Mac Mini's - with new apple chips?

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I've being looking at options to replace my 21.5 inch iMac for a while now. I've been on the fence between going back to a PC but I'd like to stay with apple as I've generally had less issues in the last 7 years with the iMac (that may be in my head) and I have thunderbolt 2 storage devices that I'd like to keep using with Carbon Copy Cloner. Since March I've been working from home and I bought a 27 inch 4K USB-C monitor at the start of lock down. It was mainly for work use but I was also thinking that I could also use it for photography in the future too. It makes sense for me to have one monitor that can be used for both my works laptop (via USB-C connection) and a home computer for photography. We don't ready have room to setup 3 computers in our house (the wife is also working from home part of the week and the iMac for photography makes up the third one). The mac mini seems ideal due to its small form factor and it lets me stay with apple.

I had heard apple were bringing out their own chips. Am I right in thinking they have been recently released and will be out soon? Does anyone have any thoughts on the new chips or know of any photography orientated reviews of their performance?

My main uses will be lightroom. I was thinking of the following spec for £1299.
  • Apple M1 chip with 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU
  • 16-core Neural Engine
  • 16GB unified memory
  • 1TB SSD storage
  • Gigabit Ethernet
I have been watching refurbished mac minis (i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD) come up for around £1460. I'm unsure what the new apple chip would be the equivalent of. I did notice the i7 version is still available which makes me think there could be a faster apple chip out later.

One thing I have noticed is the new mac minis only have 2 USB-C ports and 2 USB-A ports. Thats a little annoying as previous versions have 4 USB-C ports. I have a set of G Tech storage drives I was thinking of running off one Thunderbolt 3 port (I could daisy chain the two drives via thunderbolt 2) and have a 4TB USB-C portable drive as my main photography RAW files drive. That will take up both USB-C/thunderbolt 3 ports leaving only 2 USB-A ports, one of which will be taken up by a SD Card reader. That leaving just one USB-A port for my graphics tablet and loupe deck which means I can use both any more unless I can get a USB hub. Potentially I could free up a USB-C port by using one of the drive ports in G Tech G Dock EV 2 drive unit (currently I have one drive for time machine and the other for off site backup). Is there a way to set up Time Machine to back up to a wireless hard drive or to cloud storage?
 

nandbytes

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Lightroom will probably be fine. Its quite a popular app and I don't think they'll break it.
same goes for the final cut pro X which is more intensive to use than lightroom and sold with the macs. I don't think they'll break the performance on that.

I am thinking about other software i use like stacking software, topaz AI suite, so on and so forth.

I was tempted by the exact same spec mac mini as you for £1299, its actually at price where I wouldn't need to sell my kidneys. But I am going to wait for independent reviews and benchmarks.

unfortunately you cannot compare the processors and RAM like for like with intel machines as the architectures are so different. hence waiting for more reviews instead of pre-ordering.

they have also removed support for eGPUs with the M! macs (not that I ever thought of going down that route). so you are stuck with the graphics you get with it on chip.
 
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Apple Store says if I order today, I can have one delivered on the 20th.

I don't think there are any proper reviews available at the moment - if Macworld don't have them then probably nobody does (or at least they are NDAd ATM). It looks like Apple are doing a shock and awe launch so it's a leap of faith if you want to preorder. Also, Apple are providing numbers about how good they are and sites are recycling them but Apple won't say what benchmarks they are using to get "x times faster".

I'll bet they are awesome though. It's a whole new architecture and I bet (1) Apple wouldn't use it if it wasn't very good indeed (2) they won't let it fail - if necessary they will churn out overpowered machines at a loss so that people will buy them and rave about how good they are. So my *guess* is it will be far superior to a refurb i7.

But yeah, dropping ports if Apple's favourite hobby. Their motto seems to be "upgrade one, upgrade all". I bet they will sell you a converter.............
 

nandbytes

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but Apple won't say what benchmarks they are using to get "x times faster".
they do actually

for example for the mac mini OP wants scroll to the bottom of this page:

screenshot from the page (the small writing and all that ;) )
1605255988996.png

I am not impressed by the graphics since they are just comparing it to the crappy on-board intel graphics... but anyway its there for each of the M1 chipped mac i.e. mac mini, air and MPB
 
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nandbytes

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Also makes me wonder the reason they haven't released iMac or 16" MBP with the new chips is because possibly they are coming with a "M2" chip or something with better graphics to compete with proper discrete/external graphics cards
 
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they do actually

for example for the mac mini OP wants scroll to the bottom of this page:

screenshot from the page (the small writing and all that ;) )
View attachment 298706

I am not impressed by the graphics since they are just comparing it to the crappy on-board intel graphics... but anyway its there for each of the M1 chipped mac i.e. mac mini, air and MPB
Interesting :) Though of course it makes it clear that they are testing it on software you can't (currently) buy. They also don't quote base numbers so you can't really tell what they mean by a "complex 2 minute project".

But yeah, I bet they are faster.
 
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Also makes me wonder the reason they haven't released iMac or 16" MBP with the new chips is because possibly they are coming with a "M2" chip or something with better graphics to compete with proper discrete/external graphics cards
I'd bet heavily there will be an "M2" but probably next year.
 

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Interesting :) Though of course it makes it clear that they are testing it on software you can't (currently) buy. They also don't quote base numbers so you can't really tell what they mean by a "complex 2 minute project".

But yeah, I bet they are faster.
tbh they are comparing it to the worst intel processor i.e. i3 and the worst graphics options and saying its 3x and 6x respectively.
you CAN get machines with i7 and i9 cores and also be able to support eGPU on a mini.

I am not impressed on the face of it.

adding silly high performance comparison to marketing just makes me look into things more deeply lol.
if they said its 1.5X the performance of a i7 on the front face I wouldn't have dug as deeply. this makes me think they are hiding something :D
 
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I did a bit of reading up last night. I suspect a faster chip will come out later. It’s interesting the i7 intel version has been kept for the time being. That makes makes me think a faster ‘M2’ chip version will be out later when the iMacs are released.

I’m holding off until lightroom is available on the new chips. Whilst Adobe say lightroom will be available on them by December it’s the Lightroom CC version that will be available. Lightroom Classic won’t be available until sometime next year. Photoshop is said to be available early 2021. Until lightroom classic is available it’s no good for having a shiny new Mac mini that can’t run the photography software I use.
 
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tbh they are comparing it to the worst intel processor i.e. i3 and the worst graphics options and saying its 3x and 6x respectively.
you CAN get machines with i7 and i9 cores and also be able to support eGPU on a mini.

I am not impressed on the face of it.

adding silly high performance comparison to marketing just makes me look into things more deeply lol.
if they said its 1.5X the performance of a i7 on the front face I wouldn't have dug as deeply. this makes me think they are hiding something :D
I’m taking it the M1 versions replace the i3 and i5 models rather than the i7 model (which is actually still available). Makes me think a faster version will come out later. For me it’s a wait and see job as until it runs lightroom classic is just an expensive paper weight!
 

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i think it will be a year at least before all the dust around this settles and we know whats-what. while i was excited and nearly pre-ordered the mini myself, thinking logically doesn't make sense to simply annoy myself with a expensive paper weight as you put it :D
 
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I've been following the switch to "Apple Silicon" far too closely, though admittedly I am trudging along on a late 2011 13" MBP so am looking to upgrade sooner rather than later.

The release event was this past Tuesday and orders for the new machines (Mac mini, MBA and 13" MBP) are shipping now. There are preliminary benchmarking figures appearing if you're into them, I think the first batched of main customer orders are expected to arrive next Tuesday so within a week I'm sure there'll be a load of video reviews with a whole host of software including LR etc.

Other chips are definitely in the works with the 16" MBP and higher end 13" (or 14" replacement) expected... at a not too distant point in time. I think they were pretty sensible starting with the less powerful machines but even so they look to be a decent upgrade. Interestingly currently the 13" MBP offering includes both AS and a more expensive (but potentially less powerl) Intel option which I assume they'll be motivated to reconcile quickly.

Sorry can't help regarding ports and timemachine
 
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Lightroom will probably be fine. Its quite a popular app and I don't think they'll break it.
same goes for the final cut pro X which is more intensive to use than lightroom and sold with the macs. I don't think they'll break the performance on that.
might be. a correction if I've read you right:

FCPX isn't sold with Macs, it is £199, on the Apple Store.

What's interesting about the M1 Macs, from what I can see, is that (with less RAM and storage), they are quite a bit cheaper than the existing Intel machines. And faster.

Can't wait for tests and benchmarks when thy get released, and as others have said, I will wait until they've been out there for some time before considering. Besides, I've got a shiny 16" MBP which is just dandy.
 

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might be. a correction if I've read you right:

FCPX isn't sold with Macs, it is £199, on the Apple Store.

What's interesting about the M1 Macs, from what I can see, is that (with less RAM and storage), they are quite a bit cheaper than the existing Intel machines. And faster.

Can't wait for tests and benchmarks when thy get released, and as others have said, I will wait until they've been out there for some time before considering. Besides, I've got a shiny 16" MBP which is just dandy.
I didn't mean it was free ;)
what I meant was you can buy it as part of the mac package and its shipped with it installed for a price.

Its one of the "big" options when you customise and I don't think they'll screw with its performance.
 

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No. 1 - these are first gen devices and technology may most likely evolve very significantly even by next summer. Only buy now if you absolutely must
No 2. 8GB RAM by default and a very hefty upgrade premium for 16GB maximum. C'mon apple you are playing very nasty.
No 3. It makes no sense paying £400 for an SSD that you could get for £100, but just instead plugin via thunderbolt / USB and pretty much keep all advantages. Again apple playing nasty.
No 4. More tracking on by default except this time you can't even disable it in any way. https://9to5mac.com/2020/11/13/apple-server-outage-reveals-mac-privacy-concerns/ This is very serious. Of course if you are an ipad or iphone user you should be already well accustomed to this [others except maybe linux aren't much better but at least you can still control it to some extent]

It remains to be seen if they are really performing 3x faster, and then faster than what? 2018 intel i3?
 
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The reason for retaining the Intel chips is for compatibility with Windows, which at the moment isn’t supported (maybe later when a proper ARM version comes out?) and also the M1 chip isn’t compatible with an EGPU, which quite a few people use with a Mac mini.
 
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No. 1 - these are first gen devices and technology may most likely evolve very significantly even by next summer. Only buy now if you absolutely must
No 2. 8GB RAM by default and a very hefty upgrade premium for 16GB maximum. C'mon apple you are playing very nasty.
No 3. It makes no sense paying £400 for an SSD that you could get for £100, but just instead plugin via thunderbolt / USB and pretty much keep all advantages. Again apple playing nasty.
No 4. More tracking on by default except this time you can't even disable it in any way. https://9to5mac.com/2020/11/13/apple-server-outage-reveals-mac-privacy-concerns/ This is very serious. Of course if you are an ipad or iphone user you should be already well accustomed to this [others except maybe linux aren't much better but at least you can still control it to some extent]

It remains to be seen if they are really performing 3x faster, and then faster than what? 2018 intel i3?
I've emboldened (one of) your mistake(s).

Internal SSD on MBP - Read 2,247 MB/s Write 2,816 MB/s
External SSD on USB C - Read 480 MB/s Write 531 MB/s

(measured with BlackMagic Disc Speed Test, MBP 16")
 

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I've emboldened (one of) your mistake(s).

Internal SSD on MBP - Read 2,247 MB/s Write 2,816 MB/s
External SSD on USB C - Read 480 MB/s Write 531 MB/s

(measured with BlackMagic Disc Speed Test, MBP 16")
That will be more than enough for most now but if you require the full speed there is nothing stopping from getting a more premium thunderbolt version just as I suggested https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/plugable-thunderbolt-3-nvme-external-ssd
Best of all you can use with all other devices even long after you get rid of that Mac.
 
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No. 1 - these are first gen devices and technology may most likely evolve very significantly even by next summer. Only buy now if you absolutely must
No 2. 8GB RAM by default and a very hefty upgrade premium for 16GB maximum. C'mon apple you are playing very nasty.
No 3. It makes no sense paying £400 for an SSD that you could get for £100, but just instead plugin via thunderbolt / USB and pretty much keep all advantages. Again apple playing nasty.
Apples upgrade prices are always a bit higher than. £200 to upgrade the RAM from 8GB to 16GB is a bit high but it sounds like the RAM isn’t your standard RAM so you can’t buy it from another source.

I don’t know much about the SSDs but I know even 2TB isn’t enough storage for photography. Personally I’m thinking 1TB for programmes and LR catalogue (plus a bit for future proofing) whilst putting the image RAW files on a slower external 4-5TB hard drive. I gather Lightroom doesn’t take advantage of RAWs stored on SSD so no point playing to store them on SSD drives.

It remains to be seen if they are really performing 3x faster, and then faster than what? 2018 intel i3?
I think anyone thinking these models are designed as replacements for the i7 whilst at a lower price will be in for a shock. It’s clear to me they are to replace the previous i3 and i5 models so should be compared to those models. Undoubtedly there will be a higher performing chip at a latter date to replace the i7 high end model. That model will likely be £400-500 more than these newly released models, and return the 3 model lineup.... and the normal price ranges!

No. 1 - these are first gen devices and technology may most likely evolve very significantly even by next summer. Only buy now if you absolutely must
Definitely. I don’t think I will be purchasing one of the these M1 models as I think there will be a faster chip out next year. What it does mean is I wont be looking into PC equivalent replacements either as I will wait to see how the new Mac mini’s develop next year.
 

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I don’t know much about the SSDs but I know even 2TB isn’t enough storage for photography. Personally I’m thinking 1TB for programmes and LR catalogue (plus a bit for future proofing) whilst putting the image RAW files on a slower external 4-5TB hard drive. I gather Lightroom doesn’t take advantage of RAWs stored on SSD so no point playing to store them on SSD drives.
My photo storage is now 11TB across 3 drives. It is safe to say that only 240GB of it is in the form of USB3 SSD: for LR catalogs and temporary imports and scratch disk. There is actually no need for SSD speed for simple storage but makes a huge difference for catalog.

Just for the OS even 1TB is an overkill for majority of uses. I'm not sure about video, but you can still have those fast external ssds. 512GB I would say is about optimal and should be the default / base spec. You would even survive with 256GB for OS + Adobe stuff. You won't need any space for virtual machines because you can't run any, and of course no dual boot. For the price I'd be tempted to take the chances with base spec put the difference into peripherals.

Re RAM - that might be the one thing to max out.

Definitely. I don’t think I will be purchasing one of the these M1 models as I think there will be a faster chip out next year. What it does mean is I wont be looking into PC equivalent replacements either as I will wait to see how the new Mac mini’s develop next year.
And not only CPU but overall major redesigns are coming. Obviously it will mostly affect the laptop range while mini might remain largely similar with small aesthetic changes.

I briefly thought about basically "renting" this base mini for a few months for like £100 considering how crazy the used market on ebay is and the prices they pay even for old junk now. You can bet mini will be the one model they will neglect and not update for the longest period.
It only makes sense if Adobe releases all native versions. Then I am likely hitting a brick wall against X-rite, Samsung laser Canon ipf6450 driver updates that may or may not ever come at all. That's frankly way too much to swallow considering I can spec a £4000 monster windows machine and overall spend about the same. I hope I will be pleasantly surprised, but possibly only to be dealt the same blow with 11.1.
 
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That will be more than enough for most now but if you require the full speed there is nothing stopping from getting a more premium thunderbolt version just as I suggested https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/plugable-thunderbolt-3-nvme-external-ssd
Best of all you can use with all other devices even long after you get rid of that Mac.
It's not quite as you suggested though, those fast externals are not £100. Plus they are externals - probably fine for a desktop, but less practical for a portable machine.

Apple products cost more. But then so do Nikon, Sony, Canon etc.
 
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I do like Apple products ( I own an iPhone and iPad, and I used an iMac in a job for years) and I appreciate that they do generally perform well and provide a great user experience.

If money was no object I'd probably have an iMac, but there's no denying that the initial outlay is considerable, especially when compared to a similarly specced Windows PC. However the shelf life of Apple does appear to be considerably longer.

I currently have a PC (i5 4690, 16GB Ram, GTX 970) that I built about 5 years ago for around £800/900 and while its functional, it's certainly showing its age, especially when it comes to Capture One ( LR performs better in comparison but it's still sluggish). I'd imagine a Mac of the same age would perform better ( my work iMac lasted for 6 + years with no issues).

I have eyed Macs before but the cost ( vs upgrading my current system) is just too much!
 
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I’ve found a few more reviews which compare the new and old models.


It seems the M1 chips are replacing the i3 intels. I hadn’t noticed both i5 and i7 processor models are still available to order new. Before these new models were released I was looking at the i7 intel model so it looks like I will need to wait a while longer.

This review looks at the benchmarking. It seems they may be comparing against lower entry level models so not the faster i5’s/i7’s people were hoping to compare against.

 
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Photoshop for Apple Silicon is Here: Adobe Releases Beta | PetaPixel

> Adobe today released new ARM versions of Photoshop in beta for macOS and Windows. The new Mac version of the image editing app will run natively on Apple’s new line of computers, which features its new in-house M1 chip.

 

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Photoshop for Apple Silicon is Here: Adobe Releases Beta | PetaPixel

> Adobe today released new ARM versions of Photoshop in beta for macOS and Windows. The new Mac version of the image editing app will run natively on Apple’s new line of computers, which features its new in-house M1 chip.

The new Beta version of Photoshop for Apple Silicon is a work-in-progress that doesn’t fully support all of the features in the current version of Photoshop.

“This early version of Photoshop for Apple Silicon offers many of the core Photoshop features that you’ve come to rely on for your day to day editing needs, and we’ll be adding more features in the weeks to come,” Adobe says.

Popular features not available yet in the beta include things like Camera RAW, Content-Aware Fill, Spot Healing Brush, and more. A full list of missing tools and features can be found here.
That is rather big list of critical deficiencies - it's an early beta. Useless until early 2021?

No Lightroom Classic either.

I don't know how well the x86 versions perform, but I saw one mention of some problems?
 
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I've just finished setting up my new MacBook Pro with he new Apple Silicon ARM M1 chipset in it.
It is much much quicker than my 2019 i5 MacBook Pro even though I bought the fastest i5 CPU available when I bought it. So far all my software and hardware works well. Especially Lightroom CC.
 

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I've just finished setting up my new MacBook Pro with he new Apple Silicon ARM M1 chipset in it.
It is much much quicker than my 2019 i5 MacBook Pro even though I bought the fastest i5 CPU available when I bought it. So far all my software and hardware works well. Especially Lightroom CC.
Any chance you have tried the any of the topaz AI software?
 
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I've emboldened (one of) your mistake(s).

Internal SSD on MBP - Read 2,247 MB/s Write 2,816 MB/s
External SSD on USB C - Read 480 MB/s Write 531 MB/s

(measured with BlackMagic Disc Speed Test, MBP 16")
That looks like a standard external SSD rather than a NVME, a gen 3 NVME is up to 3000 write. Gen 4 is 7000.

Not sure if Macs support gen 4, but gen 3 will definitely work over thunderbolt
 
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That looks like a standard external SSD rather than a NVME, a gen 3 NVME is up to 3000 write. Gen 4 is 7000.

Not sure if Macs support gen 4, but gen 3 will definitely work over thunderbolt
maybe, but LLP was saying that you get the fast speeds with cheap SSDs, I’m not sure that is the case?
 
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Ah, thank you, and I take back what I said!
 
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Although the write speeds on those are 400? Read is 2400 or 2600
 
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