December 4, 2022 at 7:24 p.m. PST
- Apple’s last Intel-based Mac Mini launched in 2018.
- For the past few years, the 2018 Mac Mini sold for around $500.
- Two years ago, Apple launched a new lineup of Mac Mini models with the M1 chip.
- Apple no longer uses Intel processors in any of their new Macintosh models.
- An Intel-based Mac Mini will likely be obsolete (no major macOS updates) within one year.
Few Bargains on Apple Products This Year
It’s been a tough holiday shopping season in 2022. Numerous factors have inflated prices and resulted in shortages; however, civil unrest over zero-COVID policies in China disrupted production of essential Apple products.
We monitor prices on Apple products at Costco and Amazon, tracking the highest, lowest, and current prices. This year, we’re seeing prices fluctuate wildly, even at Costco, which tends to be stable. Every day, the cost of at least half a dozen Apple products goes up or down. At Amazon, it’s much more volatile.
Unfortunately, prices often change in an unfavorable way for consumers. It appears as though every market force is working against buyers, resulting in high prices for many Apple products.
The best time to purchase an iPhone or Apple Watch was back in September. iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models are sold out almost everywhere. It’s challenging to find the Apple Watch Ultra, and there are no good bargains on Series 8 watches either.
Unfortunately, unless you have a time machine, you can’t go back and buy Apple products when they were a bargain. You have to deal with what’s available now.
With high demand and a shortage of products, we’re seeing pricing behavior almost equivalent to gouging. One of the worst deals is the 2018 Mac Mini.
About the 2018 Mac Mini
I own a 2018 Mac Mini, and it’s a decent machine. I bought it last year on Cyber Monday for $529. That’s an excellent price. This year, it was on sale for $499. While that may seem like a steal, remember this thing launched four years ago and has an Intel processor, which Apple has already phased out of production. It has a short useful lifespan.
It’s a decent machine if you have simple tasks to perform. The 2018 Mac Mini is a fine computer for office work, website creation, coding small-to-medium projects, and semi-professional audio-visual tasks. I connected it to a massive 32″ monitor and stereo, making it a decent home entertainment system.
I run macOS Ventura on it, and it’s smooth and fast enough. It may take 10 seconds to load an app on a fresh boot, but once your favorite apps are cached in memory, they pop up almost instantly.
The time to buy this Mac was last year. I wouldn’t even recommend it for its $499 Cyber Monday price. Unfortunately, we’re seeing it go for as much as $799. On Amazon, renewed models go for $749. That’s insane for a four-year-old Mac Mini. Remember, I bought a brand-new one last year for $529. Even though it’s not used or renewed, Apple launched this four years ago, and they’ve discontinued Intel-based Macs altogether.
Most websites are trying to get you to buy something. We’re trying to prevent you from getting ripped off. Unless you can find this (brand new) for $399 or less, we don’t recommend buying it.
2018 Mac Mini Will be Obsolete Soon
The main reason not to buy the 2018 Mac Mini is that it’s a ripoff. This machine will be obsolete much sooner than an M1-based Mac Mini, which often sells for less than $629 if you can find one.
The problem is that the M1 Mac Mini is out of stock at many retailers, which means the older model is more valuable now. As soon as supply improves, you’ll see M1 Mac Minis selling for $600+, depending on specifications.
We can look at past Mac Mini models to see how long Apple supports them with macOS updates. macOS Ventura debuted in late 2022. The oldest Mac Mini that can run this newest macOS version is the 2018 Mac Mini.
Its predecessor, the 2016 Mac Mini is capable of running macOS Monterey, which Apple launched in 2021. This means that Apple supported the 2016 Mac Mini with five years of macOS updates.
If this pattern holds, the next version of macOS will be the last one for the 2018 Mac Mini. But I think Apple may end up cutting off the 2018 Mac Mini model to encourage adoption of their own M-series chips.
You can still use a Mac with an older operating system. I’ve seen some ancient Macs in the wild, and people manage just fine with them. But if you want the latest features and apps, you’ll need the newest version of macOS. Also, third-party developers eventually stop supporting older versions of macOS, so your favorite apps will ultimately become obsolete too.
If you’re a casual user or an office worker, you can probably get 2-4 years out of a Mac that’s cut off from major operating system updates. Most of your apps will work fine, and you’ll even be able to update these apps for a few years.
Many people can’t get by with a Mac that’s a few years outdated. They need to run new apps or update software, but this can’t be done with older versions of macOS.
Also, performance is an issue. Apple sometimes sticks users with a major macOS update that makes their machines unbearably slow. They did this to a great extent with the iPad a decade ago, but they do this with the Mac too. I notice Ventura is slower than Monterey, but it’s usable. My hunch is that if they allow us to upgrade these to the next one, it will be so slow that I’ll need to buy a new Mac Mini.
Consider Windows Instead
Although this is an Apple-centric website, most iPhone owners use Windows machines. I use both Windows and macOS. I’m typing this article on an LG laptop running Windows 10. After Satya Nadella took over Microsoft, Windows improved dramatically. It’s a fast, stable operating system. I get more freezes and crashes on my Mac than on my Windows machine. macOS looks cooler, but Windows does the job, albeit with total dorkiness.
Intel makes its own compact computer that scores high marks with Consumer Reports. The NUC series isn’t an attempt to rip off the Mac Mini. Instead, it offers a surprisingly innovative design with reliability and upgradability at its core. The best thing is that you can get one of these puppies for $229. Perhaps that’s a little underpowered, but there are dozens of configuration options, unlike the Mac Mini.
I’m a massive macOS fan, but I’m not a MacBook lover. I’ve had too many problems with MacBooks, which is why I bought the Mac Mini. I need one to write for an Apple-centric site.
Most computer users are on Windows, and it gets the job done. If you can’t find a Mac Mini this year, you may want to consider one of Intel’s NUC compact PCs with Windows 10 or 11. I don’t own one, but I plan on making one my next Windows PC. For now, my LG Gram is serving me better than any MacBook I’ve possessed.