Mac Pro 1.1 2006 vs Mac Mini i7 2018, how big a difference? (and other questions)

godzfire

macrumors member
May 20, 2013
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I would keep using my faithful 2006 machine which I've maxed out, but being capped at 10.11 I've been running into more and more problems of being minimum OS version locked out of programs and I'm honestly running on borrowed time with a 13 year old machine. I had been holding out for YEARS for them to come out with a proper new upgradable Mac Pro after passing on the whole 2013 trash can debacle. Unfortunately my heart sunk when I saw the base model was $6,000, as that is completely out of my cost ability.

I thought I found the answer when my friend was selling his souped up Mac Pro 4.1 2009 for $500 which I thought would last me 3-4 years when the new Mac Pros would be affordable enough in price, but managed to majorly mess it up when cleaning it out where it won't even chime (the whole saga is here: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/mp-4-1-no-startup-chime-complicated-issue.2196490/). The part replacement cost to potentially fix it is the same as the whole machine, and honestly it would run into the same issue being an already 10 year old machine. I guess I will just part it out and see if I can make back some of the money.

After an insane amount of back and forth, I've decided to go for a Mac Mini. I know this is going to sound silly, but just how big of a difference is a Mac Pro 1.1 2006 vs Mac Mini i7 2018?

Here are the specs for my machine:
Here's the Mini I was thinking
  • 3.2GHz 6‑core 8th‑generation Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz)
  • 8GB 2666MHz DDR4 (upgrading to 16 GB myself)
  • 256GB SSD storage
Here's some info about my setup:
  • MP is connected to big screen TV for my monitor, and just started using a second normal PC monitor to mirror the display so I can work at my desk. Would like to use an HDMI splitter with the Mini to do the same. These are 1080 screens, not 4K.
  • Consider myself a semi-power user. Do only minor Photoshop and Audition stuff.
I'm just afraid if it will be okay for me and not obsolete quickly, because I can't upgrade it like my old Mac Pro. I'm HOPING I can get at least 6-8 years out of this Mini. I'm also afraid that Apple is going to reveal an updated refresh of the Minis for their late Oct event right after I'd buy, with my luck.

Any and all thoughts would be appreciated guys.

EDIT: Also I was looking at prices and where to buy, and B&H Photo has the model for $150 cheaper than Apple or Best Buy. I'm concerned though because I heard once you buy from B&H, there's no return window option, plus I'm curious how only they are able to offer that lower price.
 

Heat_Fan89

macrumors 6502
Feb 23, 2016
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I seriously doubt you'll see a Mini refresh in the next 1-2 years. If it were 2009 when Apple was doing yearly Mac refresh then I would say wait. The current Mac mini is super fast based on the benchmarks. I would run Geekbench 5 on your MP and compare the results in the Geekbench 5 thread. https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/geekbench-5-is-out-post-mac-mini-results.2196134/#post-27699325

As far as support goes 6-8 years of support is on the low side. You're probably looking at 10 years of support. My 2012 Mini is getting Catalina so add 3 years (2022) after that in security support and my Mini will have gotten 10 yrs support and add a few years of usability with website compatibility.

So a 2018 Mini should get around 8+ yrs of support, easy. The only concern is the Intel GPU depending on what you will be using it for? You can always add a eGPU but that will increase the cost.

BH Photo does take returns but read the fine print because it has to be in resellable new condition and you pay for return shipping. Amazon price matches BH Photo on the models that Amazon is selling. The current i5 configuration on Amazon is the same as BH Photo at $929. If you are concerned about returns then going with Apple might be the better choice.
 

Hessel89

macrumors regular
Sep 27, 2017
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Arnhem
https://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/12107576

about 3,3 times faster.

But Geekbench scores aside, you will notice the difference especially in day to day use since the single core speed and the memory speed are much faster.
The downside to the Mini is not having access to full speed PCI expansion slots,
But since your Mac Pro only supports PCI 1.0 (x16) while the 2018 Mac Mini with an external Thunderbolt 3 chassis supports PCI 5.0 (x4) that's still a 4.0 GB/s vs. 15,75 GB/s difference. The mini wins hands-down.
The onboard PCIe SSD also makes the Mini feel a lot more snappy and productive in real life scenarios. Only an NVME drive can get you the same speeds, but PCI 1.0 is too slow for that.
 
Last edited:

smetvid

macrumors 6502
Nov 1, 2009
412
154
0
I would keep using my faithful 2006 machine which I've maxed out, but being capped at 10.11 I've been running into more and more problems of being minimum OS version locked out of programs and I'm honestly running on borrowed time with a 13 year old machine. I had been holding out for YEARS for them to come out with a proper new upgradable Mac Pro after passing on the whole 2013 trash can debacle. Unfortunately my heart sunk when I saw the base model was $6,000, as that is completely out of my cost ability.

I thought I found the answer when my friend was selling his souped up Mac Pro 4.1 2009 for $500 which I thought would last me 3-4 years when the new Mac Pros would be affordable enough in price, but managed to majorly mess it up when cleaning it out where it won't even chime (the whole saga is here: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/mp-4-1-no-startup-chime-complicated-issue.2196490/). The part replacement cost to potentially fix it is the same as the whole machine, and honestly it would run into the same issue being an already 10 year old machine. I guess I will just part it out and see if I can make back some of the money.

After an insane amount of back and forth, I've decided to go for a Mac Mini. I know this is going to sound silly, but just how big of a difference is a Mac Pro 1.1 2006 vs Mac Mini i7 2018?

Here are the specs for my machine:
Here's the Mini I was thinking
  • 3.2GHz 6‑core 8th‑generation Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz)
  • 8GB 2666MHz DDR4 (upgrading to 16 GB myself)
  • 256GB SSD storage
Here's some info about my setup:
  • MP is connected to big screen TV for my monitor, and just started using a second normal PC monitor to mirror the display so I can work at my desk. Would like to use an HDMI splitter with the Mini to do the same. These are 1080 screens, not 4K.
  • Consider myself a semi-power user. Do only minor Photoshop and Audition stuff.
I'm just afraid if it will be okay for me and not obsolete quickly, because I can't upgrade it like my old Mac Pro. I'm HOPING I can get at least 6-8 years out of this Mini. I'm also afraid that Apple is going to reveal an updated refresh of the Minis for their late Oct event right after I'd buy, with my luck.

Any and all thoughts would be appreciated guys.

EDIT: Also I was looking at prices and where to buy, and B&H Photo has the model for $150 cheaper than Apple or Best Buy. I'm concerned though because I heard once you buy from B&H, there's no return window option, plus I'm curious how only they are able to offer that lower price.
Ok so how exactly is the Mini not as upgradable your 2009 MP?

Monitor: External for both machines so you can upgrade to whatever you want.
Storage: MP is internal but we only had internal storage back then because external connections like USB2.0 and FW400 sucked. Mini has four TB3 ports with every port ports using its own TB3 controller. That means 40gbps bandwidth for every two ports. The Mini also has its own USB3.0 controller for 5gbps of bandwidth and if you opt for the 10GBE ethernet you get another 10gbps for network storage. Today even in the video production world we tend to use external raid storage or NAS storage for editing.
Ram: Both systems can upgrade Ram. Mini takes a bit of extra effort but it can use up to 64GB.
GPU: The MP can use PCI Express cards internally but eGPU is no slouch. Depending on the card the performance will take a small hit but likely vastly better than your card in your MP. On average if your monitor is hooked directly to the eGPU on the Mini you may experience 10% to 20% speed loss. Also depends on what tasks you are doing. Get a fast enough card like the Vega56 I have on mine it is still faster than almost any other current Mac minus the iMac Pro. Your 2006 MP is also using the older PCI Express 1.0 standard which was much slower and even the 16x slot only uses 4GBps. TB3 is a 4x slot but a much newer standard at the same 4GBps bandwidth for PCI Express devices.
Expansion cards: Back in the day that was a thing because again external solutions sucked. The only option was really PCI Express cards to add things like UBS3, ESATA, faster network adapters, audio devices and so forth. Today all of that can be added through TB3 using external devices.
 

ssgbryan

macrumors 6502a
Jul 18, 2002
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The big difference will be in sustained loads - the Xeons in the cMP are designed to be pushed, and pushed hard. The Mini isn't designed to be pushed. When my 2,1 was my main box, I would cook renders for hours at a time - neither the iMac or the Mini could do that.

Based on use case, I'd go with the Mini - you can up the ram to 64Gb - you WILL want to go there - 16Gb simply isn't enough anymore, you will see a real jump 1st moving above 16Gb and another jump in responsiveness going above 32Gb).

Also factor in the cost of adding externals for additional storage. 256Gb will leave you tight for space. The reality is you have no clue as to what you will need 6 to 8 years from now - even if you don't up your computer usage. At some point, Adobe will enter the 21st century, and 6 cores will be lacking, so I wouldn't plan on getting the same usage out of it 6 to 8 years from now (It should make a nice HTPC though.)
 

godzfire

macrumors member
May 20, 2013
41
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@ssgbryan I've survived on 10 GBs of RAM for 13 years with the 2006 Mac Pro, so I originally thought 16 would be fine, but since I'm doing the RAM upgrade myself, I'll be able to add 32.

Regarding the storage, I already run a 2 hard drive system; a 256 SSD main with the OS and programs, and 512 SSD secondary with all other files on it. I would just turn the secondary into an external USB-C enclosure.

For capacity on my main, I'm 120.78 GB used with 135 GB available, I think I'm sitting okay.
 

iluvmacs99

macrumors regular
Apr 9, 2019
218
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@godzfire

The speed difference between a Mac Pro 2006 vs a Mac 2018 Core i7 depends really upon what sort of applications you are mostly running and how long do you tolerate waiting for the applications to complete their tasks. If you are ok with 10Gb of ram and running a Mac Pro 2008 for as long as you can, then the Core i7 mini will and can last you for quite a long while until Apple decides to mothball it a decade from now. Most of today's applications take advantage of the multi-core aspect of the processors and allowing applications to execute and complete their tasks at much faster times than a single core processor can do by itself. This explains why your Mac Pro lasted for as long as you have it. Your Mac Pro came from a time where many affordable macs were only dual cores. So the 8 core aspect of your Mac Pro helped extended its life for many more years, whereas the Mac Mini and the iMacs of the same era were never powerful machines and never lasted as long as your Mac Pro would have. Having said that, in today's modern computer setup, multi-core is the norm even with a single CPU and most applications do take advantage of multi-core including the latest incarnation of Photoshop.

In fact, that's why I bought a used souped up Mac Pro 4,1 flashed to 5,1 rather than the Mac Mini 2018, because adding components inside an expandable computer is more cost effective for what I do. I didn't want to buy the 2018 Mini because I'm waiting for the ARM version of the Mini if it ever comes and that's when I'll jump in. In the meantime, My 5,1 Mac Pro with 18Gb of ram and SSD RAID plus HD RAID plus a Radeon RX580 all cost less than a brand new refurb Mac Mini Core i3 2018 computer and it smokes it thanks to the RX580 GPU and the fast internal RAID array. This is where the Mac Pro shines (lots of expansion room). Plus it runs much cooler than the Mini. I own a Mac Mini 2011 and that thing just runs so hot for the stuff I want it done that I have an external cooler attached to it just to barely keep it going.

To equip the same Core i3 mac mini to match my Mac Pro with an eGPU, external fast RAID SSD and fast RAID HD would have cost me 4x the amount of money. Sorry, but I think the new Mini 2018 setup will never give me the return of capital and cost effectiveness as the Mac Pro. Yes, the Mac Pro maxes out @mojave, but I am running High Sierra and all my newer applications support High Sierra and I think I'm good for a few years until the new Mac Mini with the ARM CPU comes out. Hope this helps.
 

LogicalVue

macrumors member
Aug 28, 2007
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www.xojo.com
I recently upgraded from a 2009 Mac Pro (3.2Ghz 6-core, 32GB RAM, Radeon 560) to a 2018 Mac mini (i7, 1TB SSD, 64GB RAM).

The Mac mini is at least twice as fast for everything except video as the built-in graphics are weak. That doesn't really affect me, so I don't care much at this point. I maxed out the Mac mini with 64GB RAM because it was pretty cheap and easy to do myself (about $340) and now I don't have to worry about it again.

Overall I am very pleased with the performance improvements, which will be even more noticeable since you're coming from an even older Mac Pro. Plus the Mac mini is overall much quieter than the Mac Pro.

I wouldn't worry about the lack of internal expansion. Thunderbolt keeps your options open for fast external drives and GPUs.
 
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i486dx2-66

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Feb 25, 2013
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I'm just afraid if it will be okay for me and not obsolete quickly, because I can't upgrade it like my old Mac Pro.
Just an observation- I think you are too focused on longevity, to the point where you're not seeing the big picture.

Your dual quad Xeon Mac Pro is a beast, and with how much energy those consume, you're throwing money down the drain by continuing to use it. The 2018 Mac mini will completely pay for itself several times over, just in the savings on your electric bill. Put the extra savings toward your "2026 mini", and your upgrade concerns are eased, or perhaps eliminated entirely depending on your usage and local power costs.