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Informed players say Apple's Mac mini still kickin'

post #1 of 159
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First on AI: With Apple's recent 'State of the Mac' omitting any mention of the Mac mini and reports surfacing over the current line's discontinuation, there's been some speculation that the diminutive desktop's days may (again) be numbered. That's unlikely the case, say insiders, who are sharing new details.

In a report published in May of 2007, AppleInsider wrote off the mini, noting that development of the systems had screeched to a halt inside Apple, with little engineering effort having gone into the systems since an update to Intel's Core 2 Duo architecture a year earlier.

The mini was essentially shelved, lingering in a state of indefinite limbo; its development team reportedly dissolved. With little effort, Apple bumped the mini's processor, memory, and hard drive specs in August of 2007. The systems haven't Â*seen a public update since.

Earlier this year, however -- and shortly after NVIDIA pitched its new integrated graphics chipsets to Apple -- AppleInsider reported a pulse in the Mac mini department. The tiny systems were reportedly coming out of their coma, with a dedicated team of engineers performing the first top-to-bottom reconstruction since the product's inception three year's earlier.

In a report published this week titled the "The State of the Mac mini," Las Vegas-based Macminicolo, the largest Mac mini colocation firm, reaches the same conclusions. The company, which operates a server farm of 400 Mac minis, notes that "it's just about as familiar with the Mac mini as anyone" and claims it "is certain there is another mini on the way."

The report both attempts to dispel some common misconceptions about the mini's sales volume, as well as outline a few features that are said to be "100% confirmed" for the impending update. Specifically, it notes that the mini sells to businesses over consumers at roughly a 2 to 1 ratio.

"For instance, here in Las Vegas, I know there are at least 10,000 Mac minis running in the different hotels and casinos on the strip," said Brian Stucki, who owns and operates the Mac mini colocation service. "Many are used for video security points. Certain casino companies use Mac minis in each of the slot islands on a casino floor to manage the backend. I know of one nationwide salon franchise that uses two Mac minis for each one of their stores."

He tells AppleInsider that small businesses comprise the majority of his clientele, primarily due to cost savings. Not only does a mini fetch about one fourth the cost of an Xserve, but hosting fees for the smaller systems are similarly a quarter of that of the Apple rack-mount servers.

The above photos show Macminicolo's server room with roughly 400 Mac minis in operation | Photo: macminicolo, AppleInsider.

"When I read online of people stating 'poor mini sales,' I'm surprised," Stucki wrote in theÂ*this week's report. "The Mac mini is consistently in the top five of Amazon's Bestselling Desktop Computers. (It's currently number one.) If you watch Apple's Refurb site, anytime some Mac minis are posted they sell out in under an hour. Even the three year old G4 Mac minis on ebay go for a price close to the brand new Intel machines sticker price. The market speaks even if Apple doesn't."

Looking ahead, he claims to have confirmed two of the following with "100%" certainty, while another is a highly probable guess based on recent changes to Apple's product lines:
The Mac mini will adopt the new Mini DisplayPort that was recently showcased on the Macbook line. This will save considerable port real estate on the back of the Mac mini.
The Mac mini will join all other Macs in being able to address 4GB of RAM. Currently, they are officially sold with up to 2GB of RAM, but can also support 3GB of RAM. (Though the latter configuration loses the minor dual channel benefits.)
Like the new Macbook, the Mac mini optical drive will be changed to a SATA connection. (It is currently a standard ATA/IDE cable.) This will increase performance. But even more, it will benefit those who use the Mac mini as a server. In ordering a Mac mini from Apple, there will be an option to have two SATA HDDs and eliminating the optical all together. With the new Remote Disc introduced with the Macbook Air, this option will be tempting for many.
Stucki says his customers commonly employ Mac minis as web, mail, video and file servers. They're also sometimes used to handle financial transaction or act as remote watchdogs for larger, more intricate servers. However, the advent of the App Store has reportedly sparked an alternative interest in the little desktops.

Some developers who intend to write applications that take advantage of the iPhone's planned push notification features are considering minis as a backend for their apps. Others, whose applications facilitate user logins like MobileChat, have recently chosen minis for rapid scalability.

In August, Apple began informing some small European resellers that they should no longer expect shipments of the current Mac mini models. More recently, however, the company issued a broader announcement to European resellers -- Â*first reported by Gizmodo and later corroborated by MacBidouille -- that the existing Mac mini was going EOL, or being discontinued.

Speculation is that Apple may be running low on its supply of the mini's nearly two year-old Core 2 Duos and may have started to trim back availability as a result.
post #2 of 159
"The market speaks, even if Apple doesn't." Truer words were never spoken. I've been watching the Mini's on eBay and Apple refurbs and they're always difficult to get for a deal.

Now, he didn't say which two statements were 100%? Way to leave us hanging!
post #3 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phong View Post

Now, he didn't say which two statements were 100%? Way to leave us hanging!

I would think the dual HDDs option would be the dubious one of the three...
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post #4 of 159
Is there any information about whether Apples plans to retain the Firewire port in the Mac mini? And will WiFi be upgraded to 802.11n?
post #5 of 159
Hopefully the dual HD thing means they are rebranding it as a "home server" instead of a low cost desktop.

They are great for this. Quiet as a mouse and able to boot up without monitor attached.
post #6 of 159
hopefully it does evolve into something else. i'd hate to have the mini eliminated from apple's lineup.

my boss has his mac mini connected to his 60 inch lcd tv and it's gorgeous. the mini is pefect for living room computing. mac mini should remain as the apple tv PRO
post #7 of 159
Is it possible to get a thinner Mini without the Optical Drive?
post #8 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRonin View Post

I would think the dual HDDs option would be the dubious one of the three...

I'm not so sure. Apple probably does have custom versions for businesses that they don't show on the their model lists. Most companies do this.
post #9 of 159
My 2¢, I'd rather keep FireWire and get 'n' wireless networking than have two hard drives...

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post #10 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Like the new Macbook, the Mac mini optical drive will be changed to a SATA connection. (It is currently a standard ATA/IDE cable.) This will increase performance.

I don't think so. The limiting factor on the drive is not the interface.
post #11 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by ksec View Post

Is it possible to get a thinner Mini without the Optical Drive?

Yes, if you have an angle grinder.
post #12 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Hopefully the dual HD thing means they are rebranding it as a "home server" instead of a low cost desktop.

They are great for this. Quiet as a mouse and able to boot up without monitor attached.

I refrained from saying 'home server' since I have already spouted off about how Apple needs to combine the Mac mini, AppleTV & Time Capsule into a modern home server/media center tailored for handling mobile clients.

Yeah, targeting mobile clients, since everyone will be using my hypothetical 10" convertible netbook/tablet...
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post #13 of 159
I want to buy a Mac mini, but I need FireWire. What do you recommend? Wait until the new one comes out, or just buy the current? I would hate to wait until January only to find out that Apple removed the FireWire, and that the older version has run out in stores. But faster graphics would be nice. Quite a dilemma.
post #14 of 159
All interesting. Good to see a future for the MacMini (hopefully).

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The Mac mini will adopt the new Mini DisplayPort that was recently showcased on the Macbook line. This will save considerable port real estate on the back of the Mac mini.

Okay so then the MacMini can do HDCP just like the AppleTV. I wonder whether these devices would move closer together with such a change.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phong View Post

Now, he didn't say which two statements were 100%? Way to leave us hanging!

I'd say DisplayPort and more RAM would be a given. Offering a model without a DVD drive (and thus an extra case to be manufactured, and different mounts inside) is far less likely.

Now... does DisplayPort mean the Mini would have an NVIDEA chip?

The current AppleTV has an older chip with separate graphics chip. The current Mini has a C2D with integrated graphics. IF it has NVIDEA graphics it would again bring this more in line with the AppleTV.

Quote:
Originally Posted by robert.allen.hi View Post

Is there any information about whether Apples plans to retain the Firewire port in the Mac mini? And will WiFi be upgraded to 802.11n?

Every other Apple computer has 802.11n, I'd bet on that for the Mini. Firewire's an interesting question if Mini's are being used as servers... then again perhaps they're using network storage via fast ethernet so Firewire wouldn't be missed much?

Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyastronaut View Post

my boss has his mac mini connected to his 60 inch lcd tv and it's gorgeous. the mini is pefect for living room computing. mac mini should remain as the apple tv PRO

Makes sense to me.
MacMini: similar to the MacBook... C2D, NVIDEA, DisplayPort, 4 USB, MagSafe power, DVD drive
AppleTV: updated 'older' chip, NVIDEA, DisplayPort, 1 USB, MagSafe power, no DVD, little ram.

I'd like to see Apple make the aTV much more 'flexible'... such that they encourage its expansion with other software. It would be much more popular if others expanded on it.

.... But this is about the MacMini... :-)
post #15 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by John.B View Post

My 2¢, I'd rather keep FireWire and get 'n' wireless networking than have two hard drives...

You're not a company that needs headless servers that are also remotely updated, and upgraded. If you were, two HDDs, might be much more worthwhile than a FW port, and wireless anything.
post #16 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by GregAlexander View Post

Okay so then the MacMini can do HDCP just like the AppleTV. I wonder whether these devices would move closer together with such a change.

Maybe. Displayport can support HDCP, but it doesn't have to. Here's hoping though.

Quote:
Offering a model without a DVD drive (and thus an extra case to be manufactured, and different mounts inside) is far less likely.

They wouldn't really have to. An insert in the slot from the inside to close it up would be enough. These machines would be hidden away. Looks aren't that important. Or they could leave it open for better cooling of the dual drives.

Quote:
Now... does DisplayPort mean the Mini would have an NVIDEA chip?

The 9400, or 9300, would be a good guess.
post #17 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by John F. View Post

I want to buy a Mac mini, but I need FireWire. What do you recommend? Wait until the new one comes out, or just buy the current? I would hate to wait until January only to find out that Apple removed the FireWire, and that the older version has run out in stores. But faster graphics would be nice. Quite a dilemma.

Hmmm... so are you in the US or elsewhere? If you're in Australia... BUY NOW before the price changes (actually... I'm not sure what exchange rate it's currently set at.... but it's probably better than what you'd get today).

If it helps - I've tested a hard disk with both USB2 and Firewire400 - I copied several large files to and from the system and timed it on USB/Firewire. Firewire was 10% faster (occasionally 20% faster), but that was it. Of course if you NEED Firewire, then you have no choice, you have to have Firewire. I presume the USB2->Firewire active converters aren't worth much but I haven't read much about them.

So since it's not a preference thing, it's actually a requirement - then you have to take the simple answer don't you? Ie: see what gets announced, then buy the older if Firewire isn't on the newer.
post #18 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

They wouldn't really have to. An insert in the slot from the inside to close it up would be enough. These machines would be hidden away. Looks aren't that important. Or they could leave it open for better cooling of the dual drives.

Interesting. You're right of course - but would Apple plan a cool-looking little product for the desktop on the one hand, while presuming the aesthetics are unimportant in server farms on the other hand?

Or would they actually take a step back and look at a better way of selling to the server farms? A custom machine that stacks very nicely, doesn't have wireless networking or DVDs, etc. If they ARE looking at that, then the rumour of future MacMini might not really be a mini at all, rather an Xserve-Lite.
post #19 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by GregAlexander View Post

Interesting. You're right of course - but would Apple plan a cool-looking little product for the desktop on the one hand, while presuming the aesthetics are unimportant in server farms on the other hand?

Or would they actually take a step back and look at a better way of selling to the server farms? A custom machine that stacks very nicely, doesn't have wireless networking or DVDs, etc. If they ARE looking at that, then the rumour of future MacMini might not really be a mini at all, rather an Xserve-Lite.

I don't know. It could be a lucrative business for them though. If a company wants to buy 1,000 machines configured that way every couple of months for OEM uses, why would Apple say no? It would be a way of getting into businesses with little effort.

I've always thought the Mini was a great small business machine anyway. Few business upgrade their machines. Once they've been depreciated, they either sell them for very little, offer them to their employees, or donate them for a tax gain. Sometimes all three.
post #20 of 159
Server room looks like the back room of a VHS Video Store rental space, but with fancy lights.
post #21 of 159
I am really hoping to get the new mac-mini as a media box that plays very media format out of the box - aka what the appleTV should be.....
post #22 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

An insert in the slot from the inside to close it up would be enough. These machines would be hidden away. Looks aren't that important. Or they could leave it open for better cooling of the dual drives.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GregAlexander View Post

Interesting. You're right of course - but would Apple plan a cool-looking little product for the desktop on the one hand, while presuming the aesthetics are unimportant in server farms on the other hand?

Or would they actually take a step back and look at a better way of selling to the server farms? A custom machine that stacks very nicely, doesn't have wireless networking or DVDs, etc. If they ARE looking at that, then the rumour of future MacMini might not really be a mini at all, rather an Xserve-Lite.

Maybe the insert has 'das blinken lightens' that display HDD (dual SSD - ?!?) activity...
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post #23 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRonin View Post

Maybe the insert has 'das blinken lightens' that display HDD (dual SSD - ?!?) activity...

I'm not sure how to respond to that.
post #24 of 159
A PCI-E Video GPU that is OpenGL 2.x compliant will push sales of the mini up considerably, especially if it can push a 30" ACD.
post #25 of 159
Quote:
Looking ahead, he claims to have confirmed two of the following with "100%" certainty, while another is a highly probable guess based on recent changes to Apple's product lines:
The Mac mini will adopt the new Mini DisplayPort that was recently showcased on the Macbook line. This will save considerable port real estate on the back of the Mac mini.

Do you guys think that the new 24 inch display for notebooks could also power mac mini via its MagSafe connector? I think the new Display could be a wonderful companion for mac mini as well.
post #26 of 159
I'm still hoping for a Blu-ray drive and FireWire.
post #27 of 159
In my opinion:
DisplayPort, 802.11n, and the Nvidea chipset are nearly certain. DDR3 and the removal of FireWire seem very likley. 128GB SSD might be a BTO option. 2GB RAM might be integrated as with the MacBook Air.
Mac user since August 1983.
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Mac user since August 1983.
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post #28 of 159
Hello Folks

I've been following the mac mini quite closely and I believe it will evolve into the following:
  • 2.0GHz or 2.4GHz processor
  • Intel Core 2 Duo 1066MHz frontside bus 3MB shared L2 cache
  • 2GB (two 1GB) of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM Option: Up to 4GB DDR3
  • 160GB or 250GB Serial ATA, 5400 rpm NVIDIA GeForce 9400M with 256MB of shared DDR3 SDRAM

Now you'll be thinking - where did Gavin get these details, does he know something that we don't know - All I can say is (it's the current spec of the new macbooks)

All I hope for it that the Mac Mini is user upgradable (RAM and Hard Disk) - i.e. with a Phillips screwdriver, and now with a wall paper scraper and a hail Mary!
post #29 of 159
IMOP, Apple really should do sth to combine apple TV and Mac Mini....
post #30 of 159
One of Apple's best computers!

(If only it had an old world serial port!)
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post #31 of 159
I don't see any information here. These people are basically saying what a lot of people are saying, which is that the Mini is a very useful machine and Apple would be really stupid to get rid of it. Amazon sales mean very little because as I said in the other thread, the matte MBP model is the highest selling Mac laptop on Amazon (second overall) but look what they did to matte.

I'll reserve judgement until I see an all-metal Mini with firewire, displayport, Nvidia chips, faster hard drives, easy access and a reasonable price. We'll probably find out in about 3 weeks.

Price will likely go up a bit if they do introduce a new model as they normally use the same parts as the Macbook as mentioned. They could keep prices down by removing the optical drive altogether. I don't even use mine any more. Add an extra USB port and I'll get two externals if I need to. If the prices go up by the same as the Macbook, it would make it a fair bit less cost-effective to use them in a server rack and they don't need the optical drives.
post #32 of 159
The Mac Mini is DEAD!!

Say hello to the Mac Nano
Even thinner
Close to MacBook specs
Black & Silver to match new displays

5-8" MultiTouch Mini Tablet would go down a treat if you're reading!
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5-8" MultiTouch Mini Tablet would go down a treat if you're reading!
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post #33 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by Project2501 View Post

Do you guys think that the new 24 inch display for notebooks could also power mac mini via its MagSafe connector? I think the new Display could be a wonderful companion for mac mini as well.

I think you've got the idea. There's no way in the world that they developed this new display just for use as a second display with laptops. Talk about a small niche market!

I'll bet the new mini will be a 6" x 6" x 1" aluminum block, internally a MacBook with no display, keyboard, battery, or optical drive, and will plug right into the MagSafe connector on the new display. If it were me, I'd design it so that extra modules would plug into the top just like legos. Optical drive? Plug it in. Bigger hard drive? Better graphics card? Stack them all up. You'd have a stack of 6" x 6" x 1/2" boxes on top of your main box. They'd have to price it so each configuration would cost a little more than an equivalent iMac, but then they would have an expandable Mac that could never be mistaken for an e-waste beige box.

Well, that's what I'd do, anyway....
post #34 of 159
That's a great photo!

Personally I would LOVE a Mac mini with 1TB HDD. It would be the ultimate media PC. However, it would eat into Apple TV sales so I doubt Apple would make such a device.

(P.S. I'm also getting really annoying Jesus ads on AI now )
post #35 of 159
Ahh, Mini. I'm so in love with it. Was my first Mac back in the day, they're so cute almost make me cry with joy.
Let's hope they don't neglect it.
post #36 of 159
Why would Apple drop the optical drive from a desktop model right after retaining it on the MacBooks? The other way around would make far more sense.
Mac user since August 1983.
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post #37 of 159
The Mac mini is great. Just implement Firewire 800 on it and it will be perfect. At least two Firewire ports.
post #38 of 159
Mhhhhh, a new Mini... that would be pretty much the only thing that would disrupt (or at least severely delay) my "Buy a Macbook" plans right now... I certainly hope that Apple will breathe new life into this machine!

Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

Yes, if you have an angle grinder.

That line made my soul bleed. *huggles his trusty first-gen Mac Mini* Nuuuu, I won't cut you up!

Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

They wouldn't really have to. An insert in the slot from the inside to close it up would be enough. These machines would be hidden away. Looks aren't that important. Or they could leave it open for better cooling of the dual drives.

While certainly a possibility, this doesn't sound like Apple to me. Would they really patch up their uber-neat, custom-made case like that? However, it's possible that they'll shuffle the case-making process around so that the slot for the optical drive becomes the last step (or one of them), so that they could branch off production lines there (one branch that cuts the slot into it, one that doesn't). That would eliminate a lot of redundancy (production lines would be the same most of the way) while still giving you a custom case. (Disclaimer: I am not intimately familiar with the Mini case-making process, so this is just my blind guessing.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRonin View Post

Maybe the insert has 'das blinken lightens' that display HDD (dual SSD - ?!?) activity...

...KITT LED Light Scanner mod, please?
post #39 of 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by John F. View Post

I want to buy a Mac mini, but I need FireWire. What do you recommend? Wait until the new one comes out, or just buy the current? I would hate to wait until January only to find out that Apple removed the FireWire, and that the older version has run out in stores. But faster graphics would be nice. Quite a dilemma.

You can wait until they announce a new version. If you don't like the new one, order the old one from the clearance store.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IQatEdo View Post

One of Apple's best computers!

(If only it had an old world serial port!)

In my experience, a USB to RS232 adapter works just fine.
post #40 of 159
Thank god! Thank you, AppleInsider, and macminicolo.net! My god, I didn't even think of all the mini-server applications! Instant scalability--neat idea! But, as I expected, there are many, many commercial installations that take advantage of the mini's unique form factor and stable OS. They also appear to be serving a variety of both media and not-so-media related roles in their installed commercial applications (slot machine back-ends?), which I think is very, very cool. It really is the ultimate kiosk machine and small-system controller/server/whatever. Now, I can confidently await the new MacMini's introduction, hopefully this fall, to complete my home theater, home automation, video surveillance (although, no off-the-shelf, OS X-based CCTV software exists that I know of--it's all Windows-only based stuff), art installations, and other cool, home-project kinda applications! All hail, the mighty MacMini lives another day!
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