Mac users: Mac Mini / Studio with a NAS?

Those using Macs - anyone using a Mac Studio vs a Mini? I need upgrade my desktop setup and want to do some CD ripping, UPnP streaming, analogue music conversion (old reel-to-reel stuff) and a bunch of photo scanning, photo library management (big - c750GB libraries)

Is there any reason to get a Mac Studio vs a well-spec’d Mini? I’m not using it for any pro applications, but don’t want to miss out out on any of the audio/video processing capability.

Wondering if anyone has gone through the same thought process??

I got an M1 Mini a few years ago.

In many ways very fast but the 8GB on the entry level Minis just isn’t enough in comparison to a 2012 Intel Mini with 16GB RAM.

I’m not certain the Mac Studio would be essential for the uses you describe, but I would probably not buy another Mac of any description with only 8GB RAM as I tend to have many apps and browser windows open concurrently and the memory management frequently isn’t up to what I need despite glowing reviews early on. TBH were if not for the fact that I just wanted to try an M1 Mini and 16GB RAM was only build to order (may still be) I just took a punt as for just over £600 it wasn’t too expensive.

It may have been @charlesphoto who previously mentioned the Mini was inadequate for his more professional needs and he opted for the Studio later.

With several M chip iterations and different active cores/garphic cores in recent years I think it may not be as clear cut between Studio and Mini now. The Studio probably still has more in-built connectivity/interfaces without external USB C hubs/dongles.


that sounds about right - I’ve currently got a 2017 iMac w 8GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD - that combo is extremely slow - to the point of being unusable with iCloud Photos and Files given the 5200 rpm drive and no memory. I also have a 2020 Intel MBA with 16GB of RAM and a 500GB SSD. Part of it is partitioned for Windows, so it’s not like I have an extreme amount of storage.

The connectivity point is important as well - I may be plugging a fair amount of external devices on a regular basis.

I think the RAM part is a given for me - 16 at a minimum, but now need to see if there’s a big difference in processing capability between the two…

1 Like

I have a 2017 iMac but ordered with an SSD. Still runs like a dream.

I think your HDD is the issue. Easyish to change (or get someone to do it for £200). Than enjoy your iMac for another decade…


For quite some time I used Samsung T5/T7 external SSDs as external boot drives on the 2012 Intel Mini - huge performance boost even over USB 3 to USB C cable on the Samsung vs slow internal 1TB HDD.

I was going to suggest this might be something to investigate.

1 Like

From what you say your usage would be, I would say a Studio is overkill, understand getting the extra RAM, but speaking from experience, I use, well hammer an M2 MacBook Air with just 8g of Ram using Final Cut Pro, no issues what’s so ever, biggest issue lack of ports.

1 Like

If you are using Lightroom and Photoshop, I personally wouldn’t go less than 64GB RAM (which means Studio or MBP), though 32 would probably do you fine if it’s only casual use. I currently use a 16" MBP with 64GB RAM, but my next machine will be a Studio with 128GB RAM.


I had an imac with the same glacial 5200 hdd, replaced it with a refurbed m2 pro mini… night and day difference in speed. Avoid the 256gb ssd models as they have only a single chip which slows things down considerably compared to higher capacities.

You might want to have a look at how much RAM swapping it’s doing. Some say that’s not a problem, while others say it can decrease the life of the SSD.


definitely not using LR or photoshop - I’m not an editor, just an organiser and album builder. no advance work being performed, but I do work with very large libraries (just volumes of photos)

thanks - which ones have multiple chips?

512gb and up…

Have a read here…

brilliant - thanks

Might be worth holding on for the m3 iteration… its rumoured to be due but ssd could still be worth checking.

Honestly, you are massively over specifying any Mac for what you are planning to use it for.

Feel free to buy a new iMac/Mini etc but your 2017 iMac with a new internal (or external SSD) is already more than capable. I can stream UPnP; batch convert; manage a large image library with various software (all concurrently).

Mine was the base spec 2017 27’’ model albeit with an SSD.


agree that there’s an element of overspec, but a newer display and keyboard w Touch ID would be nice too

Hi, its not been an issue to be honest, its been used with footage from an iPhone 15 Pro Max and various GoPro’s for training video’s so nothing over taxing to be honest, your set up sounds interesting especially your next spec, presume, its part of the day job.

In essence they all have multiple computational and graphic cores with higher price points the more of each you have for a particular M chip iteration, then there are different grades of M chips only some of which can address larger amounts of RAM.

I’d seriously look at trying to dual boot your Intel iMac from an external SSD - if it doesn’t cut the mustard you’ve got some extra external storage.

Also, you’re probably aware, but if you dual boot into Windows with the 2020 Intel MBA, then be aware that the 'Apple Silicon’ ARM licensed Mx chips cannot boot into a Windows partition as they are not Intel chips. You’d need to use Parallels or another VM solution currently, though that might change as Windows 11 in that is an ARM version.

thanks - going to give the external boot a try

I’ve replaced a couple of screens on iPhones, wonder if I can DIY an SSD into my iMac… :thinking: