Apple discontinues Mac mini server, limits storage options with latest hardware refresh

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited October 2014
With Thursday's Mac mini refresh, the addition of new processors and a lower cost of entry seemingly comes at a price, as Apple no longer offers storage expansion options beyond 1TB and has axed the server model altogether.




Apple may have been referring to a Mac mini hardware refresh when it sent out invitations to today's special event, which read "It's been way too long," but with the upgraded internals comes the deprecation of a top-end server model with 2TB of HDD storage. The move, however, results in cost savings and perhaps greater flexibility for the end user.

While it may be added onto Apple's roster at a later date, the Mac mini with OS X Server option is currently not available to purchase through the Online Apple Store. The next version of OS X Server was recently seeded to developers for testing, but has yet to make it to the Mac App Store.

In any case, the latest Mac mini revision does not come in a configuration supporting 2TB of storage, an option previously available to the $999 Mac mini server. Instead, the top-of-the-line mini ships with a 1TB Fusion Drive standard, which can be swapped out with a 256GB SSD at no extra cost. The only other configurations available are a 512GB and 1TB SSDs, which command a $300 and $800 premium, respectively.

Apple did offer the current standard storage configurations as options on the outgoing model -- and current low- and mid-tier models -- with the 1TB Fusion Drive costing $250 extra and the 256GB SSD coming in at $300 over cost.

The change, first spotted by Czech blog LSA, could be a disappointment for those looking for a high-capacity standalone, but the decision is a clear sign as to where Apple plans to position the Mac mini in its desktop lineup.

With current data demands, 2TB of storage is not impressive when it comes to content or workstation servers, but is likely enough for everyday use. Lowering the price and upping standard storage puts the mini in range of regular consumers, while more powerful configurations fills the niche for customers looking for a decent standalone replacement.

Further, the new Mac mini's dual Thunderbolt 2 connections, four USB 3.0 ports, Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Gigabit ethernet are more than adequate to attach and serve fast external storage if a user so chooses. Couple that with low-priced OS X Server software and the configurations on offer start to look like a value. In some ways, Apple's new Mac mini is the most cost-effective and flexible to date.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 58
    It appears that a quad-core i7 is not longer an option, and it's not clear if the RAM is upgradeable in this revision.
  • Reply 2 of 58
    No commentary in this article towards the lack of BTO Quad Core i7 options? Strange...as that is probably another reason that they don't offer an OS X Server option anymore. I went from happy ("...there's a new Mac Mini...") to disappointed once I was able to see the only option for i7's was Dual Core.

    Using the Mac Mini as a virtualization machine is no longer appealing.
  • Reply 3 of 58
    Hmmmm....
  • Reply 4 of 58
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    So far I've liked what I have seen. However as is always the case with Apple we don't get a lot of info at release time. I does appear that the SSD is PCI Expess which has me wondering if we lost a drive bay. Also it isn't clear what the differences are between the midrange and top of the line models.
  • Reply 5 of 58
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,740member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    The change, first spotted by anyone remotely interested in a Mac mini as soon as the store came back up...

     

    Fixed.

     

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    Further, the new Mac mini's dual Thunderbolt 2 connections, four USB 3.0 ports, Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Gigabit ethernet are more than adequate to attach and serve fast external storage if a user so chooses. Couple that with low-priced OS X Server software and the configurations on offer start to look like a value. In some ways, Apple's new Mac mini is the most cost-effective and flexible to date.

     

    This is really going to limiting for the Macminicolo, etc. crowd.

  • Reply 6 of 58
    xixoxixo Posts: 430member
    Glad I bought the server model from Adorama last month (thanks appleinsider).

    Quad-core I7 with dual internal HDs make development and time machine backups a breeze. 4GB was poky but 16GB and it flies (plus dumped the 5400RPM HDs for 7200RPM).

    I was actually hoping the next mini would be a Mac Pro form factor with less oomph.

    I'm sorry it wasn't, but also glad, since I just shelled out $930 for the 2012 model.
  • Reply 7 of 58
    analogjackanalogjack Posts: 1,073member
    Looks like the best way to go is to get the standard 1TBHDD and add something like a 512mx100 SSD for $200. Too bad they don't supply a 2TB HDD
  • Reply 8 of 58
    I'm waiting for a teardown before I draw too many conclusions. Soldered RAM is one thing, it'll be interesting to see if there is room for a second drive in there.
  • Reply 9 of 58
    ibeamibeam Posts: 322member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by John.B View Post

     

    This is really going to limiting for the Macminicolo, etc. crowd.


     

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AnalogJack View Post



    Looks like the best way to go is to get the standard 1TBHDD and add something like a 512mx100 SSD for $200. Too bad they don't supply a 2TB HDD

     

    If you know anything about LAMP and or RoR, Fastcgi, you can just roll your own. Who needs all that server GUI admin stuff for colo anyway?

     

    Hard drives are pretty inexpensive these days, so just replace the standard issue with something bigger.

  • Reply 10 of 58

    Not only that, it seems that there is no more *quad* core i7... (only upgrade is a dual core i7)

  • Reply 11 of 58
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,740member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AnalogJack View Post



    Looks like the best way to go is to get the standard 1TBHDD and add something like a 512mx100 SSD for $200. Too bad they don't supply a 2TB HDD

     

    Well there are no 2TB 2.5" form factor (i.e. "laptop") drives at this point, and it's looking like the new Mac mini internals only support one 2.5" drive and one small flash drive.  We won't know for sure until someone like iFixit tears one down in the next few days (these aren't actually available just yet).

     

    Edit:  I was wrong, there are 2.5" 9.5mm 2TB drives..

  • Reply 12 of 58
    Originally Posted by John.B View Post

    Well there are no 2TB 2.5" form factor (i.e. "laptop") drives at this point




    There are in SSD form, however.

  • Reply 13 of 58
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,718member
    I understand some server farms want everything in one box but the new mini had some major upgrades including TB2. I can see the new mini being able to handle larger raids and more clients so adding a raid shouldn't cause any more hardware space.
  • Reply 14 of 58
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,740member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ibeam View Post

     
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by John.B View Post

     

    This is really going to limiting for the Macminicolo, etc. crowd.


     

    Hard drives are pretty inexpensive these days, so just replace the standard issue with something bigger.

     

    The advantage of the previous generation of Mac minis was that they supported two mirrored internal drives, which were perfect for the Macminicolo environment because the boxes were self contained units with just the one adapter for the second Ethernet port.  Designing for fault tolerance is a good thing where you can't easily put your hands on the computer hardware.

  • Reply 15 of 58
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,740member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

     
    Originally Posted by John.B View Post

    Well there are no 2TB 2.5" form factor (i.e. "laptop") drives at this point




    There are in SSD form, however.


     

    Yeah, checking my own assumptions here, a quick surf over to Newegg shows that both Seagate and Sammy are now shipping 2.5" 9.5mm 2TB drives.  <facepalm>

     

    Though that doesn't solve the fault tolerance problem, it might at least address AnalogJack's needs.

  • Reply 16 of 58
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post



    I'm waiting for a teardown before I draw too many conclusions. Soldered RAM is one thing, it'll be interesting to see if there is room for a second drive in there.

     

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ibeam View Post

     

     

     

    If you know anything about LAMP and or RoR, Fastcgi, you can just roll your own. Who needs all that server GUI admin stuff for colo anyway?

     

    Hard drives are pretty inexpensive these days, so just replace the standard issue with something bigger.




    The teardown will be important.  they definitely are no touting the end-user ability to open up the base anymore.

    If you can replace the internal PCIe drives on the high end.  that would be a good thing (TM),  

     

    But I would argue a 256GB SSD PCIe drive internal and TB2 external drives should give you enough storage umph for colo/server work.   The

    best thing about a mini is it's Power/Thermal footprint.   TB2 RAID drives should saturate any i5 data wise.

     

    And we'll have to see what the memory impacts Yosemite brings to LAMP/RoR apps.   my 2010 Mini with a 480gb ssdruns pretty good at 8GB with some pretty heavy background server apps (I still use it as a desktop).   Other than occasionally restarting Safari, swapping is minimal.  

     

    My desire is a 4K (well, now it may be a 5K;-) dual screen mini system (twin 27"s), driving my USB 3 drives.   But it's 3rd on my list after a iPhone 6, and a iPad Air 2.

     

    Once the i5 benchmarks come in, the flight path will be chosen.

  • Reply 17 of 58
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by John.B View Post

     

     

    Well there are no 2TB 2.5" form factor (i.e. "laptop") drives at this point


     

    Yes there are

    http://www.seagate.com/products/laptop-mobile-storage/laptop-internal-drives/laptop-hdd/

    http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=830

     

    Edit: sorry, missed your earlier post.

  • Reply 18 of 58
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,402moderator

    Might be Apple is going for whatever they determine is the sweet spot in the market for products in their line-up that don't sell in large volumes.  Keeps down the number of SKUs, which has been going up in their mainstream product lines.   

  • Reply 19 of 58
    ecatsecats Posts: 272member
    I actually think you've got it wrong here. This approach mirrors the Mac Pro in externalising storage.

    The current reality is that we're keeping computers like the mini and pro for longer, but the internal storage options available at purchase time will be exhausted before the next desirable upgrade cycle comes around.
    As storage capacity shouldn't be the reason why you pop open your mini or head to the apple store to buy a larger model. It's best practice now to externalise storage for servers and professional hardware. (It also makes sense from a raid standpoint.)

    The internal storage should be sufficient to keep the OS and frequently used files/applications. The external storage which benefits from being larger and cheaper to upgrade, should contain content such as 3D/HD video, backups and high-megapixel photo libraries. Over the next 3 to 5 years the storage requirements of even a modest home user won't be sated by 2TB, however it's entirely feasible to keep a mac mini for this long.

    Facilitating this approach are 2 thunderbolt ports and 802.11ac. The storage can be attached locally with the high speed thunderbolt interface, or it can be a shared storage over wireless.

    Finally the secondary benefit to this approach is the ease of managing an eventual upgrade. The externalised storage is easily upgraded without the labour of reinstalling the OS/settings/applications. Similarly upgrading the computing hardware doesn't involve the long process of copying over one's entire library of files.
  • Reply 20 of 58
    ibeamibeam Posts: 322member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheOtherGeoff View Post

     

    But I would argue a 256GB SSD PCIe drive internal and TB2 external drives should give you enough storage umph for colo/server work.   


    Honestly, there are very few reasons to use Mac mini for colo except if you are an extreme Mac fan and already have your colo cabinet. Most small businesses are on some virtual hosting plan with Windows or Linux and minis aren't enterprise speced. Back in the day before http streaming there was a case for OS X Quicktime servers and also iCal servers, but now days there is no difference between a Mac mini and a standard Linux 1U server except a couple hundred dollars, sure you can fit four minis in 1U but you have to build your own rack shelves, so you get what you pay for. Today, Mac mini is a poor choice for data center machines in my opinion compared with the powerful VM capabilities of a Xeon server..

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