This is the most recent test available for macOS, and while Unigine's benchmarks are intended as extreme stress tests for gaming graphics performance, Valley is from , so it's not exactly cutting-edge. Even so, on the lowest "basic" settings, at 1, x resolution, the Mini could only manage 20 frames per second. Switching to "Extreme" at x, that dropped to a pitiful four. Four frames per second. This is definitely not a system for gaming. Beyond the processor, there are a few other components you can upgrade.
What it does have is one of Intel's new Kaby Lake G chips. They pack a remarkable amount of performance into a small SoC, and it's frankly odd this chip isn't an option in the Mac Mini, considering AMD graphics are already used in the higher-end iMac and MacBook Pros. If you're in the market for a new system and are committed to macOS, the Mini does have a few selling points.
Aside from 3D modeling and video editing, Apple mentions XCode and Music production on their website, and these actually seem like compelling use-cases for the Mini. CPU-dependent tasks like coding and audio engineering make sense for this system and wouldn't be held back by its specs. When Apple unveiled the Mini, it floated the idea of chaining multiple Minis together into a "Mini" server, and for serious CPU-based number crunching, that's actually an intriguing idea.
You would need a pretty specific workload to take advantage of a setup like this office server? Code compiler? Render farm? Apple's own marketing materials refer to the new mini as "part racehorse, all workhorse," and though they didn't go as far as branding this the "Mac Mini Pro" Apple is clearly positioning it as a high-performance computer. This makes the lack of a reasonable GPU all the more confounding. These types of GPU-driven number crunching are increasingly useful for scientific computing and data analysis tasks like encryption, image recognition, optimization and machine learning.
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For music producers and people writing apps in Xcode, maybe the new Mini makes sense, but I don't imagine most other "pro" users will be happy with this level of performance. I can't help but shake my head at Apple's charts and graphics showing off how much faster the new Mini is than the model. Four years later, I'd certainly hope the new model would be faster. Maybe this highlights the best professional use case for the new mini.
A rendering machine that can handle CPU intensive tasks like compiling code and rendering graphics, but that you wouldn't actually want to do your daily work on. For general consumers, the Mini seems to fill the role of the family computer in the living room; a small, reliable desktop that should feel speedy and take care of basic work. But with many people having laptops or tablets, how essential is that any more? If performance doesn't matter to you at all, then the new MacBook Air or even an entry-level MacBook Pro might be a better choice.
All of those caveats aside, I actually like this machine. The design is terrific, and I love the options for add-ons and expandable storage, but I wouldn't want to have to work on it. It's possible that there's a cohort of people out there who are looking for an inexpensive macOS desktop with a ton of useful ports, who don't care about GPU performance and have been waiting for the past four years for a new computer. For them, the Mac Mini is the perfect fit. Buyer's Guide. Log in. Sign up. Buy Now. Google Assistant takes on the sticky note with assignable reminders.
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How we score The Engadget Score is a unique ranking of products based on extensive independent research and analysis by our expert editorial and research teams. Latest in Gear. Sponsored Links. Engadget Score Poor. Mac Mini Cons Limited graphics performance and no meaningful way to improve it Upgrade options get expensive fast RAM isn't technically user upgradeable. How would you rate the Mac Mini ? We want to hear what you think. Post a quick review now to join the conversation!
Write a review. Hardware The most impressive thing about the new Mini is its selection of ports. Performance Previous Mac Minis were positioned as low-cost computers for the home or office, and the new model excels at those tasks. Mac Mini 2. Configuration options and the competition Beyond the processor, there are a few other components you can upgrade. Wrap-up Apple's own marketing materials refer to the new mini as "part racehorse, all workhorse," and though they didn't go as far as branding this the "Mac Mini Pro" Apple is clearly positioning it as a high-performance computer.
In this article: AOLoriginals , apple , computing , desktop , EngadgetVideo , Entertainment , gadgetry , gadgets , gear , gpu , mac , macmini , mini , personal computing , personalcomputing , review , video. All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. The good news is that, thanks to the bandwidth offered by the Thunderbolt 3 ports found on the rear panel of the system, you can connect external storage — even at jaw-dropping capacities — and use it without taking a hit on performance.
Similarly, while there's no configuration for the Mac mini that offers a discrete graphics card, you can also bump up the horsepower for gaming and other graphics-intensive uses by adding an external graphics card enclosure , also connected via Thunderbolt 3.
Those Thunderbolt 3 ports offer a huge amount of connectivity, thanks to speeds of up to 40Gbps. It's enough to connect two 4K displays, and you can also use an external GPU, not to mention all manner of storage and peripherals.
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If you need even more speed for connecting a local network or network-attached storage, the Ethernet port can actually be configured as a 10 Gigabit connection, instead. It's a very cool business-friendly feature that media pros will appreciate, but won't be much use to the average user. And, it wouldn't be Apple without dropping a connection or two. While you get more connectivity overall with the new Mac mini, you do lose the SDXC card slot from the model. Every configuration of the Mac mini is outfitted with quad-core Intel 8th-generation processors and all flash storage.
Apple has been promoting the dramatic improvements in performance from the previous Mac mini, but those claims ring a little hollow when you consider that the last Mac mini update was in , and that the previous system was still rocking fourth-generation dual-core processors. During usage, I saw plenty to like. When web browsing, I could browse with 15 tabs open, while also streaming music and video. I never experienced any lag. This chip serves as a co-processor, providing secure boot capability and full disk encryption.
Apple also boasts that the T2 allows faster video transcoding, claiming up to 30 times faster HEVC video encoding than the model was able to offer. Whenever we test a Mac, we're limited because several of our standard tests are not Mac-OS-compatible. However, in the tests we were able to run, we saw some excellent performance from the Core i3 Mac mini. File transfer speeds were fast enough that I did a double take. I took 2 seconds to copy over our 4. In fact, it's identical to another member of the Mac family, the workstation iMac Pro, which had the same 2 second, 2, MBps speeds.
Processing performance was nowhere near as dramatic, but it's still fairly impressive coming from an Intel Core i3 CPU. In Geekbench 4, the Mac Mini managed a score of 13, points. Running the JetStream 1. That's phenomenal for a Core i3-based system.
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If you plan to use the Mac mini as a home theater PC for streaming to a TV, or as a basic productivity machine that uses web apps heavily, you'll be set with one of the best mini PCs on the market, even in this basic configuration. I was wrong. Even after I streamed video, ran benchmark tests and used the system to work on this review, the Mac mini never got warmer than 85 degrees Fahrenheit, which is only 15 degrees above the room temperature of our lab.
That's barely enough heat for it to feel warm to the touch. It's well below the degree comfort threshold we hold laptops to, and it's significantly cooler than the HP Z2 Mini G4 94 degrees. Compared with smaller, less powerful mini PCs, like the Zotac Zbox PI pico, which hit degrees during testing, and there's no comparison. The Mac mini is one cool customer. Even after I streamed video, ran benchmark tests, and used the system to work on this review, the Mac mini never got warmer than 85 degrees.
It's also quiet. The Mac mini's larger fan lets it run slowly and silently, while still providing enough airflow for cooling. That's good news for audio pros and home-theater users alike, since it means you won't have to contend with a noisy computer when you're trying to get clear audio. The Mac mini ships with macOS version See our full review of Mac OS Mojave for a more detailed look at the operating system, but suffice it to say, it's a decent step forward for the much loved Mac OS.
You'll also get Siri, but without the built-in microphones found on other Macs, you won't be able to use the "Hey, Siri" functionality you may be used to from other Apple devices. The Mac mini is covered with a one-year warranty, which includes hardware repairs through authorized Apple service providers. Included with the new Mac is 90 days of free phone support. With our top rating for tech support , it's hard to complain. You can also get AppleCare for an extended three-year warranty, which gives you both repair service and technical support.
But it should be noted that, if the previous model is any indicator, those three years of coverage may not stretch far enough to keep you covered until a new model comes along. If you bought a Mac mini in the first few months after release, you would also have spent up to a year with no warranty coverage while waiting for this model to be announced. While the Mac mini is generally sold on its own — the package contents are literally the Mac mini, a power cord and some documentation — Apple included with our test unit the space- gray keyboard and trackpad. It's no mechanical keyboard, but it's still comfortable to type on.
This lets you enjoy all of the unique contextual menus and expanded functionality that you'd get on a Macbook in the desktop environment.
It's a must-have for media creators who need all of the tools and shortcuts that take advantage of Force Touch, but it's worth considering even for the regular user who might be used to those same dynamic controls from their Macbook Pro. The Mac mini comes in two primary configurations.
Our test unit is the base model, which is equipped with a quad-core 3. You can, however, connect an external GPU via the Thunderbolt 3 connections in back. You can bump up the storage to larger capacities, with several SSD options.
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Our recommendation? Unless you need it, you can skip the Ethernet upgrade, but you'll want to be smart when it comes to memory and storage. When in doubt, keep the memory low, and upgrade later. Storage, on the other hand, cannot be upgraded, but can be supplemented via Thunderbolt 3.
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