Newton reborn – /dev/ops

Newton reborn

Finally. Apple has introduced M2 Mac mini.

I have been waiting for this for a long, long time. Mac mini based on M1 chip entered the market in November 2020, but I chose not to buy it back then. The main reason was the maximum amount of RAM that one could put in this machine: 16GBs. I bought a MacBook Air instead, as I was pretty sure I will not need more than this in a laptop. The desktop machine is another thing, though. I tend to form strong bonds with my desktop computers: I use them as long as possible, upgrading them as needed. This was the case with the mini that I have used until now: I added RAM and switched to SSD disk at some point. Yes, it was upgradable Mac mini, not a thing anymore. It was a late 2012 model.

You read it right—me and my mini have lived happily together for the last 10 years. I could easily extend this relationship some more, as this machine was still snappy enough for me. The problem was with the OS; there was a growing list of applications that I simply could not install, as they require more modern OS than Catalina. I knew that I needed to upgrade the hardware and I patiently waited for Apple to release M2 version. It had to be Mac mini, by the way, I was not interested in iMac or Mac Studio. All in all, I have been using minis since 2007. I loved the form factor and the fact that it’s a semi-portable computer—I could easily unplug it, throw it into a backpack and take it wherever I’d like to. It had to be mini.

And here it is! Apple went a bit further with it this year, as they released this machine with two processor families: M2 and M2 Pro. I did not expect this at all, but knew right away that I want M2 Pro version. I want my computers to be able to stay with me as long as possible, and Pro version has two additional Thunderbolt 4 ports and can also be configured with 32 GBs of RAM. Apple Tax on memory chips is crazy, but what can you do?

So, what’s the config, you ask? Here you go:

  • Apple M2 Pro with 10‑core CPU, 16-core GPU, 16‑core Neural Engine
  • 32 GB unified memory
  • 512 GB SSD storage
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Four Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI port, two USB‑A ports, headphone jack

I know, Apple cut some corners this year and the storage is actually slower than the one used by M1 Macs, but I can live with that. I am getting almost 3500 MB/s write speed and almost 3000 MB/s read; I can live with that. The jump in performance (when compared to my old mini) is colossal anyway. It’s not just a computer, I also hooked the new mini up to 4K screen that I bought for it and let me tell you… amazing. Just stunning. I have been using two of these monitors for some time now (they are connected to my Windows work laptop) but the way macOS handles font rendering is just another level.

Working with Visual Studio Code is now pure pleasure, I can do it all day long, iTerm is like a candy, I’m trying hard not to lick the window. Best thing ever.

Thanks to a screen real estate, I started to use Stage Manager. It was unusable for me on a laptop, but with a screen this big, it starts to make sense. It’s still buggy (animation frames drop occasionally, sometimes windows are restored shifted to the left for some weird reason) but it kind of grows on me. I decided to give it a chance, we’ll see how it goes.

New mini is silent, it really is. I can’t hear the fan at all, even though it’s spinning at 1700 RPM at the moment. The case has a room temperature and CPU and GPU cores are between 33-36 degrees Celsius. Can’t complain.

Actually, the only thing I can complain about is the way status light behaves now. When I put my old mini to sleep, the light was pulsating, which I found sweet. Now the light just stays on. To tell the truth, I do not see it because mini is stored behind my desk’s door, but I would sleep better knowing that this light is slowly fading in and out. Who decided to change this behaviour?

Jokes aside, I really could not happier and already love my new computer. It’s fast, it’s silent, it works really well with 4K monitor, it boots in maybe 5 seconds (straight to desktop). It has everything I need and then some. I really hope that we’ll grow old together, me and Newton1.

Three Newtons
from left to right: Newton 2007, Newton 2012, Newton 2023

P.S. Totally unrelated: how to install Jekyll on macOS Ventura.

  1. here are the names of my devices: Newton, Brahe, Curie, Feynmann, Dirac, Heisenberg, Planck. See the pattern?