Why is the Mac Mini so cheap?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by NbinHD, Sep 2, 2013.

  1. NbinHD macrumors 6502

    May 26, 2012
    Macbook Pro 13'' - Mid 2012 Baseline
    Same as the title - why is it so cheap?
    Is it because the processor is based on a mobile cpu, no dgpu and so on, and the fact that it has no screen, but it still seems to be pretty cheap, i'd expect it to be a little more like $100 more. Is it a good computer beause i find the 21.5 inch imac screen too small but dont wont to buy a macbook air and a external monitor because i have no need for the laptop portion.
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    All of the above.

    Its cheaper because its using the mobile chipset, its forgoing the discrete GPU, screen, keyboard and mouse.
  3. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    Just adding to the above...

    It is easier to construct as well. You can dismantle a mini like the formula one team do pit stops. I have pulled apart a few MacBook Airs and they take hours to pull down and reassemble. The mini, you can do a complete tear down and reassemble in around 10-15 minutes. That's gotta save on labor costs.
  4. xlii macrumors 68000


    Sep 19, 2006
    Millis, Massachusetts
    Also the engineering development costs for the mini are low. The design is leveraged off of the 13" MBP and leveraged off of the mini design from last year as much as possible. I wouldn't doubt that there are 2 or less engineers working on the mini... and that is part time. The hardest part of mini design is place and route of the circuit board and signal integrity of the design.

    Of course in the years that the mini has a new design (case, airflow, circuit board, power supply) the development costs will be higher.
  5. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    That wasn't always the case. I have a 2010 era Mini and its a bear to dissemble. I need a putty knife, being extremely careful not to snap some of the plastic clips. Taking the chassis out and basically taking the entire thing down the the screws just to upgrade the ram and storage.
  6. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    So true. The old putty knife. Memories :)

    Now you use a Torx set and an Apple black stick. Who would have thought Apple could name their own stick to replace a putty knife.
  7. corvus32 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 4, 2009
    It's cheaper because otherwise the price of a new Mac starts at $1000.

    The base model Mac would be a tiny laptop with a non-ips display, a weak CPU, no built-in ethernet, and limited ports.
  8. QWERTYMac7 macrumors regular

    Nov 20, 2012
    I do not find the Mac Mini cheap at all, just inexpensive.

    You don't want cheap.
  9. jbarley macrumors 68040


    Jul 1, 2006
    Vancouver Island
    I think 2009 was the last model that needed a putty knife, 2010 was the first unibody mac mini.
  10. sublunar macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2007
    Apple also accept a lower margin on the Mac Mini to help it achieve the price points that they have in mind for it. They make less profit on Mini than most other Macs.

    As I mentioned in the other big thread currently doing the rounds, Apple use the Macbook Pro 13" parts bin for the Mac Mini but at some point might be dropping that in favour of a (more expensive?) Retina variant which will use Iris enabled CPUs to drive higher resolution screens. That's not to say that the Mac Mini wouldn't benefit from being hooked up to a 4k Apple Display in the future but they would need serious GPU horsepower and Thunderbolt 2 ports.

    Whichever form the next Mac Mini takes, if it's taking parts from a retina Macbook Pro 13" the price might go up entirely due to the CPU costs.
  11. Che Castro macrumors 603

    May 21, 2009
    I don't consider $600 cheap

    Plus it doesn't come with a monitor,keyboard or mouse
    So is not cheap compare to windows computers

    Now against other macs yes is the cheapest one
  12. wrinkster22 macrumors 68030


    Jun 11, 2011
    Its fairly inexpensive because its insides are based off of the macbook pro. Also it probably has a smaller profit margin. Its not all that cheap though:

    Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 4.52.37 PM.png
    Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 4.52.27 PM.png

    By the time you upgrade to the 2.6ghz, 8gb ram, KB, and mouse its not that different. And you still need a monitor.
  13. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I must have the 2009 model - I forget when I purchased it :)
  14. APlotdevice, Sep 2, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2013

    APlotdevice macrumors 68040


    Sep 3, 2011
    Considering how brain-dead simple it is to upgrade RAM on a Mini, you'd be wasting money by having Apple do that part.

    You can also save money if you already have an existing keyboard, mouse, and monitor (or HDTV).
  15. wrinkster22 macrumors 68030


    Jun 11, 2011
    I know but I am just pointing it out.
  16. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    It sure is the best bang for the buck at Apple. First it was better to buy the iMac because of the all-in-one package, now separates give you more value for the money. Especially the 2.3 quad core outperforms all standard iMacs and with the better than-27inch-imac screen the Dell U2713HM, you can even stay within 21.5 inch iMac budget and have a faster system than the non BTO 27 inch iMacs.
    So yes, Apple made the Mini too cheap. I see it around me: much more Mini buys than before, and people skip the iMacs.
    And then I'm not talking about the best resell value, the fact that you can upgrade to every new model and you can do that the next 3 years and still stay within 27 inch iMac budget on the total period, which means you will be computing on a 8-core Rockwell or newer by the time your 27 inch iMac would have still be on 2012 Ivy bridge.
  17. Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    An island in the Andaman Sea.
    Not cheap by the standards of some..... It would cost me more than a month's pay to replace my 2009 Mini with the latest, loaded the same software. That is without having to fork out for peripherals.... most people can use what they have.

    Even better, it is upgradeable to a greater extent than others in the range. With more RAM and Mountain Lion, it looks to be good for a few more years. Maybe I'll replace the HDD and update to Mavericks some time next year.

    All in all it makes a Mini it good value for the long run.
  18. comatory macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    Same here. I wouldnt call Mac mini cheap, reasonably priced is better word. Sure I could get basic Mac mini (still thats about 2/3 of my salary) but it's not what would suit me. I would need at least Quad model, then I would have to max RAM (currently run on 32gigs) and add SSD. That's like 1.3 of my salary.

    But yes, it is nice that Apple makes affordable desktop that allow us to add our own RAM and hard drives. I wonder how long it will stay that way. I wouldnt be surprised if one day we see 13" MBA in very small case, including soldered RAM and PCIe SSD.
  19. Miguel Cunha macrumors 6502

    Miguel Cunha

    Sep 14, 2012
    Braga, Portugal
    So true.

    The iMac is cheaper, in comparison.
    Considering included items (monitor, keyboard, mouse) and other specs, the Mini doesn't save you money.

    It's a very good machine, specially if you don't need a monitor, fits anywhere and aside from the monitor, a true portable.
    Its low power consumption will reflect on your electrical bill.
  20. Terrin macrumors 6502

    Apr 5, 2011

    Lots of people do not know the difference. Cheap means it is a low quality product. Inexpensive has no relation to a product quality. So, in the case of a Mini, it is a well made product (not cheap) for not a ton of money (inexpensive).
  21. xcodeSyn macrumors 6502a

    Nov 25, 2012
    As others have said, Mac Mini is not cheap nor cheaply made but the most affordable Mac product line. The low-end models are designed especially to attract current Windows/Linux users to enter the OS X ecosystem where they can still recycle their keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Once they are hooked, they'll probably upgrade to more expensive models in the future. Seems to me a pretty smart strategy.
  22. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Make that a WAS cheaper. With the 2012 models, the roles were changed.
  23. jerirat macrumors newbie

    Jul 30, 2013
    I'm switching from Windows and I would not buy an iMac because of an healthy aversion to all-in-one computers. I'd much rather have a separate CPU and monitor. I'm waiting to see if the Minis get refreshed plus I had to buy my college son a Mac Air because his 1 year old PC laptop died for the second time.

    My plan is to buy the best processor and upgrade memory and hard drive myself. If I can take apart a 2008 MBP to replace the trackpad, upgrade the memory, and replace hd with a SSD; I'll be able to upgrade a mini with my eyes closed.
  24. eecyclone macrumors regular


    Jul 10, 2013
    I love how solid the mini is. It feels like a block of aluminum holding it. Although I wouldn't want to drop it. Apple has a great price point with the mini. It is a great price vs. performance ratio, especially for people that upgrade awesome. When I upgrade my computer, I don't necessarily need a new keyboard, mouse, monitor, etc. I can upgrade piece by piece, without dropping a ton of cash on a new computer.

    Also, anymore the mini is one of the few apple products that you can still upgrade yourself. Meaning I can upgrade the harddrive and/or ssd, and ram, as my needs change.
  25. newdeal macrumors 68020

    Oct 21, 2009
    To me the imac is a better value if you need a display, keyboard and mouse. The mac mini holds its value insanely well though

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