Mac mini 2020 i7 review and specs – DIY Mac mini

mac mini 2020 i7 review and specs - DIY mac mini
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What do you think about the Mac mini? Do you use one or planning DIY mac mini? The Mac mini received a minor update in March 2020, doubling the amount of storage on each of the two standard configurations, which essentially amounts to a $200 price cut. The Mac mini is otherwise unchanged compared to the models released in October 2018, featuring 4- and 6-core 8th-Generation Intel Core processors, four Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, support for up to 64GB RAM, and all SSD configurations with up to 2TB of storage available. It also includes Apple’s T2 chip for added security. Hunt more in mac mini 2020 i7 review and DIY mac mini options.

How to do DIY mac mini? What is the price of mac mini 2020 i7? The 2019 Mac Pro might be the best Mac desktop ever by a long shot, but the Mac mini is the best value desktop Mac, and it remains my favorite desktop Mac to this day. Although I look forward to an eventual CPU upgrade, the 2018 Mac mini, when properly spec, makes for a good workhorse machine for tasks like video editing with Final Cut Pro X.

Mac mini 2020 i7 review and specs – DIY Mac mini
Mac mini 2020 i7 review and specs – DIY Mac mini

Key features – mac mini 2020 i7

Lot of memory options

The Mac mini features 32GB of high-performance 2666 MHz DDR4 SO-DIMM memory for faster rendering, working with massive files, or running multiple virtual machines. And now you can configure even more memory – up to 64GB – to run even heavier workloads.

Absolute workhorse

In addition to being a great desktop computer, the Mac mini powers everything from home automation to giant render farms. And now, with an 8th Generation 3.2 GHz Intel Core i7 Six-Core processor and Intel UHD Graphics 630, the Mac mini has even more computing power for industrial-grade tasks. So, whether you’re running a live concert sound engine or testing your latest iOS app, the Mac mini is the shortest distance between a great idea and a great result.

Haul Apps

This Mac mini has a 256GB PCIe SSD with sequential read speeds of up to 3.4 GB/s, so you can load giant files and launch apps quickly.

Optimized performer

The Mac mini is optimized for performance across the board, with programs including Xcode, WebKit Compile, Adobe Photoshop CC, Pixelmator Pro, Luxion KeyShot, Autodesk Maya, Compressor, Final Cut Pro X, Logic Pro X, MainStage, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and more.

Next-Gen Security – Apple’s T2 Security Chip

The Mac mini features the Apple T2 Security Chip, a second-generation custom Mac silicon designed by Apple to make the Mac mini even more secure. The T2 Security Chip consolidates several controllers into one, and includes a Secure Enclave co-processor that provides the foundation for encrypted storage and secure boot capabilities.

Thunderbolt 3

Thunderbolt 3 gives you some productive possibilities. Transfer data at up to 40 Gb/s, charge and power external devices, connect up to two 4K displays—and even a third with HDMI 2.0—or one 5K display. Or, pair your Mac mini with an eGPU for desktop-class graphics performance.

Ports and upgradability

With a variety of ports, the Mac mini is ready for a variety of workflow configurations. Thunderbolt 3 is powerful and versatile, and the Mac mini has four of them. The HDMI 2.0 port delivers more bandwidth than its predecessor, so you can enjoy faster frame rates. For wired network access, take advantage of the integrated Gigabit Ethernet port.

Powerful desktop, and beyond – mac mini 2020 i7

Because of its size, performance, and wide array of ports, the Mac mini goes where no Mac has gone before. And now, with even more cores packed into its 7.7″ square frame, you never know where you’ll find a Mac mini—or dozens of them—hard at work.

Xcode Server
A 3.6 GHz Intel Core i7 Quad-Core processor and fast I/O connectivity make the Mac mini a solid Xcode companion to build your apps quickly while running automated tests in the background.

Build and Render Farms
The faster 2666 MHz DDR4 memory in the Mac mini is ideal for batching out massive Xcode builds or rendering and compressing video.

Digital Art and Signage
From performance art to immersive digital billboards, the Mac mini drives some of the biggest and brightest digital displays with its powerful processor, high-performance memory, and fast, versatile I/O.

Live Performance
With its 128GB PCIe SSD, fast performance, and small footprint, Mac mini becomes a live musical instrument with MainStage on some of the world’s largest concert tours.

Limited Warranty and Service

Your Mac mini comes with 90 days of complimentary technical support and a limited 1-year warranty. Purchase AppleCare+ for Mac to extend your coverage to three years from your AppleCare+ purchase date and add up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage, each subject to a service fee of $99 for screen damage or external enclosure damage, or $299 for other repairable damage, plus applicable tax.

macOS

macOS features Dark Mode, pro-inspired features, four new apps, and a redesigned Mac App Store.

Video capability

Up to Two Displays
One display with a 5120 x 2880 resolution at 60 Hz connected via Thunderbolt 3, plus one display with 4096 x 2160 resolution at 60 Hz, connected via HDMI 2.0.

Up to Three Displays
Two displays with a 4096 x 2304 resolution at 60 Hz connected via Thunderbolt 3, plus one display with 4096 x 2160 resolution at 60 Hz, connected via HDMI 2.0.

HDMI 2.0 Display Video Output
Support for one display with a 4096 x 2160 resolution of 60 Hz with DVI output using a separately-sold HDMI to DVI adapter.

Thunderbolt 3 Digital Video Output
Native DisplayPort output over USB Type-C, with Thunderbolt 2, DVI, and VGA output supported using separately-sold adapters.

In the Box

  • Apple Mac mini

mac mini 2020 i7 – who is this for?

For anyone who uses their Mac for browsing the web and writing emails, and doing general office work the Mac mini could suffice. It’s powerful enough to do a good job with photo and home video editing. If you are looking for a Mac that will just sit on your desk, or in the study, the Mac mini is a cheap option.

The Mac mini is also a popular choice for a living room Mac. A lot of people plug it into their TV screen via an HDMI cable (the Mac mini retains its HDMI port). And, apparently one reason why Apple, after waiting four years, finally updated the Mac mini was its popularity with developers and server farms.

When the Mac mini stopped featuring a optical drive back in 2011 there was a bit of an outcry from those who though it was an ideal home entertainment centre, but DVDs are far less popular than they were back then thanks to the rise of streaming services.

The Mac mini is a popular choice for developers – probably because it’s cheap and they can just plug it into an existing monitor and keyboard. It’s likely to become more popular for that now, and may even begin to appeal to creatives with more demanding needs, thanks to higher spec build-to-order options – though the lack of a discrete GPU is still a serious limitation. Read about the best Mac for developers here.

AT a glance, what is mac mini 2020 i7 specifications?

There are two Mac minis available. The cheapest Mac mini has a 3.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i3 processor and Intel UHD Graphics 630, along with 8GB DDR4 RAM and 256GB SSD storage (up from 128GB prior to March 2020). The other model has a 3.0GHz 6-core Intel Core i5 (with Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz) and 512GB SSD (up from 256GB SSD prior to March 2020). The graphics and RAM remain the same.

The top of the range Mac mini has various build-to-order options (DIY mac mini), including a 3.2GHz 6-core Intel i7 processor, 2TB SSD, 64GB RAM, and a 10 Gigabit ethernet port. Opting for the top-of-the-line options across the board jumps the price up to a very meaty £3,859/$4,099 though, so watch out.

The Mac mini weighs 1.3kg and the dimensions are 19.7cm by 19.7cm. It’s just 3.6cm tall, so it really is mini as the name suggests. The shape and weight haven’t changed from the previous model.

All the Mac mini models feature the following ports and standards

  • 4 Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports
  • 2 USB-A 3 ports
  • HDMI 2.0 port
  • Gigabit Ethernet (upgradeable to 10Gb)
  • Audio in/out
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 5.0

Should you buy a mac mini 2020 i7 now or wait?

The Mac mini was updated in March 2020 and gained increased storage options, however we’d still like to see a new processor as the current processors are 8th generation Intel while other Macs now offer 9th generation and 10th generation processors. We don’t anticipate an update before October though. Check out the latest deals below, alternatively we have even more Mac mini deals here. –

Mac mini, 3.6GHz Quad-Core, 256GB (2020)

This model usually starts at £799/$799, here are the best deals right now:

Mac mini, 3.0GHz 6-Core, 512GB (2020)

This model usually starts at £1,099/$1,099, here are the best deals right now:

mac mini 2020 i7 review

Design

Fans of the compact, no-nonsense designs of previous Mac minis will be happy to learn that the new Mac mini inherits the same small, square-ish metal design that measures 7.7 x 7.7 x 1.4 inches (19.7 x 19.7 x 3.6cm) and weighs slightly heavier than the last Mac Mini at 2.9 pounds (1.3kg), compared to the older Mac mini’s weight of 2.6 pounds (1.19kg).

Within the same dimensions, the Mac mini affords a more powerful hardware than ever before, thanks to a redesigned thermal architecture that features a bigger fan, expanded vents and an overhauled power supply.

Apple has made some small changes to the Mac mini’s design – it now comes in the same Space Grey as the iMac Pro, though it’s the only color option this time around. Apple also asserts that the new Mac mini is made of 60% post-consumer plastic, mostly in the base, with the chassis made from 100% recycled aluminum.

Ports & connectors

Ports-wise, the Apple Mac mini (2018) comes with four Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, an HDMI 2.0 port, two USB-A ports, audio jack and Gigabit Ethernet, alongside a 10Gb Ethernet option. On the back corner, there’s a power button as well as the increasingly rare (for Apple products, at least) 3.5mm headphone jack.

With only one HDMI port, you’ll have to either upgrade to a Thunderbolt 3 monitor or make do with an adapter if you want to connect to more than one monitor. Since the Mac mini is built as a creator’s tool, multiple monitors are often a must, so many users will have to buy additional peripherals.

On the upside, with Thunderbolt 3 you’ll be able to run two 4K displays at once and still have two ports leftover – maybe one for an external graphics card (eGPU) solution, which the Apple Mac mini (2018) supports. As per usual, the keyboard and mouse aren’t included, so there’s another two accessories to factor into your budget.

All these ports are kept at the back of the Mac mini for a minimalist look and to keep the wires from sprawling all over the place.

Can you expand memory or SSD – DIY mac mini?

This machine’s biggest advantage is its external expandability. Unlike the 5K iMac, the Mac mini features four Thunderbolt 3 ports, which lend you many more options when it comes to external expansion.

Unfortunately not every Thunderbolt 3 device features a second Thunderbolt 3 port for daisy-chaining. Hence, when connecting devices like the Universal Audio Arrow, which lacks a second port, the Thunderbolt 3 connection is terminated at the device. This means that for Macs like the 5K iMac, with only two Thunderbolt 3 ports, it’s much more difficult to connect all of your devices simultaneously if you own lots of Thunderbolt 3 peripherals.

Because the Mac mini has four Thunderbolt 3 ports, with pairs of ports each occupying a single Thunderbolt 3 bus, there’s plenty of logical and physical room for expansion. In my current setup I have the following Thunderbolt 3 devices connected to my 2018 Mac mini:

  • Blackmagic eGPU Pro (→) Pro Display XDR
  • Universal Audio Arrow
  • Razer Core X with 24TB Amfeltec Squid PCIe SSD

That’s a total of four Thunderbolt 3 devices, with the Blackmagic eGPU Pro featuring a second Thunderbolt 3 port that allows me to daisy chain the Pro Display XDR at full 6K resolution.

This leaves me with one additional Thunderbolt 3 port available should I need it. Eventually, I’d like to get a chassis with a second Thunderbolt 3 port for my 24TB Amfeltec Squid PCIe SSD. I’m using the Razer Core X temporarily until I acquire a more suitable enclosure for the 24TB PCIe SSD.

How to do DIY mac mini?

If you are planning on buying a Mac mini, here is the configuration that I recommend:

  • 3.2GHz 6‑core 8th‑generation Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz)
  • 8GB 2666MHz DDR4
  • Intel UHD Graphics 630
  • 256GB SSD storage
  • 10 Gigabit Ethernet

This configuration will set you back $1199 but features a much faster CPU and 10GbE connectivity. It also includes 256GB of flash storage by default, instead of the paltry 128GB that used to come with this configuration.

From there, I recommend a DIY memory upgrade, using third-party memory that you can acquire at a much better price via Amazon.

Lastly, you should consider an eGPU, because if you’re doing anything that involves graphics on the Mac mini, you’re going to be extremely disappointed with the performance of the integrated graphics.

Mac mini 2020 i7 review and specs – DIY Mac mini
Mac mini 2020 i7 review and specs – DIY Mac mini

I recommend the Blackmagic eGPU Pro if aesthetics and low noise are things you care most about. The performance of the Blackmagic eGPU Pro’s Vega 56 is also really good; it makes the Mac mini feel more like a baby iMac Pro.

As mentioned, you don’t have to splurge for the Blackmagic eGPU Pro if money is tight, you can always go for some other cheaper eGPU solution by purchasing the external chassis and graphics card separately.

To get the best performance out of your Mac mini, expect to invest in additional RAM and external graphics. With those two additions, the Mac mini transforms from just an okay machine to a machine that performs more like a baby iMac Pro. Of course, it lacks the display found in the iMac Pro, but the beauty of the Mac mini is that you can pair it with a display of your choice.

There are two stock Mac mini configurations available from Apple:

  • $799 – 3.6GHz quad-core 8th-generation Intel Core i3 chip, 8GB RAM, Intel UHD Graphics 630, and a 256GB SSD.
  • $1,099 – 3.0GHz 6-core 8th-generation Intel core i5 chip, 8GB RAM, Intel UHD Graphics 630, and a 512GB SSD.

Build-to-Order Options >> DIY mac mini price idea

Entry-level Mac mini upgrade options:

  • 3.2GHz 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i7 chip – +$300
  • 16GB RAM – +$200
  • 32GB RAM – +$600
  • 64GB RAM – +$1000
  • 512GB SSD – +$200
  • 1TB SSD – +$400
  • 2TB SSD – +$800
  • 10 Gigabit Ethernet – +$100

Higher-end Mac mini upgrade options

  • 3.2GHz 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i7 chip – +$200
  • 16GB RAM – +$200
  • 32GB RAM – +$600
  • 64GB RAM – +$1000
  • 1TB SSD – +$200
  • 2TB SSD – +$600
  • 10 Gigabit Ethernet – +$100

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