Ideas for Mid-Range Headless Mac

blenderdude

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 17, 2005
30
0
I think most of us agree that there is a gap in headless macs between the entry-level Mac mini and the professional level PowerMacs.

This is a mockup of one idea I had for design/specs of such a machine:



'c' stands for "center" of lineup, I need a better name ;)

This computer would have a 7200rpm 3.5" hard drive, mabey an extra hard drive bay, 2 memory slots, and perhaps an exchangeable graphics card. Prices could be $999, $1099, and $1199 depending on configuration.

I'd love to hear your guys' ideas and see your mockups too!
 

ITASOR

macrumors 601
Mar 20, 2005
4,398
3
Just curious, what did you use to make the 3D versions in the first one?
 

liketom

macrumors 601
Apr 8, 2004
4,160
31
Lincoln,UK
is it me or does that look like a xbox 360 lol

nice idea but where would that fit in with the iMac

mac mini - $499
eMac - $799
cmac - $899
iMac - $1299
Powermac -$ 1999

too tight a price range i thinks
 

feakbeak

macrumors 6502a
Oct 16, 2003
925
1
Michigan
liketom said:
is it me or does that look like a xbox 360 lol

nice idea but where would that fit in with the iMac

mac mini - $499
eMac - $799
cmac - $899
iMac - $1299
Powermac -$ 1999

too tight a price range i thinks
I'd agree with you if this weren't headless. The Mac Mini and eMac are pretty close in price but I think the head/headless factor provides a definitive differentiator for the two products. I agree with the original poster, I think they should have a headless Mac with equivalent specs as the iMac - that way you could get an all-in-one or headless Mac at the budget and consumer level.

I would have bought one of these instead of the Mac Mini had it been available. I didn't want to splurge on a PM because it was my first experience with Mac and didn't want to invest a large sum of money to try out OS X.

blenderdude, I like the design and your proposed specs. Here are some of my thoughts/suggestions:

1. Needs to have a second 3.5" drive bay.
2. Needs to have user-replacable GPU card.
3. The case should be easier to open than the Mini's. It doesn't have to be as nice and easy as the PM's but not as difficult as the Mac Mini.
4. With changes #1-3 I would expect the case would have to be at least a little larger, to be honest I wouldn't mind a more traditionally styled tower, like the PM only smaller. Now that the Macs are leaving the G5 the cases shouldn't need to be quite as huge to account for all that cooling.
5. I think your pricing is low for a machine with such specs. I would think it would be more in line with the iMac, ~ $1199 - $1499.

Nice job though, looks great.
 

liketom

macrumors 601
Apr 8, 2004
4,160
31
Lincoln,UK
Maybe as a replacement for the Mac Mini ?

drop the price to $ 599 and we might have a winner - a bit bigger unit but with more upgrade possibilities

ie HDD /GPU/MEM
 

zelmo

macrumors 603
Jul 3, 2004
5,490
1
Mac since 7.5
So, you're basically thinking it'd be nice if Apple brought back the single processor G5 Power Mac and put it in a smaller case, right? I agree, and I like your design. I think your price is low, though.

I'd go with a taller version of the Mac mini, so there's room for at least one more drive bay, another Ram slot (or three), a PCI card, and a user-replaceable GPU. It could be three times the height of the Mac mini and sell for around $1399-1499. That'd split the gap between the high-end mini and the low-end Power Mac. Where it compares to the iMac line is pretty irrelevant, imho.
 

liketom

macrumors 601
Apr 8, 2004
4,160
31
Lincoln,UK
powermac666 said:
So, you're basically thinking it'd be nice if Apple brought back the single processor G5 Power Mac and put it in a smaller case, right? I agree, and I like your design. I think your price is low, though.

I'd go with a taller version of the Mac mini, so there's room for at least one more drive bay, another Ram slot (or three), a PCI card, and a user-replaceable GPU. It could be three times the height of the Mac mini and sell for around $1399-1499. That'd split the gap between the high-end mini and the low-end Power Mac. Where it compares to the iMac line is pretty irrelevant, imho.
yeah but what it boils to is it wants to be a Headless iMac (old iMac that is lol)
 

minimax

macrumors 6502
Feb 9, 2005
351
0
Why not introduce a third, 'high-end' mac mini instead of this midrange alternative (that is hardly different from the mac mini )?
They could've introduced during the last upgrade:
1.67 GHz PPC G4
512 MB RAM
100 GB 5400 rpm HD
128 MB ATI 9600 (with 64 MB 9600 for the standard one)
Superdrive
for around $899

That would have been a real winner. i would have bought it in an instant.
 

feakbeak

macrumors 6502a
Oct 16, 2003
925
1
Michigan
powermac666 said:
So, you're basically thinking it'd be nice if Apple brought back the single processor G5 Power Mac and put it in a smaller case, right? I agree, and I like your design. I think your price is low, though.
I agree with you here. It is somewhat like the old SP PM. I considered that machine when I was buying my Mac Mini, but it seemed pricy for what you got back then: only a 1.8 GHz G5, only 80 GB HD and the 1/3 CPU/bus ratio. More annoying than those specs was the fact that for level of machine you don't need a case the size of Rhode Island. Granted, you got quite a bit of expansion room in terms of RAM and PCI slots but it simply doesn't need to be that big for a SP machine. I've always been disappointed by the fact that there are only two internal hard drive bays in that huge PM G5 case.

If my ideal headless mid-end Mac was made available today this is what I would buy in a heartbeat.

- 2.0 GHz G5
- 1 GHz FSB
- 512 MB (two slots, supporting up to 2 GB)
- ATI 9600 w/128MB GPU (user-upgradable)
- 160 GB drive (2nd drive bay available)
- Super Drive (same speeds as PM drive)

I think all of the above could put into a PM-styled case that is at least half the size of the current PM case. I think such a machine could be priced at $1499-$1599 base with BTOs going up from there.

I think Apple has been hesitant to release such a Mac for fear it would cut into PM sales, which is not a good reason. I think there is a market that wants an iMac spec'ed machine in a traditional mid-size case, costing under $2000.
 

zelmo

macrumors 603
Jul 3, 2004
5,490
1
Mac since 7.5
feakbeak said:
I agree with you here. It is somewhat like the old SP PM. I considered that machine when I was buying my Mac Mini, but it seemed pricy for what you got back then: only a 1.8 GHz G5, only 80 GB HD and the 1/3 CPU/bus ratio. More annoying than those specs was the fact that for level of machine you don't need a case the size of Rhode Island. Granted, you got quite a bit of expansion room in terms of RAM and PCI slots but it simply doesn't need to be that big for a SP machine. I've always been disappointed by the fact that there are only two internal hard drive bays in that huge PM G5 case.

If my ideal headless mid-end Mac was made available today this is what I would buy in a heartbeat.

- 2.0 GHz G5
- 1 GHz FSB
- 512 MB (two slots, supporting up to 2 GB)
- ATI 9600 w/128MB GPU (user-upgradable)
- 160 GB drive (2nd drive bay available)
- Super Drive (same speeds as PM drive)

I think all of the above could put into a PM-styled case that is at least half the size of the current PM case. I think such a machine could be priced at $1499-$1599 base with BTOs going up from there.

I think Apple has been hesitant to release such a Mac for fear it would cut into PM sales, which is not a good reason. I think there is a market that wants an iMac spec'ed machine in a traditional mid-size case, costing under $2000.

Yes! I know a few folks who were excited by the mini, then completely underwhelmed by the spec's and also by the fact that it is locked down pretty tight as far as expandability goes.
There is nothing in Apple's Mac line for someone who wants an expandable headless Mac but doesn't have $2000 to drop on a Power Mac or need dual processor power.
 

El Phantasmo

macrumors member
Jul 9, 2005
72
0
If Apple offered a $999 "headless iMac", I seriously think it will give them a really good boost to their market share. Imagine getting a G5 2.0GHz with superdrive and whatnot for a grand.

You'll have the $499 mini for average computer use (web, email, pictures, music, etc), a $999 mac for photo editting, video editting, audio applications, etc. and the $1999 dual processor powermac for all the heavy stuff proffesionals do.

And obviously they would still offer their two AIO computers: the eMac aimed at the education market, and the iMac aimed at people who just want to get a fast computer with all they need built into a compact (and sexy) case.

just my opinion :)
 

kalisphoenix

macrumors 65816
Jul 26, 2005
1,231
1
A good idea (and beautiful mock-up), except being a UNIX nerd I hear "headless" and think, you know, HEADLESS. As in, why have a video card?

It seems like this would be a great machine for home servers. Perhaps replace the video card and optical drive with a second SATA drive in RAID-0/1, set up the machine like an Airport Express to automatically create a new network when you plug it in, and then log in using ARD in order to administer it. Or, conceivably, a version of the OS X Server Admin tools that is used to administer the server remotely without the slowness/junk of ARD.

So what you get is:
PPC G4 or Intel processor, moderately high speed...
512MB RAM upgradeable (two slots should be enough, if you want more than that buy a damn XServe)...
SATA RAID 0/1...
Gigabit ethernet, Airport...
The case you created (it's beautiful)...

And voila! OS X as it comes from the shop is perfectly good for home servers. Add a couple chopped-down Server Admin tools, the RAID, USB2/Firewire 800, and you can have a really awesome home server for under $750, I bet. Probably could be done at $500. For OS installs (gasp) you just hook up external firewire drives. For any other install you do it through the server admin tools. Perhaps you place a small button on the outside that boots it in target disk mode? Another way to install software. Seems very simple to me.

The iServe(tm). Think Warez.

Edit: Just realized that this is basically a Mac mini with RAID and without an optical drive. Well, and a few other things, but they're minor. But really, I think this sucker could have some great uptime. Perhaps it has a battery (iGhettoUPS)? Not too much to distinguish it from the Mini, but I'd certainly buy one if Apple made it. I <3 my home servers, even the ones that aren't Apples.
 

miloblithe

macrumors 68020
Nov 14, 2003
2,072
28
Washington, DC
The problem is that too many options would eat into Apple's margins. They'd have to dedicate resources to a new design that would effectively give people the option not to buy an iMac (and purchase their monitor elsewhere) or a powermac, which is more expensive. The only way it would be worth it is if Apple were to gain enough additional customers with this product to make up for the lost revenue that would have come from the more expensive iMac or PowerMac. Currently, I doubt the math adds up well for Apple. With the Intel transition though, things are going to change, but it seems to me that headless products are going to be even worse then because Apple will not want to make products that are directly comparable to PC products in terms of specifications, because Apple can't compete with box assemblers on price. They have to be different enough that people focus on design, software, etc (Apple's advantages) rather than number of expansion slots, memory slots, standard RAM, etc. (Apple's weaknesses)

Like all of us, I'd love a machine like this to exist and I'd definitely buy one, but that's not really the issue for Apple.
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,195
I agree, there's a gap in the lineup. (And your design is cool and Apple-like :) )

The question is, when will the gap be big enough that Apple decides to fill it? I think that time will come--and I bet Intel helps: cooler, smaller, Pentium-M derived towers.

Right now, the gap overlaps with the iMac a lot: many people who want a mid-range headless will SETTLE for an iMac (or Mini or PowerMac or even a laptop + screen).

So even though demand is there, it would cannibalize a lot of other sales.

That won't always be true. At some point the new sales would outweigh any cannibalization issues--and cannibalized sales are still sales. So I think as the Mac market as a whole grows, the chances of more headless options increases.

It might also be that the Mini gains more powerful versions--once we have Intel. Like putting a dual-core Yonah, extra RAM, higher GPU, and higher-RPM drive into a new top-end Mini.

But if I had to guess I'd predict this: the PowerMac line will get more compact--and they'll simply sell lower-spec'd models of that to fill in the mid-range. Which would be great, considering how people could BTO higher specs for just the items they need.
 

iMeowbot

macrumors G3
Aug 30, 2003
8,634
0
powermac666 said:
I'd go with a taller version of the Mac mini, so there's room for at least one more drive bay, another Ram slot (or three), a PCI card, and a user-replaceable GPU. It could be three times the height of the Mac mini and sell for around $1399-1499. That'd split the gap between the high-end mini and the low-end Power Mac. Where it compares to the iMac line is pretty irrelevant, imho.
That would look pretty sharp in a clear Lucite stand.
 

feakbeak

macrumors 6502a
Oct 16, 2003
925
1
Michigan
miloblithe said:
The problem is that too many options would eat into Apple's margins. They'd have to dedicate resources to a new design that would effectively give people the option not to buy an iMac (and purchase their monitor elsewhere) or a powermac, which is more expensive. The only way it would be worth it is if Apple were to gain enough additional customers with this product to make up for the lost revenue that would have come from the more expensive iMac or PowerMac. Currently, I doubt the math adds up well for Apple. With the Intel transition though, things are going to change, but it seems to me that headless products are going to be even worse then because Apple will not want to make products that are directly comparable to PC products in terms of specifications, because Apple can't compete with box assemblers on price. They have to be different enough that people focus on design, software, etc (Apple's advantages) rather than number of expansion slots, memory slots, standard RAM, etc. (Apple's weaknesses)

Like all of us, I'd love a machine like this to exist and I'd definitely buy one, but that's not really the issue for Apple.
You have good points that are quite valid and so Apple probably won't make a machine line this on PPC or Intel in the near future... which is why I hate you. :p Don't make me face reality! :eek:

All I really want is a mid-end, mid-size tower. This is mostly what I buy/build on the PC-side because buying/building the bleeding edge, decked out machine is too costly in terms of price/peroformance ratio (IMO) - just like the PM's. I'll be honest with you, if there becomes a way to hack Apple's DRM/firmware and run OS X on a self-built PC I will do it. Not because I don't want to support Apple. I would pay for OS X and I would gladly buy this type of mid-end, display-less (is that better, kalisphoenix?) machine if Apple offered one - even at a reasonable premium over other x86 box makers. However, if they don't offer such a machine, but I can build one myself and run OS X on it - I can't help but say I would do that.
 

blenderdude

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 17, 2005
30
0
Here's a small update:



is PowerMac mini a better name?

I changed the Pentium D to a Pentium M, perhaps that would make the $999 price point more realistic.
 

miloblithe

macrumors 68020
Nov 14, 2003
2,072
28
Washington, DC
nagromme said:
But if I had to guess I'd predict this: the PowerMac line will get more compact--and they'll simply sell lower-spec'd models of that to fill in the mid-range. Which would be great, considering how people could BTO higher specs for just the items they need.
That sounds very reasonable and realistic. Especially once dual-core chips are prevalent, a low-spec'd, mid-range, $1000-$1500 PowerMac does sound pretty doable. In the long run, Apple needs to build a machine like that to expand its possibilities of being purchased by corporations, libraries, etc. Once that looks viable, I'd expect we'll see this machine.

I also expect that it won't _quite_ be what we had in mind. :)
 

GFLPraxis

macrumors 604
Mar 17, 2004
7,113
419
Well, the Mac Mini is really a headless eMac...

This could be a headless iMac. Just give it the same specs as the iMac, without the screen.
 

feakbeak

macrumors 6502a
Oct 16, 2003
925
1
Michigan
GFLPraxis said:
Well, the Mac Mini is really a headless eMac...

This could be a headless iMac. Just give it the same specs as the iMac, without the screen.
That's the general idea, but additionally if you are going to be putting those specs in a more traditional case it should be upgradable by the user. Specifically: extra RAM slot(s), 2nd HD bay, user-replacable GPU and perhaps a PCI slot or two.
 
C

CompUser

Guest
Have the powermacs have the dual processors. Then have the iMac and "cMac" have similar specs but the "cMac"would offer upgradable graphics, room for 2 hard drives, an upgradable optical, and why not one or two PCI slots.

Drop the prices!
Minis: $399
eMac: $599
"cMac": $999
iMac: $1199
PowerMac: $1799

Also have the 20" cinema cost $499 and have a 17" LCD cost $299.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.