Which has a better graphics chip: 2014 Mac mini 2.6 GHz or 2017 MacBook Air?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by dmk1974, Jan 21, 2018.

  1. dmk1974 macrumors 68020

    dmk1974

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2008
    #1
    I was thinking of passing my 2014 Mac Mini base model (1.4 GHz/4GB RAM/Intel HD 5000) to one of my kids and replacing it with the 2014 Mac Mini mid-level model (2.6 GHz/8GB RAM/Intel Iris Graphics).

    Rendering graphics a little faster is important to me for some light CAD ad 3D work. But I don't know how much better that Iris Graphics chip is. Also, I'm open to a 2017 MacBook Air in clamshell mode connected to my display. The base model (1.8 GHz/8GB RAM/Intel HD 6000) would be fine from a storage standpoint since all my media is offline on a USB HDD.

    Basically, which graphics chip is better? The Iris in the 2014 Mac Mini or the 6000 in the 2017 MBA? Thanks!
     
  2. Count Blah macrumors 68040

    Count Blah

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  3. Boyd01 macrumors 601

    Boyd01

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    #3
    FWIW, if you just want the HD6000 you can get a 2015 MacBook Air.
     
  4. Significant1 macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 20, 2014
    #4
    If I remember correct, In the same familiy, the difference between the gpu in air and iris ((5000 vs 5100[iris] or 6000 vs 6100[iris])) is marginal due to only a minor increase in max frequency. Iris Pro [5200 or 6200] on the other hand is whole other story, with much better performance, due to a big on die cache.
     
  5. treekram macrumors 68000

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    #5
    As the OP mentioned, Mac Book Air (13", early 2015 and later) uses the Intel HD Graphics 6000. The 2.6 GHz Mac Mini uses the Intel Iris 5100.

    http://gpu.userbenchmark.com/Compar...-11-GHz-vs-Intel-HD-6000-Mobile/m8813vsm24946

    If you're interested in the details of how the numbers were obtained, read the web page. This web site doesn't always get the right model name so as it isn't the "Iris Pro HD 5100" (no such thing), but it is the GPU in the 2014 2.6 GHz Mini.

    The Apple website says the current MBA will run 4K UHD at 60Hz on an external display, the Mini will only do 30Hz, if this is something important to you.
     
  6. Significant1 macrumors 6502a

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  7. dmk1974 thread starter macrumors 68020

    dmk1974

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    #7
    Been a while, but wanted to follow up. Looks like the graphics on the MBA is about 20% faster than the Mini. Processor speed is maybe 10% faster. RAM is double on the MBA which is nice. SSD speed is quite a bit faster (more than double) per the benchmarks too.
     
  8. sublunar macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 23, 2007
    #8
    The Mini and the MBA have been left deprecated to significant degrees and the age of the machines begins to show with their Thunderbolt 2 ports the leading clue.

    At this stage a sufficiently modern CPU will beat both of the old machines in most benchmarks.

    The logical CPU for a refreshed MBA would be the i5-8250U - with UHD620 iGPU and a return to quad core. This CPU would also work nicely in a Mac Mini if Apple wanted to utilise economies of scale. All Apple would really need to do is throw in some Thunderbolt 3 ports, replacing the Magsafe cable with USB-C.

    Putting 2 on the MBA would be ok because we'd be replacing the 1 native TB2 port and the magsafe power socket with 2 TB3 ports.

    A TB3 Mac Mini would replace the power socket with a third TB3 port. A clever redesign would allow an Apple Display to power a TB3 Mac Mini.

    The only marketing issue I can see is explaining the introduction of a quad core CPU (OK, a 1.6Ghz one) into the bottom of a range which contains (high speed) dual core CPUs (albeit with more powerful Iris Graphics iGPUs).
     
  9. Count Blah macrumors 68040

    Count Blah

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    #9
    I don't see Apple putting a quad core in the MBAir. It would take sales away from the MBP, and Apple has shown time and time again, that any threat to a higher priced/margin system, from a cheaper/lower margin system, will NOT be tolerated.

    IMHO, the i5-8250U is a 13" MBP CPU - Quad core, 8 threads would double what is there now in the 13" MBP - And I'm sure THAT alone is making Apple VERY nervous over lost sales of the 15" MBP. Offering that in the MBAir is simply a bridge too far.

    Remember, it's not what YOU want, it's what Apple can minimally update, to not take sales away from a more expensive product.
     
  10. sublunar, Mar 25, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018

    sublunar macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    You'd have to remember that it's Intel driving the releases here in response to the multicore Ryzen. Apple may have asked for a better iGPU (giving us Iris Graphics) but probably didn't have any specific thoughts about number of logical cores.

    With 4 cores becoming the norm I don't see why Apple should not have to do this across the board with the 2018 updates.

    The iGPU in the i5-8250U is weaker than the Iris Plus Graphics 640 in the i5-7260U which is currently in the non touchbar MBPs. It's certainly no match for the Iris Plus Graphics 650 in the 28w touchbar MBP. Why would Apple accept a downgrade in this area with a retina screen to drive? For me, the i5-8250U doesn't get into the 2018 non touch bar MacBook Pro.

    There will probably be more suitable 15w and 28w Iris Plus Graphics part for the 8th generation models but they are currently unannounced. Apple have till June before a year is up since the 2017 model though so I'd say they'll already know if Iris Graphics parts will have 4 cores as well by now.

    The quad core 15w CPU is just the vanguard of the Coffee Lake defensive measures that Intel are taking at the moment. I'd have assumed that Apple would prefer the same iGPU (UHD 620) but with 2 faster cores rather than 4 slower ones for an MBA but this CPU has been launched for a while and PC makers are using it now - it would be silly not to compete on a level playing field with other manufacturers just to keep in line with a supposed strategy between Apple laptops.

    The other announced part in the Intel schedule is the 4 core Intel G products with Vega graphics that seem destined for the 15" MacBook Pro (i5-8305G). As with the i5-8250U both the i5 and i7 parts are 4 cores with multi threading turned on.

    The i5-8305G might be a useful cheaper entry level product for the 15" range which has otherwise come with i7 CPUs across the board. There's no sign of 6 core Coffee Lake mobile CPU yet though it does make sense that one may be on the road map - perhaps this is being saved for the 2019 model.

    The parts destined for the 13" MacBook Pros are currently unannounced but I dare say they'll all be quad core - it's just a question of what gets sacrificed to fit in the Iris Graphics.
     
  11. sublunar macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 23, 2007
    #11
    Looking at some of the rumoured unreleased CPUs coming up, I would suggest that this year's Kaby Lake Refresh parts could see 4 cores, 8 threads being a common thing amongst every updated Mac laptop for 2018. The differentiators (due to case TDP of each different product) will see CPU clock speeds go from 1.6Ghz to 3.1Ghz with GPU class going from UHD620 to the Vega GPU in the i7-8705G.

    The 2019 year will see Coffee Lake products appear, with 6 cores, and 6 cores with 12 threads appearing in the larger products.
     
  12. dogslobber macrumors 68040

    dogslobber

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    #12
    MBA can only drive one external display compared to two on the Mini.
     
  13. sublunar macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    Is that the case with a Thunderbolt dock on the MBA?
     
  14. Boyd01 macrumors 601

    Boyd01

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    #14
    But the MBA has much better battery life than the Mini! :p

    I have a 2013 maxxed out 11" MBA. it has been a terrific machine, small but surprisingly powerful with great battery life and a reasonable number of ports for a laptop. But it's true that you can only drive one external screen - that's one reason I ended up getting a Mini for working video - the additional ports.

    I got an OWC thunderbolt dock for my MBA but had problems getting it to work properly and returned it. Perhaps the newer MBA models work better? But regardless, it takes some trickery to use a second external screen on the MBA. In addition to a dock, you need another thunderbolt device, such as a disk drive with a pass-through port connected to the dock. If you connect the second screen to that pass-through port, then it will work (or so people claim... like I said, I had some problems).

    The best solution for the MBA was the Apple Thunderbolt Display, you could daisy-chain a second one of those. But, of course, we know what happened to the Thunderbolt display...
     
  15. Count Blah macrumors 68040

    Count Blah

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    #15
    Lol

    This is Apple we are talking about. They specialize in keeping major disparities between product lines, to force you to buy bigger. They do it with CPU, GPU and sometimes RAM. It’s why they removed the quad core option in the mini to begin with - it was eating into sales of other Apple products, and was too good for too small of a price.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. sublunar macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    Well, thanks to Intel (and IMHO the i5-8250U) the gap could well be closing up soon(tm). ;)
     

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15 January 21, 2018