Mac Mini upgrade on a budget

Started 4 months ago | Discussions
lightandaprayer Senior Member • Posts: 4,111
Re: More info please.
2

Jacques Cornell wrote:

Would this be a significant upgrade? Local CraigsList

This Mac Mini is from 2012 has an 2.6 GHz Intel i7 with four cores, It has the the maximum RAM of 16 GB and a 500 GB very fast Solid State Disk.

Cost?

If your current mini is booting from a spinning-platter hard drive, the Craigslist mini's SSD alone will be a real breath of fresh air for you, delivering much faster boot and app launch. The additional CPU cores will double your speed on some operations with some apps and make no difference at all on others. I don't know whether or how well Afinity leverages additional cores.

Do you currently keep two copies of your photos on separate drives? Perhaps your main archive on the mini and a backup on your external drive? If not, I strongly urge you to budget for a backup drive. You could use a 2TB drive to backup the 1TB external and also hold a Time Machine backup of your mini's drive. In 20 years as a Mac-using pro photographer, I have had three drives die, and each time a backup saved my bacon. You do not want to be the guy wailing "All my photos are GONE!" because you didn't spend $80 on a backup drive.

It's difficult to say how good a deal the 2012 Mini is without knowing what the seller is asking for it. . .

When I began using an external USB 3.0 SSD as the boot drive my 2012 Mini became a speed demon.  But the SSD doesn't do anything to help the Mini run cooler when under load. . .   I never hear the fans in my 2018; that's not the case with the 2012.  According to what I have read and the demo videos I've watched, the M1 runs much cooler than the 2018 Mini and its fans rarely if ever run above minimum speed.

It's obvious that the M1 is the only way to go. . .  It's the future of Apple and third-party software as well.   The OP's budget is sufficient to upgrade to 16GB RAM.  Bump it to $1100 and it's enough for a 512GB SSD if the OP requires that much internal storage.

I used my 2012 Mini 4-core with 16GB RAM for 7 years as my primary Mac and I could have gone longer. . .  Now I can use it for AV streaming or sell it.  An M1 should be able to last as long if not longer. Take the Long View and configure the M1 accordingly. The cost-factor won't matter very much when it's 5 years later and the M1 is still getting the job done.  

Jacques Cornell
Jacques Cornell Forum Pro • Posts: 13,457
Re: More info please.

lightandaprayer wrote:

Jacques Cornell wrote:

Would this be a significant upgrade? Local CraigsList

This Mac Mini is from 2012 has an 2.6 GHz Intel i7 with four cores, It has the the maximum RAM of 16 GB and a 500 GB very fast Solid State Disk.

Cost?

If your current mini is booting from a spinning-platter hard drive, the Craigslist mini's SSD alone will be a real breath of fresh air for you, delivering much faster boot and app launch. The additional CPU cores will double your speed on some operations with some apps and make no difference at all on others. I don't know whether or how well Afinity leverages additional cores.

Do you currently keep two copies of your photos on separate drives? Perhaps your main archive on the mini and a backup on your external drive? If not, I strongly urge you to budget for a backup drive. You could use a 2TB drive to backup the 1TB external and also hold a Time Machine backup of your mini's drive. In 20 years as a Mac-using pro photographer, I have had three drives die, and each time a backup saved my bacon. You do not want to be the guy wailing "All my photos are GONE!" because you didn't spend $80 on a backup drive.

It's difficult to say how good a deal the 2012 Mini is without knowing what the seller is asking for it. . .

When I began using an external USB 3.0 SSD as the boot drive my 2012 Mini became a speed demon. But the SSD doesn't do anything to help the Mini run cooler when under load. . . I never hear the fans in my 2018; that's not the case with the 2012. According to what I have read and the demo videos I've watched, the M1 runs much cooler than the 2018 Mini and its fans rarely if ever run above minimum speed.

I saw a report that the M1 draws about 5-6 Watts under load, whereas the Intel version draws 75 Watts. As a result, the M1 should be much less likely to suffer thermal throttling.

It's obvious that the M1 is the only way to go. . . It's the future of Apple and third-party software as well. The OP's budget is sufficient to upgrade to 16GB RAM. Bump it to $1100 and it's enough for a 512GB SSD if the OP requires that much internal storage.

Yup, that's the one I'm waiting for now.

I used my 2012 Mini 4-core with 16GB RAM for 7 years as my primary Mac and I could have gone longer. . . Now I can use it for AV streaming or sell it. An M1 should be able to last as long if not longer. Take the Long View and configure the M1 accordingly. The cost-factor won't matter very much when it's 5 years later and the M1 is still getting the job done.

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Daverich04 Regular Member • Posts: 124
Re: Mac Mini upgrade on a budget

tarzan1234 wrote

Not all rosy though...as early adopters, we all have to be patient. I still have to wait for a new version of NEC SpectraView II calibration software so can I calibrate my NEC display properly. Stuff like that will take time to resolve.

It doesn’t run under Rosetta 2? That’s not good news.

OP rb61 Regular Member • Posts: 391
Re: Mac Mini upgrade on a budget

tarzan1234 wrote:

rb61 wrote:

Budget is $600-1000

The biggest challenge is processing/editing RAW images with Affinity Photo.

If I were you, I would get a Mac mini M1 with 8 or 16GB of RAM/256 GB of SSD, then pick up a fast external SSD if you need more storage. It will be sitting on your desk so no need to pay Apple a crazy amount of money for larger internal SSD.

I've been using a Mini M1 8GB/256GB that I picked up over the weekend for less than 600 bucks (Some workaround involved, Target was selling $100 Apple gift card with $20 promotion during black Friday, so I picked up 7 of them to pay for the Mac mini for a total of 140 bucks back) and by all benchmarks, it is more than twice as fast as my 2015 MacBook Pro 15 quad core with 16GB of RAM and dedicated graphics. It also flies through 50MP RAW files (Canon 5DSR) in Lightroom without any issues, and Lightroom is not even native to this M1 thing yet, it's still the Intel version running through Rosetta2. I still remember how my previous MacBook Pro 13 with only 8GB of RAM really struggled with Lightroom and 20MP RAW files (Canon 6D). I don't know what Apple did with their new CPU and software but I can tell this thing is really different and it has no problem handling 50MP Raw files, at least, in the way that I process them. I can't speak for people who often stitch many files together and then add many many layers in Photoshop. The best thing is, it is dead silent and not even warm, while the MacBook Pro runs like a jet engine when you put it to work.

Not all rosy though...as early adopters, we all have to be patient. I still have to wait for a new version of NEC SpectraView II calibration software so can I calibrate my NEC display properly. Stuff like that will take time to resolve.

Thanks.

This road seems to be what many people suggest especially since Affinity is now native to M1. Now, where can I get a few of those gift cards!

Thanks to all.

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tarzan1234 Regular Member • Posts: 175
Re: Mac Mini upgrade on a budget

Daverich04 wrote:

tarzan1234 wrote

Not all rosy though...as early adopters, we all have to be patient. I still have to wait for a new version of NEC SpectraView II calibration software so can I calibrate my NEC display properly. Stuff like that will take time to resolve.

It doesn’t run under Rosetta 2? That’s not good news.

NEC Spectraview II app does open and detects the NEC SpectraSensor without any problem but it doesn't detect the display. My NEC PA272 shows up as "Unknown Display" so the whole thing won't work.

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whisky
whisky Senior Member • Posts: 1,934
Re: Mac Mini upgrade on a budget

tarzan1234 wrote:

rb61 wrote:

Budget is $600-1000

The biggest challenge is processing/editing RAW images with Affinity Photo.

If I were you, I would get a Mac mini M1 with 8 or 16GB of RAM/256 GB of SSD, then pick up a fast external SSD if you need more storage. It will be sitting on your desk so no need to pay Apple a crazy amount of money for larger internal SSD.

I've been using a Mini M1 8GB/256GB that I picked up over the weekend for less than 600 bucks (Some workaround involved, Target was selling $100 Apple gift card with $20 promotion during black Friday, so I picked up 7 of them to pay for the Mac mini for a total of 140 bucks back) and by all benchmarks, it is more than twice as fast as my 2015 MacBook Pro 15 quad core with 16GB of RAM and dedicated graphics. It also flies through 50MP RAW files (Canon 5DSR) in Lightroom without any issues, and Lightroom is not even native to this M1 thing yet, it's still the Intel version running through Rosetta2. I still remember how my previous MacBook Pro 13 with only 8GB of RAM really struggled with Lightroom and 20MP RAW files (Canon 6D). I don't know what Apple did with their new CPU and software but I can tell this thing is really different and it has no problem handling 50MP Raw files, at least, in the way that I process them. I can't speak for people who often stitch many files together and then add many many layers in Photoshop. The best thing is, it is dead silent and not even warm, while the MacBook Pro runs like a jet engine when you put it to work.

Not all rosy though...as early adopters, we all have to be patient. I still have to wait for a new version of NEC SpectraView II calibration software so can I calibrate my NEC display properly. Stuff like that will take time to resolve.

I believe NEC has just been  66% merged with Sharp Corporation, maybe SpectraView 2 updates might be off the menu?

I have a SpectraView PA272w.

Cheers.

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Jacques Cornell
Jacques Cornell Forum Pro • Posts: 13,457
Re: Mac Mini upgrade on a budget

tarzan1234 wrote:

Daverich04 wrote:

tarzan1234 wrote

Not all rosy though...as early adopters, we all have to be patient. I still have to wait for a new version of NEC SpectraView II calibration software so can I calibrate my NEC display properly. Stuff like that will take time to resolve.

It doesn’t run under Rosetta 2? That’s not good news.

NEC Spectraview II app does open and detects the NEC SpectraSensor without any problem but it doesn't detect the display. My NEC PA272 shows up as "Unknown Display" so the whole thing won't work.

Same with my PA322 daisy-chained via a Displayport>Displayport Mini cable through a LaCie 5big Thunderbolt and an Apple TB2>TB3 adapter into one of the Mac mini's TB3 ports.

I haven't yet tried connecting it directly to the mini via Displayport>USB-C cable.

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Gesture Veteran Member • Posts: 7,819
Re: Mac Mini upgrade on a budget

Will we be able to boot M1 Macs from an external drive?  Thanks.

Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 18,679
Re: Mac Mini upgrade on a budget
2

Gesture wrote:

Will we be able to boot M1 Macs from an external drive? Thanks.

A thread on the Apple discussion forums states that M1-based Macs will boot off external drives, but that holding down the Option key during startup will not bring up a drive selection dialog .

On Intel-based Macs with the T2 chip, Startup Security Utility disables external booting by default.  M1-based Macs operate in much the same way.  In both cases, Admin users can change the setting.

You may want to update your M1-based Mac's firmware and OS, especially if you have prepared a bootable macOS installer for recovery purposes.  Apparently there is some issue with the initial M1 firmware that sometimes keeps such installers from working.

The Eclectic Light Company – Introducing your new M1 Mac

Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 18,679
Re: Mac Mini upgrade on a budget

Jacques Cornell wrote:

tarzan1234 wrote:

Daverich04 wrote:

tarzan1234 wrote

Not all rosy though...as early adopters, we all have to be patient. I still have to wait for a new version of NEC SpectraView II calibration software so can I calibrate my NEC display properly. Stuff like that will take time to resolve.

It doesn’t run under Rosetta 2? That’s not good news.

NEC Spectraview II app does open and detects the NEC SpectraSensor without any problem but it doesn't detect the display. My NEC PA272 shows up as "Unknown Display" so the whole thing won't work.

Same with my PA322 daisy-chained via a Displayport>Displayport Mini cable through a LaCie 5big Thunderbolt and an Apple TB2>TB3 adapter into one of the Mac mini's TB3 ports.

I haven't yet tried connecting it directly to the mini via Displayport>USB-C cable.

According to NEC, SpectraView V1.1.38 is a 64-bit application , although they also offer a 32-bit build for old versions of Mac OS X, and for a particular X-Rite sensor.

If SpectraView II uses kernel extensions to communicate with the calibration hardware, the problem is likely to be the lack of ARM-native kernel extensions (or user-space equivalents).  The V1.1.38 release notes don't use the phrase kernel extensions, but do refer to installation of drivers for various color sensors.

Jacques Cornell
Jacques Cornell Forum Pro • Posts: 13,457
Bootable clone of Big Sur

Gesture wrote:

Will we be able to boot M1 Macs from an external drive? Thanks.

From what I've read & heard lately, cloning utilities are not currently able to create bootable clones of Big Sur. Devs are working with Apple to build a solution...

Clarification: Bombitch Software (CarbonCopyCloner) says you can make a bootable clone by first cloning your boot drive (which clones the data volume) and then installing Big Sur on it. I don't recall whether this works on M1 Macs or it's only for Intel Macs.

IIRC, there are workarounds for booting from an external. The old hold-option-key-while-booting approach apparently doesn't work with M1s.

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Jacques Cornell
Jacques Cornell Forum Pro • Posts: 13,457
Re: Mac Mini upgrade on a budget

Tom_N wrote:

Jacques Cornell wrote:

tarzan1234 wrote:

Daverich04 wrote:

tarzan1234 wrote

Not all rosy though...as early adopters, we all have to be patient. I still have to wait for a new version of NEC SpectraView II calibration software so can I calibrate my NEC display properly. Stuff like that will take time to resolve.

It doesn’t run under Rosetta 2? That’s not good news.

NEC Spectraview II app does open and detects the NEC SpectraSensor without any problem but it doesn't detect the display. My NEC PA272 shows up as "Unknown Display" so the whole thing won't work.

Same with my PA322 daisy-chained via a Displayport>Displayport Mini cable through a LaCie 5big Thunderbolt and an Apple TB2>TB3 adapter into one of the Mac mini's TB3 ports.

I haven't yet tried connecting it directly to the mini via Displayport>USB-C cable.

According to NEC, SpectraView V1.1.38 is a 64-bit application , although they also offer a 32-bit build for old versions of Mac OS X, and for a particular X-Rite sensor.

If SpectraView II uses kernel extensions to communicate with the calibration hardware, the problem is likely to be the lack of ARM-native kernel extensions (or user-space equivalents). The V1.1.38 release notes don't use the phrase kernel extensions, but do refer to installation of drivers for various color sensors.

I'm running version. 1.1.41.

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Gesture Veteran Member • Posts: 7,819
Re: Mac Mini upgrade on a budget

Thanks, Tom.

tarzan1234 Regular Member • Posts: 175
Re: Mac Mini upgrade on a budget
1

Jacques Cornell wrote:

Same with my PA322 daisy-chained via a Displayport>Displayport Mini cable through a LaCie 5big Thunderbolt and an Apple TB2>TB3 adapter into one of the Mac mini's TB3 ports.

I haven't yet tried connecting it directly to the mini via Displayport>USB-C cable.

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I’m using a USB-C to DisplayPort cable for a direct connection to the pa272. I also tried HDMI to HDMI connection but for some reason, the resolution was limited to 1920x1080.

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Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 18,679
Re: Bootable clone of Big Sur
1

Jacques Cornell wrote:

Gesture wrote:

Will we be able to boot M1 Macs from an external drive? Thanks.

From what I've read & heard lately, cloning utilities are not currently able to create bootable clones of Big Sur. Devs are working with Apple to build a solution...

Clarification: Bombitch Software (CarbonCopyCloner) says you can make a bootable clone by first cloning your boot drive (which clones the data volume) and then installing Big Sur on it. I don't recall whether this works on M1 Macs or it's only for Intel Macs.

It's only necessary for M1-based Macs.

The issue comes about because in Big Sur, the System Volume has become a Sealed System Volume. Only Apple's code has the right cryptographic keys to sign it and to make it bootable (under default Startup Security Utility settings).

Apple's System Restore tool can clone the Sealed System Volume on Intel-based Macs on behalf of a program like CCC or SuperDuper.  But ASR's replication utility doesn't yet work on M1-based Macs.  It logs the error "'Apple System Restore Tool': Source volume format not yet supported in this version of macOS".

Thus, Carbon Copy Cloner 5.1.23 can make bootable backups of a Big Sur startup disk on Intel-based Macs, but not on M1-based Macs.  On M1-based Macs, if you want your clone to be bootable, you must do a Big Sur installation to fill in a Sealed System Volume.

Once Apple gets ASR working properly on M1-based Macs, and Bombich updates CCC to take advantage of that, the workaround will no longer be necessary.

Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 18,679
Re: Mac Mini upgrade on a budget
1

tarzan1234 wrote:

Jacques Cornell wrote:

Same with my PA322 daisy-chained via a Displayport>Displayport Mini cable through a LaCie 5big Thunderbolt and an Apple TB2>TB3 adapter into one of the Mac mini's TB3 ports.

I haven't yet tried connecting it directly to the mini via Displayport>USB-C cable.

I’m using a USB-C to DisplayPort cable for a direct connection to the pa272. I also tried HDMI to HDMI connection but for some reason, the resolution was limited to 1920x1080.

The M1 Mini should support "one display with up to 4K resolution at 60 Hz" on its HDMI 2.0 port.  Was your HDMI cable a "Standard" HDMI cable or a "High Speed" / "Ultra High Speed" one?  The "Standard" ones are meant for 720p and 1080i HDTVs, and might not support more demanding uses (like connecting a 2560x1440 pixel monitor).

https://hdmi.org/resource/cables

tarzan1234 Regular Member • Posts: 175
Re: Mac Mini upgrade on a budget

Tom_N wrote:

tarzan1234 wrote:

Jacques Cornell wrote:

Same with my PA322 daisy-chained via a Displayport>Displayport Mini cable through a LaCie 5big Thunderbolt and an Apple TB2>TB3 adapter into one of the Mac mini's TB3 ports.

I haven't yet tried connecting it directly to the mini via Displayport>USB-C cable.

I’m using a USB-C to DisplayPort cable for a direct connection to the pa272. I also tried HDMI to HDMI connection but for some reason, the resolution was limited to 1920x1080.

The M1 Mini should support "one display with up to 4K resolution at 60 Hz" on its HDMI 2.0 port. Was your HDMI cable a "Standard" HDMI cable or a "High Speed" / "Ultra High Speed" one? The "Standard" ones are meant for 720p and 1080i HDTVs, and might not support more demanding uses (like connecting a 2560x1440 pixel monitor).

https://hdmi.org/resource/cables

It’s a good HMDI cable supporting 4K resolution. I’ve used the same one in my home theater for 4K HDR movies without any problem. In fact the same cable and display have no issue at 2560x1440 with either my work laptop (HP elite book) or my personal 2015 MacBook Pro 15, although the windows machine was limited to 30Hz. Still can’t figure out why it didn’t work probably with my Mac mini. From a practical perspective, It’s kinda moot at this point though, i picked up a USB-c to DisplayPort cable and it works perfectly.

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Scott Martin_ez New Member • Posts: 1
Re: Mac Mini upgrade on a budget
1

I’m using a USB-C to DisplayPort cable for a direct connection to the pa272. I also tried HDMI to HDMI connection but for some reason, the resolution was limited to 1920x1080.

Same with the pa272w. I even tried ordering a new HDMI2 2.1 4k cable, but can only get 1920x1080 with it. I was bummed that I'd have to use up one of the ports for display. I'm also waiting for X-rite to update i1 Studio. They said Q1, so I guess anytime for an update. For now the M1 Mac is waiting for the update before I do any serious work with it.

strawbale Senior Member • Posts: 1,613
Re: Mac Mini upgrade on a budget

Scott Martin_ez wrote:

I’m using a USB-C to DisplayPort cable for a direct connection to the pa272. I also tried HDMI to HDMI connection but for some reason, the resolution was limited to 1920x1080.

Same with the pa272w. I even tried ordering a new HDMI2 2.1 4k cable, but can only get 1920x1080 with it. I was bummed that I'd have to use up one of the ports for display. I'm also waiting for X-rite to update i1 Studio. They said Q1, so I guess anytime for an update. For now the M1 Mac is waiting for the update before I do any serious work with it.

I assume you used the option key to see/get all the resolutions available?

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