February 23, 2019

Two MacBooks or One Mac Mini?

Valerie and I were looking at getting new laptops for the last couple months. She was looking to get a laptop as she hasn’t had one for a while. I was going to replace my 2016 MacBook Pro. After looking over all the various configurations, it looked like we were both landing on the same 13″ MacBook Pro specs. Meanwhile, in the background, the new Mac mini launched and I was looking to get one fur use at home as an always on computer”. Then it hit us; we didn’t necessarily need a laptop, what we needed was access to a Mac. I have been doing most of my daily personal computing on the 2018 13″ iPad Pro, and Valerie has been on a 2018 11″ iPad Pro. Those are our portable computers, so really we just needed some mac that we can both have access to, both locally and remotely. So why not just get a high performance Mac mini and share it? That’s exactly what we did!

Mac mini Configuration
Processor: 3.2GHz 6‑core 8th‑generation Intel Core i7
RAM: 32GB 2666MHz DDR4
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630 (Option for eGPU if needed in the future)
SSD: 1TB
Ethernet: 10 Gigabit (for future use)

BYOKMDS (Bring Your Own Keyboard Mouse Display Storage)
Keyboard: Keytron K1 (blog post about it) / Magic Keyboard
Mouse: Logitech MX Master / Magic Trackpad
Display: LG 27UK650-W 27″ 4K UHD IPS Monitor with HDR10
External Drives: G-Drive 4TB USB-C Drives

Fast User Switching
In the last ~20 years of using Macs, I don’t think I have ever setup a personal Mac in a multi-user environment. Well, that changes now! We are running two accounts on the Mac mini using Fast User Switching so we can switch back and forth quickly when either of us needs the machine. Having multiple user accounts also give us the ability to have a shared space that is fully RW for both of us. Finally, this enables either of use to have background services running in the background while the other user is utilizing the machine.

Unlock with Apple Watch
Since we went with the Mac mini instead of the MacBook Pro, something we didn’t get is TouchID. I definitely miss TouchID (and the Touch Bar!), but the ability to unlock with Apple Watch at least makes logging in a little more automated.

What are some things I want to do with this Mac mini?

  • Download and backup all original photos
  • Filter and file mail
  • Plex Server
  • iTunes Server
  • iCloud Drive offline copy
  • Games (maybe?)
  • iOS content local cache
  • File server
  • File archive storage
  • Auto process tasks from iPad
  • HomeBridge
  • VPN
  • Who knows what else!?

As it always has been, the Mac mini is a great all around machine!


Mac mini MacBook Pro iPad Pro


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iPad Pro Hyper Drive Since I use my 2018 iPad Pro SO MUCH, I decided to pick up a Hyper Drive to expand capabilities for today, but more than likely for the future.
Jason Burk | 1999-2019
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