News Flash – Update – 4th October 2023: The Mac mini (2018) macOS upgrades from Ventura to Sonoma with no problems here. Let me know what your experience has been please. The upgrade on the Core i3 CPU machine took about 30 minutes. I have not noticed anything especially interesting or annoying about Sonoma compared to Ventura so far. Again please share your experieces with the latest macOS in the comments.
Mac mini has always been the cheapest way for people to access Apple computers. There are excellent reasons for this. Unlike MacBook laptops and iMac all-in-one desktops Mac mini does not include a screen, keyboard or mouse. Any HDMI screen, USB keyboard and mouse will do the job. They do not have to be Apple branded parts (PC keyboard and mouse functions are easy translated to the Mac functions). When any generation Mac mini goes end of life these peripherals can be reused with the next one.
Apple class their machines as ‘vintage’ when they are five to seven years old. After seven years Apple class the machines as ‘obsolete’. The long term cost advantage and reduction of waste is clear to see with the Mac mini compared to Macbooks and iMacs. In addition the Mac mini form factor conveniently small and inexpensive compared to the high end Mac Pro and Mac Studio desktop machines.
How does Mac mini (2018) perform in real life in 2023? One of the concerns about using older Apple equipment is how long Apple will support any given machine with the latest macOS. Every autumn a new version of macOS is released. When the machine approaches the age of seven the cut-off time for new macOS updates looms. The good news for Mac mini (2018) is that it is supported by macOS 13 Ventura whch was released in October 2022. Even better news is that the Intel Core i3 version of this Mac mini with 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD runs Ventura very smoothly. This is in stark contrast to older Mac mini machines such as Mac mini (Late 2014) which contain old style mechanical hard drives instead of modern SSDs (Sold State Drives).
The 2014 machine will run October 2021’s macOS 12 Monterey but the user will have to be patient. Even with the 2014 Intel Core i5 CPU this mini with 4GB DDR3 RAM will take a long time to launch the Zoom video conferencing client for example. Mac mini (2018) is clearly not the latest and greatest but the performance boost compared to the older machines is impressive.
In the UK new Mac mini machines currently start at £649. Obviously you are buying five years worth of future proofing compared to the 2018 machine. However for those on a budget Mac mini (2018) still represents a good value and viable platform on the second hand market at around 40% of the price of the cheapest new unit.