Any Value to Moving from Macbook Pro to Mac Mini?

I have a 2012 MAC Mini that is dedicated to Roon. It has 2.7 GHz processor, 16 GB RAM and a 1TB SSD and another 1TB HDD for back up! All self-installed! The neat thing about older MAC Minis is they are user friendly in that they can be modified to your desires!

The Mini is hooked DIRECTLY via USB to my Audiobyte Hydra Z DDC that converts the USB signal to AES and then straight into my DAC. The system is DEAD quiet!

Don’t believe it when folks tell you not to hook a computer straight into related electronics!

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Why not consider a Nucleus if its only for your music system?

In any case, if you want to use a Mac mini there are several resources on the web that explain how to optimize the Mac for the best sound.

I have a 8gb mini running Roon and Audirvana. If you can, I’d bump it up to 16. On occasion I find myself in need of more ram.

Why spend another $1400 to $2500? To get a really quiet delivery system I’m running my Mini on 12VDC and my Hydra Z DDC on 5VDC all from one Power Supply (HD Plex) and still have 2 more ports left to use for power.

I think it’s a sweet set up!

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Because I replaced a dedicated Mac mini (with all the mods and system tweaks) with a Nucleus and the sound quality of the Nucleus was far superior. In addition, the maintenance of the Nucleus is almost zero.


Although thinking about it more …the REV B version has not one but two HDMI outputs. This would allow me to rip my Multichannel Discs and play them back through my Pre-Pro…better than letting them collect dust as I’ve only been a two-channel guy since joining Roon 5 years ago…Does anyone actually build an outboard Multichannel DAC?

@LarryMagoo – Does your Mac Mini have an unused USB-C port? If so, you may be able to use a USB-C-to-HDMI adapter to play to your AVR. You’d have to look at your mini specs to see if it has USB-C (although, from your saying it’s 2012 I’m guessing not).

If that isn’t feasible: To get the second HDMI out you wouldn’t need to go to Nucleus, NUC would work fine ( I use NUC with two HDMI outs, one via USB-C-to-HDMI adapter).

See below :slight_smile:

Thanks all. I have ordered the new MacMini with 512GB memory and a separate 2TB SSD external drive. On its way from China as we speak from Apple (surprised they show that in the tracking detail).

Now if only I can figure out to run headless via my MacBook when it gets here…

I’d recommend a NewerTech HDMI Headless Video Accelerator. You’ll likely want to connect a monitor to your new Mac mini to set it up, but later can use Apple’s Screen Sharing app.

NewerTech HDMI Headless Video Accelerator (HDMI Dummy Plug)

My understanding is that the HDMI Headless dongle makes the Screen Sharing app run in the best video resolution. It’s definitely not as necessary as it was when I ran Audirvana on my Mac mini (because you can control your Mac mini Roon core from Roon client running on your MacBook), but I think it’s a good thing to have. You never know when you’ll need to remote connect to your mini.


I’ve literally just been through this myself, and yes, showing it ship from Shenzhen, China was surprising. BTW, I’m very happy so far with my Mini (arrived yesterday). Hope you are, too,

As an alternative to Apple’s Screen Sharing, I would recommend Splashtop (“Personal” version is free to use within your local network). I’ve been using it for a few days (started using it on other Macs before the mini arrived), and really like it (and moderator Rugby above recommends it highly, too). I haven’t tried Apple’s Screen Sharing recently, but I did do web search on it before trying Splashtop, and there seemed to be more issues with it that people were running into.

Go for Mac mini. I’ve got maxed out 2018 Mac mini, 32 gb, 2TB SSD, 10G ethernet. Apple’s SSD is way faster read/write than aftermarket in my blackmagic disk speed testing. But obviously, its all up to you how much money you want to pour in. My mini is a complete media server for both audio (DSD/PCM) and video (music videos/concerts, etc).

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Wow, quite some machine you have, impressive! Mine is also 2018 Mac mini, but 16 GB RAM and 1 TB internal SSD. I already paid a fortune for this Mac, not to speak about yours :grinning:!

But I quite like the Mac minis, powerful little machines.

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Sorry to jump in to this thread, but I’m also interested in switching up from a MacBook Pro to a headless Mac mini. I haven’t heard of Splashtop, but couldn’t you simply use the Roon Remote iOS app to control the mini?

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Hi Doug, I’m also interested in switching up from a MacBook Pro to a headless Mac mini and made a post asking for advice about it a couple of years ago. One thing people were saying that put me off back then was lots of talk about the power supply–people were saying rather than buy a new one I should search on eBay for an old one (2012 I think) with a linear power supply. Was that right or can I ignore this and just get a new M1 mini?

Sure, the iOS Roon app would be all that’s needed to control Roon and Roon playback. The use of Splashtop (or Screen Sharing) would be needed to administer the Mac mini, as it would be headless. Checking on updates of the operating system, rebooting, and so on. I believe there are ways to set it to update everything automatically and restart, but I think that requires automatic login to be set up. I believe that that is possible, but I personally am not comfortable with having it automatically login. I might be comfortable if I were using it only for Roon, rather than Photos which is my use case.

EDIT: for automatic updates, I’m pretty sure you would have to always be logged into your Apple ID as well, which is the part I’m most uncomfortable with being automatic.

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A new M1-based Mac mini will have a longer useable lifespan than an earlier Intel model. You’ll be able to take advantage of M1-optimized applications and new macOS releases long after the older minis are stuck on their final app/OS releases.

There may be a cost savings in getting a used Intel-based mini, but typically minis hold their value quite well (so the savings might. It be that extreme). One thing you’ll likely be able to do when buying used is equip it with more RAM than the first-gen M1 minis can be ordered with.

Do be aware that various generations of Mac minis (2012, 2014, 2018) each have different upgrade abilities. My 2018 mini has a non-upgradable internal storage, but its RAM can be upgraded to 32GB. Some earlier models have non-upgradable RAM, yet their storage can be upgraded.

So used (Intel) versus new (M1) really depends on your particular use case. I was worried about getting a first-gen mini and believed additional RAM might be helpful for DSP processing (and multi-endpoint playback) with Roon. But I sacrificed CPU power (in getting an i3 mini) at the expense of additional RAM.

The good news is you really cannot go wrong with a Mac Mini purchase. Even if you find it doesn’t work for your particular Roon setup, you’ll be able to resell the mini easily.


To me the speed increase and silent operation of the M1 are benefits that far outweigh whatever benefits a linear power supply might bring, so it’s not something I’d worry about personally.

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This is all correct. You need to enable automatic login, which is a mouse click. It’s also a good idea to adjust the energy settings so it doesn’t put itself to sleep.

Splashtop is perfect for when you need to control / access the machine… But 99% of the time I don’t need to. Then again I’m not using the machine for anything but roon

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Oh, right, absolutely! Without that setting, it won’t really be the desired always-on device. Thanks for that clarification.

Also, a clarification to my previous post:

I think for just System Updates, which are now managed from Mac System Preferences, Apple ID login is not actually required. But if there are any Mac App Store apps that are to be kept updated, then the user will need to be logged in to the Mac App Store using their Apple ID credentials. Based on how Apple constantly asks me to log in again for everything cloud-related, I’m not actually sure whether it’s possible to stay permanently logged in to any Apple ID-related service (even if that would be acceptable).

In Europe at least you can get a refund from Apple if you return a product within 14 days, which should be plenty long enough to try a Mac Mini out.

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