The entry config has eight gigs of memory,
a 3.6 GHZ quad-core processor (i3!),
and 128GB SSD (coughs), and it starts at just $799. (booo! 😠)
To say that I was underwhelmed by the base model 2018 i3 Mac Mini would be, well,
It'd be an understatement. While the machine did OK in artificial benchmarks, any sustained workload caused major thermal throttling.
Now, I was able to fix that by replacing the stock thermal paste.
But, even then, the performance was dismal for an $800 computer, EVEN ONE from Apple.
So I built my own Mac Mini using an Intel NUC. And in the spirit of Christmas, I'm calling this build, the NUCracker,
and yes, it's freaking NUCs! (laughing)
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This build is actually rather simple. You need an 8th generation Intel NUC, more on the exact specifications later,
but I opted for the i5 BEK kit model. For $365, you get everything you need
saved for the RAM and storage.
So I also got 8 gigabytes of 2400 MHz G.Skill Ripjaws
DDR4 memory. Now, using only one RAM stick provides us with just single channel memory,
unlike Mac Mini, which uses two DIMMs and gets dual channel, which may put this machine at a disadvantage.
But, I did one the ability to upgrade to 16 gigabytes later down the road.
Lastly, we're going to need an M.2 SSD. Now, you can get cheap SATA drives in this form factor,
But I wanted to get an SSD with speeds comparable to the Mac Mini. Rather than spend more money on a 4 lane NVMe SSD,
I opted for a cheaper off-brand 2 lane NVMe SSD, which netted me 250 gigabytes of storage, for just
$49.99. This will be an excellent value if it performs as promised, which we'll benchmark later in the video.
So, in the end we're ending up with a PC, that has a quad core i5 processor,
with turbo boost, 8GB of RAM,
double the storage capacity in a smaller form factor, at just over half the price of its competition,
the entry-level Mac Mini. This is already looking good. Now, you might be wondering,
well, how does Intel make their mini PCs so much smaller than Apple?
Well for one, the power supply which is internal on the Mac Mini, is
external on the Intel NUC. Now, the obvious downside is that you have a pretty major power brick, but a big positive
is that it removes the heat generated by the power supply away from the main computer case, and
even when you compare the PSU and the NUC combo side-by-side to the Mac Mini, it's still quite a bit smaller
I/O isn't shabby either, for such a tiny computer with 4 USB 3.1 Gen2 ports
(that's double what the Mac Mini has), Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI
2.0, a Thunderbolt 3 port (which yes does work in Mac OS), and it also supports
DisplayPort 1.2 over USB C, although somewhat sadly,
there is only one such port versus four of them on the Mac Mini.
You get a headphone jack, and you even get dual onboard microphones, something that not even the Mac Mini has.
See, not bad for such a tiny package, and Mac OS installation is a breeze.
There is a thriving community of NUC enthusiasts that have even compiled one-click post install scripts,
which make this perhaps one of the easiest hackintosh installations I've ever seen. Furthermore,
there are several excellent step-by-step guides available to this specific hardware built for beginners,
I will link the best ones down below,
but if there was ever a hackintosh to build as your first hackintosh,
this is the one. Now, we do have to get to the point of the video where I say it just works,
(asterisk), because at date of this video's publication,
this is not yet a golden build. USB C devices work as expected, however
Thunderbolt 3 devices (which used the same port) can't yet be hot-swap.
S,o you have to shut down the computer, then plug your Thunderbolt device in, and then reboot. NOT IDEAL.
Furthermore, the onboard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth module is not supported by Mac OS, and
unlike larger PC motherboards, the NUC Wi-Fi module is not swappable,
It's soldered on. So, this means that you're either going to need to use Ethernet or a third-party
Wi-Fi USB module, and both of those options work great,
they do not support AirDrop, and they probably never will. So, that's the single biggest shortcomings of this build and
not having AirDrop may seem like a deal-breaker to you,
but hold your thoughts until you see the performance results, because it's gonna blow your mind. Starting with the SSD,
NUCrackers inexpensive drive,
surprisingly performs exactly as advertised, with a pretty reasonable leg up on the right speeds over Mac Mini.
However, the Mini's read speeds do absolutely crush the NUCrackers.
Of course, if you opt to spend another $70 or so,
you can get a
512 gigabyte Samsung 970 Evo, that will obliterate the Mac Mini's write and read speeds, and
you get four times the storage capacity. But for $50.00, I've gotta give props to this little drive, it's pretty good.
Of course, an SSD does not a computer make. So, how does the CPU perform?
Well, in Geekbench (everyone's favorite synthetic benchmark), NUCracker and Mac Mini trade blows on single core scores,
but after an average of five tests, Mac Mini does slightly edge out the hackintosh.
Multi-core score however is a completely different story. With NUCracker averaging an 18 percent
improvement over Mac Mini. That is not insubstantial. Now furthermore, as we mentioned in my previous Mac Mini video,
Geekbench does not simulate a sustained workload like video editing.
And so, while Mac Mini scores well in Geekbench, it really falls apart in Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere,
thanks to those thermal throttling issues. And I mean if the Mac Mini throttled, look how big it is comparatively,
NUCrackers bound to throttle too, right?
Actually, no. Part of this is, thanks to the much lower TDP of the chip,
It's a high-end laptop chip, rather than a desktop chip, and subsequently just doesn't put off as much heat.
But the NUC also has a larger fan exhaust and intake in terms of surface area than the Mac Mini,
despite it being a much smaller computer. And at 70 degrees Fahrenheit (ambient room temperature),
NUCracker NEVER thermally throttled .now it would dial down the boost clock ever so slightly, from about
100 to 400MHz after about two to three minutes.
But unlike Mac Mini, it never even got close to the base clock speed,
let alone below it. Furthermore,
the NUC BIOS just has better thermal management, with way more aggressive fan curves, that don't let the CPU temperature
get above 90 degrees Celsius (which I know, PC guys, is still really hot). But for a tiny computer, it's, it's not bad.
It's a far cry better than the 100 degrees Celsius t-junction maximum operating temperature that Mac Mini is,
consistently redlining against. So, knowing that you may assume that NUCracker shines in video editing. And,
you're right. In both Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro, NUCracker does a superb job, ranging from at minimum a
20% improvement to maximum a
35% improvement over Mac Mini. I even tried an HEVC
H.265 test because the hardware accelerated T2 chip inside the Mac
Mini should have given the machine the upper edge, and it did help a lot, but NUCracker still took the crown.
Now, in GPU heavy workloads neither machine is going to be fantastic, as they both lack a dedicated graphics card.
However, the Intel Iris Plus 655 graphics on the NUC, do get the upper leg on the Mac
Mini's UHD 630 graphics in both Cinebench GPU, and
Unigine Heaven. And ,it's also my suspicion that the faster GPU is
responsible for the Final Cut Pro results being further apart than the Premiere results. Premiere is pretty much CPU only.
However, Final Cut Pro uses the iGPU pretty heavily, and the NUC clearly has the better GPU, which gives it a better upper hand,
than Apple's own Mac. Now if you're more into external GPUs both machines support them.
you really just be better off building a hackintosh tower instead for both cost and performance reasons than this little NUC build.
All in all, NUCracker blew me away. For about 450 dollars,
you can get a legitimately, excellent Pico PC that's better at being a mini Mac, than Apple's own Mac Mini.
About a month ago,
I bought a very expensive pair of japanese-made
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$1,500, but on Taobao, they were selling for about 800. That's almost half price.
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For example, buy merchant, spending limit ,usage frequency,
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my billing address was in China, because privacy doesn't care what you put, and I successfully and safely,
paid the money to get my headphones. They took a few weeks for them to arrive but arrived they did. They're genuine,
They are new, they sound freakin incredible, and they were basically half off, thanks to Privacy.
The best part is that, privacy is FREE, because they charge the merchants, not you.
So, get started today with the link in the video description.
Well folks, that's all for me. Thank you so much for watching.
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