Mac Mini now or wait?

Waiting for delivery of new Mac Mini + separate 32 Gb RAM for self upgrade. New ARM products were announced at WWDC on Monday, and apparently Mini will be the first to upgrade, but who knows when? I can limp along with current Mini for a few months, or bite the bullet now and upgrade. I am not a developer or programmer. Mostly photography/photoshop, etc.

Should I bite the bullet and keep the Mini I ordered or pull the plug and wait for new models?

  1. No-one knows when the Mac Mini will be rev’d with Apple Silicon, although the perceived wisdom is that it will be early, nothing was promised yesterday.
  2. How long would you expect to keep a Mac Mini you buy now

The longer you plan to keep it, the longer I would be willing to wait, but if you need a new Mac Mini now, I’d buy one. Intel should be supported for at least 3 or 4 years.

I can’t really help but having a similar dilemma so keen to hear what people suggest. I’m thinking of switching my current setup to a MBP 16 but it’sa huge cost if arm is going to be worth the wait. My concern is that I use boot camp for occasional gaming and my (limited) understanding suggests that is unlikely on the arm models so it would put me off for the initial models at least.

Fwiw I have a Mac mini 2018 with egpu as my main machine at the moment and I love it, just think moving to as good a spec mbp would give portability too.

Plus I want to buy something shiny.

1 Like

Mini boxes were used as loaner dev boxes because it was the easiest & cheapest way to provide an ARM box to developers. But there is no guarantee that Apple’s lowest-end, lowest priced, possibly lowest-margin machine will be updated to ARM in the first wave of new machines. (Apple similarly offered a transition kit in summer 2005 with an Intel Developer Transition System box in a PowerMac case that too was required to be returned to Apple).

When Apple announced the first Intel Macs in January 2006 they were a Macbook Pro and an iMac. A month later they offered the Mac mini with a low-end (and if I remember, vastly underpowered) Intel option. Six months later they completed the transition with new variants of all pre-existing PowerPC Macs.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has leaked many accurate details over the years due to close ties to sources in Apple’s supply chain has reported that the first ARMacs to come out, at the end of this year, will be a 24" iMac and a 13.3" Macbook Pro.

So I wouldn’t count on being able to buy an ARM-based mini until maybe a year from now.

Should you wait? It’s up to you. But you probably shouldn’t expect to get a mini with an ARM processor this year.

Have to agree. Better to think of those loaner boxes as an iPad Pro in a mini case.

If I remember correctly, the dev boxes will have an A12, and be $500, so not sure if they are loaners?

The Developer Transition Kit is not a product. As @bowline says, I would not necessarily take the existence of the Developer Transition Kit as evidence that the Mac mini will be among the first wave of ARM Macs. Indeed, I think that when we do see an ARM mini, it will be rather different than the DTK (different array of ports and a different processor).

You didn’t post much about your current situation, but you did describe it as “limp along”. If you need a new Mac mini now, keep your order for an Intel based one. Don’t count on a ARM mini unless you’re willing to wait up to two years.

2 Likes

They’ve said they’re loaners.

From the Universal App Quick Start Program page:

As part of the program, you’ll have limited access to a Developer Transition Kit (DTK), which will be shipped to you, for developing and testing your Universal apps. The DTK is owned by Apple and must be returned.

2 Likes

Developers are required to return the Developer Transition Kit one year after accepting the Universal App Quick Start Program’s terms and conditions.

1 Like

I think I would upgrade. As others have pointed out, the ARM mini will be a while coming. Probably around that time the MacBook Whatevers and iMacs that are coming out first will be due for a refresh, and you could be in the same dilemma.

1 Like

Yup, vastly underpowered, Core Solo and Core Duo.

You should be ok for 5-7 years

The first generation or two of Apple hardware products can be a bit… underwhelming is the wrong word, because they’re often awesome (think iPhone), but they are sometimes more aspirational than fully realized (think iPhone, MacBook Air, iPad). That may not be the case with the next generation of Macs, but I think there will be some significant growing pains over the first couple of new Mac generations.

If you’re an early adopter type, that might favour your trying to wait and then get a next generation Mac, but if you feel yourself more toward risk adversity then buying a Mac now is a safe bet that will leave you with a computer that will be working well for years to come. I bought a pretty loaded (2TB SSD was the only non-maxed out part) 16" MBP in January; if I hadn’t then, I would have zero hesitation about buying one today.

2 Likes

Thanks for all your suggestions. I’m going to go ahead with the purchase, and save $400 or so by doing a RAM upgrade on my own. I have 2 Mac Minis now that have served me well, and are on their last legs. I use them between two homes in different countries, where I keep monitors, keyboards, mice, etc. Works great for me.

4 Likes

Great choice :+1:
If you can max out the specs with the storage that you need so it will serve you well for a long time. Or has a decent resell value in a couple of years if you want to buy a unit with AS.

Whenever they do come out with the new Mini, does any know if there’s any technical reason an ARM Mini wouldnt support eGPUs?

It’s certainly possible. We’ll have to see. Apple gives some clues about its plans in developer documentation, referring to ‘Apple GPUs’

• Use the Common family to create apps that target a range of GPUs on multiple platforms.

• Use the Apple family to create apps that target Apple GPUs.

• Use the Mac family to create apps that target GPUs on macOS systems.

• Use the Mac Catalyst family when building an iPadOS app to run on macOS.

2 Likes

It will need to have some kind of direct connection to the processor, like a (successor to) PCIe or thunderbolt 3 / USB4. The developer mini doesn’t, but pundits I’ve read expect an AS mini to have some manner of robust connection.

An eGPU will also be dependent on drivers being written that talk to the AS.

2 Likes

There was some discussion about ARM Macs and discrete GPUs on the WWDC episode of ATP. The A series processors have much better integrated GPUs than the relatively anemic Intel ones and that will probably continue (if not get even better) on Apple Silicon. However, if Apple wants to transition the full lineup to ARM, including the Mac Pro, they’ll have to support discrete GPUs eventually. Given that an EGPU essentially involves the same underlying issues as getting an ARM processor to talk to a discrete GPU (plus the added issues of getting it to do it over Thunderbolt rather than PCIe) we might not see EGPU support until we start seeing Macs with discrete graphics.

1 Like

I’m in the same boat. My MacBook Pro died a few months ago (mid-pandemic) and I decided on a Mac Mini. I think I’m going to get an i7 model before the Apple silicon transition to give Apple some time to work out the kinks. Also would like to still be able to run Windows in Parallels/Boot camp.

Hopefully they will still put out Mac OS releases for intel for some time. My last Mac lasted almost 8 years.

1 Like