iMac for music and sound design for four years. The 32GB of RAM works fine, the 500GB SSD works fine, and the idea that it is suddenly inferior is disconnected from real life. It is in fact a more capable machine than many, many people are using.

The main difference is the mini's Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports are obviously faster than those on my 2014 iMac, but they are not faster than ports on the current iMac.

Having regard their budget, people should purchase whatever suits their needs and preferences, but these "what's better" discussions are a complete waste of time, especially when one of the participants doesn't even own the machine that he's plumping for, has never directly compared the machines that he's talking about, and is relying on what he calls "reports".

* For those who aren't familiar with iZotope RX spectrograms, they look like this. They show sound, including sound that is inaudible to humans, by frequency and intensity over time:

View attachment 803673
My comments were really just trying to provide a different prospective. As far as cost goes, that also depends.

Sure if your comparing a mini + eGPU + 5K monitor to the 5k iMac, you’re absolutely correct the mini is more expensive. My comment was pointing out why many users won’t need an eGPU, or a monitor, making the mini the more lucrative option for audio engineers.

However - sure if you do want to compare prices, we can.

5K iMac i7 (4 core) + 8gb Ram 2400 MHz + 256gb SATA SSD + RP575 = $2,399

Mac Mini i7 (6 core) + 8gb Ram 2666 MHz + 256gb PCIe SSD + UHD 630 = $1,299

The iMac is a great machine. My intent was not to bash the iMac at all - I was simply saying that depending on your needs and workflow, the Mini may be a better option. If you need a dedicated GPU and 5k Display, the iMac is obviously the better choice. If you already own a Display like myself, and your workflow doesn’t require a dedicated GPU but faster processing, the mini looks to be a better choice and value.

Again, my intent was just to offer a different prospective. At the end of the day, both machines can offer great results!
 
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inmnbob

macrumors regular
Aug 6, 2014
218
80
Chicago and Twin Cities
i have a 2013 iMac and a 2014 Mac Mini. The 2013 iMac was/is still great but it was a slow drive and the 2014 mini even worse. I added SSDs externally and booted to them so the machines were quicker. I purchased the mac mini 2018 because I wanted to use a wide monitor to spread out the Logic Pro workflow and see a larger timeline. I also wanted the flexibility of a lot of fast external drives so plug-ins and other sound libraries. Since I am also starting to do videos too I wanted the flexibility of adding an eGPU and second monitors. If the iMac would have been upgraded in October i may have gone for that.

So far the mac mini is so much faster than the i5 iMac with the same 32GB of memory. I often got the spinning color wheel with the iMac as I was loading songs and patches. None of that happens with the Mac Mini plus I get a monitor with three types of inputs that I can use with my mac mini, macbook pro or surface go laptop and even my Apple TV