On the New Mac mini

Today, Apple announced a new Mac mini.

I’m just going let us all bask in that for a moment.

The form factor seems to be the same, but now in Space Gray, which according to Apple, “pros just love”. I can’t really argue with that, I suppose, looking at my iMac Pro and MacBook Pro.

(A nice bonus is that all Mac minis are made from 100% recycled aluminum.)

Around back, there’s a new set of IO built for our modern day:

  • Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
  • Two USB 3 ports
  • HDMI 2.0 port
  • Gigabit Ethernet port (configurable to 10Gb Ethernet)
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack

Gone is the SD card slot. It only survives on the iMac and iMac Pro at this point.

Inside, the Mac mini is all new. Every model comes with at least four cores, and all of them use SSD for storage. The days of spinning drives and Fusion Drives seem to be gone, at least for the Mac mini, as the new machines come with the T2 chip for managing security and disk access.

The base model — which is now $799, a full $300 more than before — comes with a 3.6GHz quad-core 8th-generation Intel Core i3 processor without Turbo Boost, coupled to 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage.

The base machine, and the most expensive, which clocks in at $4,2001 comes with integrated graphics, in the form of the Intel UHD Graphics 630 chipset. For a computer that Apple says can be used by pros, this blows my mind. Yes, macOS Mojave and Thunderbolt 3 make living with an eGPU relatively easy, but having a discrete graphics option, at least in the high-end models would make me feel a lot better about the Mac mini being useful to a wider range of customers.

It just feels like Apple could have gone further, especially as it touts the Mac mini’s all-new thermal system designed to keep these 4 and 6-core CPUs nice and cool.

While the GPU situation is a little frustrating, the RAM in this new machine appears to be upgradeable, which is great. It seems that Apple really heard us on that one. Sadly, the storage is not user accessible. I assume we can blame the T2 for that.

I ordered a mid-range model2 to replace my aging home server, which also is the heart of our family entertainment center. I’m looking forward to getting it in next week, and while this new machine leaves me with some questions, I am glad it is here.

  1. For that money, you get a 3.2GHz 6‑core 8th‑generation Intel Core i7, 64GB of RAM, the Intel UHD Graphics 630 GPU, 2TB SSD storage and 10 Gigabit Ethernet. 
  2. 3.0 GHz i5, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD. And a Thunderbolt 3 to 2 dongle to use my Drobo with it.