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

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 58
    nhtnht Posts: 4,522member


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

  • Reply 2 of 58
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,784member
    I may be ordering a server version later today. Good update. Nothing earth shattering, but good.
  • Reply 3 of 58


    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. 

  • Reply 4 of 58
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 58


    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?

     

  • Reply 6 of 58


    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.

  • Reply 7 of 58


    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.

  • Reply 8 of 58

    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.

  • Reply 9 of 58
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 58
    19831983 Posts: 1,225member
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 58
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,784member


    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.


     


    Mini: Now, say my name.


    Schiller: . . .Mac Mini.


    Mini:  You're goddamn right.

  • Reply 12 of 58
    Intel graphics sucks, are there last generation Minis anywhere on sale?
  • Reply 13 of 58

    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.

  • Reply 14 of 58
    gamringamrin Posts: 114member


    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. ;)

  • Reply 15 of 58

    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?

  • Reply 16 of 58
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,611moderator
    rangerd wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 58


    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.

  • Reply 18 of 58
    eksodoseksodos Posts: 186member

    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. :)

  • Reply 19 of 58

    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.

  • Reply 20 of 58
    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.
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