When apple announced they were releasing a new desktop Mac Pro I was absolutely jazzed. I had skipped the ‘trash can’ mac pro and was planning on updating my aging Mac Pro in this cycle. Then I found out how much it cost. Ouch!
Much hand wringing followed. Could I really justify the expense of the Mac Pro? It was 2-3 times what I had paid for the computer I was using. Was it really worth it for me and how I use the computer? Hmm. Probably not but what were the options? Do I switch platforms and go for a super fast gaming PC? Couldn’t bring myself to do that either. I didn’t want the Mac Pro with the integrated screen. I’d been down that road before and didn’t like the lack of flexibility around the monitor. What about the mac mini?
We’ve had a couple of mac mini’s in the house – they were great for email and word processing but good enough for processing large image files in lightroom and photoshop? What about video? Then Apple announced and released the M1 Mac Mini. This seemed like the answer to my problems.
I was a little wary because I had seen lots of comments about bluetooth connectivity issues causing problems with keyboard and mouse/trackpad connections. Other than that the reviews I’d seen raved about the power and speed. There aren’t a lot of options really for the mac mini – really just to increase the size of the internal hard drive, which I did.
One issue that I had in thinking about the switch was the numbers of ports and hard drives. I got a thunderbolt hub from Anker to increase the number of connections – this gave me some extra thunderbolt ports, some USB ports and an Ethernet connection. This allowed me to connect everything that I wanted to and gave me a SD card reader!
The other concern was hard drive space. I had 3 internal hard drives in my old mac so I supplemented the mac mini with a 2Tb SSD thunderbolt hard drive to replace one of the internal drives and a 6 Tb USB drive to replace the other internal drive.
I must say that after a couple of weeks now of playing with the M1 mac mini I couldn’t be happier. I don’t have any sophisticated speed tests that allow me to compare the two computers but I know that the mini is much faster. Opening lightroom or photoshop with my mac pro had gotten to be so slow that I could wander off and make a coffee while the program was loading. The catalog that lightroom could handle was relatively small and that meant that I had to split my catalog into years which was increasingly a pain given that I now have images going back well over a decade. Very exciting to have things in a single catalog.
What about the bluetooth issues? I’ve certainly experienced some drop-outs with the trackpad or mouse. It’s almost as if the connection goes into sleep mode when I’m not using them and then quickly reconnects when I try to use the trackpad again. So not enough to be a real bother for me.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely!