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Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Cheap Mac Owner: rumination at year's end

I would advise you to check out Low End Mac as we grow older. It has advice on keeping older Macs up and running smoothly.

I am taking this one step further. I am not just an old, low end Mac user: I am downright cheap. I still have a mid-2011 Mac Mini that Apple just declared obsolete. I will think seriously about whether to upgrade it to 10.13 or just leave it at 10.12.6.

Everything works in 10.12 and I don’t want to push it beyond its bounds. I would like USB 3.0 ports on the back instead of the USB 2.0 ports. I bought a Belkin Thunderbolt 1 dock on clearance some time back, which gives me pseudo-USB 3.0 ports if I need them. I just can’t boot from them due to some reason in the Thunderbolt firmware. Such is life.

Jason Snell, former Editor of Macworld who now runs and contributes to; wrote about what he’d like to see in 2018 with the Mac.

He’d like to see a better Mac Pro. The trash can design looked great aesthetically; but it didn’t give pro users the update options they wanted. They want to add in the latest video cards, user configurable RAM and SSD storage. That’s why you saw a demand for the old cheese grater style Mac Pros with all those user options. Also, worth noting is the upsurge in articles about building your own Hackintosh from PC Parts and some ingenious software from the hacker community.

I also believe that’s why Apple finally broke down and started offering an external eGPU cage, AMD RX 580 video card, and power supply to developers. I’ve seen articles about using an external GPU with a Thunderbolt 3 equipped Mac at

Apple, I believe, finally decided to hop on the bandwagon for specialized consumer desktops. The gaming machines dominate this market. Look at and you’ll see lots of coverage of games and gaming hardware. Apple doesn’t want to leave money on the table. If you want to play games on a tricked-out iMac Pro, well, they’re not stopping you. And would you like that with 10 cores or 18 cores? Wearing a Darth Vader helmet for VR, too?

As for the true pro market, I’ve seen articles debating whether the iMac Pro or Microsoft’s Surface Pro is the better machine. From my limited perspective; if you want to draw on a computer, get the Surface Pro. It’s built for drawing and sketching.

If you need a computer to do heavy-duty computing, such as rendering your animated feature or audio processing or writing software; you’d want the iMac Pro. If you still want to draw, Wacom will accommodate you with plenty of high-end drawing tablets.

Now the low-end market. Jason hopes Apple will reinvigorate the Mac Mini line. The last Mac Mini update came out in 2014. Come on, it’s time to upgrade the processors and move to Thunderbolt 3/USB-C, for Heaven’s Sakes.

I wonder why they shouldn’t go one step further and offer a Apple version of the Intel Compute Stick. This is a computer with an HDMI port at one end, several USB ports in the middle, that plugs into an HDMI port on the back of your big screen TV or monitor.

I’m sure Apple Marketing would come back with “But how about an Apple TV and an iPad instead?”

If you want a cheap computer to surf the Web, do e-mail, and write a bit; you’ll find plenty after Christmas and New Years. If you really want cheap, go to for a used computer.

Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog


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