The case for (and against) a mini-er Mac Mini

we have been protecting pretty a few mini computers these days, and there’s one that always comes up inside the remarks: Apple’s Mac Mini. Apple started selling tiny computers with this name in 2005, and it is been the cheapest manner to buy a Mac ever when you consider that. it is also almost the handiest Mac that Apple failed to update in 2013 Network Posting.

Apple hasn’t updated the design of the Mini considering that 2010, whilst it introduced the aluminum unibody design the pc still uses today. It measures 7.7 inches squared and is 1.four inches high, which is still quite small by means of laptop requirements however definitely big as compared to computer systems just like the Intel NUC (four.four with the aid of 4.6 through 1.four inches) or Gigabyte Brix seasoned (4.five by using four.four by 2.four inches). The presence of quicker, more tightly incorporated chips makes it easier to cram even more overall performance into even much less space than turned into feasible only a few years ago. the following Mac Mini we see could be even smaller than earlier than.

however, simply due to the fact matters can get smaller doesn’t continually mean that they have to. We have no concept while or maybe if Apple is making plans to refresh the Mac Mini, or what that refresh will appear like while it comes. however, we can look at wider trends in the pc industry, as advances in CPUs and different machine additives, and at what Apple is doing with its different Macs to make a case for (and towards) a mini-er Mac Mini.
the ones first aluminum unibody Minis needed to make room for a few additives that either have long gone or are going out of style. It ditched its slot-loading optical power in the mid-2011 version, and a pair of.five-inch spinning difficult drives are slowly receding now not just from Apple’s Macs, but from all high-quit computers everywhere. Leaving out components like this is part of why NUC-like systems can get so tiny—there is no optical force, and the smallest fashions leave out any kind of 2.5-inch force bay in prefer of thin SSDs on small cards, just like the ones you’ll locate in a pc.

Apple ought to save a full-size amount of space by means of switching to those smaller drives, and it already has in nearly all of its different Macs. The MacBook Air, Retina MacBook pro, and Mac pro have all switched to PCI explicit-based SSD playing cards, and they are available within the 2013 iMac both as a standalone option or alongside a larger tough power in a Fusion force configuration. In fact, even supposing the Mac Mini stays the equal size, we wouldn’t be surprised if it picked up a PCIe slot to house these styles of SSD cards, because the contemporary Mac Mini’s 2.five-inch SSDs most effective come in slower SATA III variations.

different hardware has advanced pretty a piece too. a few versions of Intel’s Haswell chips combine the machine chipset on to the equal package deal because the CPU, saving area at the motherboard and bearing in mind much less complex cooling fans. If the Mini skips a technology of Intel CPUs, the next-technology Broadwell chips are sure to preserve to amplify on this fashion. currently, the handiest chips with included chipsets are dual-middle chips intended for Ultrabooks and high-quit tablets, and Apple’s contemporary Mac Minis use widespread dual- and quad-center laptop chips with separate chipsets. As we see in the NUC, even though, the Ultrabook components have improved enough in performance that they could conceivably deliver decent laptop overall performance. Even fully fledged quad-center desktop chips like the center i7-4770R can suit in a Mac Mini-esque chassis—you wouldn’t necessarily have to sacrifice overall performance to make the laptop smaller.

The remaining motive why Apple would possibly pass for a smaller Mac Mini? The company likes to make its computer systems smaller and more streamlined, despite the fact that it comes on the cost of features some of its customers like. We noticed it first with the 21.five-inch 2012 iMac, which used a slower hard pressure and removed its person-on hand RAM slots in the name of thinness. It passed off again with the 2013 Mac pro, which continues to be an exceedingly effective workstation however has given up most of its inner expandability to suit in its new case. a new, smaller Mac Mini could in all likelihood still be a decent pc, but Apple is all about the pc-as-an-equipment. The present day Mac Mini has user-on hand RAM and two drive bays, but it’s no guarantee that the subsequent one will.




there’s certainly room for the Mini to get smaller, but Apple has a few compelling reasons to maintain the Mini just the scale it is.

First and principal is the current version’s incorporated power supply. Pre-2010 Mac Minis came with a strength brick that turned into maybe a third of the dimensions of the device it powered, and each the NUC and the Brix seasoned are as small as they’re because they consist of their own vast energy bricks. To make the computer part of a Mac Mini smaller than the contemporary one is wouldn’t be tough; to make one with an integrated energy supply drastically smaller is more hard. it is no longer a tremendous element, however it takes up area and generates warmness that would each need to be accounted for.

there is a hazard Apple could forget about this and launch a mini-er Mini that is going again to an external energy deliver. This isn’t always generally how Apple works, though—moving the energy supply into the Mac Mini’s chassis become presumably carried out for a purpose, and whilst Apple makes layout decisions like this, it doesn’t generally reverse them. All three of the company’s computers completely eschew outside strength bricks and have for years. that is now not in all likelihood to trade.
the subsequent consideration has to do with the manner the Mac Mini is positioned. Apple killed its Xserve rack-mounted server again in 2011, and the special “Mac pro Server” configuration died with the old colossal chassis. In lieu of those offerings, Apple will sell you a Mac Mini Server for $999 that consists of a quad-center CPU in preference to a dual-core one and a second difficult drive mounted within the pc‘s second drive bay. putting those drives up in a reflected RAID configuration gives a few basic facts’ redundancy that ought to really be taken into consideration a bare minimum for a server product.

Apple’s server software can truely run on any Mac, so strictly speaking there is no need for a dedicated server product. however, the Mac Mini Server (a client pc modified to be better-desirable to server-y tasks) genuinely seems to be made to run OS X Server (a client running device changed to be better-perfect to server-y obligations). Apple has given up at the corporation server marketplace, however providing a pc it really is meant to be a server fills an essential area of interest in its lineup, both for iOS and OS X-centric small groups and windows-centric IT stores that want in an effort to manage a few iPhones or Macs. A smaller Mac Mini that couldn’t provide the equal features wouldn’t be as top of a healthy, and the way Apple manages it’s supply chain means it’s going to likely want to stick to the usage of one chassis for every viable Mini. building a separate enclosure just for the Mac Mini Server isn’t always likely to happen.

Our final argument in want of the Mini staying the manner it’s far: the pc simply doesn’t get all that a good deal attention from Apple. The company doesn’t commonly break out income of specific fashions, however we already know that iPhones and iPads outsell Macs by a massive margin, and we are able to correctly count on that Mac laptops outsell Mac desktops considering the fact that we recognise that to be the case within the wider pc enterprise. It took 5 years for the Mini to get its first vast redecorate, whereas maximum Macs are redesigned each three to 4 years. The Mini just isn’t a huge enough sales generator to benefit a ton of Apple’s interest, and we assume the company could take an “if it ain’t broke, do not restore it” approach to the modern design whilst adding Haswell or Broadwell CPUs.

Like so much hypothesis approximately Apple’s future plans, take all of this with a grain of salt—we do not know whatever approximately a brand new Mac Mini which you don’t know, so the pleasant we can do is locate Apple’s beyond conduct to predict its future behavior. in case, you want (or don’t want) a smaller Mac Mini, duke it out in the comments underneath and we will run a follow-up along with your mind in a few days.