New Minis and Macbooks at Leopard launch

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by rpp3po, Sep 2, 2007.

  1. rpp3po macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2003
    We haven't seen a real upgrade, yet (I don't consider a drop-in CPU replacement as such), because of serious issues developing new drivers for the GMA X3100 graphics chipset (part of Santa Rosa).

    1. Almost no reusable code. The new unified shaders need everything to be written from scratch.
    2. Hardware utilisation is extremly difficult, due to Intels complex design of the chip. Lots of "don't call this function if that and this functions are being called concurrently". GMA 950 needed many workarounds, too, but the overall design was much more easy to program.
    3. Intel itself needed a whole year after product launch to ready its PC drivers and they aren't even complete, yet.
    4. No expertise at Intel for developing OS-X graphics drivers to assist Apple. Inhouse development was mainly focused around DirectX and Microsoft's powerful DDK's. There is no graphics DDK from Apple. They usually do all the work themselves.

    So Apple has just streamlined development and went Leopard only. The new Minis and Macbooks ship Leopard and there won't be drivers for anything before that. Else Apple would have had to maintain two lines of code for years without any (monetary) benefit.

    After all, the the flexible architecture should be a quite capable plattform for running OS-X. If Apple is able to utilize the unified shaders for its Core-Image architecture, we should see decents results (even for pro apps like Aperture).
  2. Tracer macrumors 6502

    Jun 20, 2007
    Apple realizes that most people that buy Mini's and Macbooks don't care about the 3GB Ram Limit, and pathetic integrated graphics.

    Here's to hoping the next Macbooks/Mini get the Nvidia 8400M GS.

    Is the X3100 that much of a step-up over the GMA 950?
  3. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    Double 3dmark06 + hardware T&L. So not really. The advantage of the GMA950 and (I suppose) the X3100 is power consumption. They are lower than the current low end offerings from ATI or nVidia.
  4. rainydays macrumors 6502a

    Nov 6, 2006
    My gut feeling tells me that they will do away with the white MacBook design this year at least. And while they are at it, they might just as well upgrade the GPU, especially if they make a (alu) case with better cooling.
  5. Vidd macrumors 6502a


    Mar 7, 2006
    To be honest, I thought this was one of those insider posts based on the tone.
    How can you say this with such authority? :p

    That said, if they chose to do this it would suit me very well. Here's to hoping.
  6. rpp3po thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2003
    For Leopard hardware T&L is going to be a big step up compared to the GMA 950 (assuming that they did a good job developing the drivers - the PC drivers also don't deliver final performance, yet). The new user interface utilizes many 3D functions. You don't want your CPU bother that much about window movements and dock reflections if all of this can be done completly within the GPU.

    Apps like Aperture show this already. Performance on T&L enabled GPU's is much better. With X3100 the Minis are going to catch up here a lot.

    A bigger motivation than power consumtion at the lower end is cost. Price differences at volume between GPU enabled and disabled Santa Rosa chipsets is negligible if any. A lower end Ati or Nvidia chip wont really take you further than the X3100. UI experience is going to be the same and modern games suck on both.

    For mid level GPU's this is true, though. They would add a considerable amount of heat to the little enclosure.

    Forget waiting on a headless mac between iMac and Mac Pro. There wont be any. Apple would never want Apple boxes in direct comparison with commodity PC's. Imagine a review. Most would be like "while the Apple looks best Dell, Lenovo, and Acer all deliver more Ghz, more Ram and more HD space per dollar while delivering exactly the same functionality." Apple users would get it black on white how much Apple charges them more for just being Apple. They don't want that. They sell OS-X and a Mac as an integrated solution. They don't want you to see a Mac as an expensive, regular PC with the virtual benefit of OS-X installation authorization. How unsexy would that sound? :)

    After all they are just a bunch of posers and blindfolders... ;) But doing that they are the best of their industry.
  7. FatSweatyBlldog macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2007
    The above sounds like long-outdated recieved wisdom from the M$ crowd. Price out the components on the iMacs, and then price out a similarly spec'd machine (from Dell's Optiplex line, e.g), and you'll see Apple computers are a great value. When you add the fact that Apple comes with hundreds of dollars worth of media processing applications that you'd have to purchase seperately on M$ boxes, Apple computers come out as great value for the money (if you understand the components and software you're getting).

    Sure, you can get an M$ box for half the cost of an iMac, but you'll also be getting a far inferior machine. If you want to compare Apple to M$ run boxes, at least compare comensurate specs, not just the fact that you can get an M$ box for $600 or whatever. Otherwise, you're just counting dollars, as opposed to the value you're getting for your money...:)
  8. rpp3po thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2003
    Do you work for Apple or are you just a regular fanboy? Just browse to the Dell website and build an Inspiron having exactly the same specs as the big Mac mini. It'll be more than $200 cheaper (including shipping, excluding optical outs).

    The only difference is the really nice and small form factor, which you don't get at Dell - and OS-X. Now imagine Apple would have a headless expandable mid range offering, where people could compare even better.

    Still, Apple's would probably be better looking, quieter, using less power, innovative casing, remotely controlable...

    So especially if you price out the components, the Minis are quite expensive.

    I love OS-X and I don't go for specs only but usability and design, so I'd always prefer a Mac over a PC, but I know why and to me it's worth it.

    Apple is right now trying to underline its mission by NOT offering anything directly comparable to a regular PC. That's for marketing reasons. It either includes a screen, is very small, or the ultimate uber workstation. All "different".

    An expandable, headless midrange offering would be exactly what millions would love to buy. But making it expandable would mean, that the average time between new mac purchases would increase considerably (hell the Core-2 is so fast, just get a new graphics card and more ram). So they force you to chose one of the standard packages.
  9. maccompaq macrumors 65816


    Mar 6, 2007
    As I think about it, you are absolutely right. I guess I can forget about a headless iMac, because it will never happen.
  10. FatSweatyBlldog macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2007
    Not an Apple fanboy, nor an M$ fanboy. Just calling it like I see it.

    As I said in my post, compare the iMac specs to a Dell OPTIPLEX line.

    The DIMENSION line is crap, built with the cheapest parts, and negligible "testing." The OPTIPLEX line is actually built with greater care, and much more testing of components and integration (much closer to what Apple does).

    Listen, you can call someone a "fanboy" for pointing out the obvious: YOU SHOULD COMPARE COMENSURATELY BUILT machines; but, you'll just come off as dolt with limited reading comprehension.

    Finally, even given your comparison to the Dimension line, you may have saved $200 or so on your crappy dell over an iMac, but you won't be able to capture and edit video's, or author DVDs, without additional software/hardware (there goes the $200 in "savings"--and you have a crappier machine, with a completely inferior OS, that looks ugly and takes up more space).

    clearly, ymwv
  11. rpp3po thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2003
    Thousand of dollars worth of applications

    Following your insightful calculations I would earn a years salary if I install Debian Linux.

    Oh, and it's probably hard to realize that there aren't only two operating systems out there, but ever heard of Ubuntu Studio? It's free!
  12. AlexisV macrumors 68000


    Mar 12, 2007
    Manchester, UK
    The Mac Mini is a custom design - the Dell boxes are bought and assembled like Ikea furniture.
  13. FatSweatyBlldog macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2007
    What the hell are you blathering about?

    I point out that you'd have to buy software/hardware for a Dell Dimension to match an iMac's capability out of the box, thus negating the "savings" you pointed out, and you start talking about "insightful calculations?"

  14. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Jun 25, 2002
    Gone but not forgotten.
    It does? Notice how OS X is incorrectly written OS-X each time.

    Anyway, Apple has been getting ready to upgrade the Mac mini and MacBook lines for a very long time but have had some problems planning switchover and such. Besides, the current MacBook is still selling too well.
  15. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    You mean there are games out there newer than Quake?

    This simply isn't true. Macs and Win PCs similarly equipped (hardware and software) are essentially the same price. Heck, even Paul Thurrott, perhaps the most anti-Mac guy outside of Redmond, agrees.
  16. rpp3po thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2003
    Dell Inspiron 530s:

    • Intel® Core™2 Duo Processor E4400 (2MB L2 Cache,2.00GHz,800 FSB)
    • 1GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz- 2DIMMs
    • 320GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM)
    • 16X DVD+/-RW Drive
    • Intel GMA X3100 graphics
    • Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio
    • IEEE 1394a Adapter (Firewire)
    • USB Keyboard and Mouse
    • Microsoft Works
    • Vista Home Premium

    $539 including shipping

    Sell Vista for $20 and install Ubuntu Linux. So you got Audio- & Video-Editing, Surfing, Email and an Office Suite for free.

    $519 minus Vista

    Mac mini:

    • 2 GHz Core 2 Duo
    • 120GB HD
    • GMA 950
    • add a cheap keyboard and mouse (for comparison) $20
    • ... comparable parts

    $819 including shipping

    $300 difference is essentially the same price I guess....

    As I have said, I'd still go for the Mini, though. Especially as soon as it gets the X3100.
  17. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    Well, not really a similar comparison. The Mini comes with the T7200, which has twice the L2 cache, built-in virtualization, and consumes about half as much energy. Also, does the Dell come with Bluetooth, wireless-G, Gigabit ethernet, IR remote, digital optical audio input and output, and DVI output? And how about its form factor? Is it a mini/mid-tower? I also suspect that the great many computer users don't want to go through the process of switching to Linux. How about other software, such as iLife, iSync, iCal, Address book (that integrates wirelessly with many cell phones), or Front Row - anything like these for the Dell? This also brings to point the fact that stock OS X ($129) is most equivalent to Vista Ultimate, which would add another $120 to the Dell, it looks like.

    So really, your comparison isn't two similarly-equipped machines.
  18. Eidorian macrumors Penryn


    Mar 23, 2005
    The lack of OpenGL 2.1 support on the GMA950 bothers me. Does anyone with Leopard know that "Core Animation" is yet another layer of graphical support like Quartz Extreme and Core Image?

    The GMA X3100 would be greatly appreciated. I wouldn't be surprised to see a new Macbook after Leopard's launch and the end of the back to school rebates. It's common to see an update in September/October.

    I wouldn't consider OS X to be a cost factor since there is no other way to get it on a new machine then with the hardware itself.
  19. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    Well, here's a more similarly-equipped Dell:

    Dell Inspiron 530s Intel® Core™2 Duo Processor E4400 (2MB L2 Cache,2.00GHz,800 FSB)
    Operating System Genuine Windows Vista® Ultimate
    Memory 1GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz- 2DIMMs
    Keyboard and Mouse Bundles Dell USB Keyboard and Dell Optical USB Mouse
    Monitor No Monitor
    Video Cards Integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3100
    Hard Drives 320GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/DataBurst Cache™
    Floppy Drive and Media Reader Dell 13 in 1 Media Card Reader included in Dell Bluetooth Package
    Mouse Mouse included in Dell Wireless Package
    Network Interface Integrated 10/100 Ethernet
    Modem and Wireless Internal PCI 802.11g Wireless Network Card
    Adobe Software Adobe® Acrobat® Reader 7.0
    Optical Drive 16X DVD+/-RW Drive
    Sound Cards Integrated Sound Blaster®Audigy™ HD Software Edition
    Speakers No speakers (Speakers are required to hear audio from your system)
    Office Productivity Software (Pre-Installed) Microsoft Works 8. DOES NOT INCLUDE MS WORD
    Security Software No Security Subscription (30-day trial)
    Limited Warranty, Services and Support Options 1Yr In-Home Service, Parts + Labor, 24x7 Phone Support
    Internet Access Service 6 Months of America Online Membership Included
    Digital Media Editing Software Yahoo! Music Jukebox - Music Player
    Miscellaneous Award Winning Service and Support
    Optional Ports IEEE 1394a Adapter
    Dell Digital Entertainment No Entertainment software pre-installed
    Labels Windows Vista™ Premium
    DataSafe Online Backup Free 3GB DataSafe Online Backup for 1 Year
    Bluetooth Options Dell Bluetooth Wireless Media Hub (13-1 Media Reader w/Bluetooth 2.0 EDR)

    No iLife-like or other productivity software that comes with all Macs seems to be available for the Dell. No gigabit ethernet option, nor digital audio option, nor DVI option (unless you move up to the ATI card for $50 more).

    Looks to me like these two machines are a wash. Software give the mini a substantial edge. Oh, and you gotta love the Mini's footprint!
  20. rpp3po thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2003
    Well I don't think my comparison was unfair. I only discounted $20 for the Vista license (you get much more on eBay - compare that to OS X 10.4) and skipped some parts in favor of the mini.

    Furthermore I don't understand why you add $25 for the Soundblaster Audigy, which is much more capable than the Mini's soundstage (7.1, EAX, room correction).

    If one HAS to calculate in $120 for Vista Ultimate, when there are high quality free Unix alternatives delivering many more excellent Applications than OS X out of the box, is at least questionable. So I think the cost of software should be kept out of this, except if you really want OS X, as I do, and then be honest about its real cost (subsidized through the hardware price) or want Vista Ultimate. After all the thesis I am writing against is that the hardware alone is already competitively priced.

    Further the "free" Vista Home Premium Package included in my calculation already contains all of Vista's media related software. 'Ultimate' only adds enterprise features, which OS X partly also doesn't deliver.

    So if we want to continue being picky, we get the following big picture:

    Add to my original calculation:

    $40 for bluetooth (and card reader)
    $30 for 802.11g wireless

    you get:

    $609 for the Dell including Vista Premium (Media Center, etc.)


    802.11n wireless*, 4 MB Cache, Gigabit Ethernet*, DVI (Ati option: $50), very cute remote (ugly plastic remote for dell: about $30).

    (*upgradable through add in cards for together ~$50)

    If you try to compensate for the Mac mini's smaller hard drive and upgrade to te biggest available 160 GB, you get:

    $895 for the Mini including OS X


    Twice the HD space, double DVDR-WXYZ speed, GMA X3100, all not upgradable without voiding warranty, and the crappy card reader ($10).

    No Question, the Mini's housing, OS X, iLife are all great. I'd always prefer them. But you pay aobut $300 for this 'greatness' and should know about it.
  21. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    You're still trying to compare the E4400 ($126 at newegg) to the T7200 ($310)?

    No one doubts you can build or buy a PC cheaper than a Mac, but please keep the playing field level when making such comparisons. Also, I find it conspicuous that you chose the Mini for your "comparison", which uses the more expensive and less capable (designed for conserving battery power on laptops) notebook hard drives and DVD burners to keep its form factor small. Why don't you try it with PCs comparable to the iMac or Mac Pro? Or how about the MacBook and MacBook Pro? In those instances the price difference is virtually nothing, and in some instances the Macs are clearly less expensive. See the Paul Thurrott link I posted above. Even he knows it.
  22. rpp3po thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2003
    I wouldn't mind if the Mini was 1cm higher and 3cm wider, for a much better performing and bigger hard drive and better price due to a desktop class CPU. Would you?
  23. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    I wouldn't mind either but then it would need a larger, noisier fan and suck more power so SJ would not have approved it. Should have made a Mac mini +.
  24. rpp3po thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2003
    A collegue of mine has got a homemade 500W Core 2 Duo Extreme PC, completly fanless, running totally stable.

    So it should be possible for the geniuses in Cupertino to handle 3 more Watts without additional noise.
  25. FatSweatyBlldog macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2007
    Does your collegue's fanless system match the form factor of the mini? Or is there more room for heat to dissipate w/o a fan?

    2MB of extra L2 cache is nothing to sneeze at, and results in a processor that is several hundred more expensive than the one you keep citing in your "comparable" Dell.

    It's not that hard to make COMMENSURATE comparisons (or at least account for significant differences, which you prefer to elide). Clearly, you're not the sharpest tack in the box...:D

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