Two paths: Discontinuation or New Design

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Andres Cantu, Mar 5, 2017.

  1. Andres Cantu macrumors 68030

    Andres Cantu

    May 31, 2015
    Rio Grande Valley in South Texas
    When Apple gave a sneak-peak of the 2013 Mac Pro at WWDC, it was a machine that had basically gone 3 years without an update. It could be argued that the reason they waited that long was due to the radical new design (whether it was a good or bad choice).

    Do you guys feel like there are only two paths for the Mac mini, its discontinuation or a new design? I feel like if they were to update it (and that's a big IF at this point), they wouldn't use the same design from 2010, they'd at least change it somewhat since it's been its longest time-span without an update. Every other Mac since then has gotten at least one redesign, so why not the mini?
  2. sers macrumors 6502

    Jan 11, 2006
    I don't care if they change the design or not, I'm just hoping they keep it and update the internals with current specs. I'm dying to update my old iMac and have money ready to give Apple, but I don't want another all-in-one and don't need a Mac Pro. I'm afraid this might not be the case because the money is in mobile devices and not desktops and Apple has essentially become a phone company and not so much a computer company. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for March in hopes they update their desktops.
  3. now i see it macrumors 68040

    Jan 2, 2002
    At this point is pointless to try to guess what the skipper at apl wants to do with any of their macs. The guy is obviously not a computer enthusiast. One thing we do know for certain, the next Mac Mini (if one is to ever be) will NOT excite Mac fans. A Mac Mini that gives its customers a hard on is Apple's nightmare.

    It's interesting to note on sooo many threads, that lots of people are done with the all-in-one concept of the iMac and don't want another one.
  4. Partron22 macrumors 68020


    Apr 13, 2011
    Apple could merge the mini and the pro, so as to give us something configurable in the mid-range.
    Kick out the tiny box and the Cray2 wannabe cachet:

    and supply us a simple rectangular parallelepiped about 1/3 the volume of the old desktops, with lots of slots and IO options. -I'd go with Cast Iron for the case, but I suppose Titanium would do in a pinch.
    People could write Apps on it, or hook it up to exotic hardware. Maybe even play games or do VR.
    Apple could capture both high end and low end power users with a single Mac.
    I doubt they'll do this as their recent maneuvers suggest boneheads in upper management.
  5. Arran macrumors 601


    Mar 7, 2008
    Atlanta, USA
    It's a interesting thought. Where can the Mac mini go from here?

    It no longer has a CD, so maybe the mini just becomes some sort of compact HDMI dongle that plugs into the back of any available monitor? Bluetooth keyboard and mouse support? Airplay for audio? Storage in the cloud?

  6. Andres Cantu thread starter macrumors 68030

    Andres Cantu

    May 31, 2015
    Rio Grande Valley in South Texas
    I feel like we're not the only ones with money ready to "give" to Apple, it's just sad they don't see it.
  7. Count Blah macrumors 68040

    Count Blah

    Jan 6, 2004
    US of A
    So basically a mini that Mac fans will hate, right?

    If anything, it will be shrunk down to AppleTV like size, with a piddling 15watt CPU(can't lose an iMac sale), poor integrated graphic(can't lose an iMac sale), 8gigs RAM, and minimum storage with big $$$ upgrades. If Tim could shoehorn in a spiny drive, he will.
  8. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816


    Feb 16, 2010
    Dayton, Ohio
    Nope, third path: the Mini still serves as Apple's sop to people who want a sub-$1000 computer. Apple doesn't want people to buy the Mini, but they don't particularly want to turn customers away, either. So they'll put the very least amount of effort possible into maintaining the Mini as a technically usable Mac, and focus their attention instead on more iMac (and possibly Mac Pro) updates.

    There's no point in making an even lower-power Mini (the iPad Pro is already getting pretty close to being able to run low-end Mac software itself), and of course, they absolutely don't want a more powerful Mini.

    Anyway, that's my prognostication...
  9. Andres Cantu thread starter macrumors 68030

    Andres Cantu

    May 31, 2015
    Rio Grande Valley in South Texas
    Interesting point. So by that you mean that we could see Apple update its internals but keep the design the same again, since eventually they won't be able to sell the 2014 machine that supports their latest macOS?
  10. wlossw macrumors 65816


    May 9, 2012
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    when (if) apple updates the mac pro and imac we will (may) see a mac mini refresh... until then no way.
  11. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816


    Feb 16, 2010
    Dayton, Ohio
    Yeah -- I think they want to have a machine for the $500-$600 price point, but not a machine that will steal customers away from the iMac. The Mini barely serves that purpose today; and I think they'll try to have a machine that continues to barely serve that purpose into the future... :)
  12. macgeek18 macrumors 68000


    Sep 8, 2009
    Northern California
    I see it going away like the 11" Air. And I really liked the 11" Air......
  13. twalk macrumors regular

    Apr 22, 2009
    1) Apple has moved away from the middle of just about every market they are/were in
    2) Apple basically only has a single development team that's badly over-stressed in designing new products
    3) Apple is valuing raw profit margin on each product above anything anymore, canceling products that don't match up
    4) The Mini doesn't sell much and mostly doesn't have a good profit margin
    5) The Mini doesn't represent anything for the future of the company
    6) An iPhone/iPad with usb-c could have a charging dock that includes a usb-c hub with multiple ports. Add external monitor/peripheral support and the iOS device and it should easily be able to replace a Mini
    7) iOS app development is condensing around a small number of large companies that can easily afford a MBpro, so they don't even need it for that
    8) There's less than no information out about any possible replacement... except about how the iPad is the new computer

    I see Apple killing the Mini and any possible Mac below $1000. They don't want to play in that low margin area anymore and any Mac there is potentially future competition with the iOS devices
  14. hiddenmarkov macrumors 6502a

    Mar 12, 2014

    Fair enough points. I am undecided at this point. Part of me says they will keep it as Apple has to be aware (or hope they are anyway) that mac mini is a cheapish device for budding iOS and/or Swift developers.

    Apple is creating a divide at the higher ends where the price is getting a bit much for what you are getting. Our company is being dragged into this realm by some external to our company needs. External needs who don't seem to understand what they want is really a feature laden website in an app format...and something that is better suited as a website in all honesty. the store to buy some mini's we went. Not the sexiset of machines runs xcode.

    Mini kind of has a place here. Want xcode for pure iOS development for a can do that for cheapish cost. Now why I am undecided. Being jaded this is where I could side with you and that be a potential reason they kill it. Sneaky iOS and/or swift devs....buying a mini to save some money. can't have that.
  15. ThisBougieLife macrumors 68000


    Jan 21, 2016
    SF Bay Area, California
    Any new Mac Mini is useless unless it can drive the 4K or 5K LG monitors at 60 Hz. It seems to me like they'd rather reserve that for a Mac Pro with dGPU, part of the reason I think the Mac Mini may be discontinued.
  16. sers macrumors 6502

    Jan 11, 2006
    Unfortunately, I think most of you might be right. I can't see Apple going from a good performing, upgradeable unit in 2012, to a closed, worse performing unit in 2014, back to an upgradeable high performing unit in 2017. Perhaps this was their business plan all along - ween people off the mini, get those people to buy iPads and if you need a desktop, go for the iMac at different price points. They did the same to the Mac Pro what they did to the mini. I think Apple will drop the mini and pro and have various models of the iMac from the budget conscious () to high performing. ☹️☹️☹️
  17. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    The current Mini (maybe with an incremental spec bump) seems to fill the "cheap" category OK.

    I think what most people here are pining for is the option of a powerful Mac Mini that they had pre-2012. The problem there, though, is that it's a small, niche market that would be expensive to develop - requiring lots of bespoke components and clever cooling systems. Rivals like the Intel Skull Canyon NUC are already pretty expensive for the power (and they lack the Mini's killer feature of having an internal power supply which makes the cooling even more fun).

    I think that what they should do is re-visit the "xMac" affordable/expandable mini-tower concept. The argument against this, was that it would cannibalise other sales. I think that was quite true - years ago - nowadays though, most consumers want ultrabooks, all-in-ones and convertibles - the only people buying towers/headless systems are those of us who have a reason for needing that format.

    The advantage of an xMac is that it would be dirt cheap to design, produce and keep up to date - just a regular MicroATX or MiniITX motherboard in a nicer-than-average case (they could even outsource it). It wouldn't sell in great quantity, the point for Apple would be the strategic one of keeping power-users and enthusiasts happy - because the way Apple are going at the moment, they'll soon be jumping ship to Windows and Linux.

    The other alternative would be an "official" Hackintosh program: say, $150 for a license to run the current OS X version on 3rd party hardware (strictly not for resale), access to an official list of supported hardware (at chipset level) and the security to know that you won't get bricked, lose updates or have your Apple ID suspended because Apple suddenly decide to crack down on Hackintoshing.

    Trouble is, both of these involve the top brass of Apple seeing the value of keeping the power-users happy: they may be a minority, but they're the ones that provide unofficial support to friends family and colleagues, evangelise Mac to others, keep Macs alive in PC-biassed workplaces, write software & create a market for specialist software on the Mac.

    Unfortunately, it looks like the current top brass lack any genuine enthusiasm for Macs. We all understand management speak: if they need to say "The Mac is very important to us" it can only mean "We don't give a wet slap about the Mac and will be dumping it as soon as we find a good exit strategy".
  18. Boyd01 macrumors 601


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    A 2013 i7/8gb/512gb 11" MacBook Air is still my primary computer and I love it. Very powerful little machine that you can carry around all day and never even notice it's there. However the situation with the Mini is completely different. Apple already has several other laptops that are similar to the MBA but the Mini is unique.
  19. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    The minis have the same internals as a 13 inch MacBook Pro (or a MacBook Air chip for the base model) they are very capable computers in a small form factor, the same as any other mini pc.

    If they are updated then they will be the same as they have always been small low power with top of the range mobile chips in them, the iris graphics in the 2014 are fine for a small of and the iris graphics in skylake or Kabylake are an order of magnitude better with eDRAM cache etc.

    Everyone thinks that Apple gimped them deliberately after 2012, this is just not true, the 2012 Intel core i mobile chips all used the same socket so they could have one motherboard design that could hold a 28w dual core or a 45w quad core. This changed on the next generation of core chips and made it a much more expensive and long winded development to keep the quad core option. As this is a low price medium power machine with limited cooling and PSU space they went with the dual cores and that was the only sensible option.

    All this conspiracy theory nonsense is just that nonsense. Apple will update them or discontinue this year but they will be little different to what you can buy now so if you need one buy one. If you don't want to, for whatever reason, then buy something else there are myriad small form factor pc's to choose from.
  20. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816


    Feb 16, 2010
    Dayton, Ohio
    I've just gotta respond to this. The internals of other mini PCs, in today's world, are light-years ahead of Apple's Mini. You can get SFF PCs with quad-core CPUs, gaming-quality GPUs, plenty of (socketed!) RAM, vast amounts of internal storage, and much improved I/O ports and all for roughly the same price. Modern SFF machines are more than a match for high-end iMacs!

    So, in other words, yes, Apple deliberately gimped the 2014 Minis! To gimp something is to deliberately choose to make it inferior to what it could have been. Apple decided (for economic, cooling, or whatever reason you wish to pick) that they did not want to make a Mini using Intel's most powerful chips.

    As we can see with offerings from other manufacturers, such as Intel's own Skull Canyon NUC, there is no technical barrier to designing and producing a Mini-sized computer with far more capability. Somehow, Intel seemed to find the resources to conduct the needed "much more expensive and long winded development". Many other companies today also seem capable of such "painful" development processes. (Which, y'know, is sort of the reason that computer developers actually exist...) Surely, Apple could easily have created a similar machine; therefore, it was Apple who chose not to do so.
  21. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    The Mini form factor -- as it is now -- is about "just right".
    No radical change in "design" is needed, because none is warranted.

    The existing case dimensions -- particularly the rear panel -- can't be changed without taking away ports. And I think many potential Mini owners would be put off if the number of ports was reduced.

    On my 2012 Mini, right now, every port is in use except for the SD slot and the thunderbolt port (display connected via HDMI).

    I suppose they could put out a "tiny little box" for those fanboys who believe that it must always be "thinner, smaller". But with fewer ports, one would have to buy a MacBook-like dock for expansion. And have TWO boxes on the desk, where one was sufficient before. Perhaps two power cords, as well.

    That's "progress" ...?
  22. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    All the quad mini pcs I can find are pushing £1000 or more (I'm looking at you hp) so 2x the price of the Mac mini. Even the skull canyon is pushing that with ram and a drive and windows added, hardy mid range if all you want is specs you could build a gaming pc for half the price. Not to mention the excellent software suite that comes with all macs. And I have found not one that used anything other than integrated graphics. Also they use a lot more energy to run.

    Apple didn't gimp the mini they kept it as it was designed to be after a brief foray into quad core when it was easy for them to do so. Choosing to make any design is not gimping it's making a choice. Gimping is taking something designed to be much more powerful and making it rubbish deliberately that was never the case for the mini.

    The 2012 was an anomaly in apples line up simple as that if they stopped it because it ruined sales of other machines (and we have no evidence of that) then they would have had no choice but to do so or raise the price they are legally obliged to make as much money for their investors as they can, that's business I'm afraid.

    As to other manufacturers I've never used any mini pc other than a Mac mini that wasn't shockingly bad but that will be because the cheaper ones have celeron and atom processors and I don't know anyone that would pay the sort of money you need to spend on a small pc with semi decent specs.

    We will never agree on this but as a long time user of a 13 inch MacBook Pro as my only computer I can say categorically that the mini is a very capable machine as it has the same internals.

    Yes they could do with an update, no they won't be adding a quad core or dGPU, yes they probably could with Kabylake chips and Radeon graphics. If you don't like that you know what to do, buy something else.
  23. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816


    Feb 16, 2010
    Dayton, Ohio
    One, there are no quad-core Mac Minis. So, not a fair comparison. :)

    Two, basically every SFF with (low-end) parts equivalent to the Mini are far, far less expensive...

    The Skull Canyon is not a mid-range PC. It is instead a high-end PC, with a fast quad-core i7 CPU, the ability to drive three high-resolution displays, two M2 slots, and room for 32 GB of RAM. Fully specced out, it does not compete with the Mini, but rather with the high-end iMac! It offers similar performance at a lower price to that machine.

    Well, yeah. But should you really mention that? Apple doesn't even have a computer that could serve as a gaming PC. There's a reason why Oculus isn't even bothering to bring their Rift headset to the Mac world...

    The original Mini, designed way back in 2005, was a unique machine created to be a decent small-form-factor PC. They did not create it because it was easy to do so; they created it because it filled a particular niche, and because they had the expertise to do so. It was, at its time, essentially the most advanced hardware you could squeeze into that small of a space. (The switch to Intel CPUs made this especially apparent, as the original Core Duo machines were as capable as any Windows desktop tower machine.)

    Apple has since been providing less and less effort in keeping the Mini's performance equivalent to desktop PCs. The Mini has grown weaker with each update, losing the discrete GPU (with one last attempt on the 2011 Mini), having less upgradability (much harder to upgrade the internal drives with the Unibody design, and soldered RAM in 2014), and having weaker CPUs (and yeah, in particular, losing the quad-core option in 2014).

    So yeah, the Mini has been gimped -- it has been made weaker, by choice.
  24. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    Apple has positioned the Mini where they could do anything with it.

    IMO it would be a waste to discontinue it because it still has the eye of a small segment of the market. They could wait till Coffee Lake and use a relatively powerful CPU with low power usage. They could make it even smaller and more underpowered and use passive cooling. They could even use it as a test bed for some sort of ARM based Mac.

    All advertisement is good advertisement and at the right price people will buy it, most the bugs will get worked out without harming Apple and then they can release that idea on a large scale. BTW I'm just tossing ideas at the wall I have no basis for anything I said there.

    Regardless I find it unlikely it will be anything we are currently looking for out of a Mac Mini (NUC).

    Also people use the NUC as a comparison because of form factor. Its not a very fair comparison though, its an Intel product. They don't need to worry about harming sales of their other products, it can only help them. Sure its a fair comparison for us as consumers but not for why Apple does this and Intel does that.

    We need to keep in mind that Apple has a better idea of where the market is going and they will focus their efforts in that direction. PC's are in decline now that tablets and smartphones can give the casual user everything they need. Why would Apple want to sell you a computer you'll use for 5 years when they can sell you a product you need to upgrade at least every 3 maybe less if you are techie (and we are the type that prefer the latest and greatest). People such as myself that just enjoy getting a cup of coffee sitting down in my office and hammering away on a physical keyboard are dwindling. There was a time that a computer could do everything a smartphone could do plus much more, however even now I find myself sitting in front of my computer reaching for my iPad or iPhone for specific app based task.

    I will give Apple credit with their integration between MacOS and iOS though, its something no other manufacturer could dream of matching at this point in time.

    TL;DR - I don't think the Mini is going away however I don't think its going to go in the direction most of us would prefer. Although we'll do it kicking and screaming we should just move with the times as well. Get a NUC, build a hackintosh, wait it out, etc. Or just complain about it (you have that right) but it accomplishes the least.
  25. oldtime macrumors 6502

    Nov 27, 2007
    At this point I've resigned myself to the reality that we aren't getting a new Mini. If it happens, I'l be pleasantly surprised, but I'm not counting on it.

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