The last time Apple introduced a Mac Mini was 2014, the year Apple debuted the iPhone 6. Yes, it’s really been that long. At Apple’s 30 October New York event the company announced the first update to the pint-sized desktop Mac since 2014.
The new Mac mini is here with a Space Grey finish and some Flagship specs – here’s everything you need to know about the 2018 Mac mini. Apple calls it a “massive increase in performance,” but anything would be after four years in the tech world. A new Mac Mini is well overdue, but we’re thankful it’s here because it looks like it could be a decent companion to your workstation.
The Mac mini has always been popular because of its affordability and usefulness as a server, a media library for the living room or a first Mac for those who don’t want to pay a premium, and the new model looks set to continue that while also offering extra power to appeal to the professional market. It’s just a shame Apple jacked up the price by $300.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into everything there is to know about the Mac Mini 2018. And, remember – keep this page bookmarked, as we’ll update it with all the latest information as it surfaces.
Price & Availability
Apple opened up pre-orders for the new Mac mini immediately after its event on 30 October, with the computer set to arrive in stores on 7 November
The Mac Mini (2018) starts at $799 for the four-core model, and $1,099 for the six-core version. If you max out all the features with the highest performing model, you’re looking at a price tag of $4,199. We definitely aren’t happy about that pricing situation.
The previous Mac Mini sold for just $500 by comparison at its base price. As of now, the upgrade doesn’t feel quite worthy of the jump in price. The move to a four-core (or six-core) processor is fairly commonplace in 2018, as is super-fast SSD storage and Thunderbolt 3 ports. We’ll save our final opinion once we’ve fully tested the system, but the pricing alone has left us a little cold. Of course, you’ll still need to factor in the price of a monitor, keyboard and mouse.
The 2018 Mac mini is broadly the same design as the previous model, but with one major change: it now comes in Space Grey rather than Silver, a move Apple said is partly to appeal to the pro crowd.
The internals of the Mac Mini may be completely different from its predecessor, but Apple doesn’t think the design needed a refresh. The 2018 Mac mini is broadly the same design as the previous model, but with one major change All that’s new is a Space Grey finish, which certainly looks sleeker than the old silver color. a move Apple said is partly to appeal to the pro crowd. It’s the exact same size So once again this measure 3.6cm tall and 19.7cm wide. It weighs 1.3kg – a very slight jump from the previous 1.22kg. We do wish Apple tried something different here with design, just for variety.
Some people won’t mind the static design, but there’s no such thing as standing still in tech. The world of compact PCs has evolved pretty drastically in the past four years. You can attach one to the back of your monitor — or even hang one from your keychain. That makes the “mini”-ness of the Mac mini less impressive than it used to be.
The final design change – Apple has switched to using 100 percent recycled aluminum thanks to a new custom alloy, along with more recycled plastic than before, making this a little eco-friendlier. There’s hardly any difference in texture or feel compared to the previous Mac Mini, and Apple said it maintains the same strength and durability. It’s nice to see a company maintain its commitment to make eco-friendly products.
As we’ve already mentioned, the new Mac mini boasts a serious performance bump from the 2014 models. The configurations for the new Mac Mini can be confusing. First off, there are two main models with eighth-generation processors— one with a 4-core processor, and the other with a 6-core processor. The base 4-core comes with a 3.6GHz Intel Core i3, whereas the base 6-core packs a 3.0GHz Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz. You can find an even more powerful Intel Core i7 model with six cores.
- 6GHz quad-core 8th-generation Intel Core i3 processor
- 8GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory
- Intel UHD Graphics 630
- 128GB PCIe-based SSD storage
- 0GHz hexa-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor
- Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz
- 8GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory
- Intel UHD Graphics 630
- 256GB PCIe-based SSD storage
The Mac mini is now packing Intel’s 8th-gen Coffee Lake processors for some seriously amped up performance power – Apple boasted the new devices are five times faster than before.
The entry model will include a quad-core 3.6GHz Intel Core i3 processor, but you can upgrade all the way to a 6-core i7 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 4.6GHz.
Unsurprisingly, given the Mac mini’s pint-size form factor, there’s still no support for a discrete graphics card – there simply isn’t the space in the enclosure.
Instead you get integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630, which should be a big step up from the last-gen devices – but still won’t be able to compete against discrete cards. Luckily, the new Thunderbolt 3 ports mean you’ll always be able to connect the Mac mini to an external GPU if you seriously need graphical performance.
Apple claims graphics capability has increase by 60 percent, which sounds good on the surface. But again, compared to 2014, anything will make for an impressive jump in performance. The truth is the integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630 won’t be pushing out high frame-rates anytime soon. We would have loved to see a configuration option that provides some more graphics capability, such as the Core i5-8305G, which comes with AMD Radeon RX Vega graphics onboard. This would have not only brought some entry-level gaming performance to the Mac mini, but also some raw power for demanding tasks like video editing.
RAM has arguably gotten an even bigger spec boost than anything else. The entry model Mac mini packs 8GB of 2666MHz DDR4 RAM, which is upgradeable to a whopping 64GB – a huge jump from the previous cap of 16GB.
The other big internal change is the commitment to flash storage – every single model now packs an SSD, with Apple promising that the new drives are four times faster than before.
The entry-level model includes 128GB of SSD storage, but you can upgrade all the way to 2TB.
new addition is Apple’s T2 security chip, which debuted in 2017’s iMac Pro and later made its way to the MacBook Pro. With this chip, Apple said everything stored on the SSD is fully encrypted, and you get secure boot as well. What’s neat is HEVC video transcoding also takes place here, and it’s reportedly 30 times faster, which sounds like a boon for pro video editors. The T2 also brings “Hey Siri” functionality with it for quicker access to Apple’s voice assistant.
Over on the back is an impressive array of ports including four Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, which means you can connect it to 4K or 5K Thunderbolt displays, as well as an external GPU.
Along with USB-C, there are also two USB-A 3 ports, one HDMI 2.0 port, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack -it lives. Everything is situated in the back for a clean look, which keeps wires from sprawling all over the place. An Ethernet port is also available, and it’s configurable up to 10Gb Ethernet for super-fast connections. Overall, we’re happy Apple beefed up port selection rather than cut back.
Here’s a rundown of the ports on the 2018 Mac mini:
- Four Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports
- Two USB-A 3 ports
- HDMI 2.0 port
- Gigabit Ethernet port (upgradeable to 10Gb)
- 5mm audio jack
With just one HDMI port, you’re going to have to either upgrade to a Thunderbolt 3 monitor or live the dongle life in order to support more than one monitor… on a desktop machine. Considering the Mac Mini is built as a creator’s tool, multiple monitors are often a must, so many people will have to buy extra accessories.
There’s one big thing missing though: the SD card slot has been removed, so any photographers or anyone else reliant on SD cards will need to grab a dongle.
We’re also extremely happy that Apple went with SO-DIMM memory, which should make it easy to upgrade this machine. Unfortunately, Apple hasn’t revealed whether it went with its proprietary NVMe SSD controller, but we’re hoping to discover if the flash storage inside this desktop is also user-upgradable.
The Mac mini fulfills the wish of everyone who demanded that Apple upgrade its smallest desktop computer. Apple did just that, without doing anything to the overall design, and that’s perfectly okay for a creator’s tool. All of the power is on the inside.
You’re going to pay dearly for upgrades beyond the entry-level price – but the new Mac mini will upgrade you to the future of Thunderbolt 3 speeds and pure SSD storage, which should be worth the cost.
The new Mac mini is available for pre-order now, and official sales start November 7.