Is a "Mac Mini Tower" practical?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Nermal, Oct 31, 2018.

  1. Nermal Moderator

    Nermal

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    #1
    I'm just wondering... is there a technical reason that someone couldn't produce something similar to a Thunderbolt eGPU case, but with:
    • GPU slot
    • A few 3.5" hard drive bays
    • A 5.25" Blu-ray bay
    • An Ethernet port
    • And a few USB ports?
    I'm imagining something that looks vaguely like the old Mac Pro towers, but where you mount a Mini (or the guts of it) inside, connected by Thunderbolt, and you get the advantages of a GPU slot and plenty of drive bays.

    This sort of product doesn't seem to exist at present. Are there any technical limitations or is it possible that we could see something in the future?
     
  2. ElectronGuru, Oct 31, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2018

    ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

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    #2
  3. macduke macrumors G4

    macduke

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    #3
    I would think that you would not want to use too many other I/Os on the same cable so you don’t bottleneck the GPU which saturates 40Gbps easily. I’d use a dedicated line to the eGPU and maybe have a second box with everything else. Probably better for thermals as well.
     
  4. Nermal thread starter Moderator

    Nermal

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    #4
    If the four Thunderbolt ports each have their own bus then I imagine you could dedicate one cable to the GPU and another to the drives. Putting them in separate cases would somewhat defeat the purpose of integrating everything :)

    As for thermals, regular PC towers seem to manage so I'm sure it's not insurmountable!

    But in any case I'm potentially just rambling here :)
     
  5. Spectrum macrumors 65816

    Spectrum

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  6. Stephen.R macrumors 65816

    Stephen.R

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    #6
    I wondered about an updated version of the OWC mini stack for extra storage with TB3 daisy chaining, and I could even see someone making one in a multi-bay drive case form factor, but ethernet and optical seem.. unlikely.

    If it's targeted at a mini, it already has ethernet, the number of people needing two would be extremely minimal, and almost certainly none who want it on a desktop.

    Similarly with the blu-ray part - i could imagine *maybe* someone would make a single-drive case for an optical drive that will stack with a mini, but including one with other devices seems like adding a feature almost no one would want to pay for.
     
  7. Nermal thread starter Moderator

    Nermal

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    #7
    I didn't mean to imply that there would be two, rather that it would just expose an Ethernet port. After all, if you were to put the Mini inside this hypothetical tower then you'd either need to mount the existing ports on the backplate (which would therefore need Thunderbolt cables looping back inside to drive the GPU and drives) or you'd need to hide all the ports and then replicate the ones that people need.

    Obviously neither solution is ideal, which is probably one of the reasons that this tower doesn't exist :)
     
  8. Stephen.R macrumors 65816

    Stephen.R

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    #8
    Oh I’m sorry I missed the part where you said mount inside. I thought you meant a stackable unit!
     
  9. Nermal thread starter Moderator

    Nermal

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    #9
    Aha! Basically I was going on the theme of the "xMac" that people have been asking for; make a standalone tower where you put the Mini inside and end up with a traditional tower. But the more I think about it, the more issues I see. Like how to get at the Power button :)
     

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8 October 31, 2018