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Author Topic: M1 Mac Mini, an amazing piece of kit  (Read 491 times)

Alex Atkin UK

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M1 Mac Mini, an amazing piece of kit
« on: June 08, 2021, 10:30:45 PM »

I don't make it any secret that I'm not an Apple fan.  I think they are arrogant, greedy and especially with their laptops make some really bizarre design choices or outright design them to fail easily.

However, I've been following the reviews of the new M1 ARM based Macs and finally had to get one, the first Mac I've ever bought.

I'm absolutely stunned at the performance of this thing.  The CPU is slightly faster than my gaming laptop, except I've not been able to get the SoC over 40C so far and its completely silent, whereas my laptop hits 90C and is deafeningly loud.

I got it mainly so I could use Topaz Gigapixel and Video Enhance without cooking myself, or while watching the TV and considering neither of those apps are yet ported to the M1, its really not bad at all.  Obviously its not going to compare to a 200W GPU, but considering its power consumption the performance per watt is absolutely insane.

Its also the first device I've seen that can more-or-less hit Gigabit over WiFi 6.  I saw it peak at 940Mbit pulling off my NAS at one point, averages just under 900.

Also ironically, it saw my NAS Samba server immediately, no fuss, which Windows 10 usually doesn't - I have to manually enter its name.

Granted its not perfect, the Screensaver gets stuck requiring you to put the device to sleep and wake it back up.  I also hate that MacOS doesn't seem to dock windows like Windows and KDE Plasma does - so you can't easily snap two Finder windows next to each other for drag and drop (might just be some other method to do I haven't figured out yet).  But its not like any OS is without it quirks.

The fact you can also now run iPad apps on MacOS is pretty neat too.  Again not all apps are easily adapted to keyboard and mouse (I think you need a touchpad for pinch functionality), but its more options which is never a bad thing.

I'm sure the more powerful models will end up being stupidly expensive, but the base model is really impressive for 699, much faster than I'd expect for 8GB RAM.  I plan to also play around with video editing on it, as all major codecs are hardware accelerated and by all reports, its supposed to be beast at it.

What makes it all the more satisfying is knowing this all came from British ingenuity, when the people developing the ARM architecture didn't even know if it would work. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jOJl8gRPyQ

Its just a shame its no longer a British company.  Also the fact that most of my school years were with BBC Micros and then Acorns, so its kinda like I've come full circle.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2021, 12:48:10 AM by Alex Atkin UK »
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vic0239

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Re: M1 Mac Mini, an amazing piece of kit
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2021, 12:30:30 PM »

I got mine just before Christmas last year and am very impressed with it as well (I have the 16GB version). It replaced my late 2013 Mac Pro (trash can) which was excellent, but ran quite hot - fine in Winter! I too have never heard the fan run and not felt any noticeable heat from the case either.

I use Final Cut Pro X for my video editing and the M1 Mini handles that with aplomb straight from the camera without using proxy files and movies are quickly exported. I went through all my projects and re-exported as HEVC and still no fan! You could try HandBrake if you want to exercise the Mini if you don't have a suitable linear editor, but that utilises Rosetta 2.

I've also played with running Linux and Windows VMs (ARM64 versions) using Parallels Desktop which is also handled with ease.
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Alex Atkin UK

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Re: M1 Mac Mini, an amazing piece of kit
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2021, 05:12:10 PM »

If they get full hardware support into Linux I will likely pick up a second one.  If the benchmarks are to be believed, its faster the 8600k in my NAS/Server using at most 1/4 of the power.  If it weren't for the inconvenience of power to everything, I'd seriously consider just stringing the HDDs off thunderbolt from a Mac Mini rather than the NAS, as the stupid FlexITX PSU is so darn loud.  Although I do run some apps in WINE which would work fine in MacOS with Rosetta 2 but unlikely Linux will get x86 support, even if apparently a chunk of it is hardware based translation.

I have hit a few snags though.  When I plugged in the ethernet port its stuck at 100Mbit.  Switched to a Realtek 2.5Gbit USB-C NIC using the same cable, happily pulls 2.3Gbit.  I would have gotten the 10Gbit 16GB model, but I wanted to use Very as I already have credit with them.

The second snag being the well documented screensaver bug, it will random kick in and not close when you unlock.  People were saying it was fixed in the latest update but it is not.  Applied the workaround so hopefully that will stop happening.

As for video editing, I was going to install DaVinci Resolve Free edition.  I'd also completely forgotten about GarageBand, what an amazing piece of free software that is.  I need to dig out the USB to MIDI controller I could never get working on PC and see if it works.  Was never sure if it was my Rock Band keyboard that was defective or the adapter.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2021, 06:03:25 PM by Alex Atkin UK »
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Alex Atkin UK

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Re: M1 Mac Mini, an amazing piece of kit
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2021, 12:07:15 AM »

Gigabit ethernet port is now working, but AppleTV is buggy.  Had to reboot as it stopped loading content with just the Apple logo in the window.  Then after the reboot I played content and tried to take it out of full screen, the whole screen corrupted and I had to do some fancy clicking to try and briefly see the menu to reboot.

So much for the people claiming Apple "just works", never had these kinds of issues on Windows.
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vic0239

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Re: M1 Mac Mini, an amazing piece of kit
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2021, 07:36:47 AM »

Not seen these particular issues on mine, but my usage will be different to yours. What I do have an issue with is the file open/save dialogue. It always opens squashed up with the items in the side bar unreadable. You can resize, but this isn't retained across reboots, very annoying. I sometimes think that every new release of macOS is written from scratch as quite often bugs appear where you can see no apparent reason for change. I also wish there were a few more ports on the Mini. I had to buy an Thunderbolt hub at some expense, but that introduced issues with my monitor running off its displayport. Quite often the monitor couldn't be coaxed out of sleep requiring a reboot, I had to connect the monitor directly to the Mini to resolve that. Not sure which was responsible for that fault. You learn to live with these annoying quirks though!
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vic0239

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Re: M1 Mac Mini, an amazing piece of kit
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2021, 03:27:57 PM »

Gigabit ethernet port is now working
Just out of interest, what was the issue with this? You've got me looking at my ethernet performance and I can't seem to push it much over 800Mbps. Maybe I need higher spec cables.
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Alex Atkin UK

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Re: M1 Mac Mini, an amazing piece of kit
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2021, 08:54:17 PM »

Just out of interest, what was the issue with this? You've got me looking at my ethernet performance and I can't seem to push it much over 800Mbps. Maybe I need higher spec cables.

Its actually still a bit fiddly, it dropped to 100Mbit again at one point, I have no idea what causes it.  When its at Gigabit however I tested with iperf3 and its a solid 940Mbit.  Worth noting, I have flow control enabled on my switches as otherwise I get performance issues accessing the 10Gbit server from slower clients.

Bigger problem I'm having is Screen Sharing is really laggy (I use vnc all the time on my Linux server and its almost as quick/smooth as native) and far too often the cursor does not appear making it unusable.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2021, 08:58:37 PM by Alex Atkin UK »
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Alex Atkin UK

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Re: M1 Mac Mini, an amazing piece of kit
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2021, 05:52:25 PM »

Done some more testing with Topaz Video Enhance.

File: 640x360 upscale to 1280x720
Ryzen 9 5950X RTX 2080, 0.07sec/frame pulling 220W+.
Reports 40% GPU usage, 50% CPU.

Mac Mini M1 , 0.12sec/frame pulling 21W.
Reports 20% GPU usage, 75% CPU.

The PC while idle pulls 80W, that's nearly four Mac Minis doing upscaling!
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meritez

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Re: M1 Mac Mini, an amazing piece of kit
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2021, 06:02:16 PM »

Done some more testing with Topaz Video Enhance.

File: 640x360 upscale to 1280x720
Ryzen 9 5950X RTX 2080, 0.07sec/frame pulling 220W+.
Reports 40% GPU usage, 50% CPU.

Mac Mini M1 , 0.12sec/frame pulling 21W.
Reports 20% GPU usage, 75% CPU.

The PC while idle pulls 80W, that's nearly four Mac Minis doing upscaling!

 :o

Might pick one up when the Linux support improves if it's that energy efficient!
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Alex Atkin UK

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Re: M1 Mac Mini, an amazing piece of kit
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2021, 06:16:39 PM »

Bearing in mind, Topaz haven't updating for the M1 yet so the CPU usage is probably much higher than it should be due to running under Rosetta 2.

Its also unclear due to this if its getting any benefit out of the AI cores.  Its rather mind boggling to think this might actually get even faster.

The thing is, I don't even like upscaling on the desktop as its really loud and gets bakingly hot in the room.  The Mac Mini is silent, you really have to get close to the back to feel the warm air coming out.
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