Nov 26, Apple Mac mini () Review: This Little Mac Is Awesome It's kept those same dimensions in (when it dropped the built-in optical can also bump up the horsepower for gaming and other graphics-intensive uses by.
Table of contents
- Yes, I bought a 2018 Mac mini (and here's how I spec'd it out)
- Gaming Performance - Apple Mac mini Review (Mid )
- Apple Footer
So, what does this mean?
Yes, I bought a 2018 Mac mini (and here's how I spec'd it out)
At best, it means only very modest improvements for some models, certainly less than most would expect from a system as old as the Mac mini. At worst, it means a dramatic decrease in performance, with some configurations absolutely destroying their counterparts in multi-core workflows. Apple elected to use an underpowered class of Haswell chips in the new models, and there seems to be absolutely no reason for it. According to Primate Labs , makers of the popular cross-platform Geekbench tool, single-core performance for the Mac mini is up to about 11 percent better than the model in some configurations, but a staggering 40 percent worse in comparisons of the top-end models for each year.
No wonder Apple hides the Mac mini on the second page of its online store listing. Single-core performance is indeed better, but not by much, with only the high end configuration enjoying a modest 11 percent improvement.
Gaming Performance - Apple Mac mini Review (Mid )
Of course, there are occasions when a reduction in performance from one model to the next is not necessarily a bad thing, and the trade-off between performance and battery life is a perfect example. But the Mac mini is a desktop, and power consumption is nowhere near the same level of importance compared to a portable device. Is such a drastic loss of performance worth saving just a few watts at idle? If you plan to use your Mac mini for any kind of gaming or computational work that leverages the GPU, the mini will offer a bit more performance.
Of course, you can always work around this limitation by using one of those Thunderbolt ports with a FireWire adapter or FireWire-enabled dock. Storage Speed: Energy Efficiency: Some of those games may grab some disk space for scratch while you're playing, and if you're short on it, you'll feel it. As a byproduct, the last thing you want, especially if you're playing Steam games, is to cut Steam off from valuable disk space while you're playing.
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Beyond that, you can always use some of our favorite tools to clean up and spruce up your Mac, like Onyx , our favorite system tweaker for the Mac , or iBoostUp , another fast and free Mac tweaking tool. Additionally, you can kill off some of OS X's features that you know you never use, like Dashboard or Notification Center, if you never use them.
They're generally always running in the background, and when it comes to gaming, every bit of added horsepower you can get it useful. Since both processes run all the time in the background, you may be able to free up some system resources for your games to run a bit more smoothly, especially if you have integrated graphics. If the bulk of the games you play on the Mac are Steam games, your best bet before you fire up your favorite games—or before you hit the road with your Mac—is to let Steam do everything it needs to do long before you feel like playing anything.
Patches, updates, new game installs, do it all before you play, and don't trust Steam or your Mac to manage that stuff in the background while you're trying to game. In Windows, if you have a powerful enough gaming PC, you can freely let Steam work while you do other things. In OS X, it just doesn't seem to work quite as well.
Someone pointed out to me that Steam suspends downloads and patches while you're playing - that's true, and that's a good point. It should settle down when you launch a game. Personal experience here, but if you're planning a trip and you want to game on your Mac, even if you know you'll have reliable internet access where you're going, let Steam update itself and all of your games before you even leave the house.
Then you won't have to worry about any of them when you get where you're going. You may not think about it because OS X assumes most of the duties when it comes to managing your system's graphics, drivers, and other settings, but there are some things you can do to get familiar with how your Mac handles video and how you can improve it. While you can't just go and install your own drivers usually , previously mentioned gfxCardStatus gives you some insight as to when your Mac is using integrated graphics, and when it's switched over to a dedicated card. You can even force OS X to use one card or another using the app although you probably won't want to.
Similarly, you'll be able to make smarter tweaks to your games' graphics settings if you learn what all of those toggles and options mean. Check out our guide to graphics settings to get familiar with everything from anti-aliasing to v-Sync. Once you understand what each option does, you'll be more comfortable tweaking and making changes in your games in a way that actually improves performance without sacrificing quality, instead of doing the big things that may even compromise both.
Obviously, adjusting the graphics settings for your game is one of the best ways to make sure it runs a little more smoothly, but another thing you can try is switching between full-screen and windowed mode. Even windowed mode taking up the entire screen can sometimes smooth things out for you, and which one will work better depends heavily on the games you play.
I've had some titles strain in windowed mode but really pick up when set to full-screen, and other titles choke in full-screen but suddenly become playable in windowed mode.
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Your mileage may vary. Even if your Mac is packed with a massive SSD and plenty of RAM, keeping a bunch of apps running in the background while you fire up a full-screen game isn't going to do you any favors. If you game on Windows, you're probably used to the performance tradeoff of keeping other apps open while you game, so you should be ready for it in OS X as well. This is especially true for heavier apps and web browsers, which consume more system resources the longer they've been open. If you can, close Firefox or Chrome on your Mac while you game, or at least close them before you game and start a fresh session if you like to surf the web or research while you play.
In some cases, it's not a big difference, but in others—namely when it comes to web browsing—it can be pretty nightmarish.