Eating our words: Apple's Mac mini to rock on

in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Apple Inc.'s Mac mini, a tiny desktop system previously pegged for extinction, won't fade into the distance after all, at least not yet.

Last Memorial Day, AppleInsider cited sources in reporting that it appeared to be the end of the line for the itsy-bitsy Mac, which had seen limited adoption and an uncertain role during the first 24 months on the market.*

Since then, the product line has remained in a state of limbo, with subsequent updates consisting of minor component swaps that required little if any engineering effort.*

For the first time in nearly a year, however, people familiar with the matter tell AppleInsider there's new life in the Mac mini department, where a small team of engineers have recently been tasked with gutting the diminutive desktop and applying fresh internals.

Thanks partly to Intel's rapid phase out of previous generation Core 2 Duo mobile processors and associated components, the impending update will see the mini gain its most significant architectural overhaul since its transition from Motorola-made PowerPC processors to Intel chips back in February of 2006.

Among the improvements destined for the new lineup are 45-nanometer Core 2 Duo mobile chips starting at 2.1GHz with 3MB of shared L2 cache, an 800MHz front-side bus (up from 667MHz), and a step up to the same Intel GMA X3100 integrated graphics processor employed by the existing line of 13-inch consumer MacBooks.*

Apple's long-term plans for the Mac mini remain a bit of an enigma given the limited attention and resources devoted to the product line in comparison to the company's other personal computer offerings. Nevertheless, the update to Intel's 45nm architecture should assure the mini a seat within the Mac maker's product line for another 12 months at the very least.*

While those people familiar with plans for the Mac mini were unclear on a precise release date for the forthcoming makeover, the Penryn-3M-based systems reportedly remained within the engineering build stage as of mid-month.*

Also on tap from Apple in the not too distant future are a refreshed line of all-in-one iMac desktops which will similarly shed their 65nm, second-generation Merom chips for Intel's new Penryn-based models ranging up to the 2.8GHz Core 2 Extreme.

International resellers have recently begun clearing stock of existing iMac models in anticipation of the update.


  • Reply 1 of 289
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 1,755member
    I never coveted the Mini (at least not for a computer in my house), but I was always glad it was there.

    Therefore, I am happy that the reports of it's demise were premature.

    Now all they have to do is come up with an iTablet and an xMac and everyone will be happy!
  • Reply 2 of 289
    magic_almagic_al Posts: 325member
    The Mac mini would do well positioned as a Super Apple TV. In conjunction with EyeTV, wireless input, and digitally-connected TV and audio output, it's pretty cool. I call it the Sofa Mac. It should get a version of Front Row that does everything Apple TV Take Two does plus DVD playback that accesses more features of the DVD Player app (such as video zoom) and offers more seamless integration with EyeTV, or better yet a built-in TV tuner.
  • Reply 3 of 289
    zunxzunx Posts: 620member
    The Mac mini es the BEST Mac ever made. Bedroom quiet, yet powerful. I only wanted it had a couple of FireWire 800 ports and the option of a 7200 rpm disk (instead of the 5400 that it now has). Of course I also wanted an Apple Mini TOWER with dual quad core (octo core) and so on (no PCI slots needed), but that is another story.
  • Reply 4 of 289
    ajmasajmas Posts: 557member
    I eye the the Mac mini as an eventual replacement to my aging PowerMac G4. It is a nice size and offers everything that I would want out of a home server. In fact, if I could use this with time machine for all my other computers, this would be a bonus, since this would mean one better than the time capsule.

    I once complained about the lack of video out, but given it is not possible to connect to many wide screen TVs with DVI, this is a minor point issue now. The only catch is that I would have to upgrade my TV.

    All I need now is an official version of MacOS X Server for the home.
  • Reply 5 of 289
    obs1970obs1970 Posts: 22member
    The mini rocks. Even older PPC models get great pricing on Ebay. I am using one (core solo) as an Enhanced Apple TV. Digitized all the Kids' DVDs, our home videos, pictures. No more scratched DVDs, plus preview our entire library of films.

    Soon, I'll have eye tv hooked to it with their h.264 turbo USB stick. No need for Tivo, monthly subscriptions, or poorly implemented DVR interfaces...
  • Reply 6 of 289
    hal 9000hal 9000 Posts: 101member
    This is great news. Don´t forget that Apple has to be able to say their least expensive computer is under $700.

    Wish list for the future release:

    1. An HDMI port

    2. More hard disk capacity

  • Reply 7 of 289
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,282member
    Originally Posted by Hal 9000 View Post

    This is great news. Don´t forget that Apple has to be able to say their least expensive computer is under $700.

    Wish list for the future release:

    1. An HDMI port

    2. More hard disk capacity

    Buy an AppleTV. That HDMI port is for that market on the AppleTV.
  • Reply 8 of 289
    Being a proud Mac Mini owner, I'm glad to hear that this machine may not yet see the death knell. In my home, the mac mini serves up as the powerhouse of the entire house. Print server for two printers, eye tv for my DVR, sync spot for my Windows Mobile device (don't sue me!), my media/iTunes server, video converter, regular file server, home security system, and rss display, all on a projector with surround sound using a Wiimote as my control device.

    Oh, and this is a 1.42 PPC model running Leopard, and it does all this quite well! (True, I'm straining the poor little machine)

    Anyhow, at some point I'd still like to upgrade this machine and get a newer intel version, and have been waiting till the Mini gets x3100 (not that its great, but better than the 950)

    My biggest note to Apple would be this though: Go back to the original prices!! I can currently build a standard PC with the exact same specs as a mac mini for under $250. (and from what I've seen, the OSx86rs have been able to put OS X on that machine no problem... but that's illegal.)

    The $600 price tag has been scaring me for a while now. That price needs to go back to 500 or less to get people interested in the tiny powerhouse again.
  • Reply 9 of 289
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,282member
    Include a PCIExpress 2.0 slot and you'll have sales increase rapidly. This would require either a slim profile GPU or you modify the case design. I don't care. Do it and you'll see that market segment owned by Shuttle and Asus take a respectable hit.

    It would require a new power supply as well.
  • Reply 10 of 289
    alfiejralfiejr Posts: 1,524member
    dude, AI was always wrong from the start last year about this. simply as a matter of pure business, Apple can never, ever, drop a headless low-end price Mac from its desktop computer product line up. that would totally kill any hope to get price-conscious business and home PC users from trying/switching to Mac. it's the cheap way to start, using the monitors and keyboards they already have. that how businesses think, you know. keeping costs to the minimum. they don't start with more costly iMacs (except maybe for the boss).

    So the Mini is a necessary part of Apple's multi-pronged strategy to grow its share of the desktop market. and based on recent stats, it's working.

    Apple's approach to the Mini has been constant - upgrade periodically with parts/technology that were first introduced on the other Mac computers, mainly the laptops. that keeps the manufacturing price down and the margin good. and it only takes a few engineers. so the Mini will always lag the rest of the product line technically by up to a year or so.

    maybe if AI relied more on thinking clearly and less on insider rumors you would do better than such presumptive announcements as last year's prediction.
  • Reply 11 of 289
    trobertstroberts Posts: 701member
    I guess this is the reason the MacBook was updated so quickly. Hopefully, Apple will stop treating the Mac mini like a second-class citizen because it is an "entry-level" model and start treating it like a first-class Mac that deserves to be kept up-to-date, just like the others. This means we get Penryn on Santa Rosa now, then Penryn on Montevina in another six months.
  • Reply 12 of 289
    ajmasajmas Posts: 557member
    Originally Posted by Hal 9000 View Post

    This is great news. Don´t forget that Apple has to be able to say their least expensive computer is under $700.

    Wish list for the future release:

    1. An HDMI port

    2. More hard disk capacity

    1 - You just need an adaptor:

    2 - There is always the option of an external HD. There even some Mac mini shaped ones:

    Edit: Hmm, looks like many of the items referred to by the link in point 2 are discontinued, but there are still one or two.
  • Reply 13 of 289
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    It sounds good. It's a low budget way to try the stuff out. I might not be using any Macs at all if it weren't for the $499 model for me to try it without much expense. Since then, I've spent several times that on a Power Mac and a Mac Pro.
  • Reply 14 of 289
    What many people outside of education circles fail to realize: that the Mini has proved to be a cost-effective alternative to the other headless Mac, the Mac Pro, in classroom settings.

    Aging G3's and G4's have been replaced with Minis in situations where money for an additional monitor or keyboard was not warranted nor the need for Mac Pro heavy lifting (and pricing). Access to school servers, the Internet, and hooked to a video projector (and let's not forget the Mini's small footprint) made it an ideal replacement candidate. I for one am happy to see it will be around for a while.
  • Reply 15 of 289
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

    Buy an AppleTV. That HDMI port is for that market on the AppleTV.

    That's a very constrained system, compared to a mini.
  • Reply 16 of 289
    jono95jono95 Posts: 3member
    I am hoping to get a mac for Christmas this year, but as i am only 13 i will properly get a mac mini. I would be really chuffed if this update were to happen as ideally i would want a macbook.
  • Reply 17 of 289
    bigpicsbigpics Posts: 1,375member
    Spec this sucker out and Apple could fork the options in two directions:

    1. The above mentioned "sofa" Mac, as Apple TV's big brother -- and with -- here's an idea for y'all, the ability to receive wi-fi input from iPod Touches and iPhones, using their game-friendly accelerometers as Wii-like game controllers, because, as Wii proved, you don't need the latest, greatest fastest graphics to sell a lot of units and games, and as Apple has demonstrated, iPhones can operate kinesthetically-controlled games.....

    ...and a great, as suggested above, home server. And as, now an affordable entry point, for general home use, especially with better innards.

    2. The "maxi-mini" beefed up with the few features it now lacks to have appeal as a general purpose business machine that won't break small and medium businesses budgets, will fit nearly any office, and by not being hooked to a built-in monitor, will fit into the CPU-replacement cycle (which are shorter than monitor replacement cycles) of larger businesses which are already being infiltrated by iPhones, MBA's and other Mac notebooks.

    Not quite the xMac many still clamor for, but another stimulus to eventually release one -- I've often felt business demand is the key to such a product, and with its "new, transformational mobile computing platform" (multi-touch equipped iDevices), embrace of ActiveSync, etc., Apple is paying more and new attention to business customers..... ...and with snowballing market share, business, likewise is paying more attention to Apple.
  • Reply 18 of 289
    I will buy a mini with the specs of the new mac books when it arrives (250GB HD, 2GB RAM - up to 4GB possible)

    My dream Mac would be the so called xMac with a real GPU.

    With the new glossy screens on the iMac - that I hate - the Mini is the only Mac I can buy. So bring on the update Apple! (or give me a matte option on the iMac....!!!!)
  • Reply 19 of 289
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,191member
    Apple really should shoot for a $499 mini. There is a ton of growth on the low-end that Apple has simply been handing over to the PC world. Time to take it back.
  • Reply 20 of 289
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    I wonder if the engineering team is enlarging it so a 3.5" HDD and space for a discrete GPU. Nah.

    I do think that DVI will be replaced with DisplayPort on all their future systems.
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