The Future of the Mac Mini (2015)

newellj

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Oct 15, 2014
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East of Eden
What the hell Apple? My choices for a new Mac desktop are an underpowered Mac Mini with no quad core and lacking IGPU.

An AIO iMac with mechanical HD and overheating retina display problems.

An overpowered dual GPU 3k outdated trashcan.

Fill the hole Apple for a headless Mac.
In my opinion, that really is the problem. I have zero willingness to buy an AIO. The MP is grossly over-priced compared to BYO Windows workhorses. That leaves the Mini, and we all know how we feel about that.
 

yjchua95

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Agreed, the nMP definitely isn't overpowered. I've got the 6-Core with D700's and it's just a 'nice' machine. The GPU performance is nothing special and there are none of the apps I use currently take advantage of the second GPU. I feel that even if I went for the 12-core I'd be paying a LOT more for not a lot of extra performance. For me it represents a very small machine that can have 64GB RAM. If however I needed high CPU performance I'd probably go for a HP Z workstation instead. They are more expensive, but scale much higher.
Right now the two 12-core nMPs (64/D700/1TB) sitting under my desk are being used extensively.

The first one is for purely 4K cinematographic work as well as rendering, while the second one acts as a vSphere/ESXi bare metal hypervisor.

For my needs in office, the HP Z may be a bit overpowered, so I settled for two nMPs instead. If I ever need more power, there's always the IBM Blue Gene sitting in the building's basement.
 

yjchua95

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The nMP isn't actually that high-spec. A decent core i7 PC with a high-end gaming GPU will kick it's ass in most tasks. what you are paying for is the design and how it manages to stay utterly quiet even when pushed. I like the nMP, but in my opinion it doesn't scale far enough for the workstation market. The current nMP should have just been the 'Mac', and the Mac Pro should have been in a much larger case to allow for expansion. This goes against Apple's design philosophy however despite this being what a lot of customers are actually wanting.
Well wait until you try heavy 4K cinematographic work plus ArriRaw footage and Alexa ProRes.

A 6 core i7 Extreme would be completely outclassed by the 12 core E5-2697 v2 in the BTO nMP. The D700 also handles GPU-accelerated computing like a dream. If you look at how much the equivalent W9000 costs as a separate part, the dual D700/W9000s in the nMP may seem like a bargain.

The nMP isn't for gaming. It uses a workstation GPU, which would outclass gaming GPUs in computational tasks.
 

oneMadRssn

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Sep 8, 2011
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No 1st amendment rights here?
Since MacRumors isn't the government (yet...), no 1st amendment rights here.

I do think people asking for a more powerful headless Mac miss the point of why Apple keeps the Mac Mini around. It's designed to be inexpensive, even by Apple standards. They need a "starting at $499" banner under all their Mac ads and websites - to get people into the stores and sell them on other machines. Apple probably justifies keeping the Mac Mini around just for that reason - that it causes sales of other Macs, even if it doesn't sell well directly. I can't imagine Apple bothering with a more expensive headless machine that would sell in even less numbers, unless it either had very good margins (nMP) or would also drive more sales to other Macs. I doubt the latter is possible.
 
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shaunp

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Well wait until you try heavy 4K cinematographic work plus ArriRaw footage and Alexa ProRes.

A 6 core i7 Extreme would be completely outclassed by the 12 core E5-2697 v2 in the BTO nMP. The D700 also handles GPU-accelerated computing like a dream. If you look at how much the equivalent W9000 costs as a separate part, the dual D700/W9000s in the nMP may seem like a bargain.

The nMP isn't for gaming. It uses a workstation GPU, which would outclass gaming GPUs in computational tasks.
I know, I have one, but none of the apps I use make use of the GPU acceleration yet - well, LR and PS will now. I don't do any 4K work so I can't comment there. I use it mainly as a VMware lab - lots of VMware fusion with Windows and Linux test environments running inside. I have limited space at the minute so it fits in to what space I have very well, that's the most appealing thing about the nMP for my use. it will be different for you.

For apps that can use multithreading very well, no doubt the 12-core will be significantly quicker than any i7. However if these apps are mainly single threaded then you'd be better off with fewer cores that run at a higher clock speed. It's all a case of understanding your requirements. And you are right, the nMP sucks at gaming. - I've tried this too just because I can. My PC (i7 3770k + GTX 780) is quicker.
 

shaunp

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Right now the two 12-core nMPs (64/D700/1TB) sitting under my desk are being used extensively.

The first one is for purely 4K cinematographic work as well as rendering, while the second one acts as a vSphere/ESXi bare metal hypervisor.

For my needs in office, the HP Z may be a bit overpowered, so I settled for two nMPs instead. If I ever need more power, there's always the IBM Blue Gene sitting in the building's basement.

I looked at getting a second nMP just to run ESXi as you have done, but it seemed a bit expensive and I'd rather spend the extra on photo gear at the moment. The HP Z offered a more granular approach that I can upgrade as I need to, so I'll be looking at one of those later.
 

yjchua95

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I looked at getting a second nMP just to run ESXi as you have done, but it seemed a bit expensive and I'd rather spend the extra on photo gear at the moment. The HP Z offered a more granular approach that I can upgrade as I need to, so I'll be looking at one of those later.
Note that the nMP is also pretty upgradeable. You can upgrade the CPU with any LGA2011 Ivy Bridge-EP processor and the RAM can be upgrade with any DDR3 1866MHz ECC RAM as well. The SSDs can also be upgraded from OWC. The only non-upgradeable part is the GPU.
 

shaunp

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Note that the nMP is also pretty upgradeable. You can upgrade the CPU with any LGA2011 Ivy Bridge-EP processor and the RAM can be upgrade with any DDR3 1866MHz ECC RAM as well. The SSDs can also be upgraded from OWC. The only non-upgradeable part is the GPU.

I take that with a big pinch of salt. I can upgrade the RAM very easily, but the CPU upgrade is a pain in the ass as I have to dismantle the entire machine to do this - not something I would be prepared to do. With the old MP and a PC, this is easy. The SSD is easy to upgrade from OWC if you live in the US, might be a bit trickier here in the UK actually getting my hands on a 2TB SSD. It's not as plain sailing as you think it is.

I don't mind the storage being external, I quite like thunderbolt. But overall if I start to hit the limits of what my nMP can do I think I'll just sell and go back to PC. Windows 10 is looking quite good and I prefer a more flexible hardware platform.
 

yjchua95

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I take that with a big pinch of salt. I can upgrade the RAM very easily, but the CPU upgrade is a pain in the ass as I have to dismantle the entire machine to do this - not something I would be prepared to do. With the old MP and a PC, this is easy. The SSD is easy to upgrade from OWC if you live in the US, might be a bit trickier here in the UK actually getting my hands on a 2TB SSD. It's not as plain sailing as you think it is.

I don't mind the storage being external, I quite like thunderbolt. But overall if I start to hit the limits of what my nMP can do I think I'll just sell and go back to PC. Windows 10 is looking quite good and I prefer a more flexible hardware platform.
Not really a pain in the arse, but it does involve quite a bit of a teardown. The cost savings are worth it, however.

Even if you choose to send it to OWC for the CPU upgrade (assuming you've an existing 6-core CPU and want to trade it in with OWC for a 12-core), it's US$2748 (inclusive of international shipping), compared to the $3000 upgrade from Apple (from 6-core to 12-core). So it still ends up being $252 cheaper.

I live in Australia and although OWC parts aren't readily available, they can be shipped internationally (if I remember correctly).

If you want to sell your nMP when you switch back to Windows, give me a heads-up, I'm more than willing to buy it :)
 

shaunp

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Not really a pain in the arse, but it does involve quite a bit of a teardown. The cost savings are worth it, however.

Even if you choose to send it to OWC for the CPU upgrade (assuming you've an existing 6-core CPU and want to trade it in with OWC for a 12-core), it's US$2748 (inclusive of international shipping), compared to the $3000 upgrade from Apple (from 6-core to 12-core). So it still ends up being $252 cheaper.

I live in Australia and although OWC parts aren't readily available, they can be shipped internationally (if I remember correctly).

If you want to sell your nMP when you switch back to Windows, give me a heads-up, I'm more than willing to buy it :)

It's the tear-down bit that I don't like. Fine on a PC, but as the Mac has effectively become an appliance I'm not fond of that route.

it's going to be a while before I sell, I wouldn't get anything until next year at the earliest as like everyone I'm waiting for Skylake, but thanks anyway.
 

kwikdeth

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I looked at getting a second nMP just to run ESXi as you have done, but it seemed a bit expensive and I'd rather spend the extra on photo gear at the moment. The HP Z offered a more granular approach that I can upgrade as I need to, so I'll be looking at one of those later.
i can't wrap my head around a nMP as a vSphere hypervisor - that's like buying a porsche to pick up lumber at a home depot.
 

davidg4781

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Oct 28, 2006
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Go into any Apple store and look at the amount of floor space given up to Macs compared to iPads, iPhones, Apple watch, etc. Then from that minuscule amount of space taken up by Macs, look at how much is occupied by the mini and the Mac Pro. They might at a push have a single Mini and a single Pro, or they might just have some information on an iPad about them - i.e. they don't have one in store. This should tell you everything you need to know about Apple's priorities towards desktop computers.
I kind of noticed this today when I went by a store. I wanted to look at the TBDs and the mini, to see how big it is (mine as waiting at my post office).

Yeah, they had one of each, but really, how many do you need on the floor? OS X is OS X, weather it's on a nMP, a mini, or a MBP. And all the models look the same, so more just clutters things up. I'm sure they have them out there just so people can see what they look like and how big they are. IIRC, they have one each of the different sizes of rMBPs out there. The rMBs have one of each color.
 

mojolicious

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Given the tone of this thread over the past week, it seems folks here would like the future of the Mac Mini to be something more akin to a Mac Pro.
I think most of us would happily settle for 'screenless iMacs'. Even at the same price as the equivalent iMac, they'd still represent better value that the current Mini range. Especially if Apple continued to chuck in the keyboard and mouse.

Either the margins on iMacs are negligible, or – more likely – the margins on Minis are ridiculously huge. I suspect a couple of senior execs at Apple have got an ongoing bet to see just how much they can demand for a Mini before there are no takers left.
 
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Micky Do

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I think most of us would happily settle for 'screenless iMacs'. Even at the same price as the equivalent iMac, they'd still represent better value that the current Mini range. Especially if Apple continued to chuck in the keyboard and mouse.

Either the margins on iMacs are negligible, or – more likely – the margins on Minis are ridiculously huge. I suspect a couple of senior execs at Apple have got an ongoing bet to see just how much they can demand for a Mini before there are no takers left.
I, for one, can do without a new keyboard and mouse when I replace a computer. As with the monitor and other peripherals, I prefer use what I have as long as it works for me, and replace them with what fits my fancy and budget as needs arise.

That is the way it always has been with the Mac Mini, and I hope it remains so in future.
 
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mojolicious

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I, for one, can do without a new keyboard and mouse when I replace a computer. As with the monitor and other peripherals, I prefer use what I have as long as it works for me, and replace them with what fits my fancy and budget as needs arise.

That is the way it always has been with the Mac Mini, and I hope it remains so in future.
Sure, me too. I wasn't entirely clear, but my main point was that iMacs are far, far better value than Minis.

The top end 2.8GHz dual core Mini, with standard 8GB of memory and 1TB fusion drive, is $999.

The mid range 2.7GHz quad core 21.5" iMac, again with standard 8GB of memory and 1TB fusion drive, is $1499.

That extra $500 gets you:
• a good quality display (buried under glass, sadly)
• 100% more cores!
• Iris Pro rather than plain old Iris
• a 'free' keyboard and mouse which would cost you $138 if bought with the Mini

When you also consider the additional cost to Apple of the iMac casing/stand/packaging/shipping, the price differential – or lack thereof – looks even worse.

There's long been a 'Mini tax' but users were prepared to put up with it when the Mini, unlike the iMac, could be bought in base configuration and then upgraded with more RAM and one or even two further SATA drives. Now that's no longer the case the relative pricing of the two lines is unacceptable.
 

Dark Void

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Given the tone of this thread over the past week, it seems folks here would like the future of the Mac Mini to be something more akin to a Mac Pro.
I think it just trailed off in all honesty. Not a big deal though! I believe it started with the talk of options when looking at quad core CPUs in traditional desktops. Your only choice now for anything about dual core is a $3000 prosumer desktop.

I think most of us would happily settle for 'screenless iMacs'. Even at the same price as the equivalent iMac, they'd still represent better value that the current Mini range. Especially if Apple continued to chuck in the keyboard and mouse.
I see what you mean, but this is precisely what has been mentioned regarding traditional desktops. I have a mechanical keyboard, a wireless mouse with its own software control panel, and a standard LED 1080P monitor. I don't want to be paying for the display in the iMac primarily (as it is of course factored into the cost) and I also don't want the "free" or "included" (also factored into the cost) keyboard and mouse. I have my own, and I'm not paying for what I don't need or downgrading by replacing my mechanical keyboard with an Apple keyboard, or my mouse with that white monstrosity.

I, for one, can do without a new keyboard and mouse when I replace a computer. As with the monitor and other peripherals, I prefer use what I have as long as it works for me, and replace them with what fits my fancy and budget as needs arise.

That is the way it always has been with the Mac Mini, and I hope it remains so in future.
I agree!

That extra $500 gets you:
• a good quality display (buried under glass, sadly)
• 100% more cores!
• Iris Pro rather than plain old Iris
• a 'free' keyboard and mouse which would cost you $138 if bought with the Mini
This may be worth it to some, but not to me. Only if the processors aren't revived. Even if I were starting from square one with nothing, I would go out and buy a mini with a monitor/mouse/keyboard (would end up paying far less) and that's just my preference. I think the iMac is an okay value for what it is - but that hasn't included the fact of a user already having their own peripherals - that is when it truly becomes a redundant purchase.
 
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kwikdeth

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Not exactly, one of my 12-core nMPs works as a vSphere hypervisor and it hosts several VMs for thin clients to connect to.
No no, I get what you're using it for. What I don't get is why you would use a nMP as a vsphere hypervisor. Its not like you can take advantage of GPUs within VMs so it just seems like a waste of money? Most of the advantages (and price) of the nMP comes from its graphics cards. Take that away and all you have is a single-proc E5 with some fancy, but limited, storage options. Hypervisors are more suited for rack machines in a server closet, and you're gonna get a whole lot more bang for the buck too. You could have gotten a dual e5 rackmount for the same price, and had a lot more storage options too.
 

yjchua95

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No no, I get what you're using it for. What I don't get is why you would use a nMP as a vsphere hypervisor. Its not like you can take advantage of GPUs within VMs so it just seems like a waste of money? Most of the advantages (and price) of the nMP comes from its graphics cards. Take that away and all you have is a single-proc E5 with some fancy, but limited, storage options. Hypervisors are more suited for rack machines in a server closet, and you're gonna get a whole lot more bang for the buck too. You could have gotten a dual e5 rackmount for the same price, and had a lot more storage options too.
And that's what the HP ProLiant in the office basement is for as well.
 

shaunp

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I kind of noticed this today when I went by a store. I wanted to look at the TBDs and the mini, to see how big it is (mine as waiting at my post office).

Yeah, they had one of each, but really, how many do you need on the floor? OS X is OS X, weather it's on a nMP, a mini, or a MBP. And all the models look the same, so more just clutters things up. I'm sure they have them out there just so people can see what they look like and how big they are. IIRC, they have one each of the different sizes of rMBPs out there. The rMBs have one of each color.
True, there doesn't need to be more than one, but the total lack of product information other than what is on an iPad next to the mini or the pro speaks volumes. With all other products there are glossy pictures all over the walls, etc. For a flagship product, Apple does nothing to advertise the existence of the Mac Pro inshore - it's all iMac or laptops. It just seems a little odd to me that they would go to the effort of releasing it and then do nothing in store to push sales.
 

Celerondon

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What utility is that?
Audio MIDI Setup is the utility that can create an "Aggregate Device". You can use the Finder to locate this utility at Applications/Utilities/Audio MIDI Setup.

These links provide information about using Audio MIDI Setup and the HDMI sound feature. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202000

http://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/84173/what-is-the-difference-between-an-aggregate-and-a-multi-output-device

The icon for the utility program looks like this: Audio MIDI Setup.jpg