Why the Mini Has Not Had a Refresh Since 2012

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by mad3inch1na, Jun 21, 2014.

  1. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    There have been quite a few posts about the delayed Mac Mini release, but based on the specs of the Mac Mini, I think it made sense to skip the Haswell release. If you are dying for a new Mac Mini, then maybe this post will help to justify the generation skip.

    Before we get into the explanation, it is important to consider the components in the 2012 maxed out Mac Mini.

    CPU: 2.6 GHz i7-3720QM quad-core
    GPU: HD 4000
    RAM: 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
    Hard Drive: 256GB SATA3 SSD

    This is important because the processor, the RAM, and the SSD are all the same as were used in the 2012 15" rMBP. We can assume that Apple would continue with this trend in the 2013 model. The main benefit of Haswell was battery life, so putting a mobile class Haswell processor in the Mac Mini would barely improve performance. You could argue that the IRIS Pro graphics would be a significant increase over the HD 4000, which is true. This is the one component that would have made a noticeable difference. The RAM is the same as was used in 2013 rMBPs. The hard drive is SATA instead of PCIE.

    So when it comes down to it, the only real benefit of a Haswell refresh would be the GPU, which is arguably not the target market for the Mac Mini. In terms of the cost/benefit for Apple, releasing a new Mac Mini would force a price drop on the 2012 model, even though they are very similar computers. It made a lot more sense for Apple to keep selling the 2012 model at full price, and just wait until Broadwell. They were expecting a Q2 Broadwell release, which didn't happen, so the refresh was pushed off further than expected.

    If Apple had released a Haswell Mac Mini, very few people would have purchased it as an upgrade from a 2011-2012 Mini. The processor would have had about a 2% bump in performance from the 2012 model, and anyone looking at benchmarks would be turned off by that. The 2012 Mac Mini would have gone on clearance, and Apple would have profited much less.

    Right now, they are actually selling a very similar computer to a theoretical 2013 model, earning much better margins, and are able to focus more R&D on the 2014 model. I think Apple made the best decision in this scenario. What do you guys think?

  2. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Totally agree.
    And since the top level of computing power does not move much, it remains a great machine among the competition.
    The best Intel offers is a crazy expensive 6-core Ivy bridge processor (costs about the same as the whole entry mini), and that one is maybe 60% faster than the 2.6 quad mini. So the ceiling on the average computer remains 4 core 8 thread i7, and 2.6 or 3.4 gHz on that one is not too much of a difference.

    One thing people forget about the Iris is that it competes with the CPU cores for TDP-room. So maxing out GPU power makes the max frequency on the quad cores lower. The old 6630M was not having this sort of problems.

    Broadwell will bring change by the end of 2014, and it can come in either of 2 flavours:
    - Lazy aproach: design of the Mini remains similar, Apple puts more power in the Mini. Maybe a quad i7 with decent Iris Pro. We might loose the Sata bays and get one PCIE SSD instead.
    - Use the lower power to make the Mini even more mini. Think an Apple-TV sized mini with 2x TB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, 1 HDMI, power, headphone and nothing more. The power remains the same as the current offerings, the price drops 100 bucks and Apple keeps or even increases its profit margin.
  3. Chatran macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2013
    Or maybe Apple was going to stop Mac mini along with non-retina MBP production line together this year.
  4. stiligFox macrumors 65816


    Apr 24, 2009
    I certainly hope not. That would remove their cheapest entry model into the Mac ecosystem.
  5. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I hope not, Its one of apple's most popular Mac. I'm looking to buy a new Mini for my kids, and if apple kills off the line, I may end up looking at other cheaper computer alternatives. :(
  6. Cape Dave macrumors 68000

    Nov 16, 2012
    And this is precisely why Apple would be insane to drop the mini.
  7. ECAu macrumors newbie

    Apr 5, 2011
    My fear is that apple doesn't "drop" mini. But release something like the new iMac, with soldered memory, slower CPU, lower benchmark, etc.
  8. Anitramane macrumors 6502

    Dec 23, 2013
    Why not release mac mini with intel iris pro? Even if haswell is just battery improvement and only 2% per clock improvement, why was the imac updated?
  9. mneblett macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2008
    To substantially lower the price and thereby make inroads into several non-U.S. markets where price is king. $200 may not seem like much in the U.S., but in some places it is a go/no-go difference.

    Note that the rest of the iMac line was essentially unchanged. I suspect there was as little motivation to update the existing iMac line as there is to update the Mini line, particularly where there was no reason to think they could bring a low-performance, lower-cost Mini to market at a substantially lower price -- or sell it in the target markets, where customers either don't have, or don't have the money for, an additional monitor/keyboard/mouse.
  10. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    one last thing most people use one 1080 p screen or worse.

    So the intel 4000 graphics does a decent job driving that screen.

    Thus a true need for an intel gpu to drive a 4k screen does not quite exist.

    Apple knows this and they will sell the 2012.

    As the 4k screens get lower in cost and as 'normal' users begin to own

    them demand for a better intel gpu will grow and we get a 2014 mini with a broadwell cpu/gpu


    skipping a whole generation of intel cpus/gpus.
  11. mad3inch1na thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    The iMac received a desktop class Haswell processor. The desktop processors were more targeted at performance than energy usage, so the bump was closer to 8%. I think Apple didn't release one with Iris Pro because it was not a significant enough upgrade to justify the shifting production line.
  12. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    Not at all likely. Lots of people don't want iMacs or Mac laptops.
  13. BJonson macrumors 6502a


    Aug 26, 2010
    If I hear one more person bring up (target market) I'm going to delete the entire internet.
  14. Kentuckienne macrumors regular


    Sep 19, 2013
    Leave the parts about cats, though.
  15. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    Because the cost of Iris pro processors vs hd4000 were almost $200 more. Thus apple would have to charge something like 800 for a base Mac Mini and 1000 for the mid-mini.
  16. ATC macrumors 6502a

    Apr 25, 2008
    I agree with the OP, it makes sense. I hope at this stage they do in fact wait for Broadwell, I mean we waited this long already why not a bit more.

    Having said that, it's disappointing that Intel just announced a delay for Broadwell to 2015. The June 20 report I read says there will be "very limited availability" by Christmas and will become "widely available" beginning calendar-Q1 2015. So the awaited update to the Mini (if it's to have a Broadwell chip of course) might still be a ways off.
  17. scottsjack macrumors 68000

    Aug 25, 2010
    OK, I'll buy. Seriously.
  18. Vinxi, Jun 22, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2014

    Vinxi macrumors newbie

    Mar 20, 2007
    We're not considering the fact that the Mac Mini is "always" the last to receive the CPU updates, so if Apple really is waiting for Broadwell in Q1 2015, we have to wait for the updates of desktops and laptops lines before they get to the Mini.
    The i5 (3210M - June 2012) and the i7 (3720M - April 2012) mounted on the 2012 Mini were out Q2 2012, the Mini was updated in October.

    Anyway this article says that the M Broadwell will be the first and will arrive in time for the holidays:


    If they want to use the U series instead (Q1 2015), we will skip the holidays for sure as the OP says. At this point the "september/october 2014 update" seems unlikely, or it could happen if Haswell could make the same profit as Ivy Bridge, so they could keep the desktop/laptop lines one generation ahead of the Mini and then they could update it to Broadwell within a year. My two cents.
  19. borostef macrumors 6502


    Feb 10, 2012
    Zagreb, Croatia
    I needed a good laugh today, and you sir have provided me with one... Thank you...
  20. DesertSurfer macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2014
    Between the Sonoran Desert and the Pacific Ocean
    Makes sense.
  21. RoastingPig macrumors 68000


    Jul 23, 2012
  22. Crosscreek macrumors 68030


    Nov 19, 2013
    I'm going to throw a new scenario at you and predict Skylake with DDR4 for a late 2015 Mac Mini launch.
    And why would I predict that?
    Too many problems with Broadwell production and Skylake will launch on schedule according to Intel.
    Benefits is extreem improvement in GPU, and DDR4 speed along with a long list of other improvements.

    Attached Files:

  23. DesertSurfer macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2014
    Between the Sonoran Desert and the Pacific Ocean
    Depressing, but certainly possible.
  24. koyoot macrumors 603


    Jun 5, 2012
    Bigger possibility for Mac Mini is that they didn't updated it yet, because they are preapairing total redesing.

    IMO. Right now iMac will be entry level desktop for Apple. Mac Mini will get the body from new Mac Pro, with all of its benefits. Only slightly smaller ;).

    Broadwell Mobile CPU 2.5 GHz Quad-Core, 8 GB DDR3 RAM SO-DIMM(!), Dual AMD Fire Pro M500 GPUs based on Cape Verde XT chip(640 Cores, 128 Bit GDDR5 Memory) and 256 GB SSD. Price? 999$ is possible.

    Even if they could price it at 1299 or even 1499$ i would LOVE that Mini.

    They would get with this computer:

    1) Best Price/Performance computer.
    2) Best Computer for PC Switchers.
    3) Best computer to fill the space they have right now to fill. There is a big gap between iMac and Mac Pro. Both price, and performance gap.

    And really affordable, and powerful computer for A LOT of people.
  25. DesertSurfer macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2014
    Between the Sonoran Desert and the Pacific Ocean
    That would be great. Or, it will look like an Apple TV, explaining the wait for 14nm Broadwell (or Skylake).

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