First look: Apple' new unibody Mac mini

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
Apple's new aluminum unibody Mac mini retains its role as the company's low price, compact PC and server while adding HDMI output and support for Secure Digital Extended Capacity flash memory cards with higher speeds and capacities (more than 32GB).



The physical size of the new Mac mini shifts from a 2 inch tall, 6.5 inch square unit into a new 1.4 inch tall, 7.7 inch square form factor similar to 1.1 inch tall Apple TV.



Also new compared to the previous Mac mini and Apple TV is its new unibody shell, which slides the logic board and power supply in through the open rear side, rather than sandwiching a cover on top of a base.



The WiFi antenna and RAM are exposed through a rear opening covered by a twist off rubber base for easy access. The back panel provides four USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire 800 and Gigabit Ethernet port, along with standard audio input and outputs that support both analog and digital cables. A new HDMI port supports resolutions up to 1920x1200, and the unit also supplies a Mini DisplayPort that supports a separate display up to 2560x1600 resolution.



Video output is provided by an NVIDIA GeForce 320M that uses 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM, making the Mac mini architecturally similar to the latest MacBook. It also uses the same 2.4 Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and 1066MHz frontside bus, with an additional option for a faster 2.66GHz processor.



Like the previous generation of Mac minis, the new model comes in both a standard version with 2GB RAM, a DVD drive and single 320GB, 5400rpm SATA drive, and a 4GB server configuration that trades the optical drive and its slot for a secondary hard drive preinstalled with Mac OS X Server, providing two 500GB, 7200rpm SATA drives. Both models can accommodate up to 8GB of RAM.









New SD Card support



In addition to conventional RAM, the new Mac mini also supports Secure Digital flash memory cards via a rear slot. The slot supports cards following the Standard SD format of 4 MB to 4 GB, SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) cards from 4GB to 32 GB, and new SDXC (Secure Digital Extended Capacity) cards 32 GB and larger. SDXC theoretically supports cards up to 2TB, but Apple does not specify a supported ceiling for the new slot.



The Mac mini's SD slot with SDXC support is a first for Apple, as the most recent iMacs and MacBook Pros with SD card slots do not yet support the new higher speed, higher capacity specification, and are limited to SDHC cards with a 32GB maximum capacity.



Apple TV Plus?



The new Mac mini also has obvious potential in home theater uses, given its built in HDMI audio and video output, which support secure playback of copy protected content over a single cable. The HDMI port can be converted via a dongle to DVI to drive a standard display. Previous models supplied a DVI output, offering a converter to HDMI but lacking audio support, as DVI does not provide audio (it is essentially HDMI without sound).



The Mac mini differs from Apple TV in that it runs the full Mac OS X Snow Leopard and all Mac software, whereas Apple TV runs an embedded version that only runs an enhanced Front Row-style interface. Apple may likely port the Apple TV's software to the Mac to offer a more complete experience in home theater compared to the existing Front Row, which is still on the level of Apple TV 1.0.



Rumors suggest Apple may convert future versions of Apple TV into a low cost, cloud based appliance running iOS and discontinue the existing hard drive-based local storage and sync product. Regardless of the future of Apple TV, the Mac mini offers a more powerful features, including support for DVR software (providing TiVo-like functionality) and other third party software and games that Apple has never enabled for Apple TV.



The Mac mini also provides more processing muscle, more storage, multiple display support, and the capacity to present additional video formats that Apple TV won't play out of the box. It is however significantly more expensive; the existing Apple TV retails for $229, while the new Mac mini now starts at $699, with the TB server model starting at $999.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 239
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Apple's new aluminum unibody Mac mini retains its role as the company's low price, compact PC and server while adding HDMI output and support for Secure Digital Extended Capacity flash memory cards with higher speeds and capacities (more than 32GB).



    Sadly not so low cost... price increase seems unjustified - especially the mark up in Europe.
  • Reply 2 of 239
    ajmac25ajmac25 Posts: 18member
    As a long time (> 20 years) of Macs, I understand APple products are always a premium, BUT adding $100 to the price is ridiculous. Come on Steve, give us a break!http://forums.appleinsider.com/image...ies/1oyvey.gif
  • Reply 3 of 239
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,341member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MsftMacMan View Post


    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Apple's new aluminum unibody Mac mini retains its role as the company's low price, compact PC and server while adding HDMI output and support for Secure Digital Extended Capacity flash memory cards with higher speeds and capacities (more than 32GB).



    Sadly not so low cost... price increase seems unjustified - especially the mark up in Europe.



    Yes, way to expensive now, in the UK you get the 21.5" iMac for just £250 more, honeslty who would buy this machine when you get double the ram, a better cpu/gpu, KB & Mouse and screen for that little bit more.



    Such a shame, it's beautiful but priced by a retard I think, either that or Apple assumes its customers are stupid!
  • Reply 4 of 239
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,822member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by saarek View Post


    Yeah, way to expensive now, in the UK you get the 21.5" iMac for £250 more, honeslty who would buy this machine when you get double the ram, a better cpu/gpu, KB & Mouse and screen for that little bit more.



    Such a shame, it's beautiful but priced by a retard I think, either that or Apple assumes it's customers are stupid!



    Clearly it's designed for the upsell.



    At this price, It should have a blu-ray drive. In fact, if it did, I would almost certainly buy one. Sadly it looks like we'll never see a Mac with blu-ray



    P.S. saarek please read my sig.
  • Reply 5 of 239
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,341member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post


    Clearly it's designed for the upsell.



    At this price, It should have a blu-ray drive. In fact, if it did, I would almost certainly buy one. Sadly it looks like we'll never see a Mac with blu-ray



    P.S. saarek please read my sig.



    You're 100% right, very sloppy grammar on my part!
  • Reply 6 of 239
    joe hsjoe hs Posts: 488member
    I hate the look of the new mac mini \

    please don't tell me im the only one...
  • Reply 7 of 239
    ameldrum1ameldrum1 Posts: 255member
    form above function.



    imagine trying to actually insert an SD card (or connect a USB drive) when this unit is sitting snugly in your TV/entertainment unit with a bunch of cables connected to the back (making it difficult to move). or even reach the power switch for that matter...



    dumb, dumb, dumb.
  • Reply 8 of 239
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,822member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ameldrum1 View Post


    form above function.



    Exactly. I read a quote from Apple on macworld.co.uk concerning the SD card slot on the back, along the lines of "the size of the Mini constrains where we can put ports" as if that was an adequate excuse. Who exactly held the gun to Apple's head and forced them to make the Mini the height that it is?



    The beginnings of the design process should have been:
    • Optical drive slot, SD card slot, 3.5 mm audio in and out jacks on front (possibly audio in/out on side)

    • Same footprint as AppleTV

    • Now, what's the minimum height we can make it to satisfy our design goals?

    But no, overlord Steve wants everything to be as thin as possible, even if that means compromising usability and even if it's a bloody desktop machine!
  • Reply 9 of 239
    bdkennedy1bdkennedy1 Posts: 1,459member
    I could never justify buying it. It's underpowered for the price. Core 2 Duo? 2GB of RAM? Not for $699. The new design should have been cheaper to produce since there are fewer parts.



    I don't know what they are trying to do, but they are going in the wrong direction.
  • Reply 10 of 239
    foobarfoobar Posts: 107member
    So does that mean Apple licensed and implemented exFAT?
  • Reply 11 of 239
    ifreekifreek Posts: 2member
    There's one more thing to the new iPhone 4...



    The new Apple TV will be an App and the new iPhone will support it.



    When you own the iPhone 4, you own the hardware required (plus cables). It's secretly invading the market, that's why Apple asked the FCC for 45 days of secrecy.



    You can optionally buy the $99 stand-alone hardware as well.



    The big new serverpark it requires is already there, remember?



    The HDMI port in the Mac Mini is just distraction :-)
  • Reply 12 of 239
    stillmanstillman Posts: 16member
    Nice little machine but dubious value for the price. UK pricing starts at £649 for a measly 2GB Ram and 320 GB hard drive. Once you bump up the specs to a respectable level you might as well get a refurbished iMac or Macbook. Pity. Maybe Apple just manufacture the Mini to sell more higher end machines...
  • Reply 13 of 239
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post


    Clearly it's designed for the upsell.



    At this price, It should have a blu-ray drive. In fact, if it did, I would almost certainly buy one. Sadly it looks like we'll never see a Mac with blu-ray



    But how much more would it cost to add a Blu-ray drive to replace that ODD? And they'd have to add AACS support to Mac OS X so it can playback protected Blu-ray media. Since they haven't seen fit to do that, or add Blu-ray to the Mac Pros or iMacs where a Blu-ray drive would be considerably cheaper I can't imagine that the Mac Mini would be the first device to get this option in the Mac line up.



    On top of that, I have to think Apple knows its consumer base better than we do. Theoretically, if 80% of the Mac Mini buying were going for the more expensive model? Would that not make it a good reason for engineer it to appeal mire directly with the largest portion of the Mac Mini consumer base?





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post


    Exactly. I read a quote from Apple on macworld.co.uk concerning the SD card slot on the back, along the lines of "the size of the Mini constrains where we can put ports" as if that was an adequate excuse. Who exactly held the gun to Apple's head and forced them to make the Mini the height that it is?!



    I don't get these responses, Mr. H. Since ministration of all components is a focus of their business I can't understand the when the obvious "they didn't have to make it that small" comments arise. Obviously not, but this is how Apple has always worked. They could have offered copy/paste piece-by-piece on the iPhone if they wanted, but they didn't. This is what they do and being shocked by it is a shock to me.



    Plus, I don't think they expect numerous SD cards to be used on that device. Since the SD card slot came along so late for Macs and every modern camera I've ever used comes with a USB cable and is much easier connected without removing the SD card I think the SD card is a placeholder for another transition they are planning down the road, which will work just fine if it spends most of its time out of the way.



    I also don't think they expect people to bury the device in their entertainment system so the back can't be accessed. It doesn't have an decent media center software to make it a good replacement for the AppleTV or one of the other, much cheaper and more robust options on the market. Those who want to buy any Mac Mini for a media center aren't your typical consumer and therefore not Apple's focus for this machine.
  • Reply 14 of 239
    chronsterchronster Posts: 1,894member
    I'd like to see intel's WiDi on this thing. Wireless mouse /kb and wireless monitor. You could stick this thing on a bookshelf lol
  • Reply 15 of 239
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,822member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    But how much more would it cost to add a Blu-ray drive to replace that ODD?



    I think you've missed my point that as it stands the Mini is a rip-off i.e., Apple should put more expensive stuff in there but have a smaller mark-up to hit the same price point. Yes, a blu-ray drive that height would be prohibitively expensive, but again if the Mini was just a bit taller they could have a taller slot-load drive for not much more.



    Over the last few years we've witnessed Apple push the margins on their computers up and up. I have been impressed by how far they've managed to push it but this may finally be the step too far. Who knows?



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    And they'd have to add AACS support to Mac OS X so it can playback protected Blu-ray media.



    So? This is not a big deal.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I don't get these responses, Mr. H. Since ministration of all components is a focus of their business I can't understand the when the obvious "they didn't have to make it that small" comments arise.



    Well, I haven't been a fan of their desktops for a long while now. I will continue to be perplexed by why they choose to balance things so much in favour of form over function, and be equally perplexed as to why so many people buy Apple desktop machines. Apple's laptops are a different story - the best in the industry bar none.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I also don't think they expect people to bury the device in their entertainment system so the back can't be accessed. It doesn't have an decent media center software to make it a good replacement for the AppleTV or one of the other, much cheaper and more robust options on the market. Those who want to buy any Mac Mini for a media center aren't your typical consumer and therefore not Apple's focus for this machine.



    I guess that's why they went to the trouble of putting an HDMI port on it despite the Mini Display Port supporting exactly the same functionality as HDMI? Apple expect to sell this as a Media Center PC.
  • Reply 16 of 239
    champchamp Posts: 39member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ameldrum1 View Post


    form above function.



    imagine trying to actually insert an SD card (or connect a USB drive) when this unit is sitting snugly in your TV/entertainment unit with a bunch of cables connected to the back (making it difficult to move). or even reach the power switch for that matter...



    dumb, dumb, dumb.



    How you feel about things outside of yourself usually reflects how you view yourself.

    just sayin
  • Reply 17 of 239
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ajmac25 View Post


    As a long time (> 20 years) of Macs, I understand APple products are always a premium, BUT adding $100 to the price is ridiculous. Come on Steve, give us a break!http://forums.appleinsider.com/image...ies/1oyvey.gif



    And remember, the original PowerPC mini was only $499. The switch to Intel added $100 to the base price and now they've tacked on another $100. So a 40% increase in what, 5 years?



    Bad Apple!
  • Reply 18 of 239
    orlandoorlando Posts: 601member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    On top of that, I have to think Apple knows it's consumer base better than we do. Theoretically, if 80% of the Mac Mini buying were going for the more expensive model? Would that not make it a good reason for engineer it to appeal mire directly with the largest portion of the Mac Mini consumer base?



    Even if most people bought the more expensive option, having a cheap base version is good for marketing purposes. "From $499" sounds a lot better than "From $699" even if the majority of folks immediately opt for the faster CPU and more memory and actually pay closer to $699.



    Also $699 and you have to provide your own keyboard, mouse and monitor. You are probably better off buying a Macbook.
  • Reply 19 of 239
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iFreek View Post


    There's one more thing to the new iPhone 4...



    The new Apple TV will be an App and the new iPhone will support it.



    When you own the iPhone 4, you own the hardware required (plus cables). It's secretly invading the market, that's why Apple asked the FCC for 45 days of secrecy.



    You can optionally buy the $99 stand-alone hardware as well.



    The big new serverpark it requires is already there, remember?



    The HDMI port in the Mac Mini is just distraction :-)



    That sounds like a very expensive AppleTV that is very limited. I fully expect an iOS-based AppleTV to come shortly but I expect it to push 1080p and be price under $200 to actually compete with other media extenders.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post


    I think you've missed my point that as it stands the Mini is a rip-off i.e., Apple should put more expensive stuff in there but have a smaller mark-up to hit the same price point. Yes, a blu-ray drive that height would be prohibitively expensive, but again if the Mini was just a bit taller they could have a taller slot-load drive for not much more.



    Over the last few years we've witnessed Apple push the margins on their computers up and up. I have been impressed by how far they've managed to push it but this may finally be the step too far. Who knows?



    I've seen them loyal the prices on their MB and MBPs significantly. I don't recall what they did to the iMac's prices. As for their margins, I have no idea what their goal is but as we've seen their growth far exceed the market it seems to me that their reported net profit margins are higher than expected because of economy of scale. Aren't they selling more Macs per quarter than they were in a year just 4 years ago?



    Quote:

    So? This is not a big deal.



    ¿Que? What's the big deal in having a Blu-ray player that can't play Blu-ray movies? I think that is a big deal.

    -or-

    What's the big deal about Apple adding AACS to Mac OS X? That's a loaded question because it's not an objection to difficulty, but to their interest in doing so. Too often it gets stated that if Apple chooses not to do what one wants that it gets stated as it's "not difficult" when it's clearly not their objection.



    Quote:

    Well, I haven't been a fan of their desktops for a long while now. I will continue to be perplexed by why they choose to balance things so much in favour of form over function, and be equally perplexed as to why so many people buy Apple desktop machines. Apple's laptops are a different story - the best in the industry bar none.



    I quite like their desktops, but I'm a notebook user. Have been for over a decade back when notebook easily cost a lot more than any MBP costs now. I agree that the Mac Mini is "over engineered" for a result that doesn't add much benefit but increases the cost dramatically, but that was the case with the original design, too, this just takes it to a whole.. notha'... level. That doesn't mean it's not profitable to Apple and fits in with their goals for the product. I certainly won't buy it, but I'm not a "desktop guy" even though I think the new 27" iMac and Mac Mini are brilliant.



    The argument you make against Apple's desktop also holds true for many with their notebooks. They don't have to make their notebooks so thin. They don't have to use the more expensive ultra-slim or slot-loading ODDs. They don't have to keep all the ports on side. They don't have to use MagSafe, forcing me to buy their power adapter if it breaks. They don't have to et cetera, ad nauseum.



    The fact that you and I agree that they are the best all around notebooks makes it an opinion, when there are plenty of notebooks that best every Mac notebook is some way or fashion.



    Quote:

    I guess that's why they went to the trouble of putting an HDMI port on it despite the Mini Display Port supporting exactly the same functionality as HDMI? Apple expect to sell this as a Media Center PC.



    The mDP port supports much higher bandwidth and resolution. They also included an adapter to DVI, which is unusual for them. Note that there are monitors (that aren't HDTV with tuners) that support HDMI and not mDP/DP at the moment. Do they have built-in speakers for HDMI?



    I think you and others are asking the wrong question here. You're asking what is wrong with Apple? Why do they think we want it so thin? Perhaps we should be asking what Apple's goals are with the device, not coming in with our opinion as to what we want it to be and then declaring it a failure when their vision differs from ours. The House always wins!
  • Reply 20 of 239
    maridiamaridia Posts: 1member
    I think the design is marvelous. The price, not so much. I'm on the verge of getting one of these things, but just can't make up my mind. On one hand it's exactly what I'm after in terms of what it is at its core: efficient, quiet, and teeny tiny. I guess I'm odd in wanting a desktop on the desk top that is as small as can be. I hate the thought of wasted space, with towering towers featuring more bays than I could ever imagine filling up. Sadly for me, one who isn't thoroughly keen on the Apple way of life, the Mac mini is pretty much in a class of its own and right up my computing alley. Sure there's the Dell Zino, but that one seems kind of clunky and inefficient, and it's a Dell. Other than the mini and Zino (in terms of semi-mainstream units), the only systems that come close are nettops. And quite frankly, I'm getting kind of tired of seeing the Intel Atom processor in system specs. So while I think the newly updated/redesigned mini is quite a sight for sore eyes, it really should be cheaper. Or, at least have a 7200 hdd and 4gb ram, and maybe bluray. I mean, adding in the extra 2 gigs of ram bumps the price up to $800, the ultimate hang-up for me. The Core i3 absence is fine, as I don't think they offer that much of a boost (all in all), and they come with integrated Intel gpu baggage. And as others have mentioned, the Mac pricing of late is kind of puzzling. With the MacBook just a couple hundred less than the Pro, and now the mini (once upgraded a smidgeon) not too far from the iMac. Sure the latter comparison isn't terribly comparable, but it still is kind of weird. Or maybe I'm weird. In either case, I've typed way more dribble than planned and haven't been able to clear my thoughts of what to do in the mixed up process.
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