Experience moving from 32gb RAM iMac to 8gb on an M1 Mac Mini

For a long time, my main development machine was a decked out 2014 27" iMac 5k with 32gb of RAM and the upgraded 4.0 ghz processor. I couldn’t really see much reason to upgrade to a new machine since, especially doing a lot of development in Xojo, single core performance is very important (for saving, building, etc). That iMac is 7 years old but still one of the faster machines at 1030 on Geekbench.

But, it got ruled out for macOS Monterey, even though it’s perfectly capable. Apple has many ways of getting our money.

So obviously the next move is to M1. There’s no 27" iMac M1 and no 15+" MacBook Pro M1 yet. So in June my plan was to get an interim M1 Mac Mini, and sell it when the new M1 MBP 15"/iMac 27" eventually come out later this year or early next year.

There was a great deal on the base M1 mini but with only 8GB of RAM. I remember years ago how horrible it felt when a machine would grind to a halt and basically stop working if you didn’t have sufficient RAM, and I’m pretty sure that has happened to me on machines that at the time had around 8gb. But after a decent amount of research, and everyone saying these new M1 machines could work just fine with that little RAM, I figured it was worth a shot. Living with 8gb instead of paying several hundred more for the 16 shouldn’t be too bad because I’d be upgrading machines in a few months anyway.

Well it’s a few months later now and my plans have changed. This little M1 is a monster, and it’s remarkable what it can do with so little. Most likely I can wait a while before upgrading to the next machine. It’s in every way faster than the old machine (which was to be expected) and it can handle my same workflow as before without even stuttering. I’ll have multiple versions of Xojo open with all the MBS plugins and huge projects and a bunch of Safari tabs with Mail/Music and everything else open in the background and there’s no issue at all.

A lot of this is obviously because of the advancements to operating system, memory management, and the SSD being able to step in if RAM is at capacity. But holy crap am I surprised by how capable this little $700 machine is. Compared to spending over $3k on the iMac, it’s remarkable whats possible with the base models today.


you did not specify but did the iMac have an ssd ? sata or apple nvme ?

Sorry, yes the iMac had the Apple 512gb SSD option. Here’s the Everymac link.

This is what we have experienced here at Xojo, Inc. as well with M1 machines. It’s really incredible. I think for the most part it’s the system on a chip design that makes the bulk of the difference when it comes to getting a lot out of 8GB of RAM.

There is no magic, int takes same amount of bytes, 3 mb picture in memory takes same amount of bytes on ARM vs Intel. Every single test that has been done just shows that their just swapping more on the SSD since the SSD interface is very fast so you can do it and notice it less.

But remember you cannot replace the drive in them and all this swapping causes wear down on the drive (which also has been showed in tests and Apple has been flamed for).

So given all this I would consider it long and hard if taking the lower amount of ram is really good if you want the computer to last well.


Apple constatly improves their methods to scam people. fast performance wearing off a not replaceable SSD?

that is the real thing, it is not a performance issue, it is just a give me more money. You can actually patch the OS to use it in models that apple want you to trow away.

Thanks for the rant but I usually get 8 years of usable life running the latest version of Mac OS before I need to buy a new Mac. So I can’t agree with you about scamming.


Is this a response to my post? Because I said nothing about scamming, but I was the only one with a post long enough to qualify as a “rant.”

No I think it was to Ivan’s post. (and maybe partially to my post)

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I am perfectly happy with my Macbook Air M1, 16Gb RAM, 1 TB SSD and the Philipps Ultrawide external monitor.


Now that is a monitor….

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Would be neat to see Xojo IDE running full screen on that monitor :grin:

It’s better to have the IDE in the center, your web browser showing the forum on the left, and Help (or better Dash) top right and Feedback bottom right. Trust me.

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Along these lines, I maxed out the RAM and the storage when I got my M1 MBP. It was my hope that all of that extra room on the drive, for wear-leveling, would lead to a long and happy life.

Perspective, people.

That “wear levelling” is a seriously overblown issue. Modern SSDs can be completely written each day for at least 5 years before they are expected to show problems. It is MUCH more likely that the electronics fail than that you run into problems with wear levelling.

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It’s the ‘not replaceable’ bit that galls.
Would anyone cry over an extra 2mm case thickness if it meant that the drive was replaceable? (I was very happy with my chunky white Macbook … thinness is not a priority)

Also: Is an external one plugged in via USB-C equally as fast?

THAT I agree with. Love my Mac Pro and have upgraded it to the max (incl dual CPUs and 96 GB RAM)

USB-C refers actually to the form of the connector (eg USB-A, USB-B, USB-C) but is often used synonymous with USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 which can do 20 GBit/sec … and then people are often disappointed when it turns out that their bargain USB-C only does 5 GBit/sec (USB 3.2 Gen 1x1). For more info see USB: Port Types and Speeds Compared | Tripp Lite.

USB 3.2 Gen 1x1 can do 5 GBit/sec = 0.625 GB/sec
USB 3.2 Gen 2x1 can do 10 GBit/sec = 1.25 GB/sec
USB 3.2 Gen 1x2 can do 10 GBit/sec = 1.25 GB/sec
USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 can do 20 GBit/sec = 2.5 GB/sec

Modern m.2 SSDs can do 3500 MB/sec = 3.5 GB/sec

So no.

But the Macs also have Thunderbolt that can do 40 GBit/sec = 5 GB/sec.

The new USB 4 is actually Thunderbolt 3.

All the M1 Macs (MacBook Air and Mac mini and iMac) have two 2 Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports with up to 40 Gbps,

In which case the answer is yes.

If your computer supports the newest PCIe Gen 4.0 on its motherboard then you can get an NVMe m.2 SSD with 7 GB/sec.

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It is. Subjectively, but supported by the service technician I visited, even older ones regularly live longer than their mechanical counterparts.
I wrote about my Big Sur issues with a stuttering late 2014 iMac somewhere else here earlier this year. Turned out it wasn’t Big Sur, it was the hard drive in my Fusion Drive silently dying and not reporting its internal errors to any tool I used. Only when I tried to reinstall the system from scratch after a reformat, the hard drive disappeared from setup and made clear it was out of order (after many, many month of me hunting suspected driver/kext issues).

I had it replaced by a SSD. The old SSD from the fusion drive is still working but only as a temporary storage anymore. Technician said it’s normal for Fusion Drives to lose their hard disks first …

BTW: Ironically, the iMac that will not support Monterey can run it inside a Parallels VM :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

Good to know. I think it’s time for me 3 year old iMac to get an SSD.

yes, at work we get a lot these times of fusion drives imac that have the mechanical drive out of order, and silently dying with strange symptoms. some dont have 3 years of light usage…
not talking about 2011 macbookpro that still use a 500GB mechanical hard drive and takes 30 mins to boot and user don’t complain that much … and of course have no backup at all.
“hey men it’s an apple it can’t go wrong !”

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