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New Mac Mini - good enough?


Oliver Daniel
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I need a new Mac now (sorry, I won't be using a PC, so don't suggest it). 

I don't have enough interest in computer hardware to be a geek about it. I just want to be able to edit, grade and render fast without a hiccup. 

These H265 and new 10bit H264 files are impossible to edit natively on my iMac and I've heard these new Mac's solve the problem. 

When shooting in Prores there isn't a problem! But it's not always possible. 

I've nearly pulled the trigger on the new top spec iMac before, but unsure how it handles those stubborn codecs.

The MAc Mini also maxes out at 16gb RAM - but Apple says:

"The M1 chip brings up to 16GB of superfast unified memory. This single pool of high-bandwidth, low-latency memory allows apps to share data between the CPU, GPU and Neural Engine efficiently — so everything you do is fast and fluid."

Haven't got a clue how this is different or if it matches or exceed performance from Intel Mac's with higher RAM. 

Any insight would be very appreciated. 

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I would not buy any Intel based mac at this point, they will probably not be supported for that long, and the advantages of the new M1 just seem to strong for video editing. However, nobody has really tested the new macs either, so its a bit of a gamble to get one this early.

You can wait untill the M1 units have been tested properly, wait untill the second generation ARM based Macs come out, or if you need something now, cross your fingers and order an ARM based MacMini or MacBookPro now. It just depends on how urgently you neee to upgrade.

I am personally planning to wait for second gen ARM based Macs, but I've got a decent desktop PC to do they heavy lifting.

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I read somewhere that early reviewers have to sign some sort of agreement regarding reviewing the new processors, in the various computers. Hopefully, independent buyers will be able to help with actual usage experince and issue, instead of ones by people who've been given free laptops or early access, in exchange for lack of completely transparent reviews. 

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48 minutes ago, UncleBobsPhotography said:

I would not buy any Intel based mac at this point, they will probably not be supported for that long, and the advantages of the new M1 just seem to strong for video editing. However, nobody has really tested the new macs either, so its a bit of a gamble to get one this early.

You can wait untill the M1 units have been tested properly, wait untill the second generation ARM based Macs come out, or if you need something now, cross your fingers and order an ARM based MacMini or MacBookPro now. It just depends on how urgently you neee to upgrade.

I am personally planning to wait for second gen ARM based Macs, but I've got a decent desktop PC to do they heavy lifting.

Yep, I need one now really.

My 2015 iMac is acting like an old, withered dinosaur with these new 10bit files. 

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One issue is that the first release does not really have any proper workstations. However, the MacMini is fairly cheap (for a Mac) which means it might be worth it even if a significant stronger machine is released late 2021 or in 2020.

In the short term you will also have to consider if your editor supports the new ARM architecture. I think Final Cut Pro is supposed to have early support, but that Adobe Premiere has some way to go before it runs natively on the new computers. It doesn't do much good to get a new computer if it doesn't run your software yet. I am sure all the major editors will support the new architecture eventually, but it might take some time.

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50 minutes ago, UncleBobsPhotography said:

One issue is that the first release does not really have any proper workstations. However, the MacMini is fairly cheap (for a Mac) which means it might be worth it even if a significant stronger machine is released late 2021 or in 2020.

In the short term you will also have to consider if your editor supports the new ARM architecture. I think Final Cut Pro is supposed to have early support, but that Adobe Premiere has some way to go before it runs natively on the new computers. It doesn't do much good to get a new computer if it doesn't run your software yet. I am sure all the major editors will support the new architecture eventually, but it might take some time.

I use FCP for everything. I rarely use anything else. 

I do a lot of colour grading, titles and basic graphics. On a few projects I may have quite a bit of layers going on. 

It looks solid, it's said to seamlessly play H265 files and it's also very portable, but I'm concerned about the RAM, hence why I'm looking to understand what this unified RAM is all about. 

Guess we have to wait for some reports from early adopters. 

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3 hours ago, Oliver Daniel said:

I need a new Mac now (sorry, I won't be using a PC, so don't suggest it). 

I don't have enough interest in computer hardware to be a geek about it. I just want to be able to edit, grade and render fast without a hiccup. 

These H265 and new 10bit H264 files are impossible to edit natively on my iMac and I've heard these new Mac's solve the problem. 

When shooting in Prores there isn't a problem! But it's not always possible. 

I've nearly pulled the trigger on the new top spec iMac before, but unsure how it handles those stubborn codecs.

The MAc Mini also maxes out at 16gb RAM - but Apple says:

"The M1 chip brings up to 16GB of superfast unified memory. This single pool of high-bandwidth, low-latency memory allows apps to share data between the CPU, GPU and Neural Engine efficiently — so everything you do is fast and fluid."

Haven't got a clue how this is different or if it matches or exceed performance from Intel Mac's with higher RAM. 

Any insight would be very appreciated. 

I am expecting 3x to 8x better performance in video editing apps over Intel at same class of CPU.

The M1 is a ultrathin laptop CPU, so it will be 3x to 8x faster than an Intel ultra thin laptop CPU.

Whether it will be faster than a top of the range Intel laptop CPU or iMac remains to be seen.

I would get the M1 Mac Mini from amazon and return if it doesn't perform better than what you have.

They are likely to be hard to get hold of anytime soon though. Stock issues.

Also the GPU brute force processing power matters less, as there's a lot of custom silicon in there to take the weight off it and accelerate NLEs.

Resolve 17 worth a look too, as that benefits from the M1.

ARM is definitely the future for desktop CPUs and high-end.

Intel will be stomped on and PCs will lose their edge to Apple in the medium term.

Apple has been the only one willing to move the architecture on in a significant way.

Maybe keep an eye on the first real-world performance reviews of the M1 in FCPX?

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That's the big question isn't it...

The 8GB is shared between GPU and CPU.

It is probably enough for everything but 8K RAW editing.

https://www.eoshd.com/news/apple-m1-crushes-intel-beats-6000-mac-pro-2019-and-10-core-intel-i9-macbook-pro-16/

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1 hour ago, Andrew Reid said:

That's the big question isn't it...

The 8GB is shared between GPU and CPU.

It is probably enough for everything but 8K RAW editing.

https://www.eoshd.com/news/apple-m1-crushes-intel-beats-6000-mac-pro-2019-and-10-core-intel-i9-macbook-pro-16/

Thanks for the article. 

Do you know how the maxed out 2020 iMac handles H265 video? Can't find any info anywhere! 

 

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4 hours ago, Oliver Daniel said:

I have absolutely no idea what this guy is saying. 

Basically it can run h.265 4k really smooth unlike his 10 core iMac pro, the video show his iMac scrubbing footage at slide show, while m1 MacBook play the same h.265 footage in real time without skipping, 8k ibp is almost smooth but 8gb ram is the limitation, 16gig is needed for 8k it seems?  Export canon h.265 footage is almost 2x faster on m1. Export H.264 is slightly faster.

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3 hours ago, Oliver Daniel said:

Thanks for the article. 

Do you know how the maxed out 2020 iMac handles H265 video? Can't find any info anywhere! 

 

H265 is decoded in hardware, but probably the editor that you use must support it, as usual. Since you use FCPX, and (AFAIK) it already have a native version for the M1 chip, probably will work very well.

I agree with Andrew - if you really need it ASAP, order a 16gb Mini, get the heaviest job that you've done in FCPX with H265, and try for yourself, monitoring RAM usage. If it chokes, return the computer.

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Truly mind-blowing. For all the shit Apple gets, and often well-deserved since they do put out a lot of bullshit, the M1 is an industry disrupter. Processor clock speeds and ram sizes are rendered meaningless now, especially with the optimization w/ macOS. 

Sure, the next more advanced M1 Macs will be insane, but I'm not waiting if I can do basic 4K-8K editing for the next few years with a cheap, small, quiet computer. I can't wait to get this damn egpu off my desk, farting hot air into my face. (If only SSDs would improve in $/TB, and I can get rid of this 8-disk raid too). 

With the M1, Apple hasn't created a more innovative product since the original iPhone. Speaking of which, I'm returning this 12 pro max for a Mac mini. Why would I need a new phone during another year of lockdowns? Fooled me again, apple. 

But M1 is a Great Leap Forward.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Marcio Kabke Pinheiro said:

H265 is decoded in hardware, but probably the editor that you use must support it, as usual. Since you use FCPX, and (AFAIK) it already have a native version for the M1 chip, probably will work very well.

I agree with Andrew - if you really need it ASAP, order a 16gb Mini, get the heaviest job that you've done in FCPX with H265, and try for yourself, monitoring RAM usage. If it chokes, return the computer.

I’ve got 2 jobs right now with hundreds of shots in H265 and it doesn’t playback or scrub whatsoever. I have to transcode to ProRes and takes a whole day to transcode, not to mention takes up all my processing power so I can’t do any other task!

I do have a Ninja V, but I can’t record 4k 100fps in ProRes - and record a lot of it. Plus when data is an issue, I want the option of using it and not having to worry about transcoding. 

So lots of pain points to fix.  

Seen a few videos now with faultless H265 playback and scrubbing, but nothing using layers, grading, audio, effects and graphics on one timeline. 

Tempted to get a 16gb for now but need to see more real world cases without the obvious “salesman” Youtuber tactic. 

 

 

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