Who would have thought the cheapest and simplest Mac would be the choice for the next computer? Starting a couple of days ago, I am one of those people. Here’s why.
I am writing this article using the excellent keyboard of a mid-2012 13″ MacBook Pro. Normally I use the laptop as a desktop. It’s mostly hooked up to a 21.5″ display and a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. I don’t even use the laptop as a secondary display. It just sits closed on a cheap vertical stand (actually it’s an IKEA napkin holder but let’s just call it a stand).
Although I maxed out the RAM I replaced the 500GB HDD with an SSD, and I swapped the optical drive for a 2TB hard disk, the MacBook is showing its age. Where it lacks the most is the display (1280 by 800) and the graphics (Intel HD 4000) – it may show 1.5 GB of memory, but don’t be fooled into thinking it can handle serious editing. This is why I’ve been thinking about getting a new Mac and the good news is there’s plenty to choose from. Sadly, however, Apple has had some problems with the Mac division in the last 3 to 4 years, thus making my choice pretty obvious: the new Mac mini. Why?
Let’s just skip the expensive stuff. And by that, I mean the MacBook Pros and the upper tier iMacs. The remaining MacBooks present keyboard malfunction risks and they can only be configured with a dual-core processor. The cheapest iMac is completely skippable with its 1920×1080 pixel 21.5″ display, slow storage and even slower processor. Not even the next two configurations have a fast SSD as standard, so they can be crossed from the list.
That leaves us with the old MacBook Air. At $999, Apple is asking me to consider buying a 2015 configuration in 2019. For that amount of money, I could settle for something better.
The first thing is the cheapest new Mac mini. At $799, I’d be having a quad-core 9th generation Intel i3 processor, 8 gigs of RAM, a truckload of ports and an ok graphics chip (certainly much better than the Intel HD 400). You would be right in pointing out this configuration has only 128GB of storage, but that can be easily solved with a USB-C external SSD (the Samsung T5 is one of the better ones). Or you could go for the best Mac mini you could get.
At $1099, the second configuration Apple sells has an Intel i5 processor, 8 gigs of RAM and most importantly 256GB of fast storage. What’s even better is the RAM can be upgraded after the purchase. Instead of paying Apple $1000 to install 64GB, you could do it for about half of that.
And the possibilities don’t stop here. The Intel UHD Graphics 630 won’t win any awards for performance. However, the mini can easily connect to an external graphics card, such as a $400 GIGABYTE Gaming Box RX 580 8G Graphic Card
That’s the beauty of the new Mac mini: you start with a good processor and can later add more memory, more storage, better graphics, bigger displays, and a better keyboard and mouse. And that’s why I believe it’s going to be my next Mac.
Photo by Macrumors