Mac mini 2018 Review: Apple's mightiest mini yet

With a Mac mini finally rested after 4 years, we finally have a hands on a newest model. We’ve spent some time using it by a wringer to exam Apple’s mightiest mini yet.


2018 Mac mini

In a box

Apple’s Mac mini has always been a bare-bones appurtenance and this new indication still usually ships with a device itself and a color-coordinated black energy cord. Keyboard, mouse, display, all are necessities we will have to yield yourself.

We also have a common removing started guide, that walks we by a new ports, as good as highlights a Mac mini connected to a arrangement that looks eerily identical to an updated chronicle of Apple’s prolonged dropped Thunderbolt Display. Apple has teased a new Pro arrangement entrance subsequent year alongside a rested and modular Mac Pro. Perhaps this is a initial demeanour during it?

What we get

Our examination section has an Intel i3 quad-core processor with a bottom speed of 3.6GHz, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of PCI-E peep storage. But, if you’re so inclined, there are i5 and i7 versions with 6 cores, RAM options adult to 64GB, and storage adult to 2TB of peep storage.


That is a far-reaching operation of configurations and is ideal for this appurtenance that spans so many opposite use box scenarios, from a home media server to sitting in stacks within a describe farm.

If we wish a maxed out one, however, be prepared to compensate —it’ll cost we over $4,200. Our pattern retails for $799.

First impressions

Initially, a Mac mini looks like a lot of a same. It has that same vigourous body, only with a new finish. We wouldn’t reason it opposite we if we confused a new mini for a old.


Previous Mac mini (top) and 2018 Mac mini (bottom)

Apple done a large indicate to note that like a MacBook Air, a Mac mini’s enclosing is made from 100-percent recycled aluminum. The peculiarity of a steel looks as good as ever, formulating a good and minimalistic look.

Flipping it around, there is a party of Thunderbolt 3 ports, dual USB-A ports, auxiliary audio out, Gigabit or 10-Gig Ethernet depending on configuration, and HDMI 2.0. The cooling complement has been redesigned, as has a outmost opening on a behind of a appurtenance that is somewhat narrower than a previous, four-year-old model.


2018 Mac mini ports (from left to right): power, Ethernet, (4x) Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0, (2x) USB 3.0 Type-A, 3.5mm headphone jack

We’re guessing there will be some tears strew over a miss of any visual audio output, yet eventually that will turn a non-issue. For many users, HDMI 2.0 will do a improved pursuit and is some-more stretchable than a visual TOSlink connector. It will pass Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio, conjunction of that can get transmitted opposite that TOSlink cable.

We opted to span a new Space Gray Mac mini with Apple’s Space Gray Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Keyboard to finish that all-black aesthetic.

Upgradability

Our bottom indication came with 8GB of RAM, yet it can go all a approach adult to 64GB. Considering Apple’s costs on memory upgrades, a fact that a chips are slotted and not soldered into a house is giant.

This means a user can indeed open adult a bottom and ascent a RAM themselves.


2018 Mac mini

It’s a sincerely elementary procedure, yet not as easy as some of a prior minis from 2012 and earlier, necessitating a spudger, and a set of confidence Torx drivers. We’ll be going into a ascent routine during a after date.

Should we opt to ascent a RAM yourself, we won’t blank your warranty, yet if we occur to somehow repairs a appurtenance in a process, we will be out of luck.

You should also keep a strange RAM accessible given Apple true won’t use a mini though that strange span of chips. Luckily, given they are comparatively easy to swap, it isn’t a large understanding to cocktail them behind in when holding into a Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider —and frankly, if you’re troubleshooting some problem, going behind to a strange RAM is a good test.

As a downside, a storage is soldered into place, so replacing that yourself is a not possible. Fortunately, outmost storage is a lot some-more excusable on a desktop device.

Benchmarks

Soon, we will be putting a Mac mini by some-more complete thermal testing, yet for a review, we threw it adult opposite a CineBench R15 and Geekbench 4 tests.

Now that a mini starts with a 3.6GHz quad-core 8th era Intel Core i3 processor, it should uncover utterly an improvement.


Mac min with Space Grey Magic Mouse 2

We ran Geekbench 4 a series of times, averaging 4,769 and 14,202 on a singular and multi-core tests. That compares good to a late 2012 Mac mini with an i7 processor —the prior multi-core champ —running during 2.3GHz that pulled 3300 and 11480 on a single/multi-core tests.

This also compares really good to a 2014 dual-core 3GHz Core i7 that was a prior single-core champ with 3705 and 7062 singular and multi-core opening respectively. Both of these tests put a new low-end Mac mini forward of all prior models in a family.

The opening opening gets even incomparable as we go adult to a six-core i7 processor, that we will be articulate some-more about in a future.

For CineBench R15, we averaged around 40 fps on a OpenGL exam and a parasite above 220 on a CPU test.

A max volume of mini improvements

Other than upgraded processors and ports, Apple packaged in a ton of other improvements to this year’s Mac mini.

Internally, we’ve got Apple’s T2 confidence chip that performs a accumulation of opposite functions. Other Mac’s use it for using a Touch Bar and Touch ID, yet a Mac mini doesn’t come with a keyboard and so distant there isn’t an discretionary one that includes these features. So for this machine, a T2 chip is relied on for secure boot, on-the-fly front encryption, and hardware-assisted video encoding.


Mac mini with Thunderbolt 3 Akitio Node Lite SSD

We also adore that there are so many Thunderbolt 3 ports, as many as there are on a MacBook Pro. This opens adult so many possibilities from outmost GPUs to crazy quick SSD storage.

One area that didn’t see most an ascent is a inner speakers. They exist, yet they aren’t amazing. Especially as a volume goes adult they start to sound a bit hairy and they positively don’t have most bass.

Distributed computing

Once on a time, there was Xgrid, and it was promising, yet in actuality fussy as ruin and tough to configure properly. Apple killed it as a dissimilar product in macOS 10.8 “Mountain Lion” —but a judgment of distributed computing lives on.

Apple obliquely referred to users carrying a smoke-stack of them, that set off a flurry of conjecture that Apple had some kind of imagination interconnect between machines. However, a law is some-more paltry than that.

Apple’s Compressor has a ability to discharge a “embarrassingly parallel” collection charge for media transcoding opposite mixed computers connected to a Gigabit Ethernet network, and this is what Apple both talked about on stage, and demonstrated in a hands-on area after a reveal. But, during present, distributed estimate can’t be used for jobs sent to Compressor from Final Cut Pro X or Motion.

Coders can advantage from this stack, however. Xcode allows for distributed builds that can theoretically speed compiling times on large projects —but your mileage might change on any one of a series of factors that are over a range of this review.

A outrageous upgrade, with a relating price

The new 2018 Mac mini is impressively powerful, even for a entry-level model. It is enlivening to see Apple broach such a well-thought-out ascent that was desperately needed.

We are certain that there will be a far-reaching accumulation of uses for a new mini, yet maybe not as far-reaching assembly for it as there could be. The cost has left adult now to $799 for a entry-level model, an boost of $300 over a previous. As a result, fewer people will be means to buy into a new mini.


2018 Mac mini

People who are looking for a simple Mac are stranded determining between a newly arrogant cost or going for a cheaper, and woefully old-fashioned predecessor, during slightest while it’s still accessible during third-party retailers.

Still, Mac mini stays a cheapest Mac we can buy and it is some-more absolute now than it has ever been. While a “low-end” Mac mini packs a lot of opening in a tiny box and is a decent value presumption we don’t need a ton of storage space internal, a ecosystem could use a reduction costly one, during a $499 or $599 price-point.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Where to buy

Apple’s 2018 Mac mini is available for preorder from Apple certified reseller Adorama with no sales taxation collected on orders shipped outward New York and New Jersey. Orders are shipped on a initial come, initial served basement and your transport will not be charged until your Mac mini is prepared to ship.

For a full list of deals and product accessibility opposite mixed Apple certified resellers, be certain to check out a 2018 Mac mini Price Guide. And for some-more information on how to save adult to $310 on Apple’s new hardware during Adorama, check out a buyer’s guide.

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