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View Full Version : New Mac Mini Form Factor? 7.7in vs. 6.5in




statler
Mar 4, 2008, 11:55 AM
Total speculation...but I wonder if a new Mini does come along if they'll use the same 7.7" square form factor as Apple TV and TimePort instead of the old 6.5" size used by existing Mac Mini and Airport Extreme.

I suppose the advantage of a slightly bigger box, apart from family resemblance to other new Apple products, would be a bit more space for a larger hard drive, etc.

But what do I know, this is just idle speculation. I hope a new mini comes soon, though. I'd buy one in a second if it could do 4GB RAM and had 802.11n.



flopticalcube
Mar 4, 2008, 11:59 AM
I would like to see it but it would be counter to Apple's recent trends to make things smaller/thinner.

Jimmdean
Mar 4, 2008, 12:58 PM
Unlikely. The hd and optical drive necessitate a certain height that in comparison the Apple TV just didn't need. If you look at the guts it's the integrated power supply that gives the Apple TV it's extra size.

Personally, I would have preferred it be a little smaller with an external (hideable) brick...

I doubt the Mini would ever have an integrated power supply like that...

spaceballl
Mar 4, 2008, 01:58 PM
Unlikely. The hd and optical drive necessitate a certain height that in comparison the Apple TV just didn't need. If you look at the guts it's the integrated power supply that gives the Apple TV it's extra size.

Not really - both the mac mini and appleTV use 2.5" hard drives and Intel CPUs. Optical drive yes - but those can get pretty small.

FatSweatyBlldog
Mar 4, 2008, 03:01 PM
I think the OP was suggesting they might make the mini slightly LARGER by scaling it's footprint to the larger bases of the apple TV and time machine (NOT try and fit a mini in the same size enclosure).

While it generally goes against Apple (ahem: Jobs') policy to makes Macs bigger, the mini doesn't need to get any smaller (as a desktop). However, making it larger to match the footprint of appletv and time machine does two things: 1)matches the form factors of three apple products that can be used together 2)allows room in the mini for cheaper desktop HDs (which also offer greater performance).

Any extra space would be used just for a larger HD. Everything else would be the same. Unlikely, but we can dream, can't we... ;)

cherry su
Mar 4, 2008, 04:24 PM
That would be amazing; maybe Apple could use the extra space for a good copper heatsink to cool a proper DESKTOP Core 2 Duo and a 3.5" drive! Optical drive can go to hell (if feasible)

Jimmdean
Mar 4, 2008, 04:24 PM
Not really - both the mac mini and appleTV use 2.5" hard drives and Intel CPUs. Optical drive yes - but those can get pretty small.

Don't let that fool you - the two have a completely different thermal design, not to mention one is socketed and the other is not. The expandability of the Mini compounds it's size and essentially keeps it from getting any smaller without some real sacrifices.

I find it odd that anybody would suggest making the Mini bigger.

IgnatiusTheKing
Mar 4, 2008, 04:30 PM
Maybe they will drop the optical drive altogether and have a desktop-ish version of the MacBook Air.

MacFanBoyIIe
Mar 4, 2008, 04:38 PM
If we get a new Mini (and I SOOOOO hope we DO), it will probably be the same size. It will get a boost in processor speed (the current top speed will become the slowest speed), capable of 4GB RAM, and include 802.11n. That's all though. No other updates to the Mini. It will still maintain it's "notebook-like" internal components, keeping a 2.5" drive and external power supply. Mr. Jobs will still insist that if you want hard-core desktop computing you will need to get a Mac Pro or fully loaded iMac. I think the Mini will be with us for a long time though, it has a strong foothold in the headless server demographic.

cherry su
Mar 4, 2008, 08:33 PM
If we get a new Mini (and I SOOOOO hope we DO), it will probably be the same size. It will get a boost in processor speed (the current top speed will become the slowest speed), capable of 4GB RAM, and include 802.11n. That's all though. No other updates to the Mini. It will still maintain it's "notebook-like" internal components, keeping a 2.5" drive and external power supply. Mr. Jobs will still insist that if you want hard-core desktop computing you will need to get a Mac Pro or fully loaded iMac. I think the Mini will be with us for a long time though, it has a strong foothold in the headless server demographic.

Most logical guess, but most boring :D

MacFanBoyIIe
Mar 4, 2008, 08:45 PM
Most logical guess, but most boring :D

I know, I know. But I'm not always boring.... :p

Clive At Five
Mar 5, 2008, 10:55 AM
Total speculation...but I wonder if a new Mini does come along if they'll use the same 7.7" square form factor as Apple TV and TimePort instead of the old 6.5" size used by existing Mac Mini and Airport Extreme.

This is a very interesting thought. It represents what one might see as an internal conflict of Steve Jobs. Uniformity versus Miniturization.

How nice would it look to have a stack of MacMini with TimCap? or :apple:tv with TimeCap? Admittedly the MacMini and :apple:tv don't go so well together (if you have a Mini by your TV, :apple:tv is redundant technology), but the other two combinations are perfect pairs.

On the other hand, unless Apple can say that they're shrinking the Mini, I don't think they'd change it. This might lead one to guess that they'd cut the optical drive. For a desktop computer, this would be a totally irrelevant move. Optical drives are so cheap, take up so little space, and are used frequently enough that adding one is pretty much manditory for most practical purposes. Cutting one from a portable? That makes sense for some people. Cutting one from a desktop? That makes little sense. The goal of a desktop computer isn't to strive for miniturization. It's to provide users with an un-compromised computing experience. Today's MacMini offers an *acceptable* amount of computing power for most users, and therefore is an *acceptable* desktop. A MacNano (as some have coined it) sans optical drive would alienate too many people and drop below even the minimum status as a bare-bones PC.

So the solution to this (IMO) would be to redesign the Mini to match the 7.7" form-factor, give it a 3.5" HDD and full-sized RAM (instead of SO-DIMMs). That'll effectively use the added volume, and give Apple enough fuel to run the RDF to claim back those who are put off by the idea of un-miniturization.

Ideally, in my mind, would be to grow the Mini in the z-dimension as well, to give it enough space for a desktop-grade CPU and dedicated graphics, but as has been precisely stated thousands of times before, these requests (more like pleas) seem to be nothing more than a wet dream in the minds of countless prosumers like myself.

When will Apple realize there's another demographic that they're missing entirely? It's not 1997 anymore; Apple doesn't need to worry about a bloated product line. They have their financial s*** straightened out (and then some). It's time to expand the line, Apple. The prosumer/advanced user crowd has been left high-and-dry for far too long.

-Clive

mtk75
Mar 5, 2008, 11:04 PM
I, for one, hope that they upgrade the mini, but only to up the CPU power, and perhaps allow more RAM. I am planning on buying a mini as a file/media server/:apple:tv device. I want it to be able to function at a minimal amount of power, so that I can leave it on all the time, and not worry about the bill.

Laptop components and hard drives are perfect for this, as they are well optimized for low power usage. The current mini is pretty good, but I am hoping for a Penryn based mini that will draw even less power, or give me more computing power without changing the electrical power consumption.

I think they'll be upgrading soon, so I am waiting, but if the upgrade goes the wrong direction, I'll be searching for the current 2 GHz version right after the announcement.

-Matt

Clive At Five
Mar 6, 2008, 07:27 AM
I, for one, hope that they upgrade the mini, but only to up the CPU power, and perhaps allow more RAM. I am planning on buying a mini as a file/media server/:apple:tv device. I want it to be able to function at a minimal amount of power, so that I can leave it on all the time, and not worry about the bill.

Just to prevent the spread of mis-information, I'd like to point out that the GMA 950 chipset draws roughly the same power as the x3100, the latter of which has double the graphics performance. The difference is huge... and also the reason, I think, most of us are getting very anxious.

Secondly, if you're going to be using this thing as a file server, it has the slowed HDD on the block, just so you're aware.

I'm about 99% sure Apple won't change the formfactor anyway, so if you don't care about graphics, this upcoming upgrade won't change much for you. As stated before, Penryn has near-identical performance as similarly-clocked Merom... it's just on a 45nm die. So unless you're okay with waiting an unknown amount of time for minimal enhancements (for what you need) I'd just buy now, or look on the refurb store. There are always really great deals there. Minis are hard to find, though.

-Clive

Cave Man
Mar 6, 2008, 08:45 AM
My biggest beef about the X3100 is that it doesn't have on-board H.264 decoding. I have one mini dedicated to a HT setup and it does fine with DVD-quality movies with AAC and AC3 tracks, but I suspect high bit-rate 1080 content (if it ever becomes available) would be tough for C2D processors to handle.

gkarris
Mar 6, 2008, 08:47 AM
My biggest beef about the X3100 is that it doesn't have on-board H.264 decoding. I have one mini dedicated to a HT setup and it does fine with DVD-quality movies with AAC and AC3 tracks, but I suspect high bit-rate 1080 content (if it ever becomes available) would be tough for C2D processors to handle.

Yes, I tried downloading 1080p content onto my new MacBook and it stuttered along... :(

Cave Man
Mar 6, 2008, 08:48 AM
I, for one, hope that they upgrade the mini, but only to up the CPU power, and perhaps allow more RAM.

If they build it on SR and don't disable it (like they did with the CS/CD minis), it should take 8 gigs. The only thing missing is a source of 4 gig PC5300 SO-DIMMs.

I am planning on buying a mini as a file/media server/:apple:tv device. I want it to be able to function at a minimal amount of power, so that I can leave it on all the time, and not worry about the bill.

These things cost money to run? :)

flopticalcube
Mar 6, 2008, 09:18 AM
Yes, I tried downloading 1080p content onto my new MacBook and it stuttered along... :(

Not even Montivena will help here. Hardware H.264 decoding will probably come in Calpella in 2009.

statler
Mar 6, 2008, 10:39 AM
I want to use a mini for a home recording studio. I want my monitor separate from the cpu for ergonomics and expandibility. It irks me that the current generation of minis take less RAM than my macbook. Also, it should have 802.11n like every other Apple product. I will wait for the update before I buy one.

On a related note I hope they update the Cinema Displays very soon. The pricing is way out of whack now versus the competition. I'd probably buy a Dell or Acer display at a big discount to Apple. I'm also surprised Apple hasn't released an ACD with a built-in iSight. Integrated webcams are starting to appear from the competition. I'd have expected Apple to lead with this feature.

mtk75
Mar 6, 2008, 06:59 PM
Just to prevent the spread of mis-information, I'd like to point out that the GMA 950 chipset draws roughly the same power as the x3100, the latter of which has double the graphics performance. The difference is huge... and also the reason, I think, most of us are getting very anxious.

Secondly, if you're going to be using this thing as a file server, it has the slowed HDD on the block, just so you're aware.

Sorry, wasn't trying to spread mis-information, I am fine with them upgrading the graphics to the x3100. I was responding to the thoughts of using desktop components to upgrade the power, not so much the thoughts of any other specific upgrades.

As far as my file serving goes, I was mainly thinking as a source of media files, and perhaps some playback via my TV. Not really a file server so much as a backup device that can be used for other things as well... Time capsule may have come close if they had added a NAS/media server element to it, but that would really not fit the market they were looking for in that device.

Since it is mainly for these things, I don't mind having a slower HD. It doesn't need to be fast to serve mp3s, and I'd rather have the power savings.

I do have a lot of CDs to rip, though, so I am hoping for a small boost in the performance, without a boost in power as well. I wouldn't even mind running a few videos through it to my TV, so I'll take an x3100 as well. :D I know, I ask for a lot. For the moment, I can afford to wait to see what comes up. ;)

-Matt

MacFanBoyIIe
Mar 7, 2008, 02:46 PM
Expect a refresh in the next 4 weeks?

http://www.macrumors.com/2008/03/07/penryn-imac-and-mac-mini-updates-soon/

I HOPE SO! I'll buy 3 of these if they go 45nm and get an x3100!!!

clyde2801
Mar 7, 2008, 03:00 PM
I don't think they'll put in a desktop hard drive, or improved chip under any circumstances, for the same reason they wouldn't put in a graphics card.

If Apple greatly expands the capabilities of the mini, they'll have too hard of a time selling their other desktops. A improved chip/logicboard that supports more than 2 gig of ram will encourage people to use that system for parallels. A faster hard drive with more capacity would make it roughly equal to the imac in terms of everyday computing. An enclosed graphics card would sign the death warrant of the imac, or at least turn it into a niche product.

LCD displays are cheap to what they once were, and are getting cheaper and more capable all of the time. I'm able to go on craigslist and find 20" or larger for 200 or less. And a lot of people already have them. If a mini has almost the capabilities of the imac, you betcha a lot of people would buy them instead of imacs. You'd be stupid otherwise.

Matter of fact, I'm amazed the mini has the capabilities it currently has. If I were SJ, I'd take front row off of the minis so people would be more encouraged to buy apple tvs and imacs.

Cave Man
Mar 7, 2008, 03:17 PM
A improved chip/logicboard that supports more than 2 gig of ram will encourage people to use that system for parallels.

They already do 3.1 gigs of RAM.

A faster hard drive with more capacity would make it roughly equal to the imac in terms of everyday computing.

It's more an issue of heat and size than anything. 3.5" drives put out a lot of heat.

gkarris
Mar 7, 2008, 03:52 PM
My biggest beef about the X3100 is that it doesn't have on-board H.264 decoding. I have one mini dedicated to a HT setup and it does fine with DVD-quality movies with AAC and AC3 tracks, but I suspect high bit-rate 1080 content (if it ever becomes available) would be tough for C2D processors to handle.

Yes, I tried downloading 1080p content onto my new MacBook and it stuttered along... :(

Not even Montivena will help here. Hardware H.264 decoding will probably come in Calpella in 2009.

I take that back.

I tried out the 1080p "Wall-E" trailer and that seemed to play fine. But looking at the info about it the BR is way below a high-def DVD.

Also, the fan kicked into high-gear.... :eek:

I can see why built-in Blu-ray drives for movie playback are not really ready for prime time yet.

I don't know - I'm no longer into carrying movie discs around anyways... I usually rip it to the hard drive and off I go, kinda like what we do with music CD's... :p

clyde2801
Mar 8, 2008, 07:00 AM
C2D Minis may support up to 3 point something gigs of ram, but I've been told by an applecare rep that you lose applecare coverage if you exceed 2 gigs because that's what is 'supported' by apple.

Same rep told me I would also lose applecare completely if I install (or even if an apple authorized service provider) a 7200 rpm hard drive, because it's not 'supported' by apple.

Show me a test stating that your average 7200 rpm hard drive puts out a lot more heat than your average 5400 rpm one, and I'll **** and go home. IMHO, this reflects nothing more than a business decision by apple to hamper the mac mini to encourage people to go onto the imac.

After finding this out, i put the mini on craigslist and promptly went out and bought a C2D white (jan leno) imac. No regrets, but its obvious as to what apple's doing.

Cave Man
Mar 8, 2008, 09:37 AM
I can see why built-in Blu-ray drives for movie playback are not really ready for prime time yet.

If the studios encode their BR discs in MPEG-2 or (God forbid) VC-1, then the X3100 will do just fine since it has hardware decoding for these. If they use H.264, then Macs will have difficulty with even moderate bit rates.

Cave Man
Mar 8, 2008, 09:40 AM
Show me a test stating that your average 7200 rpm hard drive puts out a lot more heat than your average 5400 rpm one, and I'll **** and go home. IMHO, this reflects nothing more than a business decision by apple to hamper the mac mini to encourage people to go onto the imac.

Again, it's not 7200 vs. 5400 vs. 4200. It's the 3.5" vs. 2.5". 3.5" drives have 12V and 5V lines and generate more heat than 5V-only 2.5" drives.