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M1 Impressions

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Hey All, 

As noted in another thread, I have replaced my 2012 12 Xeon core Mac Pro tower with a M1 Mac mini.  This is a temporary stopgap while awaiting a more powerful computer.  Probably the rumored "30 inch iMac" should it come to reality.

The reasons for the move?  I had an internal SSD of an odd generation that is in the midst of failing hard.   To replace it would be twice as much as a contemporary drive with 4 times as much storage.  I technically could upgrade the OS to 10.14, but to do so, I would then need to upgrade my GPU.  Which are now not easy to find and are expensive.  To the point that a Mac mini is cost competitive.  Knowing the jump was to come any way.  Why spend money on the past.  Once I get the iMac or Pro, the mini will be passed on to my wife and business partner.


Thus far are I am rebuilding everything from scratch rather than do a data migration.  I haven't done a scratch build since 2005 which was a G5 Mac Pro.   Figuring a third processor architecture would be a good break to do so.  Part of my slowness, I am awaiting a 4 Hard drive bay enclosure. Which is what I do not like the most about these non-tower configurations.   They are making a 4 bay NvME blade enclosure. But, I need the Spinner bay first.  Someday will upgrade to all blades.  The blade bay is currently rather expensive.

The boxes are getting small enough and thermal requirements are lowering enough where I think I can just enclose everything into my desk as if they are not even there.

Current configuration:

  Model Name: Mac mini

  Model Identifier: Macmini9,1

  Chip: Apple M1

  Total Number of Cores: 8 (4 performance and 4 efficiency)

  Memory: 16 GB

  System Firmware Version: 6723.81.1

  Serial Number (system): ------------------------------

  Storage: 1 GB internal SSD:  Soon, 4 external Spinners in a single enclosure of various capacities.  Including 1-12 TB backup drive.

  Displays:  1 Apple 27" Mini Display Port.  and 1 Acer 4k.  (The Acer is currently the only one hooked up, as I am awaiting an Thunderbold 3 to Mini DisplayPort adapter.

  User Accounts: 2.  1 Business account on SSD and 1 Personal of which will be put onto the external Spinners once enclosure arrives.   (personal account is where I need the most storage and where I will be conducting the bulk of my fZ work.


very very Initial impressions:  General use is pretty snappy.  Although, wake from sleep seems to be much slower than anticipated.  Far slower than my intel MacBook Pro.   and pretty sure it is slower than my 12 core tower.  (though it is tore down and I am not directly comparing it).   Installing software does seem to be much faster (not timed, this is an "impression"). Too, when using in dark mode, I do get an intermittent display flicker.  I do not notice when in "light" mode.   This appears to be a known issue.

Using with formZ.  While my files are currently stuck on the spinning HDs. I have installed and licensed formZ.  Just in my initial tests of "slop modeling" formZ running under emulation (yes it is not native as of yet). works just as well as my tower.  Of course, the true test well be once I get my larger files loaded that have tonnes of rounding and other control objects.  I will update this when I know more.  Thus far, no conflicts with Big Sur.


Of most importance.  I have not put a lot of time into testing as I am spending it configuring everything manually to my likes.


Anybody else impressions and or comments disparaging my stupidity are welcome.



BTW, the 2012 tower is NOT available.  I gave it to a friend.




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Thanks for sharing, I'm quite interested how they (M1 macs) would perform in our environment. I don't think that there will be any speed improvement when doing actual 3d modelling (just as long as it's not slower while running under Rosetta2), FormZ like other 3d softwares are only capable of running operations on single threads. Also, unless the software is optimised for the M1, there won't be a speed increase. There is a little article here of the M1 for cad & 3d users. It is promising that other 3d software companies have been quick to optimise for the M1, such as Maxon with Redshift. I think this is a sign that at least they have spotting the benefits of the M1 and have moved quickly. Others will follow and I hope FormZ does too (in my case Maxwell as well) and I believe AutoCad will be as well as Maya, and others such as Blender etc. Apples own software such as FinalCutPro run operations blazingly fast according to the web thingy and as others adapt and the chip evolves, it can only be beneficial to us all (there are even Twinmotion M1 tests on youtube). Can it compete with the nVidia in the future, that's the real question imho as I believe realtime rendering is becoming the norm.

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