Mac Mini to replace classic Mac Pro?

sigmadog

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 11, 2009
761
588
just west of Idaho
I'm thinking my aging 4,1->5,1 Mac Pro may need to be replaced eventually, and I've just started looking at Mac Mini's.

I'm a graphic designer / illustrator in a small home studio and split a large amount of my computing time between Corel Painter, Photoshop and Illustrator (with the occasional InDesign, Premiere and After Effects). It seems the Mac Mini would be a good fit for my situation.

I'll probably get the highest processor and max the RAM out at 64Gb.

I run three monitors. One of them is a Wacom Cintiq. With this in mind, should I consider an eGPU to the setup? It's for work, so I can afford to splurge a little for my piece of mind.

Heck, this whole system will only cost about half a new Mac Pro, so I don't mind getting the best setup possible. Any advice would be helpful as I begin the process of looking around.
 
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Plutonius

macrumors 604
Feb 22, 2003
7,846
5,953
New Hampshire, USA
I'm thinking my aging 4,1->5,1 Mac Pro may need to be replaced eventually, and I've just started looking at Mac Mini's.

I'm a graphic designer / illustrator in a small home studio and split a large amount of my computing time between Corel Painter, Photoshop and Illustrator (with the occasional InDesign, Premiere and After Effects). It seems the Mac Mini would be a good fit for my situation.

I'll probably get the highest processor and max the RAM out at 64Gb.

I run three monitors. One of them is a Wacom Cintiq. With this in mind, should I consider an eGPU to the setup? It's for work, so I can afford to splurge a little for my piece of mind.

Heck, this whole system will only cost about half a new Mac Pro, so I don't mind getting the best setup possible. Any advice would be helpful as I begin the process of looking around.
Since it's for work, why not get the new Mac Pro coming out this fall ?
 

TonyK

macrumors 65816
May 24, 2009
1,023
141
My wife and I replaced our Mac Pro (3,1 for me, 4,1 for her) with 2 Minis. We didn't go crazy on the RAM (32GB) and drives are 1TB. For what we do these days we see pretty good performance.

For what OP wants I would spec out a good eGPU and rock away.

The new MacPros are going to be good but also very expensive and produce a lot of heat and use a lot of energy. If the Minis can do the work then I would say go with a Mini.
 
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strwrsfrk

macrumors regular
Mar 1, 2011
227
7
Arlington, VA, USA
I'm thinking my aging 4,1->5,1 Mac Pro may need to be replaced eventually, and I've just started looking at Mac Mini's.

I'm a graphic designer / illustrator in a small home studio and split a large amount of my computing time between Corel Painter, Photoshop and Illustrator (with the occasional InDesign, Premiere and After Effects). It seems the Mac Mini would be a good fit for my situation.

Heck, this whole system will only cost about half a new Mac Pro, so I don't mind getting the best setup possible. Any advice would be helpful as I begin the process of looking around.
I replaced my 2013 Trashcan Pro with a Mini and have not looked back. I do light Photoshop work (files typically no more than 2GB) and it works flawlessly.

I run three monitors. One of them is a Wacom Cintiq. With this in mind, should I consider an eGPU to the setup? It's for work, so I can afford to splurge a little for my piece of mind.
Take a look at the Razer Core X. You can get them used on eBay for under $200 (GPU not included), and then it can be upgraded for several generations to come.

I'll probably get the highest processor and max the RAM out at 64Gb.
If you're comfortable doing light maintenance and have the cools, consider buying the RAM third-party and save a ton of money. Crucial is a good brand, but a little research will go a long way.
 
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sigmadog

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 11, 2009
761
588
just west of Idaho
Since it's for work, why not get the new Mac Pro coming out this fall ?
For what I do the new Mac Pro would appear to be expensive overkill. I can easily justify dropping three grand on a computer (I've done it before), but not six grand. Most of my work is print oriented with just a few things video, and the new Mac Pro is targeted for major video workflow.

It's too bad, really. I told The Missus the other day that I feel like a jilted lover. For years Apple catered to the demands of designers, putting out the best machines for my industry. Now they've dumped me to pursue the younger, sexier video industry.
 

phairphan

macrumors 6502a
Sep 21, 2005
593
214
Reject Beach
I'm making the same move. Mini scheduled to be delivered this week. I like choosing my own screen and the new Mac Pro is priced beyond comfort for me. Unfortunately, this doesn't leave a lot of options given Apple's current line-up.
 
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sigmadog

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 11, 2009
761
588
just west of Idaho
I'm making the same move. Mini scheduled to be delivered this week. I like choosing my own screen and the new Mac Pro is priced beyond comfort for me. Unfortunately, this doesn't leave a lot of options given Apple's current line-up.
What sort of work will you be using it for?
 

Plutonius

macrumors 604
Feb 22, 2003
7,846
5,953
New Hampshire, USA
Maybe he don't want to spend that much? At least, here were I am, the Mac Pro costs a fortune (speaking for the 2013 model).
If it's for work (business), it can be written off as a business expense.
- - Post merged: - -

For what I do the new Mac Pro would appear to be expensive overkill. I can easily justify dropping three grand on a computer (I've done it before), but not six grand. Most of my work is print oriented with just a few things video, and the new Mac Pro is targeted for major video workflow.
It sounds like an iMac might be a better solution if the new Mac Pro is overkill.
 

sigmadog

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 11, 2009
761
588
just west of Idaho
If it's for work (business), it can be written off as a business expense.

It sounds like an iMac might be a better solution if the new Mac Pro is overkill.
I never like using "I can write it off" as an excuse to buy something. I'd rather buy smart and get what I can really use to it's fullest. Even with a write off, $6000+ is a big expense for me. I'm just a small fish, I don't like carrying debt of any kind.

Regarding the iMac. Nah. I have my own screens. I have no need or desire to purchase a screen attached to my computer. I don't like how Apple locks down it's screens so you can't make your own adjustments (I had that with the 23" ACD and hated it - I vowed I'd never trust Apple with another monitor).

Thanks for the suggestions, but I've been thinking about this for a while already.
 
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Macintoshrumors

macrumors 6502a
Oct 18, 2016
506
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I never like using "I can write it off" as an excuse to buy something. I'd rather buy smart and get what I can really use to it's fullest. Even with a write off, $6000+ is a big expense for me. I'm just a small fish, I don't like carrying debt of any kind.

Regarding the iMac. Nah. I have my own screens. I have no need or desire to purchase a screen attached to my computer. I don't like how Apple locks down it's screens so you can't make your own adjustments (I had that with the 23" ACD and hated it - I vowed I'd never trust Apple with another monitor).

Thanks for the suggestions, but I've been thinking about this for a while already.
Yes i agree with the screens. I’m a ultra wide guy when it comes to screens and that’s something you cannot enjoy with an iMac. I run a 2014 ssd mini i got from the refub section of the apple site. (In 2016), hooked up a 34lg screen and its perfect for me.
 
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LogicalVue

macrumors member
Aug 28, 2007
84
47
USA (Maine)
I replaced my aging 2009 Mac Pro with a 2018 Mac mini back in August. It’s over 2x faster and quieter for most of my work (software development). I only use a single 4K display. For 3, you’ll definitely want an eGPU, which I don’t need.
 
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phairphan

macrumors 6502a
Sep 21, 2005
593
214
Reject Beach
What sort of work will you be using it for?
General productivity, some database design and reporting with a VM or two running, a bit of Handbrake, and a little gaming in Windows. Nothing that demands the power of the mMP. I simply like choosing my own monitor(s), and I have appreciated the ability to upgrade components as standards change and/or they become less inexpensive. Obviously, the Mini will be limited on the latter.

Buying my cMP almost 11 years ago was the single best computing purchase I've made. I used it way longer than I had ever expected. I sort of view it as the "perfect storm" computer. Given how advanced its CPU was compared to Intel's consumer line-up at the time, the fact that Apple sat on its hands for years with respect to the Pro, and how Intel's market dominance led to stagnation on the CPU front; I imagine that a scenario like this will happen rarely. I suspect that the mMP will not hold up as well.

Given the mMPs higher entry price and the above, it makes more sense for me to potentially upgrade to a new Mini 3 or 4 (or 5) times for the cost of one entry-level mmP.
 
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sigmadog

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 11, 2009
761
588
just west of Idaho
General productivity, some database design and reporting with a VM or two running, a bit of Handbrake, and a little gaming in Windows. Nothing that demands the power of the mMP. I simply like choosing my own monitor(s), and I have appreciated the ability to upgrade components as standards change and/or they become less inexpensive. Obviously, the Mini will be limited on the latter.

Buying my cMP almost 11 years ago was the single best computing purchase I've made. I used it way longer than I had ever expected. I sort of view it as the "perfect storm" computer. Given how advanced its CPU was compared to Intel's consumer line-up at the time, the fact that Apple sat on its hands for years with respect to the Pro, and how Intel's market dominance led to stagnation on the CPU front; I imagine that a scenario like this will happen rarely. I suspect that the mMP will not hold up as well.

Given the mMPs higher entry price and the above, it makes more sense for me to potentially upgrade to a new Mini 3 or 4 (or 5) times for the cost of one entry-level mmP.
I see things the same way.

I just priced it out and with what I'd want, I would be in it about $2600. That includes 3.2GHz 6-core i7, third-party RAM (64Gb), eGPU enclosure and unit (Radeon 580) and 1TB SSD. Just need a couple dongles for my USB enclosures and monitors.

Now the question becomes, Do I wait for a potential update in early 2020 or dive in now. I'm partial to waiting as nothing is obviously broken at the moment and all is humming along fine.

It feels good to have a plan, especially one that doesn't cost me an arm and a leg.
 

opeter

macrumors 68000
Aug 5, 2007
1,568
485
Slovenia, EU
The update, if there will be one, will be this late October/beginning November or next year in Autumn.

At least that was the practice in recent years.
 
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ridgero

macrumors member
Dec 16, 2017
56
79
Mac mini (2018) supports one HDMI display with a resolution of 4096x2160 at 60Hz, plus one of the following configurations:
  • One 5K display with a resolution of 5120x2880 at 60Hz
  • Two single-stream transport (SST) 4K displays with resolutions of 4096x2304 at 60Hz
  • One multi-stream transport (MST) 4K display with a maximum resolution of 4096x2304 at 60Hz
 
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Chung123

macrumors regular
Dec 5, 2013
171
51
NYC
I think a Mac Mini with eGPU enclosure will be the future too but I would definitely miss all the drive bays on the 5,1.

It would mean also investing in an external 2-3 drive bay enclosure--unless I want a bare drive dock.
 
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Nugget

macrumors 68000
Nov 24, 2002
1,737
567
Houston Texas USA
I think a Mac Mini with eGPU enclosure will be the future too but I would definitely miss all the drive bays on the 5,1.

It would mean also investing in an external 2-3 drive bay enclosure--unless I want a bare drive dock.
With the 10 gigabit ethernet available in the Mini a NAS box is a realistic option. This would open up the world of better raid and data integrity (zfs or btrfs) with no real performance impact. 10gbe Is perfectly able to keep up with spinning rust.

I use a FreeNAS Mini here for my bulk storage and I don't miss the internal drive bays at all. My data lives in a much more resilient filesystem than HFS+ with much better redundancy and data-level integrity checking. Plus, I got to move the noise and heat away from my desk. It's a much nicer experience all around.
 

Tastannin

macrumors 6502
Sep 19, 2003
359
24
UT
The base 2018 Mac mini (i3) was offered to me so I went ahead and upgraded from my 2010 Mac Pro. Added 32GB of 3rd party RAM (which was pretty simple), am booting off an external Thunderbolt 3 NVMe SSD and have two displays running off an RX580 eGPU. Happy with it so far - other than the lack of drive bays, ha.
 
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sigmadog

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 11, 2009
761
588
just west of Idaho
The base 2018 Mac mini (i3) was offered to me so I went ahead and upgraded from my 2010 Mac Pro. Added 32GB of 3rd party RAM (which was pretty simple), am booting off an external Thunderbolt 3 NVMe SSD and have two displays running off an RX580 eGPU. Happy with it so far - other than the lack of drive bays, ha.
That's great news. I'll miss the drive bays, too. But I've moved a lot of my stuff onto external drives already, so it won't be that big of a transition.

My biggest worry (before I did any research) was switching from Xeon to Core, and no ECC RAM. But from what I've heard, at least regarding my workflow of mostly print work, it shouldn't be an issue.