New Mac mini: Business in the front, party at the back
Still cute, and with upgraded insides and extra ports
Remember the Mac mini? That cute li'l system that found its way into everything from server closets to DeLoreans? Well, Apple remembers it as well, and at Tuesday's "a little more" event, Cupertino gave the little fellow its first upgrade in well over a year.
The new Mac mini desktop model is available in two versions, one with a 2.5GHz dual-core Intel 3rd Generation (née "Ivy Bridge") Core i5 with 3MB L3 cache for $599, and a $779 model that's powered by a 2.3GHz quad-core 3rd-gen Core i7, and which can be optionally configured with a 2.6GHz part.
The new Mac mini looks the same on the outside; the changes are in its aluminum-clad innards
The entry-level model has a 500MB hard drive, which the pricier Mac mini doubles to 1TB; both spin at 5400rpm, and a 256GB SSD is available as an option. Stock RAM in both is two 2GB sticks of 1600MHz DDR3 memory, which can be upped to a total of 8GB or 16GB.
A $999 Mac mini server option is also availble, which includes the same 2.3GHz quad-core 3rd-gen Core i7 with 4GB of RAM, but with two 1TB hard drives inside. The server system includes a copy of OS X Server running atop OS X Mountain Lion.
FireWire, Thuderbolt, HDMI, and SDXC carry over from the 2011 version, but USB has been upgraded to 3.0
Cosmetically, the Mac mini is its same cute, accessible self, but turn it around and you'll find one addition to its assortment of ports: four USB 3.0 ports have been added, joining one each Thunderbolt, HDMI, SDXC, 10/100/1000BASE-T RJ-45 Ethernet, audio in and out, and – in a nod to Mac mini users with legacy hard drives – FireWire 800. As before, wireless connnectivity includes 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
According to Apple marketeer Phil Schiller, "Mac mini is still the world's most energy-efficient desktop – at idle it consumes just 11 watts."
To our eyes, it's also the world's most underappreciated desktop: affordable, compact, and unpretentious. ®
Just ditching a Mac Mini...
...for another Mac Mini! At work. You're right - they're very fine desktop machines.
No disrespect, but this region of the Mac Mini is as much as a joke as the 2011 revision, basically paying more for less, less function that is - I utilise my Mac Mini as a HTPC and for email/ webserfing - mine is the 2010 model with the Optical drive, low end discrete graphics and a C2D running at 2.4Ghz - it still performs just shall we say - has difficulties with large HD content files at 1080 and over 10G - that said its been a great little performer.
Now, in 2011 they dropped the optics - a big mistake given many used it as a Home Media centre - even if the optic was not BluRay - this year, in keeping with giving you less for more, they have removed the option of a discrete graphics chip, and lets be honest, Intel HD4000 is crap compared to a discrete low-end chip with 512VRAM.
Now the inclusion of i7 Ivy Bridge is good news, regrettably, the exclusion of the discrete graphic chip means the machine is a waste of time if you are using latest Adobe Creative Suite 6 - which for many of its programmes requires a minimum 1G of video graphics - the same applies to their iToy mobiles, be it the new 13in Retina or the MacBook Airs.
The fact is, a lot of creative people actually utilise the Mac Mini connected to a 27in Apple monitor or other reasonable monitor - further, the inclusion of Apple's hybrid HDD solution is bloody expensive.
In a nut shell, what could have been a brilliant machine has been crippled to save US$50 and maintain the Apple 305 price premium and thats before all very expensive BTO options.
My advice, don't bother investing in this and wait for the Haswell equipped model expected in Sept. 2013 knowing Apple - at least this will have HD5000 - which according to most rumour sites is a huge leap of performance over Ivy Bridge and HD4000 - the reality is, it requires a decent low end BTO graphics option offering 1G VRAM - IS THIS REALLY TOO MUCH TO ASK!!!!!!!!!!
What do you expect in a box that size? There's hardly room for a pair of double-slot SLI/Crossfire GPU cards.
Apple better be on speaking terms with El Reg now. Any potential buyer, after reading the article, will definitely be pursuaded!
Am I showing my age...
...if I say I hadn't noticed the MB/GB mixup?!