A Raging Argument: 2013 Mac Pro or 2018 Mac mini?

2 minute read
| Analysis

Peter von Panda anguished over his decision. Would a used 2013 Mac Pro be a better choice for the money than a 2018 Mac mini? The debate rages on still.

Mac mini 2018

The “beloved” 2018 Mac mini. Image credit: Apple

It all started when Peter posted his initial video about his decision to cancel his 2018 Mac mini order and, instead, acquire a used 2013 Mac Pro. It had the RAM (32 GB) and the storage he wanted (1 TB SSD). Here’s his first, controversial, video.

He got lots of feedback, to put it mildly, and most commenters, it seems, suggested that the 2018 Mac mini, while in the same performance class, has several advantages. Namely, the T2 security chip, Thunderbolt 3, DDR4 memory, and a longer supported lifetime for the coming versions of macOS. The 2013 Mac Pro only has a few years left for the latest macOS support.

A Firestorm of Feedback

But Peter dug in. He was interested in convenience and cost. Sure, a basic Mac mini for US$1,099 could be aftermarket upgraded to his memory and storage needs, but it would be an installation hassle and still cost more than the 2013 Mac Pro he had his eye on. Here, in Part II, is his cost analysis in which he justifies his decision.

The community feedback was forcefull. Get the newer Mac mini. And I tend to agree. Buying a 2013 Mac in 2018 is fraught with potential problems. But, as they say, buy the computer you need and can afford when you need it.

The trade-offs here, however, are fascinating. The “trash can” 2013 Mac Pro is still a formidable computational machine, especially the 8- and 12-core models. (With OpenCL support.) Depending on one’s workflow and mission critical apps, a Mac with only DDR3 and Thunderbolt 2 can still be very capable and cost-effective.

For as long as it works and as long as Apple supports it.

2013 Mac Pro

Still a formidable computational machine in 2018. If bought used. Image credit: Apple.

Cost Effectiveness

In the end, Peter von Panda has his own criteria and budget. He’ll no doubt be pleased with the Mac Pro’s myriad of ports and elegant design. And the price he paid was right: US$1600. (No sense buying one new. THAT’s a waste of money.)

The whole discussion, however, is both a testament to the power of the 2013 Mac Pro, its design, and also how a 2018 Mac mini can come close in performance five years later for about half the Mac Pro’s original retail price.

I’ve said it before. Those of use who bought a 2013 Mac Pro (and maxed out our credit card) will never (I surmise) be able to afford the 2019 Mac Pro as a personal Mac.  It’s great to have a 2018 Mac mini to fall back to if we want to keep our favored displays.

And yet, it’ll seem like a step backwards compared to the elegant, powerful 2013 Mac Pro. ::sigh::

Did Peter make the right decision? What do you think?

2
Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
2 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
2 Comment authors
leeeoooooo Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
leeeoooooo
Member
leeeoooooo

Wow!
I have been considering the new Mac mini with the high-end i7. It seems to beat most of the other current models for price/performance.

He’s certainly given me something else to consider.

Thanks to Peter von Panda for pointing out this option, and to you John for bringing it to our attention!

Member
Michael Rowland

As a reader, I’m not in a position to have an opinion on Peter’s decision. I can, however, wish him the best experience with his “new” Mac. Why would I not?