Memory and SSD size sweet spot?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by richpjr, May 2, 2019.

  1. richpjr macrumors 68040

    richpjr

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    #1
    I'm looking at picking up an i7 Mac Mini and have the common debate about how much storage and how much RAM to get.

    I'm debating between 512 and 1TB for the SSD. The $400 difference is pretty steep and could be put towards an external SSD which could net more overall storage. That would require more clutter on my desk and perhaps not have the performance, depending on if I went for something like a Samsung 2 TB T5 for a larger, slower SSD or a 1 TB X5 for a smaller, faster SSD.

    For memory, I'm going back and forth between 16 and 32 gig. I'm not quite sure what the sweet spot here should be. I have 16 gig on my work 15" MBP and that seems fine for most uses, but I will be doing some photo and 4k video editing and more memory always helps. Having said that, I'm not making a full length feature movie so 64 gig seems like it would probably be overkill. If I go the 16 gig route I may just order it preinstalled for warranty and sheer laziness, though it's obviously cheaper to put it in myself. With the obscene up-charge for 32 gig I'd definitely put it in myself.

    What do you recommend?
     
  2. casperes1996 macrumors 68040

    casperes1996

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    #2
    Well, not really actually. Going from 32 to 64GB for what it sounds like you need, would literally not help at all. 0 Difference. In fact, 32 probably would have a negligible benefit over 16. It might allow macOS to cache more aggressively, but your active memory use would likely not be high enough that it'd really matter. Very much at all.

    RAM and storage too in most cases, is a matter of having enough. Exceeding "enough" has no real benefit for the most part. Now macOS does do RAM caching, which means there is some benefit to exceeding the "enough" marker, but the benefits fall off a cliff once you get to the "enough" mark. Not having enough means your CPU is always starved, but as long as you have enough, the extra just slightly speeds up recurring storage accesses.

    For storage, I'd personally go down the external route, unless you really need the speed, which I'd say you probably don't. It may clutter extra, sure, but it also saves you a decent chunk of money.

    But if you feel like you have the budget, well, whilst it may not "always help" it certainly doesn't hurt.
     
  3. Partron22 macrumors 68020

    Partron22

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    #3
    At maybe 80gigs for System, library and apps, I'd go with the 500 internal, and buy a TB external SSD for all my docs and such. You'll save $250 or so, and when the internal drive goes south, you'll have something you can use.
    I prefer caddies and internal drives to external drives. The caddies make it easy to swap things around.
     
  4. richpjr thread starter macrumors 68040

    richpjr

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    May 9, 2006
    #4
    I have the budget, but I don't like to overbuy. Getting "enough" is really what I am looking to do so I won't get going up to 64, I'm really trying to decide on 16 vs 32 gig for RAM.
     
  5. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2008
    #5
    just bought a mac mini 256GB boot drive just enough for apps 32GB of mem
    we went with a samsung T5 2TB for current working files (under $400) then the rest go on spinning

    the external X5 are close enough to the speed of the internal ones and much cheaper per GB then apple charges

    I hear ya about buying the 16 from them cheap enough to not mess with it ? if you do not have the proper tools figure another $20 for that to
    IF you are doing some video and some photo the cost of 32GB memory Crucial from BH Photo is $180
    buy once cry once :) might be worth it really depends on how much you are comfy about opening up the mini etc..

    I would tell most go with the 512GB model just to be safe and give some breathing room on the boot

    then use external for all other T5 or X5 and IMHO if you know you NEED the X5 get it
    but if you are not sure the T5 will do you well I would say
     
  6. richpjr thread starter macrumors 68040

    richpjr

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    May 9, 2006
    #6
    How are you liking the T5? Any issues with heat or disconnecting or anything?
     
  7. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2008
    #7
    so far still in the setup stage but did some testing writing reading off 1.5 TB of data to it from other sources checking various files and doing some transfers with chronosync no heat issues at all its just kinda laying next to it :)

    I was or am curious about the connection so trying what I can to put it through daily work it will face

    I reckon for a few more weeks of use and will know more and will do a quick mention of findings :) its one of 3 machines we use so trying to work then transition it in in some free time :)

    we did some testing opening really large complex illustrator and indesign documents which are going to be its main work and very impressed with the T5
    I did both internal mini drive and the external and can't tell the difference with our files and workflow
    mostly for this machine its going to be doing indesign and illustrator

    we have a PC (hate the file system) but needed the power and it has a 1TB NVMe drive inside the thing is insane fast to zip large docs and open PSB files (2-3 GB in size) for photoshop this is pretty much a dedicated PS and Capture one box
    part of the reason I did not go with the X5 for the mini is testing some files on this machine the NVMe are insane but real world I could not really say it was much faster than the T5
    but I do not do video really I am going to get into some and will maybe change my mind BUT could not see spending anymore and I think I would build the mini again this way (meaning the smaller internal and external T5)

    my PC is a intel 7820x with 32GB 1TB NVMe and a Nvidia1080 GPU
    some CPU benchmarks the mini is really close the GPU stuff some scores were about 1/3 less
    my mini has a saphire 580 GPU
    I am more impressed with the testing we have done and am very happy I went with it over a iMac so I got to test the idea of a large fast NVMe and various SSD inside it

    hope that rambling helps :) sorry I write so poor :)
     
  8. casperes1996 macrumors 68040

    casperes1996

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    Jan 26, 2014
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    Horsens, Denmark
    #8
    Right; When I say "the budget" I don't just mean having the money, but being willing to spend it on overkilling too ;).

    It sounds like video editing is going to be the most demanding tasks you'll use the computer for.
    I've edited an 80 minutes' documentary (1080p color graded) with 16gigs as well as a bunch of shorter (15-30 minutes) 4K projects. I can't speak to most other NLEs, but if you edit in Final Cut, you're really not going to see any gains at all with the additional memory beyond the 16GB. Premiere will probably speed up a little, though 16 is enough to edit smoothly. Max Yuriev has done a video on RAM need for different NLEs and 16 is definitely enough for the majority of the time.

    On my iMac I typically run around 15 apps at once, actively. This includes an IDE (Integrated Development Environment for coding - they can suck up a fair chunk of RAM at times) as well as sometimes FInal Cut. - I have upgraded to 32gigs, but quite honestly it really wasn't necessary. The iMac ran almost identically with 16GB. I mostly upgraded cause I found a cheap set, and it increased the resale value more than the cost of the sticks - I'll probably be selling the system in not super long to buy a new one.

    Now my iMac system does have a dGPU, so the GPU has its own VRAM and doesn't share system memory, but really I don't think you'll need to go beyond 16.
     
  9. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #9
    16gb RAM.
    512gb SSD.
    Buy from Apple-refurbished.
     
  10. scoobs69 macrumors 6502

    scoobs69

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2009
    #10

    If you're hemming and hawing, then go with the 32GB. It's always better to have too much than not enough. I often have Photoshop, Capture One Pro and Photo Mechanic open at the same time. I will also pop open 100 hi-res JPEGs at once for a batch fix/retouching. It gets painfully slow without 32GB of ram. But...everyone's workflow is different. Regardless, better safe than sorry is where I always go.

    For system drive, I prefer to keep it clean, so I'm only going with the 512GB option. I don't need 1TB, as I'll never store active jobs or work on that drive. I might use it for PS scratch space I need it...
     
  11. richpjr thread starter macrumors 68040

    richpjr

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    May 9, 2006
    #11
    What kind of external storage are you using?
     
  12. Zdigital2015 macrumors 65816

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    Jul 14, 2015
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    East Coast, United States
    #12
    32GB DRAM/512GB SSD...take the $400 leftover from the 1TB BTO and put half to the DRAM and the other to go towards a Samsung X5 500GB SSD at $250 for extra storage. Just my 2¢, although this is my plan for my upcoming mini purchase.
     
  13. macdragonfl macrumors 6502a

    macdragonfl

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    Jan 11, 2006
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    Ft. Lauderdale,Fl
    #13
    I went through this a month ago when I got my i7 mini. Went with 16GB as my current needs it was plenty. I also know it can be upgraded when and if necessary. What I did different though is went with 256gb internal and a new 1tb external with USB-C 3.1 enclosure.
     
  14. djc6 macrumors 6502a

    djc6

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    Cleveland, OH
    #14
    I ordered my i7 with 1TB SSD since it cannot be upgraded, and 16GB RAM since its plenty for my needs now and can be upgraded down the road if I really need to.
     
  15. scoobs69 macrumors 6502

    scoobs69

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    Jul 20, 2009
    #15
    OWC Mercury Elite Pro (Aluminum drives) - USB 3. They seem to have the only controllers that outlive the drive. Good venting, too. ...I also buy my drives in pairs, for mirrored back-up.
     
  16. Fuksikarma macrumors newbie

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    Oct 17, 2014
    Location:
    Copenhagen
    #16
    I’m about to go for 512 GB and 16 ram.

    You can always add more external storage via nvme at much lower pricepoint than 1 TB internally. Going from 256 to 512 you, however, you get a big increase in write speeds.
     
  17. mpfuchs macrumors 6502

    mpfuchs

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2014
    Location:
    VA
    #17
    Planning on buying one stick of 32GB from OWC when I get my mini. Can I use that in conjunction with one of the 4GB sticks pre-installed from Apple, or do I have to take that out for compatibility reasons?
    Or would the machine not even run with only one stick installed?
     
  18. casperes1996 macrumors 68040

    casperes1996

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    Jan 26, 2014
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    Horsens, Denmark
    #18
    The computer wil work with 1 stick. It will however work in Single-Channel mode, which means the CPU can access memory at half speed essentially. With 2 channels populated, the CPU can request access to two segments of memory at once.

    The optimal setup is to always populate slots according to channels, so a dual channel system like this, should have RAM installed in pairs. They do not need to be identical, but their timings should roughly match up - the system will set any high speed RAM to match the lowest speed in the setup to ensure it works together in dual channel.
     
  19. Zdigital2015 macrumors 65816

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    Jul 14, 2015
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    East Coast, United States
    #19
    Does your workload require 32GB of DRAM? If not, I would simply save your money for now and run with the 8GB of DRAM that the Mac mini comes stock with from the factory. While you use the mini in your day to day, observe how much memory is actually being used in Activity Monitor and see if there ends up being any "Swap Used:" and how much that ends up being on a day in day out basis for about a week or so. You may find that you don't need any additional memory right now - OR - you may see that you are constantly breaking through the 8GB of "Physical Memory:" on a consistent basis and actually do need more.

    If you can hold off, hold off, but see if you really need that amount. If you are hell bent on getting 32GB of DRAM, I would still wholeheartedly recommend getting two 16GB DIMMs or saving up and getting two 32GB DIMMs, max out at 64GB and be done with it. I would not really recommend buying one DIMM and then another of the same size down the road since the memory slots are designed to work in dual-channel mode to maximize throughput. I feel very strongly that getting a matched set of the same size DIMMs would be better in the long run in terms of cutting down on the possibility of memory related issues, but perhaps I am overly cautious in that arena having had to re-buy DRAM for several Macs after trying to do it piecemeal.

    Good luck!
     
  20. casperes1996 macrumors 68040

    casperes1996

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    #20

    Agree with this post - Good advice here.

    Though I'll add that a little bit of swap isn't necessarily so bad. If you see 100MB don't think that you'll have to rush out and get more RAM cause you're starved for capacity and your performance will boom immensely or anything. If the swap size is low enough it may wind up being an unnoticable difference anyhow.

    Let's say you're working with a video file, you put the project on pause and start doing other things - now the system may run low on RAM and write the parts of the video file farthest from the playheaed to disk. When you then return to the project, it might start getting the data back in from disk as you're working with the portions still in active memory, entirely hiding the swap.
    Or it may just be small enough chunks of data that the wait time in retrieving it from SSD, while substantially longer than the delays in getting the data from RAM, in terms of percieved difference isn't so big a deal.

    Consider more RAM if swap seems high, but if it's 1MB or whatever, you don't need to think about it - What the limit is then? Well, that's hard to say and comes down to too many factors to really be definitive about. But look at the memory pressure graph, and feel out your workload, see if any slowdowns you see correspond to high RAM pressure. Or maybe when you feel things are slowing down, Activity Monitor reports little RAM use, but 100% CPU spikes - more RAM wouldn't help at all.
     
  21. twalk macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    #21

    Here's how single/dual channel works for mis-matched ram:

    For your 32G + 4G ram, you'll get full speed, dual channel operation until you reach 8G of memory used. 4G from the 32G DIMM and 4G from the 4G DIMM give you 8G of dual channel operation

    For memory above 8G, that's from the 32G DIMM only, so that's single channel operation. Single channel operation will result in a 5-8% slowdown for the majority of computer tasks. Considering how fast the new Minis are, that's not that much of of slowdown

    Try to get the same brand for each DIMM (although usually this isn't vital...) and for Macs you should be using the same memory speed for both DIMMS. Macs are definitely more sensitive on that than PCs are

    If there is an issue with running both DIMMS, the Mini will run perfectly fine with just the single DIMM
     
  22. DHart, May 6, 2019
    Last edited: May 6, 2019

    DHart macrumors 6502

    DHart

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    Jan 17, 2008
    #22
    For myself, 512GB SSD allows plenty of room for OS, a lot of apps, with some reasonable file storage space left over.

    For additional storage (useful if you have large photo and DAW music files), you can get a Samsung T5 1TB SSD external for about $177 now - so that's the way I've gone. I used CCC to make the 1TB SSD a full- populated system drive, with all of the apps, as well - it is a clone of the primary drive, but with a lot of extra space for files. And, any additional storage I need (for redundancy) I get with two Samsung T5 500GB SSDs - they are down close to $100 a piece now. Additional redundant copies of files I don't want to lose go onto 1TB HDDs. As a retired commercial photographer, I learned the immense value of having multiple, redundant, drive backups many years ago. I will never lose important files ever again.

    As for memory, I've found 16GB has served my needs very well for Photoshop and Lightroom and GarageBand, so I went that route again with my i7 MacMini. If by some fluke I should desire more memory down the road, the Mini can be upgraded at a later date.

    So, for myself anyway, I think the MacMini i7 with 512GB SSD/16GB RAM is the "sweet spot" for a new MacMini.
     
  23. richpjr thread starter macrumors 68040

    richpjr

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    #23
    The T5 certainly is a great bang for the buck. Do you boot off of your 1 TB or just have it as a backup? Do you leave all of your T5 drives mounted all the time? Any issues with heat or disconnects?
     
  24. mpfuchs macrumors 6502

    mpfuchs

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    Sep 19, 2014
    Location:
    VA
    #24
    Thanks @casperes1996 @Zdigital2015 and @twalk for the explanations.
    I'll get the base 8GB first to see how it works for my application, and if I see I need more, it sounds like I should rather get 2 sticks of 16GB. Thanks again.
     
  25. DHart macrumors 6502

    DHart

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    Jan 17, 2008
    #25
    I've been using the Samsung T5s with:

    Late 2018 MacBookPro 2.6 GHz Six-Core i7 ~ 32 GB RAM ~ 512GB SSD
    Late 2012 27" iMac 3.4 GHz Quad-Core i7 ~ 16 GB RAM ~ 1 TB Fusion Drive

    With the MBP, the drives are mounted on occasion, not continuously.
    With the 27" iMac, I'm using a Samsung T5 500GB SSD as the primary start-up drive.

    Have not had a single problem with heat, nor with disconnects.

    My MacMin i3.2 GHz Six-Core i7 ~ 16 GB RAM ~ 512GB SSD will be arriving on Wednesday, and my intention is to use the internal SSD as the primary/start-up drive, with the Samsung T5 1TB SSD continuously mounted for RAW camera files and music files for GarageBand.
     

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26 May 2, 2019