Help me configure a new Mac mini setup

I am planning replacement of my 2017 2TB Retina 5K 27" iMac. I’m considering replacing it with the M2 Pro Mac mini. Two questions for which I would appreciate your input and opinions.

  1. Storage
    Apple’s 2TB SSD storage is +$600
    I see recommendations in this thread for other SSD options. It seems like the Samsung T7 (currently $170 at Amazon) would make more sense rather than buying Apple’s upgrade. What would you all recommend? I want to maintain my current 2TB of storage. Is an external SSD the right choice?

  2. External Monitor
    Seems there are many choices. I have always enjoyed the screen of the iMac. I would like to pair the Mini with another 27" (could go larger if it makes $$ sense) monitor. Any obvious suggestions? I don’t want to pay the Apple premium for an Apple monitor.

FWIW my primary use outside of the usual is photography (Lightroom) and some hobby small project Xcode work.

Thanks in advance for any advice on this setup. Of course, would welcome any other ideas to consider if you were in my shoes planning replacement of the iMac.

You’re doing pretty much what I’ll have to do at some point. I’ll be going with the Apple SSD. There are some new displays on the way and if I like one of those I’ll get one, otherwise I’ll be getting the Apple display.

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The main question is “what do you use the SSD for?” If it’s largely an iCloud photo library, iCloud Drive, or something that Apple really wants to be on the internal SSD, then the internal SSD is worth it. If it’s something like video that you’re editing and performance is critical, then the internal SSD is worth it.

If not, I’d get 512GB to 1TB internal, and get an external for the rest.

No specific advice regarding monitors, but I know that perfectly-fine 27-32" IPS panels are available in the $200-$300 range. Depends on how picky you are about color and all that sort of thing. :slight_smile:

Using the 256GB M1 Mac, if I were to buy again, I’d probably get a 512GB, but the majority of my storage is on external storage and I have no issues with that. The only reason I’d go with the 512GB is to deal with the programs that won’t allow external storage to be used (Outlook and cache files etc). All my documents, my iCloud Photo library etc are on the external.

I remember having lots of issues when I had my iCloud Photo Library on an external drive, do these still exist in Ventura? I think I remember I could not unmout the drive when photoanalysisd was doing its thing.

But not 5K displays, correct?

Oh, right. Not 5K from what I know. If you’re picky about that sort of thing you’ll be paying much more. :slight_smile:

I don’t know personally, as I don’t use my library on an external drive - but I can’t imagine that things would have changed re: unmounting the drive. If something is working with it, you don’t get to eject it. :smiley:

But you could probably kill the indexing process and then unmount.

I think paying the “Apple premium for an Apple Monitor” is absolutely worth it. In my subjective opinion, there is nothing on the market that matches the color and clarity of an Apple monitor.

When I upgraded to a Mac Studio last year (after using 27" iMac displays), I had no hesitation to throw money at Apple for a Studio Display. It’s gorgeous. With the amount of time I spend working on my computer, it’s worth every penny.

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thanks all for the guidance. I don’t use Photos for photo management. Photos is temporary for iPhone photos until I move to Lightroom. I do use iCloud for other document storage.

Here’s breakdown of current disk utilization on iMac for more significant disk consumers:

  • 690 GB for picture files (folder/file storage referenced by Lightroom library)
  • 475 GB Library
    • 189 GB of that is related to Xcode
    • 181 GB is iCloud Drive
  • 200 GB for video files (again… folder/file storage referenced by Lightroom library)
  • 110 GB for iTunes library

I am assuming I could host pictures, videos and iTunes library on an external SSD. If so, 1TB Mac mini might be the right option.

Yeah, that could work.

And of course if you shop Apple’s refurbs, you usually save a couple hundred dollars. The only catch is that you have to wait until something that meets your specs shows up.

I sometimes don’t wind up actually saving money on my intended config, but if I don’t I wind up with a minor spec bump or something for the same price. :slight_smile:

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