Mac mini M1 forces 2020 MacBook Pro into early retirement [Setups]

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Two smart monitors with matching light bars easily run off a Mac mini M1.
Two smart monitors with matching light bars easily run off a Mac mini M1.
Photo: TimTheEnchanterz@Reddit

You see it every year. Accomplished, vibrant computers that still have a lot to offer are cast aside in favor of hard-charging young upstarts more than willing to take somebody’s job.

In the case of React developer TimTheEnchanterz (on Reddit), a MacBook Pro from just last year lost its job to a bright new Mac mini M1 boasting 16GB of unified memory and effortless connection to two external displays.

Such a shame. It’s not clear from the post, but the poor 2020 MBP probably had to shuffle off in search of a new taskmaster on r/hardwareswap, eBay or — say it ain’t so — Craigslist.

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16GB Mac mini M1

One of the main discussions among Redditors about TimTheEnchanterz’s post concerned buying a machine with a larger amount of memory versus not doing it. Knowing the difficulty of adding it later to a Mac, that’s something to consider.

Commenters agreed it’s better to be safe than sorry and just get the maximum 16GB of RAM for optimal speed, regardless of how much work you pile on the Mac mini’s processor.

“I can say the machine is fast as hell, even when running an external display + airplay to tv + iPad in sidecar with 6-10 desktops open, which definitely made my (albeit much older) MBP kick the fans into warp speed and stutter a bit,” one commenter enthused. “In my case it was probably unnecessary, but I wanted to be set for a long time, and I also just couldn’t see downgrading in RAM.”

Of course, it’s worth keeping in mind that with a blazing-fast new M1 chip, we’re talking about the unified architecture of Apple Silicon, which handles memory more efficiently than traditional RAM. So folks putting their machines through average use could be fine with 8GB even though they got used to upgrading that to 16GB or higher on their previous Intel-powered Macs.

Dual smart monitors with inexpensive light bars

The other primary discussion point about TimTheEnchanterz’s post had to do with using two external monitors — and which Macs can do it (easily).

TimTheEnchanterz runs the M1 Mac mini with two 32-inch Samsung M7 Smart Monitors. That’s something he couldn’t do easily with the MBP — not without special adapters or hubs or daisy-chaining monitors together — because the laptop’s built-in screen is meant to be one of two possible monitors.

Using the Mac mini to easily connect to two external monitors is nice, though that doesn’t help with his other setup issue. That’s using the MacBook Air his employer provides for work.

“The integration of different apps for tv is nice,” he said. “Since my MacBook Air for work only supports one monitor, I can watch TV on the other one lol.”

He also made a point of praising the matching monitor light bars he got on Amazon for his two monitors. Get two matching off-brand but well-reviewed light bars, and you won’t face issues of different colors or hues of light on your desktop. In his case, they’re Quntis Computer Monitor Lamps.

DIY desk

If you just look at the top of TimTheEnchanterz’s post, with its cascade of comments, you could be forgiven for thinking the whole thing is about the desk and shelf. They’re both made by hand, and Redditors love them.

The desk’s top, crafted from two sheets of pine, is propped up on inexpensive legs purchased on Amazon. The shelf is made from specs taken from a Grovemade shelf.

Judging by the conversation in the thread, TimTheEnchanterz might have a sideline in furniture building. Say, for example, if his development work falters.

You know, like if some upstart takes his job.

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