Developers November 28, 2020

Just upgraded to a new Mac Mini powered by Apple Silicon and am super happy

Vito Botta @SkyLinx

I pulled the trigger and decided to trade in my 2017 i5 iMac with a new Mac Mini with M1 chip (8GB RAM, 512GB storage). I could have recovered some more money if I had sold the iMac privately but this less hassle and also easier because I didn't want to deal with potential buyers because of the pandemic situation. I lost the iMac display by switching to the Mac Mini, but I bought a nice and affordable BenQ display so it's not a big deal. In the end the upgrade cost me a very little amount of money as difference and I was lucky because they had the Mac Mini I wanted in limited stock. Lots of people are having to wait for weeks to get one.

I can't believe how fast this machine is :D

I was worried about software compatibility especially for dev stuff, but just about everything I use works just fine either natively or under Rosetta. Even under Rosetta emulation apps are pretty fast (maybe a little slower the first time you launch them, perhaps because Rosetta does something to the binaries, boh). As a workaround for Docker, I am using a cheap VPS as remote Docker engine and that works fine too as a temporary solution until Docker is supported natively, and is pretty easy.

The only app I was using that was acting weird was Crashplan, very slow at scanning files and synchronizing information after adopting the existing backup. So I replaced it with Backblaze for the cloud backups (it even costs half of Crashplan and is a lot faster at backing up), and Get Backup Pro togerher with Time Machine for backups to local disks.

All in all I am very happy and believe it was a good idea to switch. The Apple Care for my iMac was expiring soon and now with a very small difference in money I have a new, much faster computer with another 3 years of warranty.

Have you switched to an M1 Mac or are you planning on switching? :)

  1. 5

    I'm pretty excited about M1, but I have a general rule that I never by the first gen of anything – second gen is almost always much better with all the kinks worked out. M1 does look pretty impressive, but I'm gonna wait for M2.

    As a user of both macOS and Windows (and I really like both operating systems), I hope this lights a fire under Intel/AMD's collective butt.

    1. 1

      Makes sense. My 2017 iMac's warranty was expiring soon and switching didn't cost me much, so I am happy to have done it now.

  2. 4

    The new M1 will not let you use the machine if you are running a tool like Little Snitch. Basically, Apple now says that if you attempt to disable tracking on your machine, we won't let you use it.

    I'm done. Moved back to Windows and Linux. I'll do my Swift development on a virtual mac from now on.

    1. 1

      Are you sure it's an M1 thing and not a Big Sur thing?

      1. 1

        I have 2 coworkers who upgraded their existing machines to BigSur and the latest beta of Little Snitch works (for now?). Addtionally, there are some security articles about the M1 chip - https://www.iphonehacks.com/2020/11/security-researcher-privacy-issues-mac-m1-chip.html, that specifically point out the new security features of the M1 chips and the necessity of "phoning home" before they will allow you to use them.

        I had been considering moving away from Apple because of the necessity of Little Snitch. When I read about the security features of the M1 chips, I decided I was done with Macs.

        Quite literally, all my development needs can be met easily on Windows, Linux or Mac. I used Mac because it just felt like a better built machine. Now that Mac is no longer a secure OS and I've found a laptop that feels every bit as well made as my previous Mabook, I've moved on.

        1. 1

          Hi @whipdancer, which laptop did you decide on?

          1. 2

            Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 series - the first laptop I've found with a trackpad as nice to use as a Macbook. Fit, finish, feel, keyboard, trackpad, display, weight - all dead on with what I expect in my mac.

            https://rog.asus.com/us/laptops/rog-zephyrus/rog-zephyrus-g14-series/
            Specifically this model:
            https://www.bestbuy.com/site/asus-rog-zephyrus-g14-14-gaming-laptop-amd-ryzen-7-16gb-memory-nvidia-geforce-gtx-1660-ti-512gb-ssd-eclipse-gray/6409482.p?skuId=6409482

            1. 1

              So... first off, I love Asus. For windows laptops or even iMac-style all-in-ones, they're just fantastic!

              Windows is putting ads in the start menu though, an seems to be pushing Cortana really hard. Are you sure it's a privacy win? Or are you running Linux, maybe?

              1. 1

                Maybe it's because I always re-image my machine when I get it, but I don't see any ads. MS does push Cortana, but I just disable it. I also disable all the "tracking" settings that MS exposes. Finally, I separately run a full firewall on my home network, so I'm aware of any phoning home that my system does.

                Certain software I use does phone home quite a bit (VSCode, Visual Studio, every Adobe product). Win10 itself doesn't do it nearly as often as you might think (mostly they are centered around checking for updates).

                I do consider it a security win because 1) I see what gets sent and it is a fraction of the data MacOS sends 2) The settings MS exposes for telemetry actually make a difference in what data gets sent 3) I can block all of it and my computer still works.

                I dual boot between Linux and Win10. I'm looking into the practicality of running a VM of one under the other to save dual booting, or using containers in my workflow instead of just for the apps I work on.

            2. 1

              Wow, nicely done! Happy coding. :)

        2. 1

          Interesting... I had no idea about this. Not a big deal for me but still..

          1. 1

            The M1 chip is an impressive engineering feat. Once apps are written to take advantage of it, overall performance should be quite impressive.

            1. 1

              Definitely! If performance is already good even under Rosetta, things can only improve with native support.

  3. 1

    Congrats. Happy see it's going well for you. I just ordered the 13" M1 MacBook Pro to replace my early 2013 MacBook Pro. I'm excited about the increased speed. But I would likely get that with any new laptop at this point. :) I'm hoping it will run well with OBS since there is GPU on this one.

  4. 1

    I switched away from osx a year ago after using them for 9 years and have no intention of switching back. I don't do anything that warrants a few seconds speed up (I also do Rails dev and more) so don't really see any pros there. Apple has become a big no no for me as they're actively anti developer now, so I don't want to support them with my money.

    1. 1

      What do you mean by "Anti developer"? Personally the main reason I have been sticking with Macs for years is the OS. I like it a lot and I never was as productive with Windows (that was ages ago) or Linux. Now the added performance makes be even happier to use Mac.

  5. 1

    Hey Vito! Congrats on the purchase and glad that everything is working for you!

    I'm in the market to upgrade as well and am hesitant because of compatibility issues, but sounds like maybe that's not a concern. Could you tell me more about your environment?

    For various projects I am using a mix of:
    Python - Pip, virutalenv, etc
    Nodejs - Pretty standard
    VSCode
    Vue for frontend
    Git
    Excel - simple data analysis

    Any insight if all of these would work fine?

    1. 1

      Hi Jake, I do Rails web development and I use Docker (the way I explained in the original post), Ruby, Node, VsCode etc. All the dev tools I need work fine.

      1. 1

        Perfect, thank you that is really helpful! I'll probably pull the trigger soon.

Recommended Posts