MM2018 longevity for light user with small budget

strawbale

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I'm a light user - 95% browsing (several windows, lots of tabs), 5% light photo editing (no PS/LR etc) - and am looking to replace my ageing MBP (2007), bought used in 2013 (replacing my 2007 MM as main computer), running El Capitan (which is not receiving any security updates any more since July 2018), but struggling to do so (with 4GB RAM and original HDD). In fact my 2007 MM still on 10.6 runs much better on only 2GB RAM.

I'm not expecting to change much in my usage, apart from a bit more (but still basic) photo editing, so even a i3-8100 should last me a long time, no? With 10.14 running on 2012 Macs (and newer), a 2018 MM should maybe run the latest macOS until 2023 and than 3 more years of security updates => 8 years in total.

My current internal 160GB HD is used for just over 100GB of which 40GB (of recent photos - older ones as well as my music files are already on an external HDD) could be easily off-loaded to an external SSD, so even a 128 internal SSD should last me a long time as well, and for the difference with an upgrade to 256GB internal I could buy a 1TB Samsung T5.

I'll buy a new monitor, most likely a 24" 4k (Dell P2415Q or LG24UD58), to go with it.

Am I too optimistic in hoping that the base model could/should last me (up to) 8 years? If so, would the i5 model make (much) difference in terms of longevity?

PS: the above is based on user upgradebility of RAM (still to be confirmed - will wait for iFixit video), so I can upgrade to 16GB in the future if need be. I'll also await fan noise and power consumption at idle and light use experiences, before making a decision what to buy, as both are important to me.
 

ElectronGuru

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I also keep hardware for ten years. Replaced an 07 imac with a 17 last winter. Waiting to replace a 2010 mini (and 1080 tv) with one of these.

A 4 core will be a throw you back in your seat upgrade, yielding improvements in everything you do. With 10.14.

With OS X 10.18, 4 cores will start to show their age. And by 10.22 you’ll be waiting more for the mini than the mini is waiting for you.

Go with 6 cores to make it comfortably to 2026. Especially for 25% more money. I would also consider the $100 to 256. Leave the external until 5tb units are $250.

You’ll still be under $12 per month
 

shinji

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That plan would work, but if you're concerned about noise and power consumption, you might want to consider an iPad Pro instead.
 

pl1984

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If you're looking to future proof then the $1,099 stock Mini appears to be a good fit. Personally I think selling a $799 computer with 128GB of storage is criminal. IMO 256GB is the bare minimum.
 
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strawbale

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I also keep hardware for ten years. Replaced an 07 imac with a 17 last winter. Waiting to replace a 2010 mini (and 1080 tv) with one of these.

A 4 core will be a throw you back in your seat upgrade, yielding improvements in everything you do. With 10.14.

With OS X 10.18, 4 cores will start to show their age. And by 10.22 you’ll be waiting more for the mini than the mini is waiting for you.

Go with 6 cores to make it comfortably to 2026. Especially for 25% more money. I would also consider the $100 to 256. Leave the external until 5tb units are $250.

You’ll still be under $12 per month
Not quite, the i5 8/256 is 1249€ or $1425 in Europe...
(the i3 8/128 is 899€ or $1025

PS: thanks for sharing your very useful insight

PPS: I could also/always decide to keep it on 10.18 in 2022 and receive 3 more yrs of security updates ;)

[doublepost=1541360559][/doublepost]
That plan would work, but if you're concerned about noise and power consumption, you might want to consider an iPad Pro instead.
Not thàt concerned (and hate tablets - the ipad mini is my wife's)
 
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tedson

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Personally I think selling a $799 computer with 128GB of storage is criminal. IMO 256GB is the bare minimum.
Why, just because you want more than 128GB doesn't mean every one does?

MacOS and standard applications takes up about 30GB of space, that leaves just under 98GB of free space. That's more than enough space for my working set and many other people use NAS storage and don't need to pay for the extra expensive PCIe SSD storage that they won't use.

I can keep all my bulky media files (Movies, Music and photos) on much cheaper external storage although I wish Apple had left open space and an interface for a 2.5" SATA drive.

I'm glad Apple gives us this option.
 

strawbale

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Why, just because you want more than 128GB doesn't mean every one does?

MacOS and standard applications takes up about 30GB of space, that leaves just under 98GB of free space. That's more than enough space for my working set and many other people use NAS storage and don't need to pay for the extra expensive PCIe SSD storage that they won't use.

I can keep all my bulky media files (Movies, Music and photos) on much cheaper external storage although I wish Apple had left open space and an interface for a 2.5" SATA drive.

I'm glad Apple gives us this option.
Just a shame they only offer it in conjunction with the i3
 

pl1984

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Why, just because you want more than 128GB doesn't mean every one does?
It has nothing to do with a users requirements but rather the value offered.

MacOS and standard applications takes up about 30GB of space, that leaves just under 98GB of free space. That's more than enough space for my working set and many other people use NAS storage and don't need to pay for the extra expensive PCIe SSD storage that they won't use.
So you would be happy to pay $799 for a 2018 Mini with 32GB of disk space?
 
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tedson

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No, but 128GB standard SSD is a very workable solution for me as well as many law firms, accounting firms and other profession offices that keep all client files on servers.

Would I have liked to have that model priced at $499 or even $199, sure but I live in the real world and that is what apple priced it at.
 

ralphdonghut

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Oct 30, 2018
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Do your research on T2 kernel panics before you buy. Thats an open issue that started in January 2018.
 

strawbale

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Perhaps, but you're paying for more than you need. The whole premise of your response was that 32GB is all you need. Thus anything above that is paying for wasted storage.

Having said that the point is you shouldn't have to pay extra for a 256GB SSD, it should be standard in the $799 price for which the 128GB is standard. I can pick up a 256GB M.2 SSD for $40 retail. Surely Apple could do better.
Not a PCIe:
 

Fishrrman

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Feb 20, 2009
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If you can possibly swing it, "buy a little higher" than the entry-level.
I DON'T mean "buy every possible option you can". Some folks go overboard.

But... Instead of the i3/128gb, I'd suggest the "2nd tier model" which comes with the 3.0 i5 and 256gb SSD as standard equipment.

That should serve you well for years to come, and both the CPU -and- the SSD will have "a little extra room to grow" with future OS and app development, so to speak.

Back in January 2013 when I bought the late-2012 Mini, I "upped it" to the i7 model, but left "the rest of the specs" at "factory-stock". I knew the CPU was the only component that wouldn't be "upgradeable" later on.
It paid off over 6 years of use -- the 2012 Mini i7 still runs great, hasn't slowed down at all.
"Getting just a little more" paid off, over time!
 

strawbale

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If you can possibly swing it, "buy a little higher" than the entry-level.
I DON'T mean "buy every possible option you can". Some folks go overboard.

But... Instead of the i3/128gb, I'd suggest the "2nd tier model" which comes with the 3.0 i5 and 256gb SSD as standard equipment.

That should serve you well for years to come, and both the CPU -and- the SSD will have "a little extra room to grow" with future OS and app development, so to speak.

Back in January 2013 when I bought the late-2012 Mini, I "upped it" to the i7 model, but left "the rest of the specs" at "factory-stock". I knew the CPU was the only component that wouldn't be "upgradeable" later on.
It paid off over 6 years of use -- the 2012 Mini i7 still runs great, hasn't slowed down at all.
"Getting just a little more" paid off, over time!
I'll let the breadwinner in the house read this ;-)
 
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strawbale

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Update: -10% Black Friday deal (here in France) 'allowed' me to go for the i5/8/256 - just ordered :)

Also decided to go for a 24" 2560x1440 (120 ppi) monitor in stead of a 24" 4k.
123 ppi is close enough to my very pleasant 133 ppi MBP 17" 1920x1200, whereas 4k at 2x would 'only' give me 1920x1080 (albeit even crispier).
 
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nampramos

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Update: -10% Black Friday deal (here in France) 'allowed' me to go for the i5/8/256 - just ordered :)

Also decided to go for a 24" 2560x1440 (120 ppi) monitor in stead of a 24" 4k.
120 ppi is close enough to my very pleasant 133 ppi MBP 17" 1920x1200, whereas 4k at 2x would 'only' give me 1920x1080 (albeit crispier).
Was that -10% from Apple or a 3rd party retailer?
 

Acronyc

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Update: -10% Black Friday deal (here in France) 'allowed' me to go for the i5/8/256 - just ordered :)

Also decided to go for a 24" 2560x1440 (120 ppi) monitor in stead of a 24" 4k.
120 ppi is close enough to my very pleasant 133 ppi MBP 17" 1920x1200, whereas 4k at 2x would 'only' give me 1920x1080 (albeit crispier).
Nice! I have the same config except went for 512 in storage. I live in Switzerland and know how hard it can be to get good deals on Apple products. I’m using a Thunderbolt Display with my 2018 mini and while it’s not 4K it works great for my purposes. I’ve been using it for four years and hopefully I can get another four (if I don’t get too tempted by other displays). Enjoy your mini!
 

SoCalReviews

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Whatever you decide. Do NOT get only 128GB SSD. You will regret it. I have relatives that got a Macbook Air five years ago with only 128GB SSD and they started regretting it after the first year when they started running out of space for installing programs.

IMO the SSD space is almost more critical than the CPU because it will seriously limit your program installations and MacOS upgrades when you start pushing the edge of what's left... and as far as the external storage argument... that's true that you can get away with external storage on a desktop but I personally would only use external storage for photos, video, program data, etc.. and wouldn't recommend the average user relying on booting MacOS and installing programs from external drives. Those are always the ones complaining in the MacOS forums about how the latest annual upgrade damaged their system, data, etc.. As others have noted before IMO it truly is criminal that 128GB is even offered at all.

If you are on a shoe string budget you could go i3, 8GB, 256GB SSD... and if you want manually upgrade the RAM to 16GB or 32GB at a later date.

Personally I would go with the six core i5 over a four core i3 if you are on a minimum budget for future proofing but if you are determined to cut costs then the i3 would still be a decent new machine for basic non-pro uses.
 
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SoCalReviews

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Update: -10% Black Friday deal (here in France) 'allowed' me to go for the i5/8/256 - just ordered :)

Also decided to go for a 24" 2560x1440 (120 ppi) monitor in stead of a 24" 4k.
120 ppi is close enough to my very pleasant 133 ppi MBP 17" 1920x1200, whereas 4k at 2x would 'only' give me 1920x1080 (albeit crispier).
Excellent choice. IMO you did good. I believe you will be happy with your purchase. You can upgrade the RAM to 16GB or even 32GB in the future as the prices drop and you feel the need. You also should be good if you want to use external storage solutions if you need more space for data... photos, videos, etc..
 
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strawbale

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Excellent choice. IMO you did good. I believe you will be happy with your purchase. You can upgrade the RAM to 16GB or even 32GB in the future as the prices drop and you feel the need. You also should be good with external storage solutions if you need more space for data... photos, videos, etc..
I hope, partly because a QHD screen stresses the iGPU less than a UHD/4k screen, that 8GB will suffice for 2-3 years, after which I may go straight to 32GB (depending on future RAM prices).
 

SoCalReviews

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I hope, partly because a QHD screen stresses the iGPU less than a UHD/4k screen, that 8GB will suffice for 2-3 years, after which I may go straight to 32GB (depending on future RAM prices).
Yes...you should be ok with 8GB for a few years as a light user. Because the some of the RAM is also used for the on board Intel GPU (up to 2GB) I normally recommend 16GB minimum but since you plan on upgrading it yourself at some time in the future anyway and you are considering getting up to 32GB then you're choice makes sense.

One final note about the RAM is that I almost never read about in these Mac forums is that the more system RAM you have then the less stress and wear and tear usage you will put on the SSD or HDD... since they are used by the system for caching data in real time when you get low in system RAM. System RAM is designed to be actively stored and retrieved at high speed for the life of the computer. To the contrary the SSD and HDDs do in fact have a more limited lifespan or MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures). This was the concern related to "trim enabling and disabling" with the new APFS file system. Trim enabled was a feature that was supposed to average out the data storage on SSDs which helps with their longevity. The less the SSDs are accessed the longer they should last.

You won't have to worry about this in the short term if you are a light user because you really aren't pushing the system memory limits like heavy users or pro users but the heavy users should be more concerned about this which is why 16GB would be their minimum and 32GB or greater should be a serious consideration... if they plan on keeping their Macs a very long time and they want to extend the lifespan of their on board SSD.
 
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strawbale

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Yes...you should be ok with 8GB for a few years as a light user. Because the some of the RAM is also used for the on board Intel GPU (up to 2GB) I normally recommend 16GB minimum but since you plan on upgrading it yourself at some time in the future anyway and you are considering getting up to 32GB then you're choice makes sense.

One final note about the RAM is that I almost never read about in these Mac forums is that the more system RAM you have then the less stress and wear and tear usage you will put on the SSD or HDD... since they are used by the system for caching data in real time when you use your computer. System RAM is designed to be actively stored at high speed for the life of the computer. The SSD and HDDs do in fact have a limited lifespan or MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures). The less the SSD and HDDs are accessed the longer they should last.

You won't have to worry as much about this in the short term if you are a light user because you really aren't pushing the system memory limits like heavy users or pro users but the heavy users should be more concerned about this which is why 16GB would be their minimum and 32GB or greater should be a serious consideration... if they want to extend the life of their SSD.
I think that's a reason why my 4GB RAM MBP is so much slower (on 10.11) than my equally old (2007) MM with only 2GB RAM (on 10.6) - the former is swapping more often than the latter (because 10.11 needs more RAM than 10.6 and Safari 11 need more than Safari 5) and beachballing more often too.
 

ElectronGuru

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I think that's a reason why my 4GB RAM MBP is so much slower (on 10.11) than my equally old (2007) MM with only 2GB RAM (on 10.6) - the former is swapping more often than the latter (because 10.11 needs more RAM than 10.6 and Safari 11 need more than Safari 5) and beachballing more often too.
Open activity monitor, memory tab. Watch the ‘swaps’ as you work and see how much swapping each Mac is doing.
 

SoCalReviews

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I think that's a reason why my 4GB RAM MBP is so much slower (on 10.11) than my equally old (2007) MM with only 2GB RAM (on 10.6) - the former is swapping more often than the latter (because 10.11 needs more RAM than 10.6 and Safari 11 need more than Safari 5) and beachballing more often too.
Yes, extensive memory swapping or memory caching to the HDD... especially on Macs with the slow spinner drives really slows down the computer. The newer MacOS's seem to require more and more memory compared to the older OSX releases. This is why adding RAM to an older Mac that is running a newer MacOS can really help make it more usable and extend it's lifespan. Changing to a higher speed SSD on an older Mac also works but that alone still doesn't eliminate the issue of memory swapping... it just makes the swapping or caching less apparent.
 
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