2018 Apple Mac Mini core i5 – From an app/web developer perspective – Review and retrospective

Which 2018 Mac mini did I order?

I ordered the core i5 model with 256 GB storage, it came with 8 GBs of RAM. I’ve had this machine for about a month. I choose to order the 16GB of RAM myself. In hindsight, I think I would’ve ordered it with the 16gb of RAM already OR ordered 32 gbs of RAM from Crucial. You don’t save any significant amount until you hit the 32gb mark.

Is 8 GB enough for a 2018 Mac Mini?

Honestly, if you’re not doing any sort of work with Docker or VMWare or anything virtualization related, you’ll be fine with 8 GBs of RAM

What sort of work was run through the 2018 Mac Mini?

  • XCode, but only because VS2017 uses it
  • Visual Studio 2017 for Mac for Xamarin and dotnetcore development
  • Docker for OS X
  • VMWare fusion with 5 GB dedicated RAM
  • Android Studio-
  • IntellIJ IDEA CE
  • iStat Menus to monitor temperatures and other hardware information

External equipment

  • Crucial SSD connected via USB-C. I store my docker.raw file on this as well as my Windows 10 virtual machine
  • 1 TB Western Digital Hard Drive. I use this for torrents and time machine. I do this to minimize reads/writes to the main drive

Repairability and disassembly

I found disassembly and reassembly to be fairly easy. It’s slightly nerve wracking to tear apart such an expensive machine, but there are no warranty screws to worry about, so worse case scenario was that I could’ve just returned it if something went wrong.

Storage Thoughts

I would never order the 2018 Mac Mini with 128gb of storage. Even with putting my Win10 VM on an external SSD and my docker images, I’m using 89 GB of my 250 available. Because of the storage being non-removeable on the mini, I highly recommend you put large items on external media.

Thermal performance

Disclaimer: I’d be more upset over the mac mini running too warm rather than thermal throttling. I’d rather my mini cut back power than run hot for too long. I’m expecting the 2018 Mac Mini will last me at least 7 years.

I use iStat Menus to control thermals, as Apple by default doesn’t activate the fan until far too late. You can create a rule for the fans to go full blast after 70 degrees

Thermals during normal activity

During normal coding, and web browsing, I rarely ever see temperatures above 60 degrees. During incremental build, I see temperatures in the high 70s occasionally. During non-incremental builds, the fans ramp up to 100 degrees. I’d find this concerning for the 2018 Mac Mini’s longevity if I did this regularly.

Thermals during youtube watching

Disclaimer: I have a rule set for my 2018 Mac Mini to ramp up the fans to 100% when it hits 70 degrees.

Watching 1080p videos yields barely any temperature increase on my 2018 mac mini

Watching 4k videos will bring temperatures up quite a bit. I made a sample youtube video showcasing temperatures. Watch the top right corner in this video

Overall performance

I ran a standard test project for iOS in XCode, my results as well as several other ones (including the core i7) is available here:

https://github.com/ashfurrow/xcode-hardware-performance

Which CPU should I get?

I personally believe the best valued CPU is the core I5 model. The core i3 model would probably do what I need just fine, but since I plan to get as many years possible out of my 2018 Mac Mini, I opt’d for the 6 core Mac Mini.

Should I buy the 2018 Mac Mini?

I personally believe with all the port options you’re given with this machine and the upgradeable RAM, that it’s still a pretty good value despite Apple’s price increase on this model. My only pet peeve is the lack of removable storage from the internal SSD. The best valued option is for sure the core I5 model with 256GB of storage, and then to purchase the RAM from Crucial.

Is there anyway to get it cheaper?

Yes, if you’re a university student or a “tutor for a university”. Apple does not seem to check to see if you’re a legit university student.

Overall thoughts

I am very happy with my 2018 Mac Mini.

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