Realistic CPU performance for updated Mac Mini?

crenz

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 3, 2003
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Like many on this forum, I've been hoping for an updated Mac mini for a while. However, I've also been wondering what kind of CPU performance speedup we can realistically expect if Apple were to release an updated, Haswell-Mac mini in the near future.

The current maxed-out Mac mini uses a 2.6 GHz i7-3720QM. The same processor was used in the 2012 15" Retina MBP. Typical 64-bit benchmark scores of rMBP using this chip are around 3300 / 12800 (single/multicore).

If Apple were to update the Mac Mini with similar processors as they did with the rMBP, the maxed-out version could be using either the 2.3 GHz i7-4850HQ or the 2.6 GHz i7-4960HQ. These yield rMBP benchmark scores of
around 3400 / 13150 and 3700 / 14350 respectively, resulting in an improvement of around 3% or 12%, depending on processor chosen.

So the answer from the benchmark data is actually a non-answer… if Apple were to choose a processor like the i7-4850HQ, it definitely would not make sense for me to wait any longer. 3% would not be a big enough difference to make me regret the purchase. However, with the i7-4960HQ, it would be a different story - this is a more substantial improvement.

Any compelling reasons why Apple would choose one or the other (or a completely different CPU)?
 

jimj740

macrumors regular
I certainly cannot speak for everyone....

...but it appears to me that the majority of people interested in a Haswell based Mac mini are interested in the Iris Pro graphics relative to the performance of the HD4000. There the improvement can be over 200%.

A secondary reason would be support for AVX2 instructions, which would make big differences for some applications but probably not even show up in synthetic benchmarks like Geekbench.

-JimJ
 

Cloudsurfer

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Apr 12, 2007
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The increase in performance will not be very big, however the Haswell chips are more energy efficient which can save you some money in the long run if you're using it as a 24/7 server.

If this is not an issue and you don't need the extra graphical horsepower then the current mini is not a bad choice at all.
 

paulrbeers

macrumors 68040
Dec 17, 2009
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Like many on this forum, I've been hoping for an updated Mac mini for a while. However, I've also been wondering what kind of CPU performance speedup we can realistically expect if Apple were to release an updated, Haswell-Mac mini in the near future.

The current maxed-out Mac mini uses a 2.6 GHz i7-3720QM. The same processor was used in the 2012 15" Retina MBP. Typical 64-bit benchmark scores of rMBP using this chip are around 3300 / 12800 (single/multicore).

If Apple were to update the Mac Mini with similar processors as they did with the rMBP, the maxed-out version could be using either the 2.3 GHz i7-4850HQ or the 2.6 GHz i7-4960HQ. These yield rMBP benchmark scores of
around 3400 / 13150 and 3700 / 14350 respectively, resulting in an improvement of around 3% or 12%, depending on processor chosen.

So the answer from the benchmark data is actually a non-answer… if Apple were to choose a processor like the i7-4850HQ, it definitely would not make sense for me to wait any longer. 3% would not be a big enough difference to make me regret the purchase. However, with the i7-4960HQ, it would be a different story - this is a more substantial improvement.

Any compelling reasons why Apple would choose one or the other (or a completely different CPU)?
Apple would probably use the same processors, but even a 12% increase would be negligible. As stated the real advantage of Haswell processors is the Iris and Iris Pro GPUs. If we ended up with the HD4600 GPUs then anyone who waited for the Haswell refresh will be very disappointed.

To the comment about a reduction in power usage, considering the Mac Mini only uses something like 10w idle and tops out at less than 100w, the power reduction going to Haswell really won't be much and this is a desktop after all.

This all assumes Apple updates to a Haswell processor.....
 

NewbieCanada

macrumors 68030
Oct 9, 2007
2,565
34
Like many on this forum, I've been hoping for an updated Mac mini for a while. However, I've also been wondering what kind of CPU performance speedup we can realistically expect if Apple were to release an updated, Haswell-Mac mini in the near future.

The current maxed-out Mac mini uses a 2.6 GHz i7-3720QM. The same processor was used in the 2012 15" Retina MBP. Typical 64-bit benchmark scores of rMBP using this chip are around 3300 / 12800 (single/multicore).

If Apple were to update the Mac Mini with similar processors as they did with the rMBP, the maxed-out version could be using either the 2.3 GHz i7-4850HQ or the 2.6 GHz i7-4960HQ. These yield rMBP benchmark scores of
around 3400 / 13150 and 3700 / 14350 respectively, resulting in an improvement of around 3% or 12%, depending on processor chosen.

So the answer from the benchmark data is actually a non-answer… if Apple were to choose a processor like the i7-4850HQ, it definitely would not make sense for me to wait any longer. 3% would not be a big enough difference to make me regret the purchase. However, with the i7-4960HQ, it would be a different story - this is a more substantial improvement.

Any compelling reasons why Apple would choose one or the other (or a completely different CPU)?

If Wireless .ac or Thunderbolt 2 are of interest to you, that might be a reason to wait. If you play games the graphics improvements might make it worthwhile.

If they switch to PCIe flash storage like on MacBooks and the Pro, that would be a big reason to wait. Much faster even than a fusion.

For the processors.. what kind of work do you do with it?
 

crenz

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 3, 2003
615
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Shanghai, China
Thanks for the comments. It's hard to say what Apple will do in terms of connectors and other components, so in this thread I purely focused on the CPU.

My own usage is mostly music production, using Logic - so a better GPU will not help me at all.
 

BJonson

macrumors 6502a
Aug 26, 2010
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108
I heard from a reliable source that the next mini will use the same CPU as the MacBook Air and be the same size as the Apple TV maybe a tad bigger.
 

crenz

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Original poster
Jul 3, 2003
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Shanghai, China
I heard from a reliable source that the next mini will use the same CPU as the MacBook Air and be the same size as the Apple TV maybe a tad bigger.
Not gonna happen, at least not as the only option. First, the MacBook Air does not have a quad-core option. Second, the i7-4650 in the current 13" MBA benchmarks lower than the current Mac mini, even for the single-core score.
 

BJonson

macrumors 6502a
Aug 26, 2010
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Here is what my source is telling me.

The next mac mini will use haswell, They have 2 in development, a mac mini and a mac micro. The mini will be shorter and smaller. It will use pcie flash storage and will have ram soldered to motherboard. So imagine the size of it now, take out the space for the 2 hard drives and that is your mac mini.

For the micro they are toying with 2 designs. One is based off the macbook air cpu at 1.3ghz haswell. It will have half the storage because the pcie card is shorter and half the ram so figure 4-8gb. It will be around the size of the apple tv but a bit larger. Then the other one they are testing is the micro that uses the A8 chip. They are co-developing osx to run on that chip but they are running into performance issues so it might not come out until the A9 chip. It will be a fanless design. Their target in performance is a 5000 geekbench or higher for this model but they are just under that at 4500 so not sure if they want to release it yet.

Thats all I know right now. It's gonna be a super seller though. Think of having a computer that small. Apple is trying to outdo the intel NUC so think of that size and scale down from there.
 

nollimac

macrumors 6502
Oct 10, 2013
283
17
Here is what my source is telling me.

The next mac mini will use haswell, They have 2 in development, a mac mini and a mac micro. The mini will be shorter and smaller. It will use pcie flash storage and will have ram soldered to motherboard. So imagine the size of it now, take out the space for the 2 hard drives and that is your mac mini.

For the micro they are toying with 2 designs. One is based off the macbook air cpu at 1.3ghz haswell. It will have half the storage because the pcie card is shorter and half the ram so figure 4-8gb. It will be around the size of the apple tv but a bit larger. Then the other one they are testing is the micro that uses the A8 chip. They are co-developing osx to run on that chip but they are running into performance issues so it might not come out until the A9 chip. It will be a fanless design. Their target in performance is a 5000 geekbench or higher for this model but they are just under that at 4500 so not sure if they want to release it yet.

Thats all I know right now. It's gonna be a super seller though. Think of having a computer that small. Apple is trying to outdo the intel NUC so think of that size and scale down from there.
What you have written makes lots of sense...it seems that Apple wants to position the Mac Mini as the server to have in the home to take care of all the homeowner's Apple mobile devices.
 

ElectronGuru

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Sep 5, 2013
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Oregon, USA
Fun post BJ! My first reaction to a second mini model would be the freedom to go bigger (Xmac) but freedom to go smaller does make more sense from a consumer standpoint. With the right price point, a Mac Micro would make the perfect home server, especially with HDMI for TV and TB+USB3 for storage.

Its also provocative as the first A processor in a Mac. Perhaps the nail in the coffin for third party processors - something I never expected to see.

Its tricky, but if the software allows it to double as an appleTV, this will be an instant home run. Not tricky engineering, but getting the partners to agree to presenting content on a full computer.
 

NewbieCanada

macrumors 68030
Oct 9, 2007
2,565
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I heard from a reliable source that the next mini will use the same CPU as the MacBook Air and be the same size as the Apple TV maybe a tad bigger.
No you didn't.

(By which I mean I'm sure you heard it, I don't believe your source is reliable.)
 

jouster

macrumors 65816
Jan 21, 2002
1,165
55
Connecticut
I certainly cannot speak for everyone....

...but it appears to me that the majority of people interested in a Haswell based Mac mini are interested in the Iris Pro graphics relative to the performance of the HD4000. There the improvement can be over 200%.

A secondary reason would be support for AVX2 instructions, which would make big differences for some applications but probably not even show up in synthetic benchmarks like Geekbench.

-JimJ
I suspect the majority would almost certainly be upgrading from a much older mini (or other Mac). I'll be upgrading from a late '09, for example. Don't have the energy to work the percentages out, but they sure are a lot more than 3 or 12.
 

Cloudsurfer

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Apr 12, 2007
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the power reduction going to Haswell really won't be much and this is a desktop after all.
Why do people keep saying energy efficiency is not important for a desktop. Energy prices are soaring (at least here in Europe) so every bit of power saving is very welcome. Even if the consumption drops just a few Watts it will save you a couple of Euros in the long run, especially if you leave it on for extended periods.

And every Euro I save I can use to upgrade the mini ;)
 

crenz

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 3, 2003
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Shanghai, China
I suspect the majority would almost certainly be upgrading from a much older mini (or other Mac). I'll be upgrading from a late '09, for example. Don't have the energy to work the percentages out, but they sure are a lot more than 3 or 12.
Agreed. However, if for some technical reason usage of the faster processors were not possible (e.g. heat dissipation) and the result would be achieving only 3% improvement, I think Apple probably would choose to not release an updated Mac mini this year.
 

paulrbeers

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Dec 17, 2009
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Why do people keep saying energy efficiency is not important for a desktop. Energy prices are soaring (at least here in Europe) so every bit of power saving is very welcome. Even if the consumption drops just a few Watts it will save you a couple of Euros in the long run, especially if you leave it on for extended periods.

And every Euro I save I can use to upgrade the mini ;)
The energy savings is minimal though. At idle you are looking at a watt or maybe two. At full load it might be 5. So if you save 2 watts an hour it would take 500 hours to see even a kilowatt savings. Even at full tilt it would be 200 hours before you see 1 kW less. If you ran it a whole month at full speed you will only see a reduction of 3 kW off your bill.

Sure energy savings is nice, but it isn't some amazing energy savings that will be readily noticeable on your power bill. If you are really concerned about saving energy turn it off.
 

crenz

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 3, 2003
615
16
Shanghai, China
Here is what my source is telling me.
Interesting thoughts. If there is anything to it, I would suspect the "micro" could actually a next-generation Apple TV with extra features. Especially the A8-based variant would be very close to what the Apple TV currently already is. Consider also that Apple's development teams do not always seem to be told what product exactly they are working on.

The Mini design you mention sounds like a design I would not want to buy. Soldered-in RAM will be a nuisance, and drive up the price for those people who prefer cheaper 3rd-party RAM. Regarding storage, I myself prefer at least 1 TB of internal SSD storage. The upgrade price for that in the nMP is $800 - that's a little less than what you pay for 2x1 TB Samsung 840 EVO, not counting that in that case you could even offset some cost by selling the original 256 GB SSD.

Also, I find the Geekbench score thing a bit hard to believe. If Apple manages to double performance again with the A8, then the multi-core score of an A8 would be in the 5000 region. But would Apple really use Geekbench for their own internal development benchmark?

What would you really do with such a small computer? I much prefer the small computer with attached display I already carry around - my iPhone.
 

Cloudsurfer

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Apr 12, 2007
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The next mac mini will use haswell, They have 2 in development, a mac mini and a mac micro. The mini will be shorter and smaller. It will use pcie flash storage and will have ram soldered to motherboard. So imagine the size of it now, take out the space for the 2 hard drives and that is your mac mini
Actually that sounds a lot like the picture I found a few weeks back. I always thought it was nothing more than a cool mockup but I wonder how close it'll be to the real thing...
 

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omnisphere

macrumors member
Mar 22, 2011
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Apple can not use any processor higher than 45W power, that is the reason they do not use the i7-4960HQ with Intel Iris 5200 = 47W.

I think they have to redesign Mac mini with more power and that is talking against smaller mac mini.

I hope for a little bigger Mac mini, it can be twice as high but it will still be much smaller than a ordinary desktop.

The most important thing is cooling, speed and expandability for me, not the size of mac mini.

:)
 

Fishrrman

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Feb 20, 2009
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paulrbeers wrote:
[[ Sure energy savings is nice, but it isn't some amazing energy savings that will be readily noticeable on your power bill. If you are really concerned about saving energy turn it off. ]]

I, too, chuckle at those in this forum (and on the other Mac forums here) who talk about "saving energy" insofar as their personal computers are concerned.

Most energy "savings" that may be realized through computer usage will be miniscule, next-to-undetectable. One might see an exception by switching from a large CRT monitor to an LCD display, or from a fully-equipped Mac Pro to a Mini. Even then the total savings on one's monthly bill would be small compared to other energy usage in the home. But from a 2011 or 2012 Mini to a 2014 Mini?

Another poster from Europe mentioned the soaring costs of energy. That has much more to do with European politics, than it does with the actual cost of energy or the amounts of power that are available through generation.

But this is off topic. Back to the Mini!
 

paulrbeers

macrumors 68040
Dec 17, 2009
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I, too, chuckle at those in this forum (and on the other Mac forums here) who talk about "saving energy" insofar as their personal computers are concerned.

Most energy "savings" that may be realized through computer usage will be miniscule, next-to-undetectable. One might see an exception by switching from a large CRT monitor to an LCD display, or from a fully-equipped Mac Pro to a Mini. Even then the total savings on one's monthly bill would be small compared to other energy usage in the home. But from a 2011 or 2012 Mini to a 2014 Mini?

Another poster from Europe mentioned the soaring costs of energy. That has much more to do with European politics, than it does with the actual cost of energy or the amounts of power that are available through generation.

But this is off topic. Back to the Mini!
Agreed, and even with the soaring costs, how much is a couple of KW savings going to really be? Is it really worth upgrading so that you can save a couple of Euros a month? Assuming processing power is about the same (which Ivy Bridge to Haswell really is), how many YEARS would it take to justify upgrading?

But yes, back to the Mini!
 

Cloudsurfer

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Well those 3 kW you were talking about actually add up to over a little less than 9 euros each year which may sound not like much but that's a full month Xbox live right there.

But then again this is only if you're using it as a 24/7 server. I always pull the plug after shut down on my mini anyway, so it doesn't drain anything when I don't need it.