M1 Mac Mini 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD

Discussion in 'Apple and Mac OS X' started by GrandesBollas, Dec 24, 2020.

  1. GrandesBollas

    GrandesBollas Notebook Evangelist

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    Considering how turned off I have become with buying BGA turdbooks, I felt an urge to get a cheap M1 Mac Mini and start experimenting. At $699, the M1 Mac Mini is essentially a throw-away. I have it set up with an HDMI cable to my 27" 1440p display. My Digital Storm Lumos is connected via the DisplayPort.

    While sitting on my brains realizing I haven't been to my office in Germantown, MD since March 2020, I wondered if the Mac Mini could be used for daily routine tasks such as teleworking; watching Youtube videos; check NBR forum posts; etc. Of course, gaming as well. When sitting in front of a computer at home all day, listening to My $5000 Lumos all day gets old. Why do I need to listen to the RTX 2070 Super Turbo; or the custom cooling pump and radiator fans? Hardcore gaming - hell yes. But, normal work-flow activities?

    There were a number of questions I asked myself before getting the Mini such as how much RAM and SSD storage I would need. Upgrades to these items defeat my goal for getting this machine in the first place - to experiment. If we are going to have BGA rammed down our yacks, at least have some control over what we get. I drooled over getting my P870 and then my Eluktronics. Sure, I could game hard. But, I quickly realized that I had virtually no control over these expensive pieces of hardware. Locked down and neutered VBIOS. Ineffective thermal cooling. Threat of new Intel mitigation measures.

    I whole heartedly agree with @Mr. Fox that desktops are the way to go. I will always need to have a gaming laptop for work-travel. But, my expectations for replacement machines have come way down.

    Back to the M1 topic at hand. I like to game. Gaming on Apple is a mixed bag since most developers have ignored that platform for good reason. I can run some games natively via Steam (MacOS). Other games that require Windows can be run via a Wine wrapper called CrossOver. Now, a virtual machine interface called Parallels allows me to run more Windows games. Currently, I am running some older games - Elder Scrolls V; Fallout 3; Elder Scrolls IV; Disco Elyseum; Dark Souls Remastered; and Subnautica.

    I have run Subnautica since it was in Early Access. All platforms struggled to play this game and keep cool. The Mac Mini has no fan. But, running Subnautica at a lower resolution is quite playable without the Mini breaking a sweat.

    The Mini has also gotten me into making videos so I can share my results. Here is a sample. Yes, my video editing bites. But, I went to Penn State to become a nuclear engineer not a Youtuber.





    I plan to give the machine a full NBR shakedown. Stay tuned. And yes. I ate my barf in installing a developer build of Windows 10 to run with the ARM64 chipset...blech.
     
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  2. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox BGA Filth-Hating Elitist

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    I love the X170 after extensive mods. It can be a superbeast when you take control of it and make it something special. Stock... not so much. Stock firmware... hell no. And, when I discovered that it couldn't support Windows 7 due to lack of proper CSM support even after unlocking the menus I decided it was going to be a big fat no. If I cannot do what I want to with a computer, then I don't want it. I would be using Windows 10 on it, yes... but I would want to dual boot Windows 7 for benching fun (Windows 10 performance suck in comparison). Even if it is not expensive, if I buy it, I expect to be able to do whatever I want to with zero interference. If I can't then I say no with my wallet. I don't think so. Homey don't play dat. Having an ODM/OEM deciding that I can't have CSM because it is not safe are the same sort of Nazi idiots that would tell me I am required to wear a mask in my own home to be safe. They can kiss my hind end.

    Desktops FTW... 100%. Laptops just keep getting suckier and suckier with each generation that passes.
     
  3. GrandesBollas

    GrandesBollas Notebook Evangelist

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    One of the challenge points I am exploring is the capacity for the M1 Mac mini to play games. Games which are already Apple compatible can be downloaded and installed directly via a native Steam application. Although most games were optimized for Intel chips, Apple has released an interface called Rosetta that enables ARM64 chips to run Intel-based games.

    Installing Windows-specific games is a little more challenging. This can be done through a program called CrossOver. From Wikipedia - CrossOver is developed by CodeWeavers and based on Wine, an open-source Windows compatibility layer. CodeWeavers modifies the Wine source code, applies compatibility patches, adds configuration tools that are more user-friendly, automated installation scripts, and provides technical support. All changes made to the Wine source code are covered by the LGPL and publicly available.

    Another method is setting a Windows virtual machine. Using Intel-based Macs, the hard drive could have been partitioned to run Windows natively called Bootcamp. Using ARM-based Macs, Windows can only be run virtually via an emulator such as Parallels.

    Enough of the background. I fully expect to only be able to run older Direct X 9 or 10 titles. Many of these are already in my library. Thus, it is only my engineering curiosity at work here. One game I've been struggling with is Fallout: New Vegas. I know. Bethesda. Junk engines. Even junkier older games that have been abandoned. Yeah. I get it. But, I see videos such as this, and my post-high school education takes over:



    Following the same steps as the above author, I get Fallout New Vegas stuttering to the point of uselessness:



    Out of curiosity, I took the same save file and played it on my Lumos. Sure enough, elements or traces of the stuttering in the same place were observed, but my Lumos was able to barrel through. My M1 Mac mini choked and made me quit.

    In trying to understand the problem, I took a look at a couple of parameters. Using R23, I obtained the following on my Mini as a baseline:

    [​IMG]

    Looking at Task Manager in the Windows 10 VM:

    [​IMG]

    Really stumped at why Windows 10 only sees 1 Ghz for the 2 cores I have configured for the VM. While watching American Horror Story and Supernatural, I ran the following. Yes. It took that long...

    [​IMG]

    I haven't figured out yet how to increase the clock of the two cores. I've posted on Reddit as well as the Parallels forums for some additional insight. Funny, how typical Apple users are oblivious to these tools and techniques for understanding computer behavior. :)
     
  4. saturnotaku

    saturnotaku Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    Because they don't care. I would wager at least 90% of Windows users feel the same. As I've aged, I'm finding myself falling into that category more and more.
     
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  5. GrandesBollas

    GrandesBollas Notebook Evangelist

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    I agree. Gets old and tiring the lengths you have to go to tweak out a limited amount of performance. I’m a nerd but a mechanically incompetent nerd. My past experience shows in good at tackling academic problems but really suck at tinkering with hardware.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
     
  6. GrandesBollas

    GrandesBollas Notebook Evangelist

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    One of the interesting challenges I find myself is trying to diagnose performance problems on the M1 Mac mini without having any real tools. I recently installed Fallout 4 for testing. I tried installing both as a native application via CrossOver as well as via Parallels virtual machine. Suffice it to say, performance was pretty bad for both paths. In trying to understand why performance is so gimped, I used my new-found OBS ability to record some gameplay:



    Subsequent to this video, I performed a test on a simple game - Disco Elyseum. The first video I am running 4 cores Virtual Machine/4 GB Virtual Machine; the second vide 6 cores and 6 GB:





    Summary: more cores to the virtual machine seems to have reduced CPU utilization. But increasing RAM, increased RAM utilization. A happy spot could be 6 cores and 4 GB RAM. RAM is a factor because my Mac mini is a BGA soldered turd-pile. Only way of increasing RAM will be replacing it with an M2 model.
     
  7. jclausius

    jclausius Notebook Virtuoso

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    In regards to Parallels, you have two things working against you:

    a) My guess is you're using the x86 version of Parallels. If so, you have the Rosetta2 penalty of translating x86 to ARM instructions. I see VMWare has an experimental M1 version available, you may want to explore that possibility.

    b) You only have 8GB RAM on your system. Unfortunately, the current M1 chips are not going to be good with multiple VMs until Apple decides to put more memory on the CPU package.... Unfortunately, the braniacs at Apple decided memory belongs on the CPU package, there are no SO-DIMMs or any other memory options for the M1 for expandability if you feel now you need more. AND... 16GB is the max Apple offers. IMHO, 16GB should be enough to run the OS and one other VM in Parallels, but if you need more than one running at any given time, it's going to be a frustrating experience.

    Is it too late to trade up and get the 16GB model of an M1 MacMini? If not, Apple still sells an intel based Mac Mini, and that can be configured with up to 64GB of RAM. Since you're experimenting, you probably wanted to try out the M1 Arm CPU, and also do not want to spend more money on something just to 'mess around'.

    In summary:
    - ARM (M1) based Parallels
    - More memory

    In what you're describing with Windows based games / software, I think with the specs you have listed your experience is going to be about the same as a $600 BGA disposable laptop.

     
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  8. kojack

    kojack Notebook Virtuoso

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    I am with you. I turn it on, do what I need to do and turn it off. All this screwing around with windows, overclocking, tweaking, blah blah blah. It's boring and old. I would rather tun on my computer, use it to make money or relax doing some stuff. Not always worrying about The lastest update that works great on 99 percent of devices, just the one percent that seem to have issues are the same one percent who constantly tweak and make their devices worse than if they would just leave crap alone and just use their computers as intended.
     
  9. jclausius

    jclausius Notebook Virtuoso

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    Yep. In the big picture, computers are tools. It's how we treat those tools where things differ.

    A computer can be a tool used to get the job done and move on to more enjoyable endeavors. And yet there are also some folks out there that want to squeak every last clock cycle, byte, or whatever out of their systems, or that's how they find their enjoyment.

    It's a wide, wide world out there filled with all types of ppl. Luckily there's room for all opinions; otherwise, it'd be boring if we all were the same.

     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2020
  10. kojack

    kojack Notebook Virtuoso

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    I agree, But what I am saying is 99 percent of the time it's these folks who try to squeeze every last bit from their computers are the ones who blame OS/systems for their mess ups with tweaking.
     
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