I bought a Mac mini

I lasted a day without preordering a new Mac running Apple’s M1 processor. That’s an improvement, right? Better than I would have done a few years ago?

Well… not by much. My chronic case of former tech journalist disease means that, even though I don’t need to keep abreast of the latest technology for work, whenever a new and interesting change in computers comes out, I end up having to buy it.

That’s how come I own a Surface Pro X, and it’s now why I own a Mac mini with Apple’s M1 ARM-based processor.

I bought the lowest-end model, with 8Gb of memory and 256Gb storage. Having paid out #1800 for a new 16in MacBook Pro earlier in the year, I didn’t really want to pay another #1000 plus for a MacBook Air or Pro 13. I also have too many laptops, anyway.

The timing was right, though, for a desktop Mac, the first one I have owned since another Mac mini about 12 years ago. The shift to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has made me rethink my home working setup, alongside how I work. I have another post in the works about this, but having a fantastic, clear working space has become very important to me, and utilising a small desktop computer with a screen makes a lot more sense than it did even a few months ago.

The relatively limited storage doesn’t worry me. The cloud storage services I use all do on-demand downloading and manage how much of your local storage they take up (this is the future, people).

What about that 8Gb memory, though? Almost everyone’s consensus is that 8Gb is paltry, 16Gb is the bare minimum for proper work, and anyone serious has 32Gb.

I think this misunderstands the advantages of moving memory from discreet components to part of the system on a chip (SoC). Apple’s unified memory architecture is fast and efficient, and swapping between fast, efficient memory and fast SSDs is nothing like paging in and out of RAM from spinning disks back in the day. Remember, too that Apple has a lot of experience in this: while flagship phones in the Android world now come with 12Gb of RAM, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has just 6Gb—and the iPhone 12 gets by with just 4Gb. And now one would say those devices are slow or lacking in power.

Sure, the requirements with a Mac aren’t the same as a phone, but neither does the Mac have the same design restraints.

The new Mac arrives tomorrow, and I’ll be setting it up tomorrow night, so I’ll know more then.


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