Mac mini FUD

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by satchmo, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. satchmo macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    #1
    There's so much FUD in this forum that I can't help but reconsider my Mac mini purchase.

    Sure it’s usually the vocal minority that post negative reviews. But is the Mac mini a lemon? Is video lag and coil whine an issue? Is 16gb RAM a bare minimum necessity? Is there a shortage of good 4K displays that scale efficiently?

    My needs are pretty basic. No heavy coding or VR work. Mostly 2D Adobe apps like PS, Illustrator. But I wonder if a 5K iMac with dGPU might be a better buy. Or even wait for 2019 iMac refresh.
     
  2. ElectronGuru, Jan 9, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019

    ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2013
    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    #2
    I’ve been running my i5/8/256 for two weeks and am totally happy. Including Apple trackpad and keyboard from across the room. I’m very experienced but dont use my minis for heavy lifting (ive only made the fan run once and it was way quieter than my 2010 mini doing a fraction of the work).

    So two weeks is not long enough for a reliability report but long enough not to see any teething issues. You could have purchased my exact copy and had the same experience or do something with it I never do and have a problem.

    My personal opinion is that the increase in reports are from 1) Apple taking risks they have not before and 2) sudden demand creating a flood of interest and thus reports.

    The only way to know for sure is to try it for yourself. And provided returns are easy, the only thing you are risking is the time needed to confirm one way or the other. I expect the 2018 model to go down as one of the all time favorite models, so it will be worth the attempt.

    The only question is why someone hasn’t made a things-to-check thread where new owners can go down a list.
     
  3. Szcziggy macrumors newbie

    Szcziggy

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2018
    Location:
    Germany
    #3
    I've got the base i5 model too and I am very happy with it. The CPU is blazing fast and rarely hits a usage above 30% in my work (light video and photo editing, Pages, web or even Civ VI)
    I got it two months ago and never had any issues with it so far. Coil whine occurred once but stopped after a couple of minutes and wasn't that loud.

    Just upgraded my monitor to a 4K model, LG 24UD58-B, and there is zero lag or whatsoever even when working on small FCP X projects or photo works when scaling is set to native or 2x (looks like 1080p). If changed to non-integer scaling there is sometimes lag in UI animations like Launchpad or opening the Downloads stack in the Dock when animation is set to "Grid".

    As far as I can tell the 8GB of RAM seems sufficient for the most part but I plan to upgrade to 16GB once I have the possibility but just for future proofing the machine.
     
  4. Spectrum, Jan 10, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019

    Spectrum macrumors 65816

    Spectrum

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Location:
    Never quite sure
    #4
    I like mine (i7, 1TB, 8GB). It runs regular office apps no problem at all (as it should). And is noticeably faster than my outgoing 2011 i7 quad mini. I also effectively have it attached to a 5K and 4K display (via SwitchResX). macOS animations under these settings are ~30fps at a guess (similar to 2011 mini with 2.5K + 2K screen), except for launchpad which is very laggy for some reason (but I've never used launchpad so don't care). I intend to upgrade RAM soon. Coil whine was audible once when I first set it up - not heard it since. If you office is very quiet, perhaps you might hear it - you'd have to test yourself.

    I think the decision is quite simple:

    1. If you are in need of a new display (5K etc), then getting a 2017 iMac is the way to go.
    2. If you don't need a display, or want a display other than a 4K 21 inch or 5K 27 inch, then get a mini.
    3. If you need some degree of portability, then get a MBPro plus external display.

    If (2 or 3) AND you need more GPU power, upgrade to an eGPU down the line. I am looking forward to some cost-effective RX580-class or maybe even NVidia eGPU solutions later this year.
     
  5. Ifti macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    Location:
    UK
    #5
    If I were to buy a new computer now I would need a new monitor etc to go with it. Yet I would still be tempted to go with the Mini rather then an iMAC. I just don't like the idea of the entire computer being out of commission due to a screen issue, for example. I also don't like the idea of having to lug a big iMAC back to an Apple store for servicing if the need ever arises.

    The only thing that put me off purchasing a mini was the poor GPU performance. I would use it for video editing so a good GPU would be important for me, and I do not want to buy a mini and have to add extra eGPU's etc.

    Im in no rush to purchase a new computer just yet, my current MacBook seems to be acting as a good filler for the moment, while I wait to see what Apple provide with the new Mac Pro this year.....
     
  6. Spectrum macrumors 65816

    Spectrum

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Location:
    Never quite sure
    #6
    The new Mac Pro will be very expensive compared to the mini - I would not be surprised for starting price to be similar to that of an iMac Pro.
     
  7. Ifti macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    Location:
    UK
    #7
    Very true, but I would expect it to last much longer then a Mac Mini or iMac Pro due to the [hopefully] modularity and upgradability...…
    Well I would hope so anyways!
     
  8. Szcziggy macrumors newbie

    Szcziggy

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2018
    Location:
    Germany
    #8
    This does run smoothly? Which scaling options did you choose? I'd like to get a second 4K monitor but I was afraid that a dual 4K setup might be a bit too much for the iGPU…
     
  9. opeter macrumors 65832

    opeter

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2007
    Location:
    Slovenia, EU
    #9
    I've got the base i3, replaced the RAM myself (because Apple prices here at the Resellers are out of this world) and it works at least for now. Knock-knock on the wood.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 10, 2019 ---
    Well, if I am not mistaken, Apple never mentioned the upgradability, just the modularity (whatever that means in their terms).
     
  10. Spectrum macrumors 65816

    Spectrum

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Location:
    Never quite sure
    #10
    It may sound crazy (it is), but I am using SwitchResX to generate a 2x retina-scaled 5120x2880 main (27 inch) screen plus a 2x retina-scaled 3840x2400 (24 inch) second screen.
    The crazy part is that my screens actually only have 2560x1440 (2.5K) and 1920x1200 (2K) resolution. So I am making the GPU drive 4x as many pixels as it needs to. As a result, and as expected, yes, macOS animations are now less smooth than running the 2.5K and 2K natively.

    So why am I doing it? Purely because the PDF font rendering of Preview is TERRIBLE on macOS since Snow Leopard era on non-retina screens. I do a lot of PDF work, so it really bothers me.

    Remarkably, by forcing macOS to render at 5K and then downsample back to 2.5K, the final font rendering of Preview is AWESOME! Very sharp. For other, regular, system fonts, this additional rendering step makes a very small difference.

    But in terms of your question, effectively what I am doing is more or less the same GPU strain as running a retina 5K display and a 4K display. Possibly more taxing since it also needs to finally scale to 1/4 the resolution, but with the benefit that the final frame buffer is only 1/4 the size as it would be outputted onto a retina display.

    It is a pretty crazy thing to do, but it does demonstrate that the UHD630 is capable of driving such large workspaces *fairly* smoothly. I am hoping, based on other reports, that >8GB RAM will also smooth things out.

    Finally, SwitchResX also enables me to use this 2x-retina scaling trick to generate an intermediate "looks like 2304x1296" final screen res, via first generating a 2x-scaled 4608x2592 desktop. The result is a downsampled output ('2x retina' 4608x2592 > 2560x1440) that is sharper than the default option of upscaling 1x 2304x1296 > 2560x1440.

    *By fairly smoothly, I mean that the macOS animations are similar smoothness to the 2011 mac mini (HD3000) that I replaced driving native 2560x1440 and 1920x1200 simultaneously.
     
  11. Stephen.R macrumors 6502

    Stephen.R

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2018
    Location:
    Thailand
    #11
    The mini isn't a 'lemon' per-se, but I think Apple have been quite optimistic with their claims about the number of displays it can drive. I'd say it's fine for a single 4K display (or presumably 2 ~2K displays). For 2 or more 4K displays I think you'll be disappointed without an eGPU.
     
  12. Szcziggy macrumors newbie

    Szcziggy

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2018
    Location:
    Germany
    #12
    @Spectrum: that is indeed a crazy workaround but as it seems to fit your needs…thanks for your detailed answer.
    @Stephen.R: You might be right with Apple being "optimistic". What I can tell is that running a 4K and a 1080p-Monitor work fine but I changed the setup due to space issues on my desk and bad color matching between the monitors.

    In general I'd say that the mini should work fine for OPs since I think that PS and Lightroom use the CPU more than they tax the GPU. Or am I completely wrong?
     
  13. macdos macrumors regular

    macdos

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2017
    #13
    1. There is no video lag with a proper setup.

    2. Proper setup is native resolution (e.g. 4K @ 3840x2160) or HiDPI (= retina, = pixel doubling) scaled resolution (1:2, or 1920x1080 on a 4K screen). It is fairly inexpensive for the GPU to render 3 x 4K screens with these settings.

    3. Improper setup is any other fractional (non-integer) scaling. Why? Because depending on monitor (retina or not) and setting, you will either:
    • have blur due to interpolation when rendering non-existent thirds and halves of a pixel
    • tax the GPU by using a virtual 5K internal rendering, which is then down-scaled with proper pixel-doubling
    In worst case, both will apply.

    4. If you are a photographer, artist or use the computer for anything visual other than text, you will frankly not like blur and fractional rendering. You want your pixels to be true representations. You want native resolution or pixel-doubled integer scaling.

    5. If you are indeed a text man writing letters, you will be fine, but then this computer is probably not for you anyway.

    6. If you think it is a ”user preference” to go against trivial phsyics (as so many here seem to do), then you do need an eGPU (or another computer), but remember that fractional scaling will always result in some lag no matter what GPU you have. Because it is using floating point arithmetic for eight million pixels sixty times a second, or half a billion operations just to calculate how to present the screen. That's not what GPUs are intended for, especially not an Apple eGPU that costs $800 for a $200 card that can't be replaced.

    7. The GPU uses 1.5 GB of the RAM, so with 8 GB installed, you effectively have 6.5 GB. Some seem to think this is just fine, but it will result in some lag when the system starts to compress and swap. If you indeed use PS and AI you will be happier the more RAM you put in. Next time you import a batch of RAW photos from your camera, have a look what happens with memory in the Activity monitor, and you will understand.
     
  14. revmacian macrumors 6502

    revmacian

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2018
    Location:
    USA
    #14
    Before you waste money on a 5k monitor, please go and talk with your optometrist.. to determine if your eyes would even benefit from a 5k display. Don't fall victim to marketing.
     
  15. HenryAZ macrumors 6502a

    HenryAZ

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Location:
    South Congress AZ
    #15
    My Mini (core i7, 32GB RAM, 512 SSD) has been running smooth as silk since November 23, when I received it. I use a 32" UHD monitor running at its native resolution of 3840x2160. It is connected by a Moshi USB-C --> Displayport cable, plugged into one of the TB3 ports on the Mini. I don't do major video editing, but I have not noticed any of the other complaints mentioned in the forum. My Mini stays on 24/7 and does not sleep (but the monitor goes into "Energy Saving" mode, blanking the screen).
     
  16. Stephen.R macrumors 6502

    Stephen.R

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2018
    Location:
    Thailand
    #16
    Fixed that for you buddy.

    It's less resource intensive than rendering other scaled resolutions, certainly, but even at the Apple's recommended (aka straight @2x) scaling, I found two 4K displays don't perform quite as well as say when connected to a 2018 MBP15.

    When I had a single 4K display the mini seemed mostly fine rendering it at a non "recommended" scale (2560x1440).
     
  17. macdos macrumors regular

    macdos

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2017
    #17
    Ah, the text guy. You flunked physics classes, right?
     
  18. Ploki macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2008
    #18
    I tend to agree that non-scaled is the proper setup.
    If it were vector scaling of the GUI but screen was still rendered at its native resolution it wouldn't have matter.

    as it is, so everything is rendered oversized (unnecessarily) and scaled after render just seems inefficient and a bandaid solution.

    I don't have the Ultrafine 4K, but my Mini is dead silent and has no lag issues. runs like a champ
     
  19. Spectrum macrumors 65816

    Spectrum

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Location:
    Never quite sure
    #19
    I understand exactly what you are saying, yet it is worth pointing out, I think, that the Apple default for MBPro retina scaling is not 2x any more...

    Moreover, I regularly alter scaling options on a 4K iMac, and I perceive very little difference in sharpness regardless of setting. To my eyes of course!

     
  20. Ploki macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2008
    #20
    It looks fine to me too!
    It just seems like a dirty solution.

    Having bitmaps scale and vectors re-render would have been a proper solution and is in my opinion the ultimate solution, and wouldn't affect performance as much as it does now.
     
  21. Stephen.R macrumors 6502

    Stephen.R

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2018
    Location:
    Thailand
    #21
    I was too busy working on a degree in user choice with a minor in coping with other people having different preferences.

    Apple are wrong too of course. Everyone should be either squinting like crazy or sitting 3' back from their desks, dontchaknow?

    It's a practical solution.

    And how many years do you expect Mac app developers to need to implement those changes on their side?
     
  22. Ploki macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2008
    #22
    It's practical but not computationally efficient or best for display clarity.

    How many years? Pretty much depends on the app itself. Some are already vector based and scalable on their own. Some are pretty much PNGs thrown together.

    How much time did they need to go to retina? Some are still not retina. But that doesn't matter, scaling a few elements as opposed to scaling a whole rendered desktop is different.

    Text which is done almost entirely with fonts (Vector), coded GUI elements and everything else that's vector could be rendered at proper resolution for the screen already on the OS level, even if 3rd party apps don't support it yet. We had retina since 10.8, one would think this would be implemented by now.
     
  23. Stephen.R macrumors 6502

    Stephen.R

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2018
    Location:
    Thailand
    #23
    So, we're in agreement that this is basically an idealogical issue then. Great.

    Yes, using some scalable system that allows using the resolution of the display without needing to do double-pixel rendering would be great. But we don't have that, and suggesting that because that isn't available, the only "proper" or "reasonable" thing to do, is to use exactly 1x or exactly 2x scaling, is ridiculous.
     
  24. F-Train macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2015
    Location:
    NYC & Newfoundland
    #24
    It’s amazing the number of people who think that this tiresome, childish “response” is clever.
     
  25. Stephen.R macrumors 6502

    Stephen.R

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2018
    Location:
    Thailand
    #25
    Far better to dictate to others how they should use computers and decry anything else - including a factory default from the manufacturer as not being "proper" or "reasonable" I suppose?
     

Share This Page