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Old Jan 11, 2013, 05:44 AM   #1
Tanax
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Likelihood of discrete graphics?

I'm wondering about the theoretical possibility of Apple adding a discrete graphics chip to the Mac Mini. Is there anything stopping them, apart from obvious space-issue and power-issue?

Seems to me they could just either get an external power adapter and solve both the space-issue and the power-issue with that.. or just make the Mac Mini slightly larger to make room for the chip as well as a larger power adapter?

If they can fit a GTX 680MX in the iMac, I don't think it would be too hard to fit it into a Mac Mini as well. A Mac Mini with a real graphics chip would be a massive power horse for a variety of different people. Not to mention it'd be a small and very powerful Mac.
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 05:49 AM   #2
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I don't think it's an issue of engineering but rather differentiation. Right now, the iMac is a pretty crummy value compared to the Mini. The key factors justifying the price? Form factor and discrete graphics. Given this fact, I think it's unlikely Apple decides to put anything other than the integrated in the Minis. This cuts their costs and with ever increasing performance, should be suitable for the majority of users. It's the same reason I don't expect discrete graphics to come to the 13" rMBP, though quad-cores might be a BTO possibility in the future.
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 07:31 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Tanax View Post
I'm wondering about the theoretical possibility of Apple adding a discrete graphics chip to the Mac Mini. Is there anything stopping them, apart from obvious space-issue and power-issue?

Seems to me they could just either get an external power adapter and solve both the space-issue and the power-issue with that.. or just make the Mac Mini slightly larger to make room for the chip as well as a larger power adapter?

If they can fit a GTX 680MX in the iMac, I don't think it would be too hard to fit it into a Mac Mini as well. A Mac Mini with a real graphics chip would be a massive power horse for a variety of different people. Not to mention it'd be a small and very powerful Mac.
Wow, I'm glad you have it all figured out. Considering the 680MX gives off over 100 watts of heat that is more than double the amount of any processor/GPU combo ever used in the Mac Mini. Seems completely plausible. Further, a 100+ watt TDP means that the GPU will use at least 100 watts of power (and most likely much more) means that the external brick will have to supply something like 200 watts of power to the Mac Mini. Do you know how big that will have to be? Further, why would you destroy your iMac sales, by overlapping it with a powerful Mac Mini. Most people who buy a Mac Mini, just want something that will surf the internet, watch videos, word documents, etc. Haswell is around the corner and that again will add significantly to the integrated GPU which will continue to eat way at the necessity for low to mid range GPU's.

Edit: Not to mention the shear cost that Apple would have to charge for a Mini with a 680MX!
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 07:33 AM   #4
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I think its possible, but if they did that, the Mini sales would eat further into the iMac sales and Apple knows this. They'll keep the integrated GPU for that very reason
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 07:53 AM   #5
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...
If they can fit a GTX 680MX in the iMac, I don't think it would be too hard to fit it into a Mac Mini as well. A Mac Mini with a real graphics chip would be a massive power horse for a variety of different people. Not to mention it'd be a small and very powerful Mac.
And how do you equate the internal space of the 27" iMac to the internal space of the Mini. There is almost no extra space in the Mini, it wouldn't fit.

Never mind the heat and power issues that were already brought up.
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 07:56 AM   #6
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And how do you equate the internal space of the 27" iMac to the internal space of the Mini. There is almost no extra space in the Mini, it wouldn't fit.

Never mind the heat and power issues that were already brought up.
Well, since they removed the optical drive in the mini, almost half of it is empty space. Though it can be used in part for a second hard-drive.

I wonder if the mini will shrink again in the future.
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 08:07 AM   #7
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Well, since they removed the optical drive in the mini, almost half of it is empty space. Though it can be used in part for a second hard-drive.

I wonder if the mini will shrink again in the future.
Even if the the discrete 680MX could fit in the empty space for the second hard drive, that still doesn't explain how apple would dissipate all that extra heat! They could maybe do a 650M, but certainly not a 680MX!
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 08:20 AM   #8
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Wow, people are hostile. Did you guys wake up on the wrong side today?
Again, if they increase the size of the Mac Mini, they'll be able to fit a bigger and better cooling system as well as make room for the extra space on the logic board for the graphics chip.

Especially if they move the power supply outside of the Mac Mini.
For the record, this was meant as a theoretical question. I haven't got anything "figured out", I was merely asking how big the likelihood of this happening is.

I don't think it would cut into their iMac sales since first of all, iMac comes with a screen so those who wants an AIO-solution, the iMac is still their choice. Secondly, the Mac Mini would bring more clutter to the workspace and some people just don't want that. Lastly, it would be more expensive than an iMac if you add a TB-display to the Mac Mini.
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 08:50 AM   #9
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I don't think it would cut into their iMac sales since first of all, iMac comes with a screen so those who wants an AIO-solution
I disagree because from the threads here where people ask mini or iMac we're seeing a lot of people leaning towards the mini since you get nearly the same performance but saving 600 or more. True they'll need a monitor or purchase a cheaper one but the thing is why spend 1300 dollars when you can spend 600 instead.

The iMac is a great machine but if you start designing the mini with more features like a better GPU that makes selling an iMac that much harder.
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 09:09 AM   #10
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I disagree because from the threads here where people ask mini or iMac we're seeing a lot of people leaning towards the mini since you get nearly the same performance but saving 600 or more. True they'll need a monitor or purchase a cheaper one but the thing is why spend 1300 dollars when you can spend 600 instead.

The iMac is a great machine but if you start designing the mini with more features like a better GPU that makes selling an iMac that much harder.
Well, they could make a separate version of Mac Mini like "Mac Mini Pro" or whatever and it'll obviously be much more expensive. If it'll cost 1000$, people will have to get a monitor to that so add 1000 for the TB-display and we're up to 2000$ which is about the same as the top-end iMac without the GTX 680MX. This still makes sense because the Mac Mini adds clutter to the desk.

But alright, guess I'll have to wait until there's TB-expansion closures that supports PCI-E 3.0/2.0 x16 so that we can add an external graphics card so that the closure can take full advantage of the graphics card.
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 09:44 AM   #11
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It's not about technical limitations. If they really wanted discrete graphics in this form factor, they would have figured out a way or made the case a little bigger.

Integrated graphics are already at the point where they are more than good enough for the average consumer... the exact target audience for the mini. You can already run a decent number of games on it and Haswell will only improve on that.

Putting discrete graphics in a mini gives people less of a reason to pay the extra money for an iMac. Put a 680MX in a mini? There's no way I'd ever consider an iMac if they offered that.

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But alright, guess I'll have to wait until there's TB-expansion closures that supports PCI-E 3.0/2.0 x16 so that we can add an external graphics card so that the closure can take full advantage of the graphics card.
At what cost? That sounds like an expensive solution. Don't forget about TB limitations. Isn't it only x4?

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Old Jan 11, 2013, 09:55 AM   #12
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"I'm wondering about the theoretical possibility of Apple adding a discrete graphics chip to the Mac Mini. Is there anything stopping them, apart from obvious space-issue and power-issue?"

What's really "stopping them" is a -marketing- issue.

Apple knows that if they beef up the Mini too much, it's going to start pulling sales away from their other Mac product lines. That's why they deliberately "dumb it down" just enough so those who want high-end performance pass it by in favor of the iMac or Mac Pro.

It would be easy to design in an extra inch of height to the Mini case, include discrete graphics (again), perhaps make the top removable to make changing drives easy. But giving the Mini this additional power and upgradeability might impact the sales of the higher-margin items.

Even in its current form, I've seen posts here on MacRumors from owners of older Mac Pros who have made the switch to the Mini, and found it's performance comparable.

Just replaced my 2004 PowerMac g4 tower with a new Mini, and satisfied with the change...
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 10:05 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tanax View Post
I'm wondering about the theoretical possibility of Apple adding a discrete graphics chip to the Mac Mini. Is there anything stopping them, apart from obvious space-issue and power-issue?

Seems to me they could just either get an external power adapter and solve both the space-issue and the power-issue with that.. or just make the Mac Mini slightly larger to make room for the chip as well as a larger power adapter?

If they can fit a GTX 680MX in the iMac, I don't think it would be too hard to fit it into a Mac Mini as well. A Mac Mini with a real graphics chip would be a massive power horse for a variety of different people. Not to mention it'd be a small and very powerful Mac.
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Originally Posted by Tanax View Post
Wow, people are hostile. Did you guys wake up on the wrong side today?
Again, if they increase the size of the Mac Mini, they'll be able to fit a bigger and better cooling system as well as make room for the extra space on the logic board for the graphics chip.

Especially if they move the power supply outside of the Mac Mini.
For the record, this was meant as a theoretical question. I haven't got anything "figured out", I was merely asking how big the likelihood of this happening is.

I don't think it would cut into their iMac sales since first of all, iMac comes with a screen so those who wants an AIO-solution, the iMac is still their choice. Secondly, the Mac Mini would bring more clutter to the workspace and some people just don't want that. Lastly, it would be more expensive than an iMac if you add a TB-display to the Mac Mini.
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Originally Posted by Tanax View Post
Well, they could make a separate version of Mac Mini like "Mac Mini Pro" or whatever and it'll obviously be much more expensive. If it'll cost 1000$, people will have to get a monitor to that so add 1000 for the TB-display and we're up to 2000$ which is about the same as the top-end iMac without the GTX 680MX. This still makes sense because the Mac Mini adds clutter to the desk.

But alright, guess I'll have to wait until there's TB-expansion closures that supports PCI-E 3.0/2.0 x16 so that we can add an external graphics card so that the closure can take full advantage of the graphics card.
okay here you go. I have been with macs steady since the late 90's they do not want a mini with good graphics. yes they can do it no they won't.

I could go into an endless list of the reasons. The bottom line is they do what they want.

In a way the hole for:

1)a max mini
2) a headless iMac
3)a mini mac pro

has done wonders for talk on sites like this.

I will say this their push to keep things this way is making integrated GPUs improve. The hd4000 is almost good. In theory the Haswell gpu will be a big improvement. So even though I screamed rant and raved for a good gpu in a small apple machine and always felt eff'd when they did not do it.

Apple is getting there via the integrated gpu's.
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 10:37 AM   #14
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It's not about technical limitations. If they really wanted discrete graphics in this form factor, they would have figured out a way or made the case a little bigger.

Integrated graphics are already at the point where they are more than good enough for the average consumer... the exact target audience for the mini. You can already run a decent number of games on it and Haswell will only improve on that.

Putting discrete graphics in a mini gives people less of a reason to pay the extra money for an iMac. Put a 680MX in a mini? There's no way I'd ever consider an iMac if they offered that.



At what cost? That sounds like an expensive solution. Don't forget about TB limitations. Isn't it only x4?
Would you consider a Mini with 680MX even if that Mini + TB-display would be more expensive than the current iMac?

The only reason I really want this is because I prefer not to have the computer built-into the screen for repair and maintenance reasons. If the computer breaks, I have to send in the entire iMac whereas with the Mac Mini I could just send in the Mac Mini and leave the screen at home.

And yes, it is only x4 right now. Is it not possible this will change in the future?

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Originally Posted by philipma1957 View Post
okay here you go. I have been with macs steady since the late 90's they do not want a mini with good graphics. yes they can do it no they won't.

I could go into an endless list of the reasons. The bottom line is they do what they want.

In a way the hole for:

1)a max mini
2) a headless iMac
3)a mini mac pro

has done wonders for talk on sites like this.

I will say this their push to keep things this way is making integrated GPUs improve. The hd4000 is almost good. In theory the Haswell gpu will be a big improvement. So even though I screamed rant and raved for a good gpu in a small apple machine and always felt eff'd when they did not do it.

Apple is getting there via the integrated gpu's.
Integrated will never be as good as discrete graphics, at least not for many years. While integrated might be enough for some, it is certainly not good enough when doing image editing, gaming or other graphic-intensive tasks.
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 11:56 AM   #15
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Strange all you people saying Mac Mini won't/can't have discreet graphics.

The Mini G4 had discreet ATI 9200 video.
The next Mini had integrated Intel GMA.
Then they went back to discreet with Nvidia 9400M.
Then they stuck with discreet but updated to Geforce 320M.
In 2011 you could get either integrated Intel 3000 or discreet AMD 6630M.
And now in 2012 it's all integrated again.

About the only thing I can determine from this history is that Apple is all over the place with their GPU strategy for the Mini, but it has had discreet video slightly more often than not.
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 12:13 PM   #16
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Strange all you people saying Mac Mini won't/can't have discreet graphics.

The Mini G4 had discreet ATI 9200 video.
The next Mini had integrated Intel GMA.
Then they went back to discreet with Nvidia 9400M.
Then they stuck with discreet but updated to Geforce 320M.
In 2011 you could get either integrated Intel 3000 or discreet AMD 6630M.
And now in 2012 it's all integrated again.

About the only thing I can determine from this history is that Apple is all over the place with their GPU strategy for the Mini, but it has had discreet video slightly more often than not.
Actually the 9400M was not a discrete graphics card. It was built into the chipset. Nvidia had a license to create chipsets for Intel CPU's that did not have a built in memory controller (i.e. all processors prior to the Core i Series). 9400M was built into that chipset. Just like the Intel 950 before it. Further, yes the original G4 Mac Mini did have a discrete graphics chip, but that processor was also a very low power CPU and neither the chipset, nor the processor had a built in GPU so they HAD to add a discrete GPU (although the 9200 was nothing worth writing home about, better than the Intel 950 in the 2006 and 2007 mac Mini's, but still not a very good GPU even by 2004 standards).

The ONLY truly discrete GPU that has been added in any Intel mac Mini was last years "Mid-Mini" (or High-end Mini however you want to look at it).

Edit: Here's some info on the Nvidia chipset used in the Mac Mini and the Macbooks/Macbook Pros from 2009: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compari...l_processors_3
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 01:32 PM   #17
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In the opinion of philipma (who I regard a lot), he said that a 640M (or maybe the LE) could be feasible in the quad-core mini. It would probably be the only reasonable jump over the 6630M since the 630M wouldn't be that much of a jump.
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 01:47 PM   #18
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Integrated will never be as good as discrete graphics, at least not for many years. While integrated might be enough for some, it is certainly not good enough when doing image editing, gaming or other graphic-intensive tasks.
That's a strong statement. "not for many years?" Just a few years from now computing will have changed to another paradigm we aren't even able to fathom yet! I also disagree that integrated right now isn't good enough for most but the most adept power users.
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 01:52 PM   #19
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Integrated will never be as good as discrete graphics, at least not for many years. While integrated might be enough for some, it is certainly not good enough when doing image editing, gaming or other graphic-intensive tasks.
Have you actually used the HD4000? Seeing as how it is only marginally less powerful than the 6630M, that's a pretty bold and inaccurate statement. Many photographers, entry level gamers, etc. use HD4000 every day to accomplish these tasks. Frankly, imagine editing is still primarily CPU driven (the GPU accelerated items in say Photoshop are still very limited), so other than high end gaming, and applications that truly use GPU accelleration (which if you need a computer that does the latter you are looking at work stations anyway), the Mini will work more than well enough for consumers and prosumers.
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 02:15 PM   #20
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AMD Radeon HD 8000 series for mobile devices was just released, I wouldn't be surprised if we see a mac mini update this spring adding a GPU along with colored Mac Minis(and by color I mean black and silver option not red,blue,green).

But for some reason I see the Mac Pro and Mac Mini coming together for a Mac Mini Pro. Most likely a smaller Mac Pro/Bigger Mac Mini like the prototype on Steve Jobs desk in the picture below.
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 02:18 PM   #21
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That's a strong statement. "not for many years?" Just a few years from now computing will have changed to another paradigm we aren't even able to fathom yet! I also disagree that integrated right now isn't good enough for most but the most adept power users.
And what would have happend with the discrete graphics performance in that "change to another paradigm"? It's not like their development will stop or halt.

Have you tried gaming on integrated graphics? Integrated is just not close to the performance of discrete graphics.

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Have you actually used the HD4000? Seeing as how it is only marginally less powerful than the 6630M, that's a pretty bold and inaccurate statement. Many photographers, entry level gamers, etc. use HD4000 every day to accomplish these tasks. Frankly, imagine editing is still primarily CPU driven (the GPU accelerated items in say Photoshop are still very limited), so other than high end gaming, and applications that truly use GPU accelleration (which if you need a computer that does the latter you are looking at work stations anyway), the Mini will work more than well enough for consumers and prosumers.
It's funny that you say that you need a "work station" for high end gaming and other GPU intensive applications. My regular PC handles gaming a heck of a lot better than a computer with integrated graphics. And no, my PC is not a "work station". It's actually a rather simple computer.
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 02:49 PM   #22
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Would you consider a Mini with 680MX even if that Mini + TB-display would be more expensive than the current iMac?
I certainly would, if I thought I needed the power of a discrete GPU. I keep monitors much longer than I keep computers. I'm still using a 21" 1600 x 1200 LCD Samsung monitor that I bought in 2001, and it's just fine for what I do. I'd like a 27" TBD for the extra real estate, but that's a want rather than a need.

I have an early 2008 MBP that I've been itching to upgrade due to its slowness, but I'm holding out as long as possible because of conflicting financial priorities. I do "serious hobbyist" Logic, Aperture, and Photoshop Elements work. I've received a fair amount of advice saying that I really should spring for an iMac with a discrete GPU, because the HD 4000 would feel disappointingly slow to me, but I've received slighly more advice saying that the HD 4000 would be just fine. I'm inclined to believe the latter, since I'm not a gamer, and since I don't make a living from my Mac, so a few extra seconds to render a photo with a blur filter won't kill me. By the time I'm ready to buy, Haswell will be out, and I'm sure the HD 5000 will be more than good enough for my needs.

By the way, I don't get the hostility of some of these posters, either. Well, yes I do: some people are so insecure that they can't respond to anything without an overt or implied "You idiot!" to start with. It makes them feel less inferior.
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 02:50 PM   #23
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It's funny that you say that you need a "work station" for high end gaming and other GPU intensive applications. My regular PC handles gaming a heck of a lot better than a computer with integrated graphics. And no, my PC is not a "work station". It's actually a rather simple computer.
No, I said for the Latter (which was pointing to users who use applications that have GPU accellerated programs i.e. CAD, etc.) would use work stations as opposed to a Mac Mini. I don't know anyone who makes a living using programs such as CAD, that use a basic desktop do you? Time is money, so you want the fastest machine out there. That leaves Mini with high end GPU's for the Gamers and that's it.

Further, you never answered my question, have you ever used the HD4000? It kind of lends credibility (or lack there of) to your points you are making here...
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 02:50 PM   #24
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The ONLY truly discrete GPU that has been added in any Intel mac Mini was last years "Mid-Mini" (or High-end Mini however you want to look at it).
I stand corrected then! Thank you.
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 03:54 PM   #25
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Would you consider a Mini with 680MX even if that Mini + TB-display would be more expensive than the current iMac?
Of course not. That iMac is already overpriced. I would never consider a TB-display either. The price of 27" IPS high res displays are coming down and I can't help but think that the TBD is overpriced now.

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Integrated will never be as good as discrete graphics, at least not for many years. While integrated might be enough for some, it is certainly not good enough when doing image editing, gaming or other graphic-intensive tasks.
I disagree. Have you used the HD4000? Have you even tried playing games on it? It's certainly good enough for lots of games that aren't even that old. Don't get me wrong, I much prefer to have a PC with a real GPU in it for gaming but for lots of people it is more than good enough and it's only going to get better. It's more than good enough for the gaming needs of the average consumer. I have no doubt that one day integrated graphics will be good enough where the idea of putting a discrete GPU in a computer will seem silly, just like all the other cards we used to put in our PCs that are now obsolete (e.g. sound cards). Just look at how far its come in the past few years alone.

As for image editing and graphic intensive tasks, it's good enough for amateurs. If you're a professional, then time is money and in that case you might be looking at a Mac Pro or something. But we're not talking about that. We're talking about gaming because that's pretty much the only reason why someone would want a discrete GPU in a mini.

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