Next Mini bump

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
I love the Mini and plan to get another one to use instead of an ATV. Any suggestions about setting it up?



MacRumor - Recommendation: Buy only if you need it - Approaching the end of a cycle.



Any thoughts about what the upgrade will be? Do you think it'll be worth waiting for? I don't need it just now; I'm just eager. If the bump isn't significant, I'll have wasted time, though.



When do you think the bump will happen?



Should I flip a coin? Sorry, I'm just thinking out loud. I guess all Mac users go through this indecision.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    The mini is hard to say. They had left it for dead for about three years during the last cycle for the last update.
  • Reply 2 of 27
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,229moderator
    I would love to believe that Apple will put one of the newest mobile chips into the Mini along with the iMac and laptops:



    http://www.engadget.com/2009/09/23/i...re-for-laptop/



    but they are quite power-hungry so I'd only see them going into the iMac.



    If you wait until the iMac refresh, which will inevitably happen by the middle of next month and nothing has happened to the Mini, nothing can happen until next year.



    I suspect they will use Arrandale, which is a 2 core/4 thread processor vs the 2 core/2 thread we have now. It comes with worse integrated graphics but we'll have to see what Apple do to know if it will be a downgrade.
  • Reply 3 of 27
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,860member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sequitur View Post


    I love the Mini and plan to get another one to use instead of an ATV. Any suggestions about setting it up?



    I haven't gone that route myself so I can offer only general suggestions. More RAM ought to be item #1. I'd say a close second would be a large harddrive.

    Quote:



    MacRumor - Recommendation: Buy only if you need it - Approaching the end of a cycle.



    Any thoughts about what the upgrade will be?



    Yeah but you won't like them.
    1. Apple scraps Mini for something better!

    2. Apple upgrades the unit with a Core2Quad. This would come with 4GB of RAM.

    3. Apple does nothing this year.

    4. Mini is upgraded to Clarksfield. I actually would like to see this and wouldn't complain about clock rates as low as 1.5 GHz. Unfortunately this would require a minor redesign to the Minis case, making it a bit taller.

    5. As others have suggested Apple implements Arrandale in 2010. This wouldn't be a bad upgrade but I'd rather see Clarksfield. On the other hand Arrandale should allow for the same form factor.

    6. Apple goes AMD in the Mini. This isn't as crazy as it sounds and would provide a reasonable performance boost and the potential for very low prices. Apple has said they don't know how to make a $500 computer, that doesn't suck, but clearly they haven't tried. While not compelling some of AMDs chips could make for an interesting low cost machine.

    7. Apple scraps Mini for Micro a ATOM based machine that is extremely small. This gets balanced by a a larger more XMac like machine. In some ways I like this approach better, given the right Atom you could have very low cost servers of many sorts. The bigger box could power desktop productivity. In this case an ATV replacement is a kind of server.

    Quote:

    Do you think it'll be worth waiting for?



    Id be surprised if it was
    Quote:

    I don't need it just now; I'm just eager. If the bump isn't significant, I'll have wasted time, though.



    You can't look at it that way. Being a careful consummer is never a waste of time. Besides you said you don't need it now, that being the case hold off till next year no matter what Apple does.

    Quote:



    When do you think the bump will happen?



    While I feel good about iMac in weeks the Mini is a complete mystery. I'm really thinking Apple will completely refactor the machine when the right chips are available for them to realize their vision.

    Quote:

    Should I flip a coin? Sorry, I'm just thinking out loud. I guess all Mac users go through this indecision.



    Think about this XServe as an iTunes server ATV replacement. It would fit right in the rack with the Amps, tuner and whatever. A tad noisy but all so cool.







    Dave
  • Reply 4 of 27
    I suggest waiting until the next update before buying a new Mac mini. While the updated model will not blow the current model away, performance wise, it will most likely be a very nice improvement. An SD slot and Blu-ray, at least as a CTO option, are possibilities, on top of the "standard" updates. It should officially support 8GB RAM, larger hard drive, Core i7 "Arrandale" processor, and improved graphics.



    While Apple did neglect the Mac mini for three years I do not think they will do that anymore since OpenCL is a feature of OS X.
  • Reply 5 of 27
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    [*]Apple goes AMD in the Mini. This isn't as crazy as it sounds and would provide a reasonable performance boost and the potential for very low prices. Apple has said they don't know how to make a $500 computer, that doesn't suck, but clearly they haven't tried. While not compelling some of AMDs chips could make for an interesting low cost machine.



    Dave



    Not a bad strategy at all. AMD X4 630 & 620 is $99 with very competitive peformance with intel counterpart at much higher price. Not sure if apple is interested in investing in designing this platform for lower priced mini, when they currently can just use intel reference designed boards requiring less development.
  • Reply 6 of 27
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    I would love to believe that Apple will put one of the newest mobile chips into the Mini along with the iMac and laptops:



    http://www.engadget.com/2009/09/23/i...re-for-laptop/



    but they are quite power-hungry so I'd only see them going into the iMac.



    If you wait until the iMac refresh, which will inevitably happen by the middle of next month and nothing has happened to the Mini, nothing can happen until next year.



    I suspect they will use Arrandale, which is a 2 core/4 thread processor vs the 2 core/2 thread we have now. It comes with worse integrated graphics but we'll have to see what Apple do to know if it will be a downgrade.



    Does Intel's new IG meet the open cl spec?



    If not I highly doubt Apple will rely on it alone. Maybe they'll pair it with an entry level discreet gpu that meets the open cl spec.
  • Reply 7 of 27
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,229moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by backtomac View Post


    Does Intel's new IG meet the open cl spec?



    It doesn't even meet the OpenGL one. It's basically a shrunken x4500.



    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...op,2130-5.html



    "The integrated Intel X4500, in contrast, lacks all of the OpenGL features required for the full complement of GPU accelerated features in Adobe Photoshop CS4, such as rotation."



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by backtomac View Post


    If not I highly doubt Apple will rely on it alone. Maybe they'll pair it with an entry level discreet gpu that meets the open cl spec.



    Intel are being very aggressive here because they are trying to block compatibility with NVidia's graphics chips:



    http://www.appleinsider.com/articles...cts_apple.html



    It seems in this case though, the 32nm chips use connections that NVidia have licenses for:



    http://www.fudzilla.com/index.php?op...2709&Itemid=37



    so we may be safe but as the article points out, the chips will be more expensive and also draw more power due to Intel welding a GPU inside. This automatically makes manufacturers think twice about adding another GPU.



    For Apple though, I think the two chip setup will be a good idea across the lineup because it allows the GUI to render on an isolated graphics chip while the other can be used for OpenCL. But you'd have to think how that would affect battery life in the laptops.



    I think the GPU inside the processor can be disabled if required but I don't know if it will be on-the-fly or permanently disabled. Either way the cost goes up.



    I don't know why Intel can't just accept their IGPs suck and they should put an extra 2 cores into Arrandale instead and let us use NVidia or ATI for graphics because they at least know what they are doing.
  • Reply 8 of 27
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,860member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bitemymac View Post


    Not a bad strategy at all. AMD X4 630 & 620 is $99 with very competitive peformance with intel counterpart at much higher price. Not sure if apple is interested in investing in designing this platform for lower priced mini, when they currently can just use intel reference designed boards requiring less development.



    Of course Apple won't ask me so that won't happen on my say so. However an arguement could easily be made that AMD and it's video chips would easily make for a machine that outclasses todays Mini. They can do that while lowering the power profile of the machine.



    I can seeing this as a very successful marriage. Unfortunately though I don't see Apple going this route. It does burn my ass though when I hear Steevo say the can't make a decent $500 dollar computer. Maybe $500 if tough to hit but they would come a lot closer than they currently are. For around $650 they should be able to ship a Mini with AMD chips that performs very well and still maintain reasonable profits. Give up a bit in case design and I could see extremely good performance in that price range.





    Dave
  • Reply 9 of 27
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,860member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    ..........

    I don't know why Intel can't just accept their IGPs suck and they should put an extra 2 cores into Arrandale instead and let us use NVidia or ATI for graphics because they at least know what they are doing.



    Didn't this change as of the last IDF? That is I was under the impression that the first releases of Arrandale would be free of the IGPU. Need to look into this as it could give Apple an ideal Mini and Macbook Chip.



    Basically Arrandale would provide good computational performance combined with limited power usage. We are talking a whole new generation of performance per watt.





    Dave
  • Reply 10 of 27
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    Of course Apple won't ask me so that won't happen on my say so. However an arguement could easily be made that AMD and it's video chips would easily make for a machine that outclasses todays Mini. They can do that while lowering the power profile of the machine.



    I can seeing this as a very successful marriage. Unfortunately though I don't see Apple going this route. It does burn my ass though when I hear Steevo say the can't make a decent $500 dollar computer. Maybe $500 if tough to hit but they would come a lot closer than they currently are. For around $650 they should be able to ship a Mini with AMD chips that performs very well and still maintain reasonable profits. Give up a bit in case design and I could see extremely good performance in that price range.





    Dave



    There is little doubt in my mind that an AMD power mac with the new Quad Athlons or the Phenom II cpus paired with AMD gpus would be excellent machines. And they could be made for $500-600 and Apple could still have a healthy profit to boot. AMD cpus between $100-200 are really nice right now from what I've read. My parents have a cheap Compaq machine with a 2.2 ghz Athlon cpu and it performs fine under Vista. I don't see any reason why OSX wouldn't perform as well.



    They just don't want to do it.
  • Reply 11 of 27
    AMD produce decent chips, but Apple are enjoying a certain partnership with Intel at the moment. i doubt they will betray that.



    To be honest the mini's future depends on what deals they have with hardware vendors, Intel seem to want to phase out the Core 2 series of chips, so it is quite plausible that the mini will be upgraded to a i3 or i5 chip (the possibility of an i7 going in there is somewhat laughable given apple's internal platform politicking)



    nVidia are working on the second generation of the chipset presently used apple computers at the moment, but at the same time it's possible apple could switch to using Intel's larabee technology.



    The chips are in the air, a lot of new technology is coming out at the moment, but you never know if apple will see fit to use it in the mini.
  • Reply 12 of 27
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,860member
    These i5 and i7 chips are going to be very confounding. To get good performance these processors have to be heatsinked very agressively. Turbo Boost is great if the envirnment and heatsinking allow for it. When these features can't be leveraged you don't have that great performance.



    With AMD you have your base clock rate and no screwing around with the possbility of Turbo Boost kicking in. This to me is actually a good thing. It means you should get the performance you buy and not have it change based on environmental issues.



    For something like a laptop I have to wonder if the processor could be effectively heatsinked to allow consistant Turbo Boost usage. In any event there is a lot of bench marking going on right now with confused results. Some the result of new BIOS and other new product problems, but more hinting at deeper issues with consistant results. The story is likely to be distilled into real info in a few weeks but it looks like looking carefully at how a CPU (i5 & i7) is cooled will be very important in the future.





    Dave
  • Reply 13 of 27
    Expect a new mini in Jan'10 based on Clarkdale/Arrandale CPU. A recent test shows that the system level power dissipation with this integrated CPU solution is quite low:



    http://hothardware.com/Articles/Inte...e-CPU-Preview/



    The new IGP (IGMA-HD) with HD video decode support appears to be a good fit for a mini type platform.



    28W idle and 70W full-load system power consumption in the quoted article appears to be for 3.33GHz Clarkdale system. A lower clock speed Arrandale version with a more optimized system design (e.g. 2.5" HD instead of 3.5" HD) could probably achieve idle power in the 15W range and full-load power in the 45W range. It is also very likely that Clarkdale/Arrandale will be priced lower than Clarksfield as the target platform market for these Intel chips appears to be all-in-one PCs and midrange notebooks.
  • Reply 14 of 27
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by macshark View Post


    Expect a new mini in Jan'10 based on Clarkdale/Arrandale CPU. A recent test shows that the system level power dissipation with this integrated CPU solution is quite low:



    http://hothardware.com/Articles/Inte...e-CPU-Preview/



    The new IGP (IGMA-HD) with HD video decode support appears to be a good fit for a mini type platform.



    28W idle and 70W full-load system power consumption in the quoted article appears to be for 3.33GHz Clarkdale system. A lower clock speed Arrandale version with a more optimized system design (e.g. 2.5" HD instead of 3.5" HD) could probably achieve idle power in the 15W range and full-load power in the 45W range. It is also very likely that Clarkdale/Arrandale will be priced lower than Clarksfield as the target platform market for these Intel chips appears to be all-in-one PCs and midrange notebooks.



    but going from nvidia video back to Intel looks bad and even more so at $600-$800 with a system with 1-2gb of ram.
  • Reply 15 of 27
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joe The Dragon View Post


    but going from nvidia video back to Intel looks bad and even more so at $600-$800 with a system with 1-2gb of ram.



    Assuming that consumers even care about Nvidia vs Intel graphics.
  • Reply 16 of 27
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,229moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joe The Dragon View Post


    but going from nvidia video back to Intel looks bad and even more so at $600-$800 with a system with 1-2gb of ram.



    There was a benchmark done of the new Intel platform vs one with the X4500 and the 32nm platform came out about 50% faster. However, the X4500 benchmarks around 1/3rd of the 9400M so even with a 50% improvement, it's still half the speed and it's not just about raw throughput but features support. The X4500 like all Intel chips are lacking severely in that regard. It will be a painful downgrade for some.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison


    Assuming that consumers even care about Nvidia vs Intel graphics.



    They may care about OpenCL support, which given that Intel is using an old chip not supporting OpenCL, that is an issue. I don't see how Apple can even afford to downgrade to it and not have another chip alongside given their investment in OpenCL. Either they disable Intel's chip to save power while using another GPU or they find a way to use both it and a separate one. If they do it right, it might not draw much more power.
  • Reply 17 of 27
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    It doesn't even meet the OpenGL one. It's basically a shrunken x4500.



    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...op,2130-5.html



    "The integrated Intel X4500, in contrast, lacks all of the OpenGL features required for the full complement of GPU accelerated features in Adobe Photoshop CS4, such as rotation."







    Intel are being very aggressive here because they are trying to block compatibility with NVidia's graphics chips:



    http://www.appleinsider.com/articles...cts_apple.html



    It seems in this case though, the 32nm chips use connections that NVidia have licenses for:



    http://www.fudzilla.com/index.php?op...2709&Itemid=37



    so we may be safe but as the article points out, the chips will be more expensive and also draw more power due to Intel welding a GPU inside. This automatically makes manufacturers think twice about adding another GPU.



    For Apple though, I think the two chip setup will be a good idea across the lineup because it allows the GUI to render on an isolated graphics chip while the other can be used for OpenCL. But you'd have to think how that would affect battery life in the laptops.



    I think the GPU inside the processor can be disabled if required but I don't know if it will be on-the-fly or permanently disabled. Either way the cost goes up.



    I don't know why Intel can't just accept their IGPs suck and they should put an extra 2 cores into Arrandale instead and let us use NVidia or ATI for graphics because they at least know what they are doing.



    DMI is a lot slower then pci-e.
  • Reply 18 of 27
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,860member
    I don't disagree with your assessment but it does make you wonder about what appears to be the coming Mini update. I'm not sure what Apple has in its plan but it is likely to be a simple processor and RAM bump.



    Arrandale would certainly make for a nice Mini. However I'm not sure it is enough of a processor to remain attractive in the context of low cost ClarksDale and other i7 derived processors. Obviously the performance of this processor has yet to be unveiled but dual core is just not baseline anymore even if it is hyper threaded. Hopefully it does better than what I think it will do, but the Mini simply isn't competitive anymore in the current configuration and putting another anemic dual core in there won't help.





    Dave





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by macshark View Post


    Expect a new mini in Jan'10 based on Clarkdale/Arrandale CPU. A recent test shows that the system level power dissipation with this integrated CPU solution is quite low:



    http://hothardware.com/Articles/Inte...e-CPU-Preview/



    The new IGP (IGMA-HD) with HD video decode support appears to be a good fit for a mini type platform.



    28W idle and 70W full-load system power consumption in the quoted article appears to be for 3.33GHz Clarkdale system. A lower clock speed Arrandale version with a more optimized system design (e.g. 2.5" HD instead of 3.5" HD) could probably achieve idle power in the 15W range and full-load power in the 45W range. It is also very likely that Clarkdale/Arrandale will be priced lower than Clarksfield as the target platform market for these Intel chips appears to be all-in-one PCs and midrange notebooks.



  • Reply 19 of 27
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,860member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    Assuming that consumers even care about Nvidia vs Intel graphics.



    Really they do! The problem is the technically challenged might not know that the problem with their computer is a slow GPU. That is why Apple has to have systems that perform well no matter what GPU is in them, it becomes woefully obvious when a system doesn't perform well especially with new system software that accelerates many many subsystems.



    Dave
  • Reply 20 of 27
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,860member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    There was a benchmark done of the new Intel platform vs one with the X4500 and the 32nm platform came out about 50% faster. However, the X4500 benchmarks around 1/3rd of the 9400M so even with a 50% improvement, it's still half the speed and it's not just about raw throughput but features support. The X4500 like all Intel chips are lacking severely in that regard. It will be a painful downgrade for some.



    You are being far to kind there. Lets be honest, every Intel GPU to date has been crap. not just run of the mill crap but runny stinky crap and I'm still being kind!



    Quote:





    They may care about OpenCL support, which given that Intel is using an old chip not supporting OpenCL, that is an issue. I don't see how Apple can even afford to downgrade to it and not have another chip alongside given their investment in OpenCL. Either they disable Intel's chip to save power while using another GPU or they find a way to use both it and a separate one. If they do it right, it might not draw much more power.



    Consumers don't care about OpenCL or GPU acceleration or GPU part numbers. What they care about is fast reliable performance. This is the primary reason Apple is so successful selling systems with midrange GPU's, most consumers want reliable, fast and few complications. Oh and no confusing choice to make.



    Even in my old age, with my technical background, I'm more concerned that my primary system be reliable and gets the job done. I save tweaky and bleeding edge for my Linux machines.



    Dave
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