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2018 Mac mini: Buying Recommendations and Accessories
Related: 2018 Mac mini, 4K and 5K displays, backup, computer display, display connectivity, DisplayPort, iMac, iMac 5K, Mac mini, Macs, memory, SSD, storage, Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt 3, video
MPG tested the 2018 Mac mini 15-inch 3.2 GHz 64GB 1TB UHD630.
See the Mac mini models at B&H Photo, including currently discounted 2018 Mac mini. B&H Photo does not charge sales tax for most states and these have free expedited shipping, and price is often discounted from Apple.
“Smart move” considerations for the 2018 Mac mini:
- Minimum of 16GB of memory, 32GB or 64GB for pro use. Big savings by buying the Mac mini with 8GB and getting OWC memory for the Mac mini.
- SSD capacity of an absolute minimum of 256GB SSD, 512GB strongly preferred. Pros should consider only 1TB or 2TB SSD. There is no beating the speed or convenience of the internal SSD, and it cannot be upgraded.
- Six (6) CPU cores is the sweet spot value proposition for most uses, particularly for pros, server use, etc.
Recommended Mac mini below are selected with full memor; select more or less as appropriate—to save substantially, down-configure to 8GB and install OWC memory for the Mac mini yourself.
OWC Drive Dock for backup drives or extra storage.
USB-C about $119
USB 3.1 about $75
Thunderbolt 2 + USB about $180
Before buying a Mac mini
Before spending for a Mac mini, consider a 2019 iMac 5K (not yet announced as this was written), the consideration being the built-in display and likely higher performance.
The Mac mini does not include a display, keyboard or mouse. All those costs pile on, making the true total cost approach that of an iMac 5K. Add on AppleCare, and the total system cost gap is not very large—and the iMac 5K display is gorgeous.
The strength of the Mac mini is its tiny form factor, but unless it is intended as a server in a closet or similar, nothing is saved on space versus an iMac 5K once the display and keyboard and mouse are added to the Mac mini.
Backup, peripherals, etc
Budget for peripherals as well. Backup is not an option.
Professional use or similar should have an absolute minimum of two backups drives and preferably four: two always-attached, and two offsite. Single drives best for offsite backup (separable and multiply redundant on power supply).
The Thunderbay 4 makes an excellent “always attached” backup unit for Time Machine and clones (use the drives individually in most cases, not RAID).
$68 SAVE $12 = 15.0% OWC Mercury Elite Pro USB 3 with USB+1 Enclosure Kit in Storage: Enclosures
Most photographers are going to need large storage like the OWC Thunderbay 4 (Thunderbolt 3 version).
Note: the Thunderbay 4 is a terrific solution (I have 5 of them) but a Thunderbolt 3 version should be out soon. Hard drives go into the Thunderbay 4 or an external enclosure.
To attach Mini DisplayPort display, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is best.
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