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Mac mini gains Ivy Bridge CPU, up to 16GB of RAM with Apple's latest update

post #1 of 59
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Apple's smallest desktop, the Mac mini, received a respectable bump in specs on Tuesday, adding Intel's latest Ivy Bridge processors while starting at the same $599 price.

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Although Apple's high-profile products like the iPad mini and 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display stole the show, the refreshed Mac mini was the recipient of significant internal upgrades, doubling the small footprint desktop's power and speed.

The model released on Tuesday is the first update to Apple's small ITX design since mid-2011, when the company axed the computer's built-in optical drive in lieu of the then-new Thunderbolt connector and fast Wi-Fi protocols.

With Tuesday's refresh, the $599 base Mac mini model starts out with a 2.5GHz dual-core Intel i5 processor with 4 gigabytes of RAM, integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics, Bluetooth 4.0 and a 500 gigabyte hard drive. Besides a boost in RAM that tops out at 16GB, not much else can be configured for the entry-level device.

Moving up to the $799 model, Apple is offering a 2.3GHz quad-core Intel i7 chip with a standard 4GB of RAM, integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics and 1TB HDD. The unit can be configured with a 2.6GHz quad-core Intel i7 processor, up to 16GB of RAM and either a 1TB Fusion Drive or 256GB SSD.

Mac mini


The most expensive Mac mini is the $999 2.3GHz quad-core i7 server model that comes with 4GB of RAM and two 1-terabyte hard drives. As with the client version, the chip can be upgraded to a 2.6GHz version, with memory expansion limited to 16GB, but most notably is the lack of compatibility with Apple's Fusion Drive. Instead, the Mac mini server can be outfitted with one or two 256GB SSDs

All models of the Mac mini are available to order today, with build-to-order versions trailing at two to four days.
post #2 of 59

Sigh...might get one of the last gen with a real GPU.

post #3 of 59
I may be ordering a server version later today. Good update. Nothing earth shattering, but good.
post #4 of 59

I was bitterly disappointed to see that Apple is using the Intel Graphics in  lieu of a discrete card. I was all prepared to order a new Mini on the spot, but given that I don't use USB 3 at all, and I would rather have a discrete card I didn't. I ended up picking up a last gen 2.5 with the Radeon for $549. 

post #5 of 59
Darn glad to have gotten the 2011 mini with AMD graphics last year. The current 15" MBP may be their last portable machine with discrete graphics.
post #6 of 59

At the risk of repeating the above posters, I'm annoyed about the GPU... I haven't watched the keynote yet (I usually wait for the podcast, as the streaming one has buffering issues here in NZ), does anyone know if the RAM is still user replaceable? Or is it soldered?
 

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post #7 of 59

The RAM is replaceable. In fact, even if you get the non-server version you can add a 2nd hard drive later with this kit.

post #8 of 59

What's all this "bitter disappointment" about the iGPU? This is a damn Mac Mini, people. What were you going to do with it, render Toy Story VII? The HD 4000 graphics are very capable, especially when pared withe the raw compute speed of the Ivy Bridge processors.

 

This is a fabulous $600 machine.

post #9 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by RangerD View Post

What's all this "bitter disappointment" about the iGPU? This is a damn Mac Mini, people. What were you going to do with it, render Toy Story VII? The HD 4000 graphics are very capable, especially when pared withe the raw compute speed of the Ivy Bridge processors.

 

This is a fabulous $600 machine.

 

Um, when the prior version had a real GPU in it and OS X Mountain Lion and many applications directly make use of that GPU....its a real downgrade even with the HD 4000 series from Intel.

 

Otherwise its a nice upgrade, but its valid for folks to see the GPU change as a real downgrade, because for that part of the machine, it is.

post #10 of 59
exactly rangerd.

I sell lots of 600 desktop PCs - none of them have discrete graphics. Internal all the way.

I'm still waiting on the good idea of Thunderbolt break-out boxes with PCI-e to put a graphics card into.
post #11 of 59
Very disappointed by the deletion of the discrete GPU. Despite receiving a minor upgrade today (but a downgrade in another) I have the sinking feeling that the Mini is on its way to being phased out, I think in about a year or so. I hope I'm wrong though.
post #12 of 59

You all have good points, but at least they actually talked about the Mini in the presentation.  They could have merely updated it on the website with no other mention.  That would have been a concern.

 

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Mini:  You're goddamn right.

post #13 of 59
Intel graphics sucks, are there last generation Minis anywhere on sale?
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post #14 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sasparilla View Post

 

Um, when the prior version had a real GPU in it and OS X Mountain Lion and many applications directly make use of that GPU....its a real downgrade even with the HD 4000 series from Intel.

 

Otherwise its a nice upgrade, but its valid for folks to see the GPU change as a real downgrade, because for that part of the machine, it is.

 

I'll wager the performance difference between of the former low-cost, low-power integrated Radeon HD 6630G GPU and this very decent on-chip GPU is imperceptible. In fact, Intel designed the HD 4000 to be around 15% faster than the Radeon HD 6620G, a chip slightly slower than the 6630G found in the last generation of Mac Mini's. Really a wash. And again... $600.

 

All those apps using Quartz Extreme are going to be very happy.

post #15 of 59

Keep in mind that the previous Mac mini's discrete GPU was choked by its limited 256 MB of RAM; it wasn't very beneficial in real-world use, by most reports. For the same $800 you would have spent yesterday on that Mac mini, you now get a quad-core Mac mini and a fairly comparable integrated GPU. It's not an optimal upgrade, I admit, but it'll be a noticeable improvement. I just ordered one... with the Fusion drive (education price: $1004). When my new Mac mini arrives, I'll see if there's still space in there for a second HDD or SSD. ;)

post #16 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by RangerD View Post

 

I'll wager the performance difference between of the former low-cost, low-power integrated Radeon HD 6630G GPU and this very decent on-chip GPU is imperceptible. In fact, Intel designed the HD 4000 to be around 15% faster than the Radeon HD 6620G, a chip slightly slower than the 6630G found in the last generation of Mac Mini's. Really a wash. And again... $600.

 

All those apps using Quartz Extreme are going to be very happy.

what is the ram reserved by the GPU with 16gb ram installed?

post #17 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by RangerD View Post

What's all this "bitter disappointment" about the iGPU? This is a damn Mac Mini, people. What were you going to do with it, render Toy Story VII? The HD 4000 graphics are very capable, especially when pared withe the raw compute speed of the Ivy Bridge processors.

The HD 4000 is slower than the 6630M in the old one and it's not generally used for post-production but real-time graphics e.g modelling not rendering and also gaming.

On the plus side, they put in a quad-core and that is much faster at rendering. The last i5 Mini scores 2.9 in Cinebench and even the old server model is 4.2.

This new Ivy Bridge quad-i7 3610QM scores 6.2. So the middle Mini is 50% faster than the last server model and over double the old i5 from just 1 year ago. 3 of them will top a $6200 12-core Mac Pro for under $2400.

This might have implications for the IGP too because the HD 4000 behaves differently in different CPUs, sometimes with dramatic differences:

http://www.anandtech.com/show/5878/mobile-ivy-bridge-hd-4000-investigation-realtime-igpu-clocks-on-ulv-vs-quadcore

It might not be as much of a difference vs the base dual-core but these chips dynamically change frequency and the QM chips have a 10W higher TDP so if you are playing a game on the QM, I'd expect it to be able to ramp up higher than the dual-core.

Also, if you have 8GB RAM, you get 512MB video memory, which is double the 6630M.

It's still a downgrade vs the 6630M though so instead of the 640M, which would have been a decent boost, it now drops down to the point where some games won't be playable. Look at Battlefield 3:

http://www.notebookcheck.net/Intel-HD-Graphics-4000.69168.0.html
http://www.notebookcheck.net/AMD-Radeon-HD-6630M.43963.0.html

It goes from playable on medium to not very playable on low. Still, quad-core and Fusion storage options are good - just a different kind of good.

Overall, I think it's a good direction because the Mini is really the new server so it can be used as a dedicated Handbrake encoder or rendering box to compliment an iMac or laptop, while still being a powerful desktop. Apple has also managed to keep it so that people will want to buy the next one.
post #18 of 59
Originally Posted by pedromartins View Post
what is the ram reserved by the GPU with 16gb ram installed?

 

I'm guessing it kicks up to 512, like previous generations.

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post #19 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by RangerD View Post

 

I'll wager the performance difference between of the former low-cost, low-power integrated Radeon HD 6630G GPU and this very decent on-chip GPU is imperceptible. In fact, Intel designed the HD 4000 to be around 15% faster than the Radeon HD 6620G, a chip slightly slower than the 6630G found in the last generation of Mac Mini's. Really a wash. And again... $600.

 

All those apps using Quartz Extreme are going to be very happy.

 

HD 4000 performs about 50% worse than the discrete graphics in the Mac Mini in benchmarks. This is definitely a significant downgrade given how much emphasis Apple has put in 10.7 and 10.8 taking advantage of GPU. I certainly wouldn't be "upgrading" to this if I owned the previous generation model. :)

post #20 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by gabberattack View Post

Intel graphics sucks, are there last generation Minis anywhere on sale?

 

I picked up a last gen 2.5Ghz i5 model with the Radeon refurbished on the Apple Store a few hours ago for $549. For that price, I'll willingly give up USB 3. Looks like it's sold out now though.

post #21 of 59
I too was all set to buy one of the new Mac Mini's, but the lack of a discrete graphics cards has me rethinking my plans. Now I'm trying to decide between buying the 2011 model or getting the new one. My main use is Lightroom 4 / Photoshop CS6. I'm wondering if buying a 2012 Quadcore Mini will outperform a 2011 Mini with the discrete GPU. In either case I plan installing a 250 SSD and upgrading to 16GB RAM.
post #22 of 59

Hmm, so now I'm not sure.  Here is how I will use a Mini. It will live headless in my AV cabinet along with the game console, Tivos and the receiver.  I plan to connect it via HDMI to the receiver to view the output on the TV.  The computer will run my home automation software, CrushFTP and maybe eventually a primitive website.  It will also be used to convert TV shows pulled from the Tivos into iPad friendly clips for my wife when she travels.

 

I looked at the server Mini and was not super jazzed about the dual 5400 rpm drives.  My thought was get the faster regular model with the Fusion drive and max it with aftermarket RAM.  I could always install Server if I found it was really needed.  If I need more storage I'll add an external.

 

Thoughts?

post #23 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by eksodos View Post

HD 4000 performs about 50% worse than the discrete graphics in the Mac Mini in benchmarks. This is definitely a significant downgrade given how much emphasis Apple has put in 10.7 and 10.8 taking advantage of GPU. I certainly wouldn't be "upgrading" to this if I owned the previous generation model. 1smile.gif

Plus Intel crappy drivers in the same package.

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post #24 of 59
If they have one with the Nvidia Kepler GPU then I may get one. Apple is getting weaker and weaker with every update minus important parts to keep their costs down while selling for the same price.

Just bought one off ebay today a last gen Mac Mini with Core i7 CPU and AMD Radeon Graphics before they run out of these. The HD 4000 is barely good enough to play modern games with "medium" settings. That's what Apple fail to show that it's only capable without all the eye candy turned on.
post #25 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by RangerD View Post

What's all this "bitter disappointment" about the iGPU? This is a damn Mac Mini, people. What were you going to do with it, render Toy Story VII? The HD 4000 graphics are very capable, especially when pared withe the raw compute speed of the Ivy Bridge processors.

This is a fabulous $600 machine.

Fully agree! Don't tell me these people actually use it as a Mac? I put one underneath the big screen in the living, and it doesn't matter that it's integrated graphics. And if my content of choice is on AppleTV, I'll watch it on that box.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gabberattack View Post

Intel graphics sucks, are there last generation Minis anywhere on sale?

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post #26 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by saintstryfe View Post

I'm still waiting on the good idea of Thunderbolt break-out boxes with PCI-e to put a graphics card into.

 

http://www.magma.com/thunderbolt

 

Of course the box costs more than the computer...

post #27 of 59

I'm a idjit so I could use some help here. I don't understand the difference between on-board graphics and a dedicated graphics sub-system. Google left me more confused than enlightened.

 

Right now I have a 2011 dual-core 2.5 with the AMD 6630M. It's fine except I really want USB3. Assuming I got the new mid-range unit (quad 2.3 with HD4000) what differences am I likely to experience? What will be better and what will be worse?

 

Thanks!

post #28 of 59
Boo hoo, it lacks a discrete GPU.. Seriously, have you used any Mac running the previous HD3000 GPU? The Macbook Pro 13" flies in Mountain lion and is even faster on the HD4000.

Can you play games? Yes but you wont be running them at 2560x1440 at high detail, but then again the previous model with the AMD GPU couldn't either.

The HD4000 is more than capable for all of your desktop needs, christ, this is a bargain now compared to the mini solutions offered by the competition. They ship with HD2000 or HD2500 chipsets with their i5's.
post #29 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post

Boo hoo, it lacks a discrete GPU.. Seriously, have you used any Mac running the previous HD3000 GPU? The Macbook Pro 13" flies in Mountain lion and is even faster on the HD4000.
Can you play games? Yes but you wont be running them at 2560x1440 at high detail, but then again the previous model with the AMD GPU couldn't either.
The HD4000 is more than capable for all of your desktop needs, christ, this is a bargain now compared to the mini solutions offered by the competition. They ship with HD2000 or HD2500 chipsets with their i5's.

 

HDX000 gpus aren't supported by The Sims 3. All the Intel HDX000 family is listed as "not supported" in the reqs table. And I guess the same can be said for a substantial number of last generation games, for which I expect the HD4000 to be either unsupported or with reduced performance even at 1280x1024.

 

A bargain compared to the competition? And how much would it cost to add a decent GPU to it? Let's say $100? Surely far less than some of the RAM/CPU/disk options you're allowed to choose when configuring your mini. The truth about this is that the mini is useless for both serious work and serious gaming, and not because of its size nor technology limitations, but just because of marketing strategy (if you put a decent GPU on the new mini, you hurt iMac sales).

 

On the other hand, I've serious doubts the thermal design of the new iMac will be good suited for playing last generation games for a long time, which means you need either a Mac Pro or a Hackintosh for a task which could be easily done with a mini if they weren't so mistaken in their decisions lately.

post #30 of 59
glass half empty... glass half full...

this is a great entry level upgrade, because hd4000 is about 2x better than the hd2000. on a Hd4000 their is "some" hope of gaming on it, but the hd2000 desktop only. IMO.
thus the "high" end unit has a "weaker" gpu.

so the bottom end unit received a bump in "gaming" specs, whereas the top end unit received a reduction in "gaming" specs...
"gaming" meaning in the most basic sense.
post #31 of 59

I could have sworn I read that the 4000 was faster than the 6630M… 

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post #32 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

I could have sworn I read that the 4000 was faster than the 6630M… 

 

Not in the handful of comparisons I found while trying to figure out if I'm better off with a 2011 or 2012 unit. One site (don't remember which one) scored the 6630 at 570 benchmark points compared to 522 for the 4000. Considering that "real" graphics cards scored 4000-5000, the whole comparison started to seem really silly so I let it go.

post #33 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by ecs View Post

 

The truth about this is that the mini is useless for both serious work and serious gaming...

 

What is it lacking that makes it "useless for serious work?" I'm interested in examples of jobs that require a discrete GPU. Trying to educate myself here... Thanks!

post #34 of 59

Want to test one...


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post #35 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

I could have sworn I read that the 4000 was faster than the 6630M… 

 

According to this site and the 2 benchmarks below:

 

Intel HD4000 - http://www.notebookcheck.net/Intel-HD-Graphics-4000.69168.0.html

Radeon 6630M - http://www.notebookcheck.net/AMD-Radeon-HD-6630M.43963.0.html

 

Just some random benchmarks for the 2 GPUs:

 

World of Warcraft: High Settings:

 

Radeon 6630m - 43.4fps

HD4000 - 20fps

 

Skyrim - High Settings:

 

6630m - 20fps

HD4000 - ~10fps

 

Battlefield 3 - High Settings:

6630m - ~20fps

HD4000 - ~13fps

 

Starcraft 2 - High Settings:

6630m - 34fps

HD4000 - 22fps

 

In most conditions, it's safe to say the Radeon is more than 50% faster in just about every game tested and the test isn't really fair since the 6630m was probably tested with older CPU while the HD4000 is only featured on the latest gen Intel CPU offering.

post #36 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by saintstryfe View Post

exactly rangerd.
I sell lots of 600 desktop PCs - none of them have discrete graphics. Internal all the way.

 

It's not $600.  It was $800 for the model that had a GPU.

 

The loss of the GPU means I'm not buying this generation of mini.  If I find one cheap enough I'll get the prior version.  The lack of USB3 is the only real downer.

post #37 of 59

Was really looking forward to the new MacMinis, but this removal of a discrete dedicated GPU is a real downer. As can be seen in comparisons the new HD4000 offers in games nearly only half the fps the GPU could achieve in the former mac-mini.

 

That is inexcusable, and it means that the new Macmini is only interesting for people that don't want to game on it.

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post #38 of 59
Next year with Haswell it should be a great little Mac.

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post #39 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightcrawler View Post

Was really looking forward to the new MacMinis, but this removal of a discrete dedicated GPU is a real downer. As can be seen in comparisons the new HD4000 offers in games nearly only half the fps the GPU could achieve in the former mac-mini.

 

That is inexcusable, and it means that the new Macmini is only interesting for people that don't want to game on it.


I guess a good question would be:  Of the potential and likely buyers of the Mac Mini, how many of them would ever game on it?  My personal answer is never.

post #40 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by WelshDog View Post


I guess a good question would be:  Of the potential and likely buyers of the Mac Mini, how many of them would ever game on it?  My personal answer is never.

I'd disagree with that. While I don't game myself, I know a few people that would very much like to game on a Mac and bring thier own exiting monitor.

I think I understand where apple is positioning this hardware, it's intended for SMB server use and employees that don't need a laptop, but there is a significant portion of the market out there that would love this to have a GPU to do heavy 3d/video processing without stepping I to a Mac pro...

I'm waiting for an ifixit and Anandtech teardown to see if maybe there isn't space for a GPU and the issue is just the GPU Apple wanted to use wasn't available yet?
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