2014 Mac mini Wishlist

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  • Reply 201 of 1528
    winterwinter Posts: 1,238member
    hmm wrote: »
    They should provide cto drive options throughout the range rather than forcing the purchase of higher end models to access such things. That is a typical way to prop up margins, but I hope it backfires on them with people doing their own upgrades. When you look at the total cost to get a Fusion drive, some people may opt for an after market drive. I know I've seen Samsung 830s 512GB models fall below the $500 mark. That doesn't help if you want terabytes of storage, but you may want to opt for Applecare if you go that route. At the very least you'd want to find out what the replacement cost is for a Fusion drive, as it's no more immortal than any other HDD or SSD.

    I hope it does too. The only reason I'm concerned about specs is because that's my favorite part of the keynotes. So I would like to see how you would build it up if you were Schiller.
  • Reply 202 of 1528
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Winter View Post





    I hope it does too. The only reason I'm concerned about specs is because that's my favorite part of the keynotes. So I would like to see how you would build it up if you were Schiller.




    I'm not sure. I don't find it that exciting. It's somewhat interesting in that its capabilities have grown. The increases in cpu power have outpaced software. The mini today can run things that would have choked it a couple years ago. It's still slightly odd in the sense that they wrapped the smallest box with the smallest amount of extra electronics possible around a moderately expensive cpu. The quad mini cpu costs more than the base mac pro cpu.

  • Reply 203 of 1528
    winterwinter Posts: 1,238member
    hmm wrote: »

    I'm not sure. I don't find it that exciting. It's somewhat interesting in that its capabilities have grown. The increases in cpu power have outpaced software. The mini today can run things that would have choked it a couple years ago. It's still slightly odd in the sense that they wrapped the smallest box with the smallest amount of extra electronics possible around a moderately expensive cpu. The quad mini cpu costs more than the base mac pro cpu.

    Well put it this way, since I know new Apple products are coming I like to see them revealed as they are revealed live (or least after they leak on a rumors site). I certainly don't listen to the keynotes to hear Tim Cook babble about how many Apple stores opened in the past week, how many apps are in the app store, and using words he picked out of a thesaurus such as amazing, unbelievable, incredulous, unprecedented, and insurmountable.
  • Reply 204 of 1528
    rbrrbr Posts: 631member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post





    This is why I find Apples marketing so frustrating, the server model isn't drastically different from the base model, most likely varying only in the processor implemented. It is a totally artificial distinction. Even more frustrating is maintains options based on machine designation.

    Mediocre is being kind. The 2011 model was an ample demonstration that Apple doesn't even grasp what their customers are asking for. The whole idea behind asking for a GPU in the Mini is to get good compute and 3D performance and support for modern software. The 2011 GPU model failed basic customer requirements right out of the box.

    That excuse of being cheap enough doesn't support Apple idiocy here. In fact it highlights just how stingy Apple is with RAM. Even if the base model stays at 4GB hold the rest of the line at 4GB is just stupid. The sad reality is that Apples Minis become poorer values as they get more expensive.

    Frankly I think people have had it with Apples pricing structure, at least when it comes to the Mini. That is likely a factor in lackluster Mini sales.

    I suppose the best option for drive setup varies with users. However I wold likely go with an SSD for system & apps and put data on a magnetic drive if I get a Mini this year. As you note SSDs are dropping in price fairly quickly thus such an arraignment would work out well for many users. In this regard I do wish that the Mini was shipped configured with cable and parts to make DIY installs easy. Last I knew anyways the base Mini didn't come with the hardware to allow quick and easy installation of a second drive.



    As to the replacement cost of a "Fusion Drive", remember it is just two drives tied together with some software volume management tricks. You can already DIY a Fusion solution.


    The mini is a bit of a paradox. Apple professes to make a computer (that isn't "cheap") which is moderately priced, but uses needlessly costly mobile components mostly so that the device can be made smaller even when there is no particular utility to the size reduction achieved. 


     


    If we were to talk of what such a computer could be, we would want to rationalize the cost of components based upon their utility. In my view, a more powerful, less costly CPU would be at the heart of it. With Haswell's arrival this year, I wonder if Apple will reexamine the rather artificial TDP objectives as it relates to the choice of mobile platform components. 


     


    I would put a desktop Haswell CPU in the mix along with a discreet GPU and a PCIe based SSD as a boot drive and/or Fusion Drive. Frankly, there is no particular reason not to use a Fusion Drive on anything but the most bare bones model although Apple really should quit their price gouging for SSDs that are slower than almost any SSD you can buy. Attention to thermal design, as opposed to trying to cram everything into the smallest imaginable container should be the order of the day. If one chooses to stick with the 2.5 inch drives, the overall package can remain small or compact when compared to a Mac Pro (OK, what isn't small compared to a Mac Pro), but not to the point of absurdity. One model could even have X-Serve style expansion bays for HDs/SSDs. 


     


    Apple hardware design continues to be a source of  frustration for many long term Apple users who prefer the operating system, but are tired of the limited choices of platforms upon which to use the operating system.


     


    Will Apple listen? If history teaches us anything, the answer would be a resounding "NO!", but I have some small hope that Tim Cook may, perhaps, be more open to examining what customers want rather than deciding what the customer "needs" whether it is what the customer wants or not. There are more people than Tim Cook knows who are hanging on by a thread, not wanting to abandon the platform, but being increasingly marginalized by the hardware. It is a shame that much Apple hardware is less capable than that of other platforms while costing much, much more...and the company wonders why many potential customers are reluctant to make the change.

  • Reply 205 of 1528
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,839member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RBR View Post


    The mini is a bit of a paradox. Apple professes to make a computer (that isn't "cheap") which is moderately priced, but uses needlessly costly mobile components mostly so that the device can be made smaller even when there is no particular utility to the size reduction achieved.



     


    That's not the reason the Mini uses mobile components. Apple went through a tough time in the 90's, and needed economies of scale to hold on to consumer and education markets, primarily with competitive laptop pricing. Using laptop components in the consumer desktop lines (iMac and Mini) allowed Apple to achieve the kind of leverage with suppliers it needed to stay alive.


     


    That's where the whole supply chain focus started, and Cook is supposed to be a guru at this sort of thing. Smaller size also has pricing advantages (savings on aluminium, shipping and warehousing) but the initial concern was to preserve buying power with large component orders.

  • Reply 206 of 1528
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,839member


    And before anybody says it, I know the Mini wasn't introduced until well after the trauma of the 90's, but the Jobsian four-column product grid necessitated that the low-end consumer desktop follow the lead of the iMac with regard to components.

  • Reply 207 of 1528
    rbrrbr Posts: 631member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post


     


    That's not the reason the Mini uses mobile components. Apple went through a tough time in the 90's, and needed economies of scale to hold on to consumer and education markets, primarily with competitive laptop pricing. Using laptop components in the consumer desktop lines (iMac and Mini) allowed Apple to achieve the kind of leverage with suppliers it needed to stay alive.


     


    That's where the whole supply chain focus started, and Cook is supposed to be a guru at this sort of thing. Smaller size also has pricing advantages (savings on aluminium, shipping and warehousing) but the initial concern was to preserve buying power with large component orders.



    I'm sorry, but that is nonsense. You don't put horse shoes on your Ford Mustang just because you can buy them in big lots. 


     


    The fact of the matter is that Apple chose to use the mobile components. Apple buys enough of everything that they are achieving "economies of scale. The logic board is product specific in either event. Your argument is both unconvincing and not the case.

  • Reply 208 of 1528
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,779moderator
    rbr wrote:
    Apple buys enough of everything that they are achieving "economies of scale.

    The Mini doesn't sell all that well on it's own though and it can't use the CPUs in the iMac as they draw too much power. They tend to use the same chips as the MBPs now.

    Intel does offer a cheap enough and low enough powered desktop chip suitable for the Mini now:

    http://ark.intel.com/products/65525/Intel-Core-i7-3770T-Processor-8M-Cache-up-to-3_70-GHz

    but it performs the same as the i7 it already uses and they don't have the benefit that if the Mini isn't selling well enough that they can use the chips in the laptop line.
  • Reply 209 of 1528
    rbrrbr Posts: 631member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post





    The Mini doesn't sell all that well on it's own though and it can't use the CPUs in the iMac as they draw too much power. They tend to use the same chips as the MBPs now.



    Intel does offer a cheap enough and low enough powered desktop chip suitable for the Mini now:



    http://ark.intel.com/products/65525/Intel-Core-i7-3770T-Processor-8M-Cache-up-to-3_70-GHz



    but it performs the same as the i7 it already uses and they don't have the benefit that if the Mini isn't selling well enough that they can use the chips in the laptop line.


    Marvin,


     


    I can't quote sales numbers, but I have been told by Apple representative, and I don't mean "Joe Blow, Genius Bar", that Apple have been amazed at the reception which the Mini received and astonished at the uses customers have found for it. They don't mention sales numbers (we are talking about Apple), but usually have some reference to selling a lot of them. 


     


    While I concede that the original Mini was an experiment of sorts, both to see what they could do and how it would be received, that experiment ended long ago. If it were ever true that Apple were concerned about the ability to shift components from Minis to MBPs or whatever and vice versa as a saving grace for poor sales, that time has certainly long passed as well. I have seen figures that Apples laptop sales represent about 75% of the Mac (computer) sales, presumably excluding iPad sales, which is a not unusual proportion in the current industry I am told.


     


    Part of the point in ceasing to use mobile components is to use cheaper RAM (and more of it) and more powerful, but less expensive CPUs & etc. Part of the justification, if not the main justification, for the use of mobile components in the past has been the lower power requirements (and thermal demands) to keep the package small. (I have little doubt that some of the G4 CPUs would have been problematic, at best, from a thermal design perspective, but that was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. :-)


     


    Haswell, in my view,will offer the opportunity to take a fresh look at the concept of the Mini and come up with something truly desirable. It would be a shame if Apple were to let that opportunity slip by without availing themselves of the opportunity to take a fresh look at things.


     


    Cheers!


     


    [Edit] P.S. Apple could start by not using that old, old two core CPU and no one would really be upset. I can tell you that I would gleefully opt for the CPU you linked for a lesser price than the 2.6 GHz quad-core BTO Mini I bought.

  • Reply 210 of 1528
    winterwinter Posts: 1,238member
    I would love to see Apple reach up and grab that brass ring. I love the Mini although I'm sure I would have eventually bought myself a MacBook Pro if I didn't get my mini in October 2011.

    All they need perhaps is discrete graphics as an option and it'll be perfect.
  • Reply 211 of 1528
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member


    I have to object to the idea that CPU performance is out stripping software demands.   One of the reasons that I've been looking at a computer purchase in 2013 is that software demands have out grown my current machine.    Of course it isn't just the CPU that makes a machine suitable for modern software, but it is one element in overall performance.


     


    The value of the parts in the Mini play an important part in making it a machine worth buying.   Currently the biggest frustration I have with the Mini is the lack of suitable GPU power.   The Mini is otherwise a nice machine for many applications.   Maybe I should be more precise here, the problem is that of the three models that Apple markets none of those machines have ever been equipped with a discrete GPU subsystem worth buying.   If you don't need the GPU the machine can certainly hold its own.


     


    This lack of decent value with respect to a GPU equipped "mid" range machine is why I think Apples desktop line up is screwed up badly.    Now I freely admit to a slowing in the growth of the desktop sector in general but in Apples case I have to see it as self destruction.   The more I think about this the more I believe Apple needs a refactored line up of hardware.   How to accomplish that is pretty simple, design a chassis that can support low cost users that the Mini is focused on but also support the midrange and workstation user.    The midrange machine would simply be a desktop processor with an attached discrete GPU.    Not a massive GPU either but something in the 75 watt range that ideally would be 3 to 4 times faster than the Intel chip at 3D and compute.


     


    How would you support such on one chassis.   Pretty simple really, think of buildings with one, two or three floors.   That is a common chassis with differing "walls" so that larger components can be supported as needed.   Thus the Mini might be 1.75 inches high, the midrange 3.5 inches high and the Pro 5 inches high.   Or some variant there of.    The idea is to reuse as much mechanical hardware as possible, keep the foot print compatible between machines, and target a specific range of users with each machine.    


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by hmm View Post




    I'm not sure. I don't find it that exciting. It's somewhat interesting in that its capabilities have grown. The increases in cpu power have outpaced software. The mini today can run things that would have choked it a couple years ago. It's still slightly odd in the sense that they wrapped the smallest box with the smallest amount of extra electronics possible around a moderately expensive cpu. The quad mini cpu costs more than the base mac pro cpu.


  • Reply 212 of 1528
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Winter View Post





    Well put it this way, since I know new Apple products are coming I like to see them revealed as they are revealed live (or least after they leak on a rumors site). I certainly don't listen to the keynotes to hear Tim Cook babble about how many Apple stores opened in the past week, how many apps are in the app store, and using words he picked out of a thesaurus such as amazing, unbelievable, incredulous, unprecedented, and insurmountable.


     


    If those are the words he is picking out of a thesaurus then Mr Cook certainly isn't trying very hard.    

  • Reply 213 of 1528
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member


    I believe the Mini serves a certain range of users just fine.   In fact it is probably the best of Apples desktops in that regard.    I'm actually seeing the Mini used as an embedded computer (sadly running windows) as it is a standard well defined machine that can fit just about anywhere.


     


    AS far as Haswell they may very well have a desktop variant that fits with in the power demands of the Mini.   The line between what is considered a desktop processor and a laptop processor will blur into the future.    Especially for machines like the Mini that can straddle the two lineups.


     


    As for paragraph #3 below, if Apple gave the desktop lineup even half the interest it has shown the laptop line we would have a very similar machine today.   Well maybe not the desktop processor but much of the rest of what you describe can be easily be built in to even today chassis.


     


    Frustration is certainly right.   The hardware lineup hasn't changed significantly in over a decade and frankly isn't targeting the needs of todays users.


     


    Frankly I think Apple has heard loud and clear from the Mac Pro users.   I'm not to certain that the Mini users are as loud.   That might be because the Mini users actually get a nice machine for their needs.   It is the rest of us that can't justify or are frustrated by the configuration of the Mini that are troubled by the line up.


     


    Interestingly I think we hear more complaints about the iMac from users than we do about the Mini.   Of course the iMac sells in larger numbers but I actually think people resent the idea that the got an iMac because they didn't have a better choice for their needs.   


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RBR View Post


    The mini is a bit of a paradox. Apple professes to make a computer (that isn't "cheap") which is moderately priced, but uses needlessly costly mobile components mostly so that the device can be made smaller even when there is no particular utility to the size reduction achieved. 


     


    If we were to talk of what such a computer could be, we would want to rationalize the cost of components based upon their utility. In my view, a more powerful, less costly CPU would be at the heart of it. With Haswell's arrival this year, I wonder if Apple will reexamine the rather artificial TDP objectives as it relates to the choice of mobile platform components. 


     


    I would put a desktop Haswell CPU in the mix along with a discreet GPU and a PCIe based SSD as a boot drive and/or Fusion Drive. Frankly, there is no particular reason not to use a Fusion Drive on anything but the most bare bones model although Apple really should quit their price gouging for SSDs that are slower than almost any SSD you can buy. Attention to thermal design, as opposed to trying to cram everything into the smallest imaginable container should be the order of the day. If one chooses to stick with the 2.5 inch drives, the overall package can remain small or compact when compared to a Mac Pro (OK, what isn't small compared to a Mac Pro), but not to the point of absurdity. One model could even have X-Serve style expansion bays for HDs/SSDs. 


     


    Apple hardware design continues to be a source of  frustration for many long term Apple users who prefer the operating system, but are tired of the limited choices of platforms upon which to use the operating system.


     


    Will Apple listen? If history teaches us anything, the answer would be a resounding "NO!", but I have some small hope that Tim Cook may, perhaps, be more open to examining what customers want rather than deciding what the customer "needs" whether it is what the customer wants or not. There are more people than Tim Cook knows who are hanging on by a thread, not wanting to abandon the platform, but being increasingly marginalized by the hardware. It is a shame that much Apple hardware is less capable than that of other platforms while costing much, much more...and the company wonders why many potential customers are reluctant to make the change.


  • Reply 214 of 1528
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RBR View Post


    Marvin,


     


    I can't quote sales numbers, but I have been told by Apple representative, and I don't mean "Joe Blow, Genius Bar", that Apple have been amazed at the reception which the Mini received and astonished at the uses customers have found for it. They don't mention sales numbers (we are talking about Apple), but usually have some reference to selling a lot of them. 



    The Mini is second in sales next to the iMac in the desktop lineup. Of course we don't have specific numbers to work with and frankly Apple treats the Mini as if it had a social disease so it is all the more impressive that it sells well.

    As to uses for the Mini I've seen it crop up in all sorts of places where the need is for an embedded appliance type computer. It is a good machine actually for a lot of non desktop uses.


     


    While I concede that the original Mini was an experiment of sorts, both to see what they could do and how it would be received, that experiment ended long ago. If it were ever true that Apple were concerned about the ability to shift components from Minis to MBPs or whatever and vice versa as a saving grace for poor sales, that time has certainly long passed as well. I have seen figures that Apples laptop sales represent about 75% of the Mac (computer) sales, presumably excluding iPad sales, which is a not unusual proportion in the current industry I am told.



    I'm not certain one way or the other about the value of the laptop parts as a cost savings. AT times there was no overlap of processor models and frankly back when that was a big concern the Mini wasn't as popular as it is now. Now a a days the iMac uses desktop processors an if any thing the high volume of laptop sales might actually lower prices slightly for Mini compatible processors.

    The reality is the driver in the Mini is physical size. The Mini isn't possible without laptop processors.


     


    Part of the point in ceasing to use mobile components is to use cheaper RAM (and more of it) and more powerful, but less expensive CPUs & etc. Part of the justification, if not the main justification, for the use of mobile components in the past has been the lower power requirements (and thermal demands) to keep the package small. (I have little doubt that some of the G4 CPUs would have been problematic, at best, from a thermal design perspective, but that was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. :-)



    Power requirements dictate the Minis processor more than it does in any of Apples other desktops. AS for desktop parts I thin the real goal should be lower costs for the machine. We really don't want to get away from the idea that the Mini is Apples low cost machine. Like all providers Apple needs a range of machines and frankly the Mini does a good job at the bottom of the line up.


     


    Haswell, in my view,will offer the opportunity to take a fresh look at the concept of the Mini and come up with something truly desirable. It would be a shame if Apple were to let that opportunity slip by without availing themselves of the opportunity to take a fresh look at things.



    This is certainly true. Haswell has the potential to redefine the Mini. If the power savings are as radical as has been rumored and the GPU lives up to billing then the Mini could take a huge step forward. That is if Apple goes the extra mile to build a modern machine that is at least as innovative at the AIRs.


     


    Cheers!


     


    [Edit] P.S. Apple could start by not using that old, old two core CPU and no one would really be upset. I can tell you that I would gleefully opt for the CPU you linked for a lesser price than the 2.6 GHz quad-core BTO Mini I bought.



     

    Yep, you paid a lot of money to get that 2.6GHz processor. Money that would have gotten you close to 4GHz with desktop components. Of course you would have to give up on the idea of a Mini as a power efficient machine.
  • Reply 215 of 1528
    winterwinter Posts: 1,238member
    wizard69 - I think deep down, Cook knows he can't be Jobs so why try. He can go out there and as long as he gives half the effort, he's fine.

    Anyone have any idea when nVidia is revealing their next line of mobile graphics chips?
  • Reply 216 of 1528
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member


    I'm not too certain Cook is the main problem at Apple.   It really is a cultural thing from what I can see.


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Winter View Post



    wizard69 - I think deep down, Cook knows he can't be Jobs so why try. He can go out there and as long as he gives half the effort, he's fine.




    Anyone have any idea when nVidia is revealing their next line of mobile graphics chips?


    Well it is CES season so something should crop up soon.   Here are a couple of links:



    1. http://www.anandtech.com/show/6571/amd-releases-full-product-specifications-for-radeon-8000m-series


    2. http://www.amd.com/us/Documents/AMD-Radeon-HD-8000M-Series-GPU-Specs.pdf


    3. http://www.nvidia.com/object/notebooks.html


    4. http://www.techspot.com/review/603-best-graphics-cards/  old benchmarking.


    5. http://www.techspot.com/news/51334-amd-takes-28nm-kabini-temash-apu-production-to-tsmc.html  This is interesting in the context of Apple also moving to TSMC.   TSMC is becoming a foundry to reckon with.


    6. http://www.techspot.com/news/51322-rumor-exynos-5-octa-to-ship-with-current-gen-powervr-gpu.html  Again not directly related but lots of good info slips out of CES.


    7. http://www.techspot.com/news/51307-intel-haswell-integrated-graphics-are-on-par-with-geforce-gt-650m.html   Intel supposedly getting better.


    Unfortunately a quick look didn't find much in the way of NVidia releases.    I suspect that they are behind the eight ball again.   Further NVidia seems to be putting a lot of effort into ARM based APU's.   So while this ten minute detour doesn't help you much it does illustrate the need to keep an eye on CES.

  • Reply 217 of 1528
    winterwinter Posts: 1,238member
    No I don't feel Cook is the problem don't get me wrong. He is very low key whereas Jobs had to go on stage and be THE STAR. Cook seems to have a philosophy of "Make sure things don't get messed up."

    I just see they released a model called the GT 730M, what is that a rebadge of?
  • Reply 218 of 1528
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    I have to object to the idea that CPU performance is out stripping software demands.   One of the reasons that I've been looking at a computer purchase in 2013 is that software demands have out grown my current machine.    Of course it isn't just the CPU that makes a machine suitable for modern software, but it is one element in overall performance.


     





    Perhaps you misinterpreted me. I was saying that the mini had outpaced its initial range of tasks. They used to feed it only low end notebook cpus. Not only have notebook cpus become capable in a much wider range of tasks, but Apple has added some of the quad options here. If anything it's kneecapped in other areas.

     


     


    Quote:


    How would you support such on one chassis.   Pretty simple really, think of buildings with one, two or three floors.   That is a common chassis with differing "walls" so that larger components can be supported as needed.   Thus the Mini might be 1.75 inches high, the midrange 3.5 inches high and the Pro 5 inches high.   Or some variant there of.    The idea is to reuse as much mechanical hardware as possible, keep the foot print compatible between machines, and target a specific range of users with each machine.  



    You sir underestimate Apple's hatred of product seams. They hid the panel used for ram access on the 27". The 21.5" doesn't have the larger arm to hide it, so it doesn't get upgradable ram. In some cases I think this could make the 27" possibly from refurbished a better buy if they were considering the top 21.5" with upgrades.

  • Reply 219 of 1528


    .

  • Reply 220 of 1528
    winterwinter Posts: 1,238member
    Build me a mini with desktop components.

    What does it have in terms of processor, memory, graphics, etc.
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