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[Solved] I don’t know what specs I need to run photoshop and astropad. Have pity on a newbie.  

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Alright, I’m not a newbie at a lot of things, but when it comes to Mac computers, I know NOTHING. I’ve always been a pc girl, but I’m also an artist and with the AMAZING art tools that iPad Pro has been offering lately, my 2000 dollar Wacom cintiq collects dust in my studio (I hate to admit that Apple totally blew Wacom out of the water with parallax and palm rejection, blah blah artist crap no one cares about.) The catch is that I need photoshop, and have been using workarounds that are cumbersome and what not since the first iPad Pro to move initial sketches into my pc photoshop. With the release of the new Mac mini, I’m seriously considering having a second computer to use astropad. In the pc world, the specs for the entry level Mac mini feel really light to do much with. Really, I just need to run adobe programs ...is the entry level Mac mini gonna cut it? I don’t want to go any higher than that since that will LITERALLY be it’s only job.

TL;DR I’m an artist new to Mac and need to know if the entry level Mac mini just released will suit my needs for photoshop and astropad paired with my new iPad Pro (preferably wirelessly. I’m a couch potato when I do art)

 
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Hello Josh

Welcome to the world of Mac! I think you will love the platform especially as an artist.

I would start by comparing two documents, the first is Adobe's System Requirements for Adobe Photoshop CC (see the MacOS section which comes just after Windows) and Apple's Mac mini (2018) - Technical Specifications page. According to the two specs, Photoshop CC will be more than happy running inside a Mac mini.


You could go with the lowest spec of the Mac mini because it conforms to the minimum system requirements the Adobe calls for but you may want to consider a higher spec'd CPU. I would go with an i5 minimally but preferably an i7. I would also consider at least 16GB RAM, preferably more. Basically, the more RAM the better (it isn't just Photoshop that is running on your Mac, lots more will be going on), especially if you are going to work with large images that contain multiple layers with masks, smart layers and so on. RAM is a very important consideration. Get as much as you can afford.

In terms of the SSD (that's the solid state hard drive inside the Mac mini - solid state just means it has no moving parts) you can choose from a 128GB or a 256GB disk. From your use description, I would go with the 128GB because you can easily augment more storage to an external hard drive. So I suggest a small internal (the 128GB) to store your apps and home folder and an external to store all your Photoshop documents because they can get large. A 2 (TB) Terabyte or 4 Terabyte (2000 gigabytes and 4000 gigabytes respectively) will keep your photoshop document storage needs satisfied for the long term. Mechanical hard drive are very economical, have amazingly high capacities and are very good performers, yes they are slower than SSD but they are not to be consider slow either - almost everything today is incredibly fast.

The GPU (Graphics Processor) in the Mac mini has a little bit to be desired but it can certainly get the job done, it just means that some Photoshop operations can't be augmented by a faster processor.

If you consider yourself a Photoshop Pro and require a bleeding edge graphics processor today or tomorrow, the Mac mini has thunderbolt 3 ports on the back allowing you to connect a "Blackmagic eCPU" or a "Blackmagic eCPU Pro". Either of these will give your Mac mini desktop level graphics performance, the option is there for your evaluation and consideration.

I use Photoshop and Illustrator several times a week because I too create web and print graphics. About 7 years ago, I purchased an iMac with an i7 3.4GHz processor, the best GPU option that was available at the time, 32GB RAM, a 128 internal SSD and a 2TB internal mechanical drive. The drives and RAM I added after sales my self. I recommend the 3 year AppleCare. Anyway, the machine is a charm to work with to this day. I never complain about its' performance, I am delighted by how well it works. The only drawback if I can call it one (for my purposes anyway) is that I can not install the latest and greatest MacOS, Mojave. I think a Mac mini i7 will perform even better than what I have now.

If possible, visit your nearest Apple Store or Apple Reseller and ask for a demo of photoshop on a Mac mini. If they don't have it installed, it is free to download and try for a period of time. If you can bring one of your own files or move some of your artwork from the iPad to the Mac mini you can then begin to better understand if the machine is for you.

I think if you buy the Mac from Apple directly, online or otherwise you have their corporate return policy or your statutory rights to allow you to return the product for a refund or exchange - no questions asked. Please ask your point of sale before purchase. You will get no grief if you buy from Apple online or over the phone, they will ship and pick up if you are not satisfied.

In summary the Mac mini should be a very good Photoshop performer but you might want to compare it with an iMac because it does have a screen built in and a faster GPU (Graphics Processor).

To be clear, I don't want to scare you off into thinking that you need to augment the system with a workstation class GPU like the BlackMagic eCPU, you don't.

 

So in summary, the Mac mini with an i5 or i7, a 128GB SSD, as much RAM as you can afford, an eventual external hard drive to store your photoshop works is my recommendation but you should compare the Mac mini to an iMac before making your final decision.

 

At some early stage you should actually get a second external drive to serve as your time machine backup drive. Backup is critical, the last thing you want is to face the total disappointment of having lost work simply because you didn't invest in a cheap hard drive to backup your entire Mac including your Photoshop work which is irreplaceable.

 

Instead of two drives, one for your Photoshop work and a second for backing up everything you might want to contact Synology and pose the question, "I need a Synology drive that will solve two problems; to store my documents and to back up those documents and the rest of the data on my Mac." (Letting them know that you don't use your internal Mac to store large photoshop files because the drive is a little small for that, hence the Synology for those larger files)

 

I hope others chime in with their own thoughts and recommendations but all in all, the Mac mini will do the job of supporting a photoshop setup rather nicely.

 

@davehamilton Dave Hamilton is a huge advocate of Synology and if he reads this he should have a very good recommendation on an external device that can serve as a storage unit for your large Photoshop files and double up as a time machine backup. Using a Synology will simply mean that everything, your documents and the backup are all housed in one box, rather than it being housed in two separate external hard drives. Either way, it will work but Synology might be a little cleaner and faster. I hope Dave comes back to you on this specific point.

 

Economics may be a part of your final decision so if you are getting near a decision but have remaining questions, don't hesitate to come back to me, I will be happy to guide you further along the process. Post purchase I and everyone else that is on this forum will be happy to help so don't hesitate to ever come back for help. This community is here for that reason, to help our fellow Mac and iOS users as best we can.

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You could go with the lowest spec of the Mac mini because it conforms to the minimum system requirements the Adobe calls for but you may want to consider a higher spec'd CPU. I would go with an i5 minimally but preferably an i7. I  would also consider at least 16GB RAM, preferably more. Basically, the more RAM the better (it isn't just Photoshop that is running on your Mac, lots more will be going on), especially if you are going to work with large images that contain multiple layers with masks, smart layers and so on. RAM is a very important consideration. Get as much as you can afford.

thankyou so much!

This post was modified 4 weeks ago 2 times by Alex Santos
This post was modified 4 weeks ago by Dave Hamilton
 
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I, too, would agree that going with as much as you can afford is the right advice when it comes to CPU. THAT said, as we recently discussed on MGG, it makes very little sense for most people to buy the mid-range i5 CPU with the new Mac Mini.

The 4-core i3 CPU with 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD is $799. No turbo boost, no hyper-threading.

The 6-core i5 CPU with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD is $1099. Turbo boost is there, but hyper-threading is not.

The 6-core i7 CPU with 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD is that same $1099, and you get both Turbo boost and hyper-threading, the latter making a big difference as the machine ages and more macOS processes need to run all the time. I believe going with the hyper-threadable i7 on my 2011 MacBook Air is the only reason that machine still functions 7+ years later.

As for Synology, it's always hard to say... they have so many models. But... I think the DS918+ that @johnfbraun just got is a great one these days, with plenty of CPU and hardware transcoding for all your videos.

 
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