Bring on the Mac Plus

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014

With the nMP now available and, apart from being very 1990s expensive, also very limiting in configurations, is it time for Apple to bring out a more modular line based on the current design?

 

I think so and I believe it could be achieved with relative ease.

 

Keep the same cylindrical shape but instead of only offering the 1 CPU, 1 GPU and 1 GPU with flash slot triumvirate, start making this configurable too.

 

What I can see would be a very attractive option for a lot of people who are not going to buy an nMP and going to stick with their old Mac Pros for a few more years is as follows:

 

Build a Mac Pro with 2 CPU cards and just 1 GPU card for the power hungry who need more cores and not more GPU stream processors.

 

Offer a choice between single D500/D700 or a gaming spec GPU, such as the GTX 680 Ti. This could bring down the entry price considerably while not actually resulting in any performance decrease for a lot of people in that target audience. The opposite in fact.

 

Even if the layout or thermal capacity wouldn't allow for 2 CPU cards, there's really no sense in having one GPU card with a flash slot and one without. Why not just make them the same and be able to offer twice as much storage, maybe in a cheaper flavor for mass storage? Say 256GB of super high speed PCIe storage and 1 TB of slower 300-500MB/sec flash? The space for the connector is there even, why the artificial limit?

 

With a gaming spec GPU, they could even build a layout that has just one CPU and one GPU card and the third side of the thermal core could house a 2.5" flash or spinner harddisk for cheap mass storage.

Such a setup could bring the cost down to somewhere around 2000$, which would be much more palatable to the folks who are currently holding on to their old Mac Pros or who are, rightfully, considering a hackintosh/Windows/Linux box.

 

Of course, this all boils down to whether the additional R&D for a more customizable core would warrant the arguably small market for these systems in the first place.

I do however believe that the small design and quiet operation coupled with a "no BS" approach to CPU/GPU/storage options could turn into a big seller, even for Windows users.

 

What do you think?

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22

    No, they won’t make an xMac. 

  • Reply 2 of 22
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,719member
    g-news wrote: »
    With the nMP now available and, apart from being very 1990s expensive, also very limiting in configurations, is it time for Apple to bring out a more modular line based on the current design?
    If you mean the nMP design, I could see something like that happening. It wouldn't be more modular though.
    I think so and I believe it could be achieved with relative ease.
    Sure but does that mean Apple will do it? I can't really answer that question, however I have to think that they are up to something considering how the Mac Mini hasn't been updated yet and is taking a terrible hit in sales. it is highly doubtful that there will be a next Mini modeled on the current one in my opinion.
    Keep the same cylindrical shape but instead of only offering the 1 CPU, 1 GPU and 1 GPU with flash slot triumvirate, start making this configurable too.
    Honestly that makes no sense. What we really need is a Haswell based machine with one GPU card. For all I care it could be the same GPU card as is in the nMP. frankly Haswell is almost to the point where they don't need a GPU card but then the question becomes where do you put the SSD card. The SSD card socket could go on a Haswell based CPU card but if Apple did that why bother with the big box.
    What I can see would be a very attractive option for a lot of people who are not going to buy an nMP and going to stick with their old Mac Pros for a few more years is as follows:

    Build a Mac Pro with 2 CPU cards and just 1 GPU card for the power hungry who need more cores and not more GPU stream processors.
    That won't happen because in a year or two you will likely have 32 CPUs on one chip. Technology has changed such that there is little good reason to support more than one CPU socket. It sort of sucks today but I don't see a huge issue down the road. Electronics in general just becomes more compact with time but with the coming 3D structures ultra fast memory busses and other advancements, it actually becomes an disadvantage to support more hardware.

    Offer a choice between single D500/D700 or a gaming spec GPU, such as the GTX 680 Ti. This could bring down the entry price considerably while not actually resulting in any performance decrease for a lot of people in that target audience. The opposite in fact.
    Maybe. Getting rid of the GPU cards all together though would certainly impact price. Again it is a matter of what people need and how future silicon will perform. If the integrated GPU's are good enough nobody is going to bother with discreet GPU's if their software profile doesn't require it.

    Even if the layout or thermal capacity wouldn't allow for 2 CPU cards, there's really no sense in having one GPU card with a flash slot and one without. Why not just make them the same and be able to offer twice as much storage, maybe in a cheaper flavor for mass storage? Say 256GB of super high speed PCIe storage and 1 TB of slower 300-500MB/sec flash? The space for the connector is there even, why the artificial limit?
    Actually this I agree with! I'm not sure what Apple was thinking here, they must realize that a separate internal high speed storage device can be extremely useful in many configurations. The simplest example would be as a high speed scratch disk.

    I do wonder if there is a technical reason, maybe a lack of PCI Express lanes or thermal issues.
    With a gaming spec GPU, they could even build a layout that has just one CPU and one GPU card and the third side of the thermal core could house a 2.5" flash or spinner harddisk for cheap mass storage.
    Such a setup could bring the cost down to somewhere around 2000$, which would be much more palatable to the folks who are currently holding on to their old Mac Pros or who are, rightfully, considering a hackintosh/Windows/Linux box.
    Apple has an obvious performance gap between the Mini and Mac Pro now so I wouldn't be surprised if they find a way to fill that gap. People often point to the iMac but that really isn't acceptable for many reasons.
    Of course, this all boils down to whether the additional R&D for a more customizable core would warrant the arguably small market for these systems in the first place.
    I do however believe that the small design and quiet operation coupled with a "no BS" approach to CPU/GPU/storage options could turn into a big seller, even for Windows users.

    What do you think?

    While a lot of people don't want to hear it I think the Mini is dead in its current configuration. Ideally Apple needs a replacement box that can fill the low end that the Mini leaves behind yet also support a much higher performance variant to fill that gap between the Mini and the Mac Pro. Intel has gotten the power down so far on their desktop chips that they can offer the equivalent of todays Minis thermal performance yet step up performance considerably with a much higher performance chip. So I can see the Mini leaving the mobile chip world so that there is a much more rewarding spread when it comes to good, better, best. That would require a replacement platform for the Mini that can handle more power in the best configuration. That best model would also end up in the $1200 to $1500 dollar range.
  • Reply 3 of 22
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,719member
    No, they won’t make an xMac. 

    Never say never!

    Apple is the company that migrated the AIR from an high end laptop to a fantastically successful entry level laptop. They migrated the massive Mac Pro into a trash can. Nothing is in place to stop them from offering up something better than the Mini to try to regain a little sale momentum.

    That machine might not be the xMac that many of us have wanted but it certainly could be a better machine than the current offering. Everything seems to indicate that something is up with the Mini slot in the product line, what that is nobody knows.
  • Reply 4 of 22
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

    Never say never!

     

    I think 16 years says never.

     

    Apple is the company that migrated the AIR from an high end laptop to a fantastically successful entry level laptop.


     

    Which remains high-end.

     

    They migrated the massive Mac Pro into a trash can.


     

    Which remains high-end. <img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" />

     

    Nothing is in place to stop them from offering up something better than the Mini to try to regain a little sale momentum.


     

    iMac.

     
    Everything seems to indicate that something is up with the Mini slot in the product line, what that is nobody knows.

     

    Knowing Apple, discontinuation. :\

  • Reply 5 of 22
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

     

     

    I think 16 years says never.

     

    Which remains high-end.

     

    Which remains high-end. <img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" />

     

    iMac.

     

    Knowing Apple, discontinuation. :\


     

    No Mini discontinuation in sight; forget about it.

  • Reply 6 of 22
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by brlawyer View Post

     

     

    No Mini discontinuation in sight; forget about it.




    People always say that when it isn't refreshed in a timely manner. I don't know why they drag it out this long at times.

  • Reply 7 of 22
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,719member
    I think 16 years says never.
    How long was the Mac Pro a big box? Part of the reason the Mini has stayed around so long in two basic forms is that Apple never really had the resources to dedicate to it. Frankly it looks like Mac Hardware is finally getting some attention so I don't see the idea of a New Mini as an impossibility. By new I mean a new box and a break from the traditional design.

    A break from traditional design would be similar to the change from Mac Book to MacBook AIR. That is new hardware concepts that drive performance at relatively lower costs.
    Which remains high-end.
    The AIR isn't high end by any means and frankly is surprisingly competitive.
    Which remains high-end. :lol:
    Which demonstrates Apples willingness to overhaul a low volume machine and implement modern technology in that design. This is the thing, the Mini just needs modernization to make it a desirable machine, much of that improvement can be borrowed from existing designs. For example PCI Express storage from the Mac Book AiR, TB 2 from the Mac Pro and the list goes on.

    Before you say anything no these improvements won't blow the price out of the water.
    iMac.
    Nobody interested in the iMac wants a Mini. The cross over interest approaches zero.
    Knowing Apple, discontinuation. :\

    Knowing what Apple has been doing lately I can see a radical change.
  • Reply 8 of 22
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,719member
    hmm wrote: »

    People always say that when it isn't refreshed in a timely manner. I don't know why they drag it out this long at times.

    I don't think you read that right.
  • Reply 9 of 22
    nhtnht Posts: 4,429member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post



    The AIR isn't high end by any means and frankly is surprisingly competitive.

     

    It starts at $999.  It's entry level like a BMW 320i is "entry level" at $33K.

     

    Quote:
    Which demonstrates Apples willingness to overhaul a low volume machine and implement modern technology in that design. This is the thing, the Mini just needs modernization to make it a desirable machine, much of that improvement can be borrowed from existing designs. For example PCI Express storage from the Mac Book AiR, TB 2 from the Mac Pro and the list goes on. Before you say anything no these improvements won't blow the price out of the water.

     

    The mini is already desirable because of the low price point.  Apple makes it as undesirable as it can get away with...

     

    I expect the mini price, should it survive, to hit $1K as the base model with a dual core i5.  

     

    Jumping to $1,299 for a quad core i5 and $1,499 for a quad i7.  I expect Apple to justify it with TB2 and other "pro"/server features like a PCIe SSD + 2 x 3TB HDD.

     

    Quote:
     Nobody interested in the iMac wants a Mini. The cross over interest approaches zero.

     

    Bullshit.  It's a mac desktop.  Apple deliberately gimps the mini to discourage cannibalization.  There's no reason the mini couldn't have a nVidia 650M BTO option other than even if you charge an outrageous $300 for it it would be a hugely better deal than all but the best iMacs at $1399

    for a 2.3 Ghz Quad i7, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD and 650M.  

     

    The equivalent iMac would be $1899 although with a much faster i7.  If you add in the fact that you can actually upgrade the SSD and RAM yourself the cost equation is even larger.

  • Reply 10 of 22
    marvfoxmarvfox Posts: 2,275member

    Why not?

  • Reply 11 of 22
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,771member
    I'd probably buy one, but I doubt it will happen. More likely that Apple gets outs out of the consumer desktop game altogether.
  • Reply 12 of 22
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,719member
    crowley wrote: »
    I'd probably buy one, but I doubt it will happen. More likely that Apple gets outs out of the consumer desktop game altogether.

    I can see Apple leaving the consumer desktop market myself. The sales figures for run of the mill desktop PCs is just terrible right now. Many retail stores don't even bother to stock desktop machines. If they do stock something it is usually so low end as to be useless. However the market for a small "desktop" machine is not zero and as such I would see leaving the market completely as a mistake.

    Right now one of the Mini's biggest problems is the complete lack of attention it gets from Apple, sort of like the lack of attention the Mac Pro got for years. This has really killed the machines appeal. Lets face it something like a TB2 would vastly enhance the machine in server duties that Apple tries to market the machine as. The Mini has potential as a compute brick, the problem is is the market big enough for compute bricks?
  • Reply 13 of 22
    nhtnht Posts: 4,429member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post



    Right now one of the Mini's biggest problems is the complete lack of attention it gets from Apple, sort of like the lack of attention the Mac Pro got for years. This has really killed the machines appeal. Lets face it something like a TB2 would vastly enhance the machine in server duties that Apple tries to market the machine as. The Mini has potential as a compute brick, the problem is is the market big enough for compute bricks?

     

    Lack of attention?  Jesus.

     


    Recommendation


    Don't Buy - Updates soon




    Last Release


    October 23, 2012




    Days Since Update


    441 (Avg = 381)


     

     

     

     

     

     

    http://buyersguide.macrumors.com/

     

    So it's running a few months late after 4 straight years of updates in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.  It's not even that late if you take into account the last update (JUL 2011 to OCT 2012) was 461 days.

     

    Every year it got a little better with USB3 added in 2012, Thunderbolt in 2011 and a complete redesign in 2010.

     

    Complete lack of attention?  On your part perhaps.

     

    The mini has been a great little desktop machine for non-gamers the last few years, an excellent HTPC and good render/compute node.

  • Reply 14 of 22
    marvfoxmarvfox Posts: 2,275member

    The Mac Mini might be dropped pretty soon.It is starting to lose it's popularity.

  • Reply 15 of 22
    nhtnht Posts: 4,429member

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by marvfox View Post

     

    The Mac Mini might be dropped pretty soon.It is starting to lose it's popularity.


     

    It's not definitive but on the amazon best sellers rank the Mini is ranking #2 for desktop computers.

     

     

    http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Computers-Accessories-Desktop/zgbs/pc/565098

  • Reply 16 of 22
    Originally Posted by marvfox View Post

    The Mac Mini might be dropped pretty soon.It is starting to lose it's popularity.

     

    Proof?

  • Reply 17 of 22
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by nht View Post

     

     

    It's not definitive but on the amazon best sellers rank the Mini is ranking #2 for desktop computers.

     

     


     

    That's better than I would have expected, although the classic desktop has been in trouble for years. I always preferred them due to ergonomics.

  • Reply 18 of 22
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,771member
    Amazon sells more Mac Minis than iMacs? That seems bizarre. Or does Amazon not carry the iMac, or categorize it as something different from "Desktop"?
  • Reply 19 of 22
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,719member
    nht wrote: »
    Lack of attention?  Jesus.
    I'm not him but thanks for placing me in the lofty company.
    <div style="clear:both;color:rgb(4,20,39);float:left;width:336px;">
    <div style="color:rgb(21,42,68);float:left;text-align:right;width:148px;">Recommendation</div>

    <div style="color:rgb(66,102,148);float:right;width:177px;">Don't Buy - Updates soon</div>

    </div>

    <div style="clear:both;color:rgb(4,20,39);float:left;width:336px;">
    <div style="color:rgb(21,42,68);float:left;text-align:right;width:148px;">Last Release</div>

    <div style="color:rgb(66,102,148);float:right;width:177px;">October 23, 2012</div>
    A release that could be phoned in as far as feature set improvements.
    </div>

    <div style="clear:both;color:rgb(4,20,39);float:left;width:336px;">
    <div style="color:rgb(21,42,68);float:left;text-align:right;width:148px;">Days Since Update</div>

    <div style="color:rgb(66,102,148);float:right;width:177px;">441 (Avg = 381)</div>

    <div style="color:rgb(66,102,148);float:right;width:177px;"> </div>

    </div>
    The long time since the last update isn't the issue, it is the long time since Haswell debuted that is the problem.





    http://buyersguide.macrumors.com/

    So it's running a few months late after 4 straight years of updates in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.  It's not even that late if you take into account the last update (JUL 2011 to OCT 2012) was 461 days.

    Every year it got a little better with USB3 added in 2012, Thunderbolt in 2011 and a complete redesign in 2010.

    Complete lack of attention?  On your part perhaps.
    Hardware revisions that are trivial are an example of a lack of attention.
    The mini has been a great little desktop machine for non-gamers the last few years, an excellent HTPC and good render/compute node.

    I never said it was a bad machine. My point has been that it is well past time for a Haswell version and further it needs a real update to reflect modern design at Apple.
  • Reply 20 of 22
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,719member
    crowley wrote: »
    Amazon sells more Mac Minis than iMacs? That seems bizarre. Or does Amazon not carry the iMac, or categorize it as something different from "Desktop"?

    I really believe that Apple built the Mini specifically to serve the needs of third party vendors. Other vendors are very big on the Mini.
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