I7 2018 > M2 Pro 2023 and 16GB > 32GB RAM? (Replacing Mac mini inquiry)

We are currently using two Mac minis, one intel i5 and one i7, both with 16GB.

We are only now considering replacing the i7 which does most of the audio, video and big data crunching. and the min is a 2018 model - so about 5 years old now.

32GB or 16GB - comments and recommendations?
i7 to M2 Pro - comments and recommendations?

And… looking back at the data and/or your experiences, has it proved to be better investment to choose 32GB RAM over 16GBs for future proofing?

i7 to M2 Pro: I went from a 2018 i7 MBP, 16GB to a Mac mini M2 Pro with 32GB and the difference in performance is noticiable, specially in Final Cut, Davinci and Logic Pro even though I am a basic user for these apps. Also, I have heard the fans a couple of times only. The machine runs cold, something that cannot be said of the i7s.

32GB or 16GB: I went with 32GB because you can increase the internal disk space with Thunderbolt, USB4 and whatnot, but you cannot increase the RAM.

By the way, great refurbished deals in the Apple Store, keep an eye on those refurbs!

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You’d probably be fine with 16GB, but if you plan to keep it for 5 years, I’d get 32GB just the be safe.

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@pantulis Thanks a lot, sounds like we travelled a very similar path. To follow up, I’ve a got a couple of questions more.

  • What do you believe gets the M2 Pro fan to come on/stay on?
  • Which CPU and GPU cores did you decide on and why?

@geoffaire Thanks for your comment. Since we do not replaced tech hardware that often, your comment is reassuring.

Well, you have the perfect test bed for you to decide for yourself. With current memory at 16GB do you ever feel constrained? Do you ever spill over into swap space on the mini’s internal disk? If so, upgrade to 24 or 32GB.

A 16 GB Apple Silicon machine is a beast and will amaze you compared to your previous Intel machines.

I would crank up Activity Monitor and look at your current memory usage while performing typical tasks. Does the memory pressure ever get into the yellow or red? If so then getting more memory is called for.

Using swap space for page-ins isn’t bad, what is bad is page-outs. The OS can keep immutable memory pages (like code) in the swap file and bring them in as needed and overwrite other pages without needing to write them out to the swap file.

Only when rendering video with Final Cut or DaVinci, I have seen CPU temp spike up to +80ªC. The fans spins up, they are audible, but nowhere as noisy as the old i7 2018 MBP, note that the computer is new and there is no dust cluttering the air vents yet but I would say the fan is bigger and the thermal specs of the CPU are much much much cooler.

Cannot remember at this time but the one that poppped up in the refurb store with 32GB RAM and 512GB SSD. I think in terms of future proofnness CPU/GPU cores are less relevant than RAM. That is, when the CPU becomes obsolete, it will not matter if it had a couple more performance cores. Of course if I was using this computer for professional work, every billable minute would count so I would probably would do some math, but that’s not my case.

Yes, the Mac is amazing at juggling its memory needs. However, I do notice a performance hit with each new app loaded on my M1 MacBook Air after it has spilled over into swap space on the internal SSD. Not a showstopper. Just something I would prefer to avoid.