or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › Mac Hardware › Future Apple Hardware › Next Mini - which Sandy Bridge CPU?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Next Mini - which Sandy Bridge CPU?

post #1 of 154
Thread Starter 
Do you think the next Mini refresh will bring the dual core i5 or i7 like in the 13 inch MBP, or the quad core like in the larger ones? I think its historically matched whatever CPU was in the last 13 inch, am I correct? Quad would be sweet though, I just can't justify a dual at the Mini's price.


Also, its well past time to make 4GB RAM baseline.
post #2 of 154
It doesn't have to be a top of the Line Quad Core processor but it does need to bump the Minis single thread performance significantly. As we gave seen with the new MBPs this is easy to do. I would prefer quad core as it would work out better for the software I use a lot.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tipoo View Post

Do you think the next Mini refresh will bring the dual core i5 or i7 like in the 13 inch MBP, or the quad core like in the larger ones?

There are good arguements for going in either direction. 2 cores allow for higher clock speed. On the otherhand quad cores support threading and multiprocessing better. With speed stepping you pretty much get the best of both worlds so quad would benefit more people.
Quote:
I think its historically matched whatever CPU was in the last 13 inch, am I correct?

I'm not certain this is true. However realize that with Sandy Bridge the have a wider array of tech that they can implement in the Mini.
Quote:
Quad would be sweet though, I just can't justify a dual at the Mini's price.


Also, its well past time to make 4GB RAM baseline.

Well the time would be right for a major Mini update. The thermals are really good on the new SB chips. You are right about the price, Mini needs an update to justify the price.
post #3 of 154
Thread Starter 
Thats true, I suppose I would be happy with a higher end/higher clocked dual core. Still, with turbo boost in the quads you get the best of both worlds.
post #4 of 154
What I would give for a quad i7 Mini with even the Radeon 6490. The same spec as the entry $1799 Macbook Pro.

If they can get it into the $999 Mini, that would be great.

What would be interesting about this model is that it would score around the same as the current entry Mac Pro and have Thunderbolt to connect to lots of storage or even PCI-type devices if manufacturers decide to make them for Thunderbolt.

http://browse.geekbench.ca/geekbench2/view/372623
http://browse.geekbench.ca/geekbench2/view/349982

This would be the machine a lot of people have been asking for. Add in a 128-256GB SSD and it will be one speedy little machine.

I think it's more realistic to expect a dual i5 or i7 though. I just hope they don't stick with the Intel HD 3000. A dual i7 with the 6490 or 6750 would be just fine. I know dual-core seems a bit long in the tooth now but 75% of the entry Mac Pro ain't bad:

http://browse.geekbench.ca/geekbench2/view/373892

I'd much rather have a faster GPU than an extra two cores in the CPU because the Mini is likely to be driving 1080p displays for media centres although the server model would make more sense to have the i7 CPU and the HD 3000 GPU.

e.g:

2.7GHz dual-i7
Radeon 6490
$699

2.0GHz quad-i7
HD3000
$999

Or the server model could stick with the same spec and just have an extra drive but obviously not $300 more. I just know they're going to drop the GPUs down in these things though and I really wish they wouldn't.

Portal 2 is coming to the Mac and the 6490 will run it twice as fast as the HD3000 and the SSD would give a further boost.
post #5 of 154
Thread Starter 
Yeah, it would be nice but I doubt they will move away from integrated graphics in the Mini somehow.
post #6 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

What I would give for a quad i7 Mini with even the Radeon 6490. The same spec as the entry $1799 Macbook Pro.

If they can get it into the $999 Mini, that would be great.

I suspect in the current Mini form factor that would be a problem. You are talking about another heat sink and even better cooling performance.
Quote:

What would be interesting about this model is that it would score around the same as the current entry Mac Pro and have Thunderbolt to connect to lots of storage or even PCI-type devices if manufacturers decide to make them for Thunderbolt.

http://browse.geekbench.ca/geekbench2/view/372623
http://browse.geekbench.ca/geekbench2/view/349982

This would be the machine a lot of people have been asking for. Add in a 128-256GB SSD and it will be one speedy little machine.

Well GPU wise that is why I've promoted XMac over the years. The other goal with XMac is to have user expandability for storage and at least one I/O card slot. I'm not really all that concerned about the card slot standards and honestly would look towards CompactPCI or other long term standards as a better choice.

In any event we are in a epoch of rapidly changing storage standards. As such I'm not really sure which is the best way of going about supporting storage on an XMac anymore. Blade SSD's or one of the other emerging standards might be better long term here that old fashion drive bays.
Quote:

I think it's more realistic to expect a dual i5 or i7 though. I just hope they don't stick with the Intel HD 3000. A dual i7 with the 6490 or 6750 would be just fine. I know dual-core seems a bit long in the tooth now but 75% of the entry Mac Pro ain't bad:

It depends entirely upon your work load, many can leverage quad cores effectively. Personally I'm on a dual core machine right now (early 2008 MBP) and could see a huge advantage in quad core some of the time. The problem is of course that sometimes core speed does win out. With speed step though it hardly manners anymore as you get quad core performance when you need it and fast core performance when you don't.

AS to GPU's that is a serious issue as currently the integrated on die options suck. However the writing is on the wall here as the next process shrink could change the equation significantly. I suspect Apple is aware of this and will likely just try to ride out the low end and midrange with current integrated chips. In a way that is sad but we are only talking about half a year to a year and a half here.

In the long run tightly coupling the GPU to the CPU, in the way of the AMD Fusion chips, seems to really play into Apples long term OS goals.
Quote:

http://browse.geekbench.ca/geekbench2/view/373892

I'd much rather have a faster GPU than an extra two cores in the CPU because the Mini is likely to be driving 1080p displays for media centres although the server model would make more sense to have the i7 CPU and the HD 3000 GPU.

The Mini gets a lot of uses beyond the media center. Even if we limit our selves to media center type functionality Sandy Bridge has a lot to offer machines in this category. Hardware acceleration is nothing to sneeze at and goes a long way to making the lackluster HD 3000 look usable.
Quote:

e.g:

2.7GHz dual-i7
Radeon 6490
$699

2.0GHz quad-i7
HD3000
$999

Or the server model could stick with the same spec and just have an extra drive but obviously not $300 more. I just know they're going to drop the GPUs down in these things though and I really wish they wouldn't.

Hey I'm still hoping for a mini with an AMD Fusion chip. Crazy I know but if you get a much better GPU you will be far better off for many uses than having something based on Intel HD graphics.
Quote:

Portal 2 is coming to the Mac and the 6490 will run it twice as fast as the HD3000 and the SSD would give a further boost.

Well I can't speak to games, as I've never put much effort into the genre. However Intels HD 3000 comes up short in multiple ways so I'm fairly certain that even a 6490 will be of great advantage in a Mini replacement.

I say replacement as I see that as one avenue of dealing with Minis biggest problem, which is being to little of a machine to effectively fill the midrange roll that many would like to see it fill. Or maybe more accurately would love to see Apple fill.
post #7 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by tipoo View Post

Yeah, it would be nice but I doubt they will move away from integrated graphics in the Mini somehow.

Even then I don't see a long term demand for discrete GPU support in computing hardware. At least not in low end machines.

By the way I'm not dismissing the Mini in this thread as useless. Rather I'm disappointed that Apple has yet to fill the gap between the Mini and the Mac Pro with a modestly flexible machine.

The other reason we might not see a discrete GPU in the Mini has to do with the advent of Thunderbolt. At this point the chip supporting TB requires a bit of board space so that isn't a good sign considering the current small enclosure. TB would however make for a far more interesting Mini though, especially if they offer up two TB ports and get rid of Firewire.
post #8 of 154
Thread Starter 
All true. Frankly I would forgo a discreet card if they dropped in a quad core Sandy Bridge CPU for the same base price.

How is the HD3000 at pushing higher resolution displays though?
post #9 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by tipoo View Post

All true. Frankly I would forgo a discreet card if they dropped in a quad core Sandy Bridge CPU for the same base price.

Yes Quad core would be ideal for me. As to base price honestly it needs to come down just a bit. Mini has to be one of Apples highest margin machines right now.
Quote:

How is the HD3000 at pushing higher resolution displays though?

Frankly I haven't been following SB in depth like I've followed other processor introductions as I'm trying to stay out of the laptop market for another year. However from what I've seen the HD3000 won't be all that delightful if you try to produce better quality images with it. It seems like Intel focused on performance bench marks with the lowest quality settings possible. On the flip side the processor comes with hardware for video encode and decode so you gain from that in ways that ordinary GPU processors don't gain.

The other way to answer this question is this; the HD 3000 is so bad that I really wish AMD had its new Fusion products ready to go. I'd be willing to give up a little bit in processor performance to get a far better GPU.
post #10 of 154
Thread Starter 
Yeah, the Mini launched at 400 dollars, didn't it? It was supposed to be the mac to draw in first time buyers, but now its very overpriced. I very much doubt Apple will drop the base price though, so thats why I said they would have to put in a quad core SB for me to think its worth it. And 2GB RAM, in 2011? That's just silly.

Fusion does look very promising, their 9W Brazos part handily beats Atom in both CPU and GPU, and its overall platform power draw is even lower, so I'm excited for their higher watt parts. It almost certainly won't beat SB from a raw core to core performance standpoint, but as an overall platform it could be more appealing. Again though, weather Apple will switch which would require a complete motherboard redesign is unlikely at best.

SB does have hardware encode/decode, but programs have to specifically use it for it to help, otherwise its up to software. Facetime HD for instance does not use it, according to Anandtech, and it causes quite high CPU usage. That makes me wonder about how the HD3000 would do in HTPC applications, or even some mid range gaming on a large screen. I'd think it would choke. In some benchmarks it matches the 320M, but as soon as you turn on AA, AF, or some other detail higher, it chokes up. It will certainly be interesting to see what Apple does to the Mini.
post #11 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by tipoo View Post

Yeah, the Mini launched at 400 dollars, didn't it? It was supposed to be the mac to draw in first time buyers, but now its very overpriced. I very much doubt Apple will drop the base price though, so thats why I said they would have to put in a quad core SB for me to think its worth it. And 2GB RAM, in 2011? That's just silly.

Yes it is very high priced but if you realize you are getting a low power laptop design it is a little easier to take. Many people could save enough in their electrical bill to make up the difference. Still as you point out it looks like Apple purposefully under powers the Mini and keeps the value equation on the bad side.
Quote:
Fusion does look very promising, their 9W Brazos part handily beats Atom in both CPU and GPU, and its overall platform power draw is even lower, so I'm excited for their higher watt parts.

The higher watt parts are a completely different design with in the Fusion family. I'm most interested in what the GPU offers up. The GPU will make or break this product segment.
Quote:
It almost certainly won't beat SB from a raw core to core performance standpoint, but as an overall platform it could be more appealing. Again though, weather Apple will switch which would require a complete motherboard redesign is unlikely at best.

Motherboard design doesn't matter as going to SB and TB requires an extensive design effort. Also on the Mini it is Apple low performance machine, all you really need is cores that do better than Arrandale/Core2. Even then the only thing that I might think would be compelling for Apple would be the GPU. A snappy GPU would really enable the Mini.
Quote:

SB does have hardware encode/decode, but programs have to specifically use it for it to help, otherwise its up to software. Facetime HD for instance does not use it, according to Anandtech, and it causes quite high CPU usage.

It is all about software.
Quote:
That makes me wonder about how the HD3000 would do in HTPC applications, or even some mid range gaming on a large screen. I'd think it would choke. In some benchmarks it matches the 320M, but as soon as you turn on AA, AF, or some other detail higher, it chokes up. It will certainly be interesting to see what Apple does to the Mini.

Yeah the choking up is why I call the HD3000 lame, along with the lack of OpenCL support. It really is a less than desirable GPU. Plus the HD3000 has it's share of bugs just like every GPU attempt from Intel.

So if AMDs new Fusion product has a better GPU I can se Apple going after it. After all how many times can one get bone by Intel and not look elsewhere? Especially when the GPU is so important for many Mini users.
post #12 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Especially when the GPU is so important for many Mini users.

And it's not/less for 13" MBP users?

If Apple thinks that HD3000 graphics are good enough for a 13" MBP, they probably think the same for the MM (even if those are not in the same category). Historically, the MM has followed loosely the specs of the 13" MB/MBP. I don't think this will change for the next refresh.

I believe that the regular MM will mimic the 13" MBP configurations (except RAM):
$699 2.30 Core i5-2410M/HD3000, 2GB RAM, 320GB HDD, ODD, miniDP/TB port + HDMI
$999 2.70 Core i7-2620M/HD3000, 2GB RAM, 500GB HDD, ODD, miniDP/TB port + HDMI

But for the MM server, and if thermals are adequate, they could go quad-core. First because it makes sense for a server to have more cores than desktop models, 2nd because server apps don't need dedicated graphics, and 3rd because the 2.00 Core i7-2630QM should not be more expensive than the 2.70 Core i7-2620M ($346) as the 2.20 Core i7-2720QM costs only $378. Also, Apple doesn't offer bigger 2.5" 7200rpm HDDs yet, so the model will probably still use the same dual 500GB HDDs, and already has 4GB RAM. The difference with the regular MM, apart from the ODD, would be 2 miniDP/TB ports (supported by a single TB controller) and no HDMI (IMO, useless in a server environment).

$999 2.00 Core i7-2630QM/HD3000, 4GB RAM, dual 500GB 7200rpm HDDs, dual miniDP/TB ports.

Using the exact same cpus in the 13/15" MBP, MM, and maybe the 13" MB, would generate some economy of scale.

I'm not against Apple using AMD LLano APUs on some models (MB, regular MM, even 13" MBP), but IMO those need to be quad-core models as the cpu cores in LLano are still based on Phenon ones that are miles away from SB cores (hardly on par with C2D cores).
post #13 of 154
Probably the same 2.3GHz i5 as in the lower-spec 13" MBP. That's probably what the plastic Macbook will get, as well.
post #14 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Well GPU wise that is why I've promoted XMac over the years. The other goal with XMac is to have user expandability for storage and at least one I/O card slot. I'm not really all that concerned about the card slot standards and honestly would look towards CompactPCI or other long term standards as a better choice.

I have been puzzled over the lack of an XMac. Apple goes to such trouble designing good looking products and then is apparently okay with people having non matching external drives hooked up to them because they won't build something in a size between the mini and the Mac Pro.
post #15 of 154
I was at the Apple store in Austin at The Domain yesterday and they didn't even have one mini on display. They had the Apple TV next to the Mac Pro.

Makes me wonder if an update is in the cards or not.
post #16 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTac View Post

I was at the Apple store in Austin at The Domain yesterday and they didn't even have one mini on display. They had the Apple TV next to the Mac Pro.

Makes me wonder if an update is in the cards or not.

It is almost as if Apple wants the Mini to fail. It is pretty amazing that Mini sells as well as it does considering Apples attitude. We can only hope that an update is near, Mini could get the biggest performance boost we have seen in years. A quad core would be like honey on biscuits.
post #17 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

It is almost as if Apple wants the Mini to fail. It is pretty amazing that Mini sells as well as it does considering Apples attitude. We can only hope that an update is near, Mini could get the biggest performance boost we have seen in years. A quad core would be like honey on biscuits.

Trying to force built in screens on everyone?
post #18 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTac View Post

Trying to force built in screens on everyone?

People that have them love their Minis. For some vendors the Mini is the hot seller so I don't think they have an issue moving units. It isn't the machine for me right at the moment but honestly that could change in the near future. All Apple needs to do is put a quad core in it with TB support and maybe another new feature or two.
post #19 of 154
Long time viewer, 1st time posting.

I got rid of Directv today and loking to use 2 MM to do all my TV/moview viewing


I currently have a MM in my Living room, that I am going to move to my bedroom. It is a couple years old, and has problems streaming full 1080p. I am going to move this to the bedroom, as I am no as concerend with full 1080p in the bedroom.

Is the standard current MM capable of full 1080p to a 60" plasma without any problem? I would like to be able to watch a 1080p movie while also downloading another.

Any help/sugestions would be great.

It also seem like there may be a refresh coming soon accoridng to a comment earlier in this thread. I am not informed well enough if these possible upgrades would be a big important enough diff for me just to watch/download movies/TV.

Thanks in advance.
post #20 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbeFroman View Post

Long time viewer, 1st time posting.

I got rid of Directv today and loking to use 2 MM to do all my TV/moview viewing


I currently have a MM in my Living room, that I am going to move to my bedroom. It is a couple years old, and has problems streaming full 1080p. I am going to move this to the bedroom, as I am no as concerend with full 1080p in the bedroom.

Is the standard current MM capable of full 1080p to a 60" plasma without any problem? I would like to be able to watch a 1080p movie while also downloading another.

Any help/sugestions would be great.

It also seem like there may be a refresh coming soon accoridng to a comment earlier in this thread. I am not informed well enough if these possible upgrades would be a big important enough diff for me just to watch/download movies/TV.

Thanks in advance.

A new mini should do 1080p without any trouble at all. The current mini should do 1080p pretty easily. What MM do you currently have?

PS Your user name is awesome. Well done.

Ferris.
post #21 of 154
Thread Starter 
Although it can handle 1080P, I'd wait for the refresh. Might as well, its so close, two months at most. It will be more powerful.
post #22 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by backtomac View Post

A new mini should do 1080p without any trouble at all. The current mini should do 1080p pretty easily. What MM do you currently have?

PS Your user name is awesome. Well done.

Ferris.

I am at work and can not remember which MM I have, will post when I get home.

And thanks!
post #23 of 154
Ok, so there is a store near me with a MM core 2 duo 2.53Ghz w/4G RAM w/ Snow leopard Server for $647.

I know when 10.7 comes out that I will not need server anymore, but this is $30 cheaper than the model non server model now.

Do you think this is a better deal/MM than what you think the new MM will be??

Thanks in advance.
post #24 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbeFroman View Post

Ok, so there is a store near me with a MM core 2 duo 2.53Ghz w/4G RAM w/ Snow leopard Server for $647.

I know when 10.7 comes out that I will not need server anymore, but this is $30 cheaper than the model non server model now.

Do you think this is a better deal/MM than what you think the new MM will be??

Thanks in advance.

The server version does not have an optical drive. You can always hook up an external one but you should be aware of this if you're going to use it as a home media center thingy.
post #25 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by backtomac View Post

The server version does not have an optical drive. You can always hook up an external one but you should be aware of this if you're going to use it as a home media center thingy.

I did notice that, but I can not remember the last time I used optical media. I download/stream about everything I watch. I was assuming that it could use another drive on either my iMac or the other MM, is that correct?

I guess I dont know if its better to wait for the next upgrade, or take advantage of this MM.I am more worried about how the picture looks than anything else.
post #26 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbeFroman View Post

I did notice that, but I can not remember the last time I used optical media. I download/stream about everything I watch. I was assuming that it could use another drive on either my iMac or the other MM, is that correct?

I guess I dont know if its better to wait for the next upgrade, or take advantage of this MM.I am more worried about how the picture looks than anything else.

What software are you going to use for your mm home media center? Will it work on OSX server?

I would probably just be patient and wait for a current entry level model to show up at the Apple refurb store and jump on it. You can add an additional 2 gbs of RAM and it should work well for your purposes.
post #27 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by backtomac View Post

What software are you going to use for your mm home media center? Will it work on OSX server?

I would probably just be patient and wait for a current entry level model to show up at the Apple refurb store and jump on it. You can add an additional 2 gbs of RAM and it should work well for your purposes.

I got rid of Directv, and plan to use the MM's to use Hulu, and download movies off the internet. Not using any software really.

My current MM can not stream 1080p movies from my TC. I am fine with this in my bedroom, but I want the one in my living room to be able to do this.

Thanks for the advice.
post #28 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbeFroman View Post

I got rid of Directv, and plan to use the MM's to use Hulu, and download movies off the internet. Not using any software really.

Have you looked into Boxee? Might be worthwhile if you're going to hook your MM to your TV.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AbeFroman View Post

My current MM can not stream 1080p movies from my TC. I am fine with this in my bedroom, but I want the one in my living room to be able to do this.
.

This might be a TC issue and not related to the MM. What king of braodband connection do you have?
post #29 of 154
Does the speed of my internet have something to do with streaming from the TC hard drive? I have 16MPS from comcast.

When viewing somethign less than 1080p, I have no issues. If the movie is on the MM it is fine, but streaming from the TC makes it all jumpy.

I download a lot of movies from different places that I could not do with a box.
post #30 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbeFroman View Post

Does the speed of my internet have something to do with streaming from the TC hard drive? I have 16MPS from comcast.

When viewing somethign less than 1080p, I have no issues. If the movie is on the MM it is fine, but streaming from the TC makes it all jumpy.

I download a lot of movies from different places that I could not do with a box.

Is the problem video on your HDD or from Hulu, Netflix ect..?

Let me rephrase the question.

Do your 1080 video problems occur when you're streaming video directly from the internet or is this content already on your HDD.

If its on your HDD, which machine? How does it play on that machine?
post #31 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by backtomac View Post

Is the problem video on your HDD or from Hulu, Netflix ect..?

Let me rephrase the question.

Do your 1080 video problems occur when you're streaming video directly from the internet or is this content already on your HDD.

If its on your HDD, which machine? How does it play on that machine?

I have a lot of movies on my TC. If i try and watch them through VLC, while keeping the file on the TC it does not view well. If I move the file to my MM it works better. (1080p)

Anything less than 1080p seems to work fine, no matter where the file is.

Streaming from the hulu etc works well, but I am not sure of those are 1080/720.

I am using a 500G TC, and my MM is a little older. It is a model that is very hard to add RAM too. I think RAM may be my problem on that MM.

Like I mentioned, I got rid of Directv and plan on using only what I can download/stream.
post #32 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbeFroman View Post

I have a lot of movies on my TC. If i try and watch them through VLC, while keeping the file on the TC it does not view well. If I move the file to my MM it works better. (1080p)

Anything less than 1080p seems to work fine, no matter where the file is.

Streaming from the hulu etc works well, but I am not sure of those are 1080/720.

I am using a 500G TC, and my MM is a little older. It is a model that is very hard to add RAM too. I think RAM may be my problem on that MM.

Like I mentioned, I got rid of Directv and plan on using only what I can download/stream.

Lots of variables so its hard to trouble shoot where the problem is.

Since the MM can play the 1080 files locally, ie on the mini's HDD, without problems, getting a new mini isn't going to help. The problem is with either a) TC not able to stream 1080 video smoothly, b) VLC can't play 1080 video, not likely if you're using it on the mini and it can play them locally through VLC with no problems. I don't use VLC so its hard for me to comment on it.

My guess is that this is a TC issue. It would be helpful if others with a TC could chime in.
post #33 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by backtomac View Post

Lots of variables so its hard to trouble shoot where the problem is.

Since the MM can play the 1080 files locally, ie on the mini's HDD, without problems, getting a new mini isn't going to help. The problem is with either a) TC not able to stream 1080 video smoothly, b) VLC can't play 1080 video, not likely if you're using it on the mini and it can play them locally through VLC with no problems. I don't use VLC so its hard for me to comment on it.

My guess is that this is a TC issue. It would be helpful if others with a TC could chime in.

Thanks!

This does not solve my problem, but it does tell me I do not need to spend $$$ to do what I want. I was thinking of getting a MM server, but looks like I ca nsave $$. What I have been doing is moving the file to the MM, which is not the end of the world. I have a ps3 in the room I ca nwatch hulu with, for now. Looks like I will wait a month or so and see if the new MM is worht it, or buy the current at a discounted price. Hopefully people here can tell me if the new one will do anything for what I am looking to do.

Again, Thanks!
post #34 of 154
Regarding HD3000 IGP and 1080P playback. I have a camcorder which produces 27Mb/s 1080/60p files and 17Mb/s 1080/60i files.

I have the current 17" MBP. Playing back either type of file does not invoke the Radeon and plays via the HD3000. 60i files play back fine but 60p files stutter continuously after about 3 seconds. Of course, they play back smooth as butter via GPU.
post #35 of 154
Last summer I was able to buy the new 2.4 Ghz aluminum Mac Mini off eBay modified with an internal 250GB SSD and 8GB of RAM for about $1,000. It was used some but it's a clean killer machine and I use it for everything.

Even though I've never once needed to use the SuperDrive, I consider this a much better deal than the $999 "Mac Mini with Snow Leopard Server" at 2.66 Ghz and Dual 500GB 7200-rpm HDs, lacking a SuperDrive. So it's the high-end Mini that lacks a SuperDrive that I'm really looking at for improvement.

The "server" edition of Mac OS X is going by the wayside. Everything that was in server will be an optional install with Lion. So there's no separate license and therefore no need for separate marketing for the high-end Mini as "server." How will this change the Mac Mini brand?

What are the odds that in a few months Apple will make something that's a better deal than the setup I mentioned above? They place a premium on RAM and SSD, and their redesign of the Mini to make RAM more accessible shows they know this. So how about a redesign internally of the high-end Mini to make SSD installation easy as well.

This is about the best I can hope for. I seriously doubt we'll get the Core i7. Much more likely is the 2.3 Ghz Core i5, even for the high end Mini. And that's even if they wait 20 months to update or price drop the Mini, which they've been known to do...
post #36 of 154
Maybe it's time to reconsider the point of having a Mac Mini and the Mac Pro. The reason is that Thunderbolt would allow for externals to be viable for high-performance use.

Instead of offering a Mini at the low end and a Mac Pro at the high end, bring out a form factor to replace both, configurable with the power a particular customer needs.

So you start off with a base model checking in just shy of $1,000 with quad-core power and a modest 7,200 RPM drive. Offer upgrades that take performance up to levels more necessary for power users.

Basically this new model would amount to an iMac minus the monitor. Keep the current Mini form factor for the server version with a minor upgrade.

To meet the needs of customers at the lower end of the spectrum there is the possibility of offering a Macbook at a lower price plus a lot of casual users are being well served by the iPad which will get more powerful, hence more useful, with each new version.

Seems to me that a headless iMac works now because the power available in the iMac line rivals what was available in Mac Pros not so long ago. Using similar components to a base iMac, Apple could deliver a $700 desktop that would meet the needs of many. With the ability to upgrade that basic package and with Thunderbolt making external expansion viable for power users, surely such a device would make a lot of sense.

So basically, kill off the current Mini (except in server form), kill off the Mac Pro, and replace both with a device configurable to meet the needs of current Mac Mini and Mac Pro customers.
post #37 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carmissimo View Post

So basically, kill off the current Mini (except in server form), kill off the Mac Pro, and replace both with a device configurable to meet the needs of current Mac Mini and Mac Pro customers.

I personally don't mind the Mini form factor. I think it's a beautifully designed piece of hardware. The problem in making it bigger is that it's a solution for the present, not for the future. Computer components are shrinking and in a few years, the Mini will reach the performance of the Pro.

Current Macbook Pro entry level - 6440:
http://browse.geekbench.ca/geekbench2/view/408439
2008 quad 3GHz Mac Pro - 7268:
http://browse.geekbench.ca/geekbench2/view/348740

That's only 3 years for the entry-level consumer line to come close to the entry-level Pro line.

The next refresh to the i5 will double the performance of the Mini CPU to match the MBP. Next year, Ivy Bridge will be all quad-core. In another year, it will have reached double the performance it has at the next refresh, which brings it in line with the current top iMac and entry Pro.

If they built a machine in-between, they lose the low price buyers and have to build a large machine to accommodate the Pro components.

I do think they can make a slim Pro machine though and it can have a GPU like the iMac but it restricts people who want to upgrade the GPU for computing etc.

I'm sure Apple have thought much longer than anyone about what the best strategy to go with is and I think for the long term, their lineup works. In say 5 or 6 years, the Mini is going to be one powerful little computer. The iMac will have the selling point of touch interaction. The Mac Pro to me seems like the old room-sized mainframes. It's just a big box of parts.

They can certainly market it as the personal supercomputer if it gets 64 CPU cores or whatever but the buyers will get ever fewer and prices higher until it's not worth making them anymore. I don't believe a large tower form factor has longevity.

The Mini update could have already been done but the iMac takes priority for Apple. It would be nice to see an SSD option but it'll only work well if they can hit 256GB in the entry model, maybe 160GB at a stretch. I would expect just a minor refresh though: 2.3GHz i5, 2GB RAM, 320GB HDD, Intel graphics, Thunderbolt. I would love to see NVidia/ATI build an external GPU for it and the other lower-end machines.
post #38 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

I personally don't mind the Mini form factor. I think it's a beautifully designed piece of hardware. The problem in making it bigger is that it's a solution for the present, not for the future. Computer components are shrinking and in a few years, the Mini will reach the performance of the Pro.

This is very true and may happen faster than a lot of people think. The only thing I don't like about the current Mini is the internal power supply which limits flexibility.
Quote:


That's only 3 years for the entry-level consumer line to come close to the entry-level Pro line.

The next refresh to the i5 will double the performance of the Mini CPU to match the MBP. Next year, Ivy Bridge will be all quad-core. In another year, it will have reached double the performance it has at the next refresh, which brings it in line with the current top iMac and entry Pro.

The Mini really needs to go quad core with the SB rev. I'd accept slow maximum clocks to get the extra cores.
Quote:
If they built a machine in-between, they lose the low price buyers and have to build a large machine to accommodate the Pro components.

The Mini is great for what it is, the Pro however is buggard. As you noted components are getting much smaller there is little reason for that massive tower. It is one of the reasons I like the rumor about the Pro being trimmed down to a rack size component. Shrink the physical size and produce a machine that can easily morph into a platform that meets user needs. One of those configurations ought to be a low cost mother board with a middle of the road CPU and GPU.
Quote:
I do think they can make a slim Pro machine though and it can have a GPU like the iMac but it restricts people who want to upgrade the GPU for computing etc.

They need a chassis that can accept a standardized mother board. One of those mother boards should be configured for low cost with a discrete GPU soldered right on the board.
Quote:
I'm sure Apple have thought much longer than anyone about what the best strategy to go with is and I think for the long term, their lineup works. In say 5 or 6 years, the Mini is going to be one powerful little computer. The iMac will have the selling point of touch interaction. The Mac Pro to me seems like the old room-sized mainframes. It's just a big box of parts.

I don't believe Apple puts much thought at all into the desktop line up. Their focus is on the portable line up.
Quote:
They can certainly market it as the personal supercomputer if it gets 64 CPU cores or whatever but the buyers will get ever fewer and prices higher until it's not worth making them anymore. I don't believe a large tower form factor has longevity.

For people that need it such a beast would be worth at any reasonable price point. What Apple needs is platform where all they need to do is swap the power supply and the mother board to go from mid range to super computer.
Quote:
The Mini update could have already been done but the iMac takes priority for Apple. It would be nice to see an SSD option but it'll only work well if they can hit 256GB in the entry model, maybe 160GB at a stretch. I would expect just a minor refresh though: 2.3GHz i5, 2GB RAM, 320GB HDD, Intel graphics, Thunderbolt. I would love to see NVidia/ATI build an external GPU for it and the other lower-end machines.

Honestly I'm a bit frustrated with Apple right now. I fully expected them to take their Blade SSD solution a little farther than they have. Blade technology could allow for a huge amount of chassis innovation if they would press forward.

As to the Mini update I'd still like to see AMDs Fusion processor in the machine. Llanos OpenCL compatible GPU ought to out perform the Intel solution. The Mini has never been about CPU performance so all they really need to do is out perform the 2GHz Core 2
post #39 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

I personally don't mind the Mini form factor. I think it's a beautifully designed piece of hardware. The problem in making it bigger is that it's a solution for the present, not for the future. Computer components are shrinking and in a few years, the Mini will reach the performance of the Pro.

Current Macbook Pro entry level - 6440:
http://browse.geekbench.ca/geekbench2/view/408439
2008 quad 3GHz Mac Pro - 7268:
http://browse.geekbench.ca/geekbench2/view/348740

That's only 3 years for the entry-level consumer line to come close to the entry-level Pro line.

The next refresh to the i5 will double the performance of the Mini CPU to match the MBP. Next year, Ivy Bridge will be all quad-core. In another year, it will have reached double the performance it has at the next refresh, which brings it in line with the current top iMac and entry Pro.

If they built a machine in-between, they lose the low price buyers and have to build a large machine to accommodate the Pro components.

I do think they can make a slim Pro machine though and it can have a GPU like the iMac but it restricts people who want to upgrade the GPU for computing etc.

I'm sure Apple have thought much longer than anyone about what the best strategy to go with is and I think for the long term, their lineup works. In say 5 or 6 years, the Mini is going to be one powerful little computer. The iMac will have the selling point of touch interaction. The Mac Pro to me seems like the old room-sized mainframes. It's just a big box of parts.

They can certainly market it as the personal supercomputer if it gets 64 CPU cores or whatever but the buyers will get ever fewer and prices higher until it's not worth making them anymore. I don't believe a large tower form factor has longevity.

The Mini update could have already been done but the iMac takes priority for Apple. It would be nice to see an SSD option but it'll only work well if they can hit 256GB in the entry model, maybe 160GB at a stretch. I would expect just a minor refresh though: 2.3GHz i5, 2GB RAM, 320GB HDD, Intel graphics, Thunderbolt. I would love to see NVidia/ATI build an external GPU for it and the other lower-end machines.

My view on this is that both the Mini and the Mac Pro are overdue for a major overhaul. Personally I think what should happen is that Apple kill off both models and replace them with one device that can be ordered with as much power as the end user requires. The key piece to making this possible is that Thunderbolt now makes external expansion viable.

As a result, one doesn't need a large tower that can accommodate lots of storage. Right now I have a 3TB drive running via Firewire 800 off my Mini and the performance is fine for what I need. With the speed of Thunderbolt, all manner of high-performance drive solutions could be employed outside the base device with the necessary throughput to do heavy lifting.

So you develop an enclosure not much larger than the original Cube (a behemoth placed alongside the current Mini) that offers desktop performance varying from decent to high-end professional grade with a starting price of about $800 and ranging up to around $2,000. Such a device would, I think, meet the needs of most if not all of those already using headless Mac desktops. There would be a cost saving for Apple because development would be reduced down to one form factor. On the pro side, there would be a significant cost saving compared to buying the existing Mac Pro model and on the consumer side, for similar prices to the Mini, much better performance would be offered. I can't see the down side of this for anyone.

If there is a reasonable explanation of why Apple isn't going in this direction, I'd love to hear it.

By the way, if this is about the long term, certainly one has to ask, what's the value of having the Mac Pro if even the lesser models in the range can handle pro-calibre demands. Certainly if one is running a business, saving money has to be regarded as a good thing. If a mid-range model can be configured with enough variations to meet many needs, that's a win/win. Apple didn't have the technology to offer one form factor to meet multiple needs before but it is there now. As such, why not take advantage of it? After all, if the headless desktop has become more of a niche product, why fragment your offerings for that segment. Not the way that Apple usually does business. Seems to me that there has been so much focus on other products that Apple's usually rational approach hasn't been applied to its headless desktop range.
post #40 of 154
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carmissimo View Post

So you develop an enclosure not much larger than the original Cube (a behemoth placed alongside the current Mini) that offers desktop performance varying from decent to high-end professional grade with a starting price of about $800 and ranging up to around $2,000

I like the concept of a Cube:



Certainly more aesthetically pleasing than the current Mac Pro and offers more space for flexibility than the Mini as well as providing a suitable volume of airflow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carmissimo View Post

If there is a reasonable explanation of why Apple isn't going in this direction, I'd love to hear it.

There are a few reasons. Let's assume that they use a built-in mobile GPU like the iMac, which I think is faster than the Mac Pro ones anyway and also assume that the PCI slots are no more and 4 Thunderbolt ports are used for expansion.

Could you fit two Xeon CPUs and a PSU powerful enough to handle them alongside 4 x 2.5" drives in a Cube chassis? You possibly could but it wouldn't be easy and it would place a lot of restrictions on current Mac Pro buyers.

In practical terms, I think people would quite easily adapt to the restrictions though and if the GPU was in an MXM slot, then it allows an upgrade path.

Thunderbolt isn't as fast as a PCI slot and people will have cards they currently own and need to use but I doubt it will have much of an impact if a suitable solution is in place.

Apple likes to separate buyers out into clear categories though and the Cube covers a broad range. A Cube would also have a lot of potential to ruin what they've done with the iMac as people will spec up the cheaper Cube and buy a cheap screen.

Plus, thinking a few years into the future, it would probably need to revert back to the Mini form factor.

I think the two form factors work ok separately but they could make better decisions in both. Keep updating the Mini as soon as new parts are available and maintain decent graphics performance. Keep the entry Mac Pro price under $2,000 and completely overhaul the design to be smaller and lighter.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Future Apple Hardware
AppleInsider › Forums › Mac Hardware › Future Apple Hardware › Next Mini - which Sandy Bridge CPU?