Originally Posted by Marvin
Apple gives each machine an identity though. The Mini is small, the iMac is all-in-one, the Mac Pro is a powerhouse. Something slightly bigger than a Mini has no identity and it doesn't have many advantages because you still won't fit a desktop-class chip in it.
Computers don't have identities, they are solutions to problems. It is non sense to say a computer thay is slightly bigger than the Mini has no future. For Apple a slightly larger Mini is nothing but a marketing opportunity. For many people the promise of considerably faster GPU performance would more than offset the slightly larger size.
If they could make a Core i7 quad cube then it would have a label but from looking at the internals of the Mac Pro, you realistically can't make a desktop that has a volume less than about 60% of the size of the Mac Pro but that's still about 20 times the volume of a Mini.
You seem obsessed with marketing form factor. For me that is a huge mistake because many of us look for capability. Especially customers looking at the Mini as one can argue it is used by some of Apples more informed customers.
Once you get up to the desktop chips, you jump from a 25W CPU to at least 85W. An XBox 360-sized PSU lying on the floor doesn't look too good so they'd want to put it inside the machine but then you have to beef up the cooling and the internal volume considerably.
Strange I though one of either AMD or Intel had CPUs in the 45 to 60 watt range. It doesn't matter if they are desktop or not as long as a descrete GPU is had with it. This is the key to giving the Mini more longevity and performance. It really needs better than integrated graphics. When looking at the recent MacBook Pros it is very obvious which direction Apple should go.
If you go for high end mobile chips then the price goes up considerably.
So don't go for the high end, instead look for a 20-30 percent improvement over the current CPU. One can look for excuses or one can look for solutions.
Besides the cost arguement is useless, if Apple wanted a low cost entry level model they wouldn't use mobile parts.
I think the big problem is the component manufacturers as they aren't building parts that allow these mid-range, compact machines to be built. You'd need an affordable 55-65W quad core. The only option would be the old Core 2 Quad but current dual i7 mobile chips are faster so you go to all the bother of building a mid-range model that costs more and you find that it really has no benefits besides drawing more power that the majority won't need (not green) and it has no compelling design element.
Arrandale would be perfectly fine if supported with an external GPU. The over all power profile would only be slightly worst.
We aren't more than 3 years away from having mobile chips that will satisfy the mid-range Mac crowd and while performance requirements move on too, I think we're hitting that point where an 8-core 2GHz CPU paired with 2 successive generations from the Radeon 5xxx series in a box the size of a Mini will be enough for anyone. It sucks to have to deal with slow hardware in the mean-time but that's the way it has to be.
I think a more realistic bet would be for the Mac Pro to shrink. It'll still be expensive but it'll last a long time. I'd easily take a 6-core 12 thread Mac Pro for £1500 with a mid-range GPU over a 320M Mini with even a 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo so long as it was smaller and lighter. It would last me 3 years instead of upgrading every year to the latest Mini and this way, I can hold out while mobile chips improve. It would be good if they threw AppleCare in with the Mac Pro package too.
I do hope you reread the last three paragraphs here and see how silly your position is. You claim in one that people don't need more out of the mini and then later claim you update ever year. Just how green is that??? Not that I consider myself green, mainly because of the strange logic like this that floats around the green world, its just that I don't like waste. Supporting Apples lackluster products because you can buy a new one every year is not very green at all.