Can we talk about the Mac mini for home working?

Morning all

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on the current Mac Mini as a solution to home office working.

Given the current lockdown situation. I’m trying to get a decent home office area set up. I currently use an MBP for my work, but it’s not mine (it belongs to the company) and I may have to give it back soon. I’d much prefer to have a minimalist setup at home - so thinking about using an external monitor rather than using a huge iMac.

Anyway, it made me realise, that I don’t really know very much about the MacMini as a potential office solution. A quick search for reviews on Google has suggested that it’s pretty expensive for the specs that it offers - but I wanted to get the thoughts of you wise people and your experiences!

TIA

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I have used a MacMini on and off for years. When we decamped to Cyprus a few years ago I had to sell my iMacs as the cost of getting them over here quickly was prohibitive. I used it exclusively as my main development machine for web dev and it’s fine. I also run photo editors without any problem.

It is more than capable of running most things in my opinion, and it is small enough to to be transportable, I went through airline security with a macMini, two iPads, iPhone, keyboards and a mouse in my cabin luggage with no problems.

I bought it just before it updated so effectively a 2014 spec, I am planning an SSD upgrade which should give me another couple of years out of it and speed it up for when it does struggle sometimes. Overall I would thoroughly recommend it as a cheap “entry level” but very capable machine.

Will there be a new one? Of course there always is, that’s how tech companies make their money convincing us we need the new and shiny and we are in some way a lesser being without it. If you need it now buy it now, if not keep your money until you need to spend it. It’s better in your bank account than in some tech companies cash mountain.

Today’s new and shiny is tomorrow’s workhorse.

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I have a 2018 i5 one that I am not using for work, but that I use for

  • Streaming PC games with the Shadow service
  • Play games locally that work on Macs (old ones)
  • As a (work in progress) Plex server

These are not entirely straightforward tasks and it performs perfectly for all these. I’m very happy with the machine (and it allowed me to finally not have a single Windows machine in my home). So I guess for most office work tasks it should be perfect (actually thought for a while to trade my laptop for a Mac Mini as I am mostly moving between two places for extended periods of time).

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I have one as my primary machine. It’s great for web dev, video editing, podcast editing, running as an automation server (Hazel and Keyboard Maestro), and whatever else I need.

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This was in question for several years. The Mac Mini went 6 years without a good upgrade, 4 years without any at all.

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+1 to @RosemaryOrchard’s comment.

I’ve got a 2018 Mini which is my all day work machine. My daily work is mainly on the web/word processing/email/basic spreadsheets/some specialised software, and it’s plenty for the task. Recently, I’ve had to do some video editing (iMovie) and multi-track recording (Garageband) and it’s been a joy to use.

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Guess it depends on what you mean by home server, however I can’t think of anything that a Mac mini couldn’t do for soho use cases.

I actually think the MacMini is reasonably priced now it comes with double storage, I’ve compared a few different intel NUC configs and the the MacMini was surprisingly well positioned.

Good luck and don’t forget refurbished options from Apple to make it more cost effective with no additional risk.

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I love it. Got a 2014 2.6Ghz with a 256gb SS HD. Currently Livestreaming Sunday Services through OBS. It has two screens plugged in and it’s coping well. Growing very fond of it.

I’d say currently better than iMac. If you can wait and they get upgraded then that might be worth looking at but will probably cost twice the price

I’ve been a big, big fan of the Mac Mini for a while now and bought one with a 1TB SSD, and upgraded the RAM myself. I went with i7 to give it longevity (to fight my urge to replace it more than anything else; I know myself…)

I think it’s great value as I got an amazingly capable machine without paying for a screen I don’t need. Yes, the iMac screen is great, but I don’t need it.

I‘m currently using it mainly for editing my lesson videos in Final Cut Pro, using various Izotope plugins. It can handle heavy work just fine if you want it to. Just be aware that you will probably want to pay for some upgrading from the base model if you use it for more than standard office apps.

For more normal home office type things it breezes along without a pause, and I’m confident that would be true for any model.
In summary, I think it is severely underrated by a lot of people, whilst some of us adore it.

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If you strive for a minimalist or clutter free workspace I suggest an iMac. Its sleek all in one. The Mac mini will have a lot of wires connected to it.

21” iMac with wireless keyboard and mouse only needs a power cord. There is no sleeker better looking and screen to look at then a retina iMac :+1:

I have an iMac and, to be honest, I strongly dislike it.

The machine is gorgeous, the display is superb, but I hate the all-in-one concept. When this machine dies, the display goes with it. When I had an issue with the screen, I was without my main Mac for 10 days. When I bought it, the Mac Mini had been left hanging for years so I didn’t have much choice but if I had to choose today (and barring a Mac Pro) I would buy a Mac Mini in a heartbeat with a great 4 or 5k display to go with it. Never buying an iMac again.

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I disagree with this, but it does depend on your setup and peripherals (so I’m not trying to start an argument!)

I have a pre amp, external SSD, external HDD, monitor, printer, iPad and LAN attached to my Mini.

But because I place it on a low shelf to the side, all that is out of sight (plus I don’t hear the fans start up).
I have two cables on my desk going discretely to the monitor, plus a lightning cable to my iPad that I use as a second display.

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The Mac Mini is a fine computer. I don’t think you’ll find the mini plus external monitor to feel more minimalist than an appropriately sized iMac, but it’ll be minimal, especially if you’ve wireless keyboard and mouse and can secure the mini under the desk so the monitor cables run off the back.

At home I replaced an old 2013 MacPro with a 2018 Mac mini. The mini is faster and better in every way than the old MacPro, excepting connectivity (and I solved that problem with a external thunderbolt hub, the CalDigit TS3 Plus Dock.) The internal storage is fast, the RAM upgradable (I maxed it out with aftermarket RAM), it can be spec’d with 10 gbe ethernet cheaply, and the two thunderbolt 3 busses do the job such that I can have large, very fast external storage paired with two monitors.

The usual ding against the mini is lack of dedicated GPU support. I don’t edit video, but use the machine instead for a lot of photo processing. The programs I use don’t really seem to hit the GPU for much, so I don’t really notice the lack of a dedicated GPU as a problem.

While I like the iMac’s screen, I actually don’t care for its design, and prefer the flexibility of arranging my own monitors rather than trying to position an all-in-one, especially as part of a dual monitor set up (my home office is very compact.) Maybe if an iMac redesign is more handsome (and still has a VESA mount option) I’ll revisit the all-in-one question, but for now the mini has been a very good, compact and useful computer.

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For the need of a dedicated GPU, eGPUs are still a solution. Not minimalist, but if you have that precise need, you’re covered.

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Absolutely. Every now and again I look through the offerings and spec something out (as I’ve already got a little box collection with various drives, a switch and a UPS, all tucked behind a file cabinet) but even though I love fooling with gadgets I can’t see a performance payoff.

Right now my wife has taken over the LG 5K screen I brought home from the office (and has said I’m not getting back.) Maybe if I had, e.g., that 5K and a 4K on the side I might want an eGPU, but even then (having had Activity Monitor’s GPU History graph open for long periods of time) I’d try just stock first.

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Oh, an eGPU is only mandatory for dedicated workflows really needing that, totally. My 2015 5k iMac drives an additional LG 5k display and my Mac mini drives a 4k display. All work perfectly without the need for dedicated hardware.

The Mac mini is incredibly versatile. I had one last year in combination with the iPad Air. I used it to move between two offices and to work at home and use personally after work, carrying it in daily until that job ended. I then sold it in favour of a 12" MacBook as I switched jobs and was issued a Windows machine for it… It was the base 6-core i5 option.

If you’re buying one here in the UK I’d be happy to let you use my Unidays account to get 10% off. I’d just PM you the details with temporary password and give you something like 48 hours until I change it back. You’d be able to log in, apply the offer and proceed on the Apple site securely as normal then and I could change my password back once you’re done. There’s no risk.

The prices with the student discount are below:

Also, keep in mind, even though you can’t upgrade the SSD like in a MacBook, it’s not so bad on the Mini as it’s desk bound and can be permanently hooked up to a storage device or network storage location in your home. The 256GB base is more than enough for macOS and your software I’m sure.

Another benefit over the iMac and MacBook Pro is, this thing is pretty much guaranteed to last. Not subject to display issues (just buy a new one), not subject to keyboard issues (buy a new one) or wearing batteries like a laptop. Thunderbolt is overkill for most things, so it’ll be well compatible beyond its days. It’s also much more ergonomic to use a desktop properly setup. I use my MacBook Pro as a desktop sometimes and the comfort is superior.

The drawbacks are as you’d expect… desk bound. Lousy speaker. No mic - ensure you invest in one, plus a webcam. And of course, the graphics isn’t known to be spectacular on the Mini but it is eGPU compatible too. In one word, it is versatile. PM me if you’re interested in the discount! Hope that’s okay with mods.

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If you need to work from home, why would you need to give you company laptop back?

I don’t have any experiences to share, but this is a really timely topic for me because I’ve been thinking about getting a Mac Mini lately. I’m in the market for a new Mac (my 2012 MBP, with its spinning hard drive and 4GB of RAM, is really showing its age), but I’m also a fairly heavy iPad Pro user. For ergonomic reasons I keep the iPad in a stand and use Bluetooth peripherals. Since iPadOS 13.4 was released, I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a Mac Mini, a Luna Display dongle, and a set of multi-device Bluetooth peripherals (probably from Logitech), which would allow me to flit between MacOS and iPadOS for my fairly basic computing tasks as needed/wanted while keeping the keyboard, mouse, and “monitor” the same. While I am still mulling all of this over (and would appreciate input), what I really like about the Mac Mini is that it’s flexible enough to allow me to imagine something like this.