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Mac Mini advice
Last post Fri, Sep 18 2020 by Dewdman42, 3 replies.
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Posted on Wed, Aug 26 2020 18:36
by Chris T
Joined on Fri, Mar 23 2012, Posts 40

Hi Brain Trust


I need some Mac Mini advice. NOTE: my actual questions are at the very bottom (if you don’t want to trudge through this longwinded post.). My current rig is:


Mac Pro (2013 Trashcan, 2,.7 GHz, 12-core 64GB RAM - OS10.14.6). 

2 x Mac Minis (2011, 16GB RAM each - OS10.13.6).


I’m 100% SSD drives. I run Digital Performer 10 and VE Pro 7 on my main Mac Pro. I host ALL synths / VIs and a million plugins, reverbs etc. on the Mac Pro. I also host video on my Mac Pro and Mix directly in DP, which works great.


Since I like having a MEGA template (from my years of doing big orchestral mockups + synths + big perc etc), I host my orchestra (Strings, Brass, WW) on the 2 slave Mac Minis. However, since they had the annoying 16GB RAM limit (back in 2011!), I had to host my orchestral perc on the main Mac. This rig has worked out very well for several years.


Until the other day when one of my Mac Minis died (Da-da-daaaaa!). I think it was a failing fan (bad noise) that caused overheating and constant shutdowns.


Regardless of whether I can fix the Mini (which I prob won’t bother), it’s definitely time I upgraded them. While in an ideal world I would just splurge $20k+ and get the NEW Mac Pro with a million GB of RAM, and be done with the slaves, I still believe that my best option (both from a financial and practical standpoint) is to get 1 (or 2) new Mac minis and max out the RAM in each. This should give me plenty of headroom for my full orch template, then leave plenty of room/juice on my Mac Pro to host my myriad synths etc. 


Maxed-out Mac Mini = $3,000 (64GB RAM)


( For those wondering, I used to use Windows on PCs (in the old Gigastudio days), but I gave up years ago (I guess Vista was my last straw!). I really don’t want to go the PC route, even though I know it’s way more bang for the buck. Generally speaking I find the Mac OS easier and more reliable. )





My questions are:



1. Does anyone have the NEW Mac Mini, and if so, how are they? 



2. I’m just using the Minis to run VEPro 7 which will host my orchestral libraries in Kontakt 6 (mostly Cinematic Strings, Cinesamples wind, brass, some 8Dio, Symphobia etc). I DO NOT run any plugins / reverbs on the minis. All that is on my Mac Pro. 


- With this in mind, which Processor would you receommend? (Quad-core / Six-core / speed?)



3. Any downside (as far as heating / headroom etc.) if I max out the RAM and SSD sizes?



4. Would the 10GB Ethernet give me better MIDI / Audio ‘throughput’, or is that redundant for our usages?




Muchas gracias!

Posted on Tue, Sep 15 2020 17:47
by RCMusic23
Joined on Wed, Apr 30 2014, Posts 36

Surprised you've not had a reply yet. I was considering the new Mac mini route as my server computer, as I've got a spare 32GB 260 Pin ram stick which I don't use for anything. I also wanted a small unit rather than a PC tower.

However, I decided to build a mini PC (ITX), house it in a small aluminium chassis, put an Apple sticker on the front (because I'm such a Fan Boy) and made myself a a nice server PC. I too prefer MacOS but if you use a PC for hosting samples and VE Pro, then you don't need to interact with the PC much. (I know what you mean about Vista lol, but Windows 10 is pretty good). Use a Mac as the DAW computer.

My mini PC for server:

CPU: i9-9900K (haven't overclocked yet, but might do)

RAM: 64GB at 3000Mhz


256GB SSD (NVMe)...a bit random, but I had space to put a spare SSD inside so did.


I use a Caldigit Ethernet to Thunderbolt converter, since my m ITX motherboard doesn't have Thunderbolt 3. You can get one by ASRock I believe, which does have TB3.

With a PC server, you can upgrade your RAM and CPU anytime.

Be good to know what you decided to do.

Posted on Fri, Sep 18 2020 19:04
by Dewdman42
Joined on Tue, Feb 27 2018, Posts 783

I would personally not recommend a mac mini as a dedicated VePro server.  These units tend to become noisy with the fans or else throttle down the Cpu when they get hot..  for a server you are much better off using a PC Windows box IMHO.

I would even prefer to use a factory refurbished 2012 MacPro then to use an up to date Mac Mini for this purpose, and actually for my desktop too frankly... but anyway for a server, why use the mini?  The dream of having a tiny little VePro server will work ok sure, but you will get far better bank for the buck with a windows PC for the VePro server.

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