The Mac mini seems to be the Mac that Apple forgets about for years between updates. The 2014 model came out two years after the 2012, and the 2018 a whole four years after the 2014. It may have been a long wait, but the new model is a huge step forward from the Late 2014 Mac mini – in part indicated by it shipping in Space Gray instead of brushed aluminum.
There are two base models. The “entry level” model has a quad-core 3.6 GHz 8th generation Intel i3 CPU, and the “better” model has a 3.0 GHz 6-core 8th generation Intel i5 CPU with Turbo Boost to 4.1 GHz. To support the extra power, the Late 2018 Mac mini has a 150W power supply, up from 85W on the 2014 model.
Where the 2014 Mac mini started at a very economical (for Apple) $499 with 4 GB of system memory and a 500 GB hard drive, the price of entry has jumped by $300 to $799. For that you get two more CPU cores, a much higher clock speed, double the amount of system memory, and 128 GB of fast SSD storage.
The previous top end model had a 2.8 GHz dual-core i7 CPU, 8 GB of system memory, and a 1 TB Fusion Drive for $999. The replacement is just $100 more and has a 6-core CPU, the same 8 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB SSD. The old Fusion Drive, which combined an SSD with a hard drive, is history.
The Late 2018 Minis ship with OS X 10.14 Mojave, support monitor resolutions to 5120 x 2880, have HDMI 2.0 output, include four USB-C 40 Gbps Thunderbolt 3/10 Gbps USB 3.1 ports plus two old style USB 3.0 ports with 5 Gbps throughput. The SDXC slot and FireWire 800 port on previous models is gone. For connectivity, there’s Gigabit ethernet (plus a 10 Gigabit option) and 802.11ac WiFi, along with Bluetooth 5.0.
Build-to-order options include doubling system memory from 8 GB to 16 GB for $200, to 32 GB for $600, and to a whopping 64 GB or $1,400, although third-party memory will be a whole lot less costly (with the previous model, memory could not be upgraded after purchase). 10 Gigabit ethernet is a $100 upgrade.
The entry level model can be ordered with 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB SSDs for $200, $400, $800, and $1,600 respectively. The better model has 512 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB SSD options at $200, $600, and $1,400 respectively.
For those who want more power, either model can be ordered with a 6-core 3.2 GHz 8th generation Intel i7 CPU with 4.6 GHz Turbo Boost. On the entry-level model, that costs $300, but it’s only $200 additional on the “better” Mac mini.
This is the first Mac mini with Thunderbolt 3, which has twice the bandwidth of Thunderbolt 2 and four times that of the original Thunderbolt standard.
The Mac mini doesn’t include a keyboard or mouse. Apple says buyers can plug in their favorite USB keyboard and mouse – or buy Apple’s offerings. Mac OS X includes support for remapping the Windows Alt and Option keys to Option and Cmd respectively.
- Introduced 2018.10.30 at US$799 (quad-core 3.6 GHz i3, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB SSD), and US$1,099 (6-core 3.0 GHz i5, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD). Both models can be upgraded with a 3.2 GHz 6-core i7 CPU.
- Model no.: A1993
- Part nos.: MRTR2LL/A (3.6 GHz) MRTT2LL/A (3.0 GHz)
- Model Identifiers: Macmini8,1
- Requires Mac OS X 10.14 Mojave or later
- CPU: 3.6 GHz quad-core Intel i3 or 3.0 GHz 6-core i5; optional 3.2 GHz 6-core i7
- L3 cache: 6 MB on i3, 9 MB on i5, and 12 MB on i7
- Bus: 1600 MHz
- RAM: 8 GB, expandable to 64 GB
- Performance, Geekbench 4:
- 64-bit single-core: 4684 (i3), 5155 (i5), 5682 (i7)
- 64-bit multicore: 13971 (i3), 20291 (i5), 24254 (i7)
- GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 630 supports up to 3 displays
- VRAM: up to 1.5 GB from main memory
- Video out:
- Thunderbolt 3, resolution to 5120 x 2880
- HDMI 2.0
- 3840 x 2160
- 4096 x 2160 at 60 Hz
- HDMI-to-DVI adapter available separately
- Drive bus: PCIe
- Hard drive: n/a
- SSD: PCIe
- SuperDrive: optional external USB drive
- Thunderbolt 3 ports: 4
- USB 3 ports: 2
- FireWire 400 ports: 0
- FireWire 800 ports: 0
- Ethernet: 10/100/gigabit (10 Gbps optional)
- WiFi: 802.11ac AirPort Extreme built in
- Bluetooth: BT 5.0 built in
- SDXC Card slot: no
- IR receiver: apparently not
- No internal modem; external USB modem available
- Microphone: none
- Size: 1.4 x 7.7 x 7.7 in/36 x 197 x 197 mm
- Weight: 2.9 lb./1.3 kg
- Power supply: 150W internal power supply
- PRAM battery: 3V CR2032 lithium
- Soldered CPU, upgrades not possible.
- The Late 2018 Mac mini Value Equation, Dan Knight, The Value Equation, 2018.11.01.
- Thunderstrike Malware: Could It Still Be a Threat to Your Mac?, Low End Mac Tech Journal 2018.02.01. Malware secretly infects EFI. Which versions of macOS are safest?
- Mac mini the best value in desktop Macs, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2009.08.25. Although the iMac is faster all around, the Mac mini provides plenty of power at half the price. Even with the cost of upgrades, it’s the value champion.
- Know Your Mac’s Upgrade Options, Phil Herlihy, The Usefulness Equation, 2008.08.26. Any Mac can be upgraded, but it’s a question of what can be upgraded – RAM, hard drive, video, CPU – and how far it can be upgraded.
- Maximizing the Mac mini, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2010.01.21. If Apple won’t offer a midrange Mac, someone should offer a replacement chassis for the Mini with two 3.5″ drive bays.
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