Migrating from my trusty 2009 Mac Pro to a 2020 Mac Mini M1

7 min read
fairly easy
Diary of an experience C++ programmer. Thoughts on programming and other tools and languages.
I've been using a 2009 cheesegrater Mac Pro for quite a while now. I bought it used quite a while ago - around 2013 if I remember correctly - and it's been serving as my main photo/video/general programming workhorse, although the latter tasks have been taken over mostly by a Linux machine housed in the infamous NZXT H1 case. It's been upgraded a lot during its life - now has the latest 6 core Xeon these machines support including the upgrade to 2010 firmware, USB 3.0 ports, PCIe SATA cards to get SATA-3 and a PCIe NVMe card, plus a Mac-flashed AMD RX580. Nevertheless, it was showing more and more signs of getting long in tooth. Plus some of the software that I'm using really would like to use macOS 10.15, which this Mac Pro doesn't support unless I effectively turn it into a Hackintosh. Combine that with distinct signs of the machine getting geriatric and I decided that I was time for a replacement. But what?

One of the reasons I really liked this old Mac Pro was that it was expandable. Newer ones would only be expandable if I either were to invest into a lot of Thunderbird 2/3 cables or spend nice used car money. The used car money wasn't going to happen, so Thunderbird cables it was. I eventually settled on the M1 Mac Mini because I really liked the idea of having a completely silent computer. First attempts at purchasing one at CostCo didn't go anywhere as they only had the 8GB RAM/256GB SSD models in stock (seriously? Who these days sells a machine with a 256GB SSD?), but eventually I managed to bag an almost top of the line one (16GB/2TB SSD) on Apple's refurbished site. The only option this doesn't have is the 10Gb networking which would've been very nice but I decided I could do without. And it's a lot more compact than the box it replaces:

A small difference in size, even before unpacking

Hooking everything up lead to the expected but not desired amount of extra cabling, but it still sits nicely in the corner of my desk.

M1 Mac Mini plus…
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