With ARM, would an Apple TV size Mac mini be in the horizon?

ian87w

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 22, 2020
599
474
Indonesia
The current dev unit is using the current mac mini shell simply to save on production (just using the existing cases and change the motherboard and chip inside). However, we know that the Ax chips can have a much smaller motherboard (iPhones and Apple TVs). With Apple themselves focusing on wireless, isn't it conceivable to see an Apple TV size mac "mini" with bare necessity of ports (like HDMI for display)? Maybe just a bit larger to accommodate more thermal headroom. Will be a perfect competitor to intel NUCs, and the Ax chip will have much better GPU.

So, a Mac nano? :D
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,365
6,683
My guess is no.
The reason the Mini remains the size it is, is so that it may accommodate a full range of connection ports.
Also, the form factor doesn't change because there are entities that buy dozens upon dozens of Minis to use in rack systems.

A Fishrrman rhetorical question:
"What kind of Mac user exists on earth for whom the existing Mini is too large...?"
 

Osamede

macrumors 6502a
Oct 28, 2009
673
318
My guess is no.
The reason the Mini remains the size it is, is so that it may accommodate a full range of connection ports.
Also, the form factor doesn't change because there are entities that buy dozens upon dozens of Minis to use in rack systems.

A Fishrrman rhetorical question:
"What kind of Mac user exists on earth for whom the existing Mini is too large...?"
On the contrary they want to have less ports, more wireless and more proprietary wireless products - and pricey high tech dongles and docks. Audio jack - or airpods and and airplay? Four USB C ports or one port and their own thunderbolt 3 display with four ports on it? Guess which one makes their grandchildren richer?
 

ian87w

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 22, 2020
599
474
Indonesia
On the contrary they want to have less ports, more wireless and more proprietary wireless products - and pricey high tech dongles and docks. Audio jack - or airpods and and airplay? Four USB C ports or one port and their own thunderbolt 3 display with four ports on it? Guess which one makes their grandchildren richer?
Well, I agree about the potential of Apple preferring a mac mini with less ports, although I disagree on the reasoning. :D

Anyway, the ARM chip definitely makes this a possibility. Many people are already used to laptops with just one or two USB-C ports. I can imagine an Apple-TV-size mac mini with simply HDMI-out, and maybe just 2 USB-A and 2 TB3 ports.
 

wardie

macrumors 6502
Aug 18, 2008
409
133
I reckon you could go for a really small form factor with that chip. Maybe even only say 6x3 inches, and very thin. To do that you’d probably need to consolidate the ports down into a single TB3 port, or maybe even something smaller like Lightning. As they are used headless but need occasional monitoring it would be handy if they had a small screen on the front (say OLED) and a speaker on the side. Plus volume buttons and on/off switch obvs. And, as servers, a UPS Is always handy so they can have a battery backup built in. Plus WiFi connectivity and for further resilience maybe a 4G radio.
 

jayducharme

macrumors 68040
Jun 22, 2006
3,568
3,291
The thick of it
I agree that the mini could get a LOT slimmer. The bulk of the current model is in part from the fan and the fact that the enclosure must also act as a heat sink. With the lower thermals of the Arm chip, Apple could easily squeeze the form factor down to iPad Pro thickness; all they'd need is enough room for several TB3 ports for peripherals. A TB3-to-DP (or HMDI) cable would allow for a monitor. And I wouldn't be surprised if such a mini could run off the same power supply as an iPad Pro.
 

ian87w

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 22, 2020
599
474
Indonesia
With the Rosetta performance of the A12Z DTK, could Apple even go further, making an even smaller Mac with reduced performance (eg. at a level of a Core i3, for example)? I mean majority of people probably won't even need such high performance (I mean, plenty of Windows PCs with Celerons out there). They can literally just put macOS Big Sur, more RAM and storage, to the AppleTV, and call it a day... :D
 

yellowhelicopter

macrumors newbie
Jun 5, 2020
16
10
Why?

It's a desktop. It should be properly ventilated with high speed memory and ssd inside, even if APU is a lot cooler than before. A desktop should be easily upgradeable too. For mobile use there are iPads and iPhones.
 

name99

macrumors 6502a
Jun 21, 2004
752
484
My guess is no.
The reason the Mini remains the size it is, is so that it may accommodate a full range of connection ports.
Also, the form factor doesn't change because there are entities that buy dozens upon dozens of Minis to use in rack systems.

A Fishrrman rhetorical question:
"What kind of Mac user exists on earth for whom the existing Mini is too large...?"
Exactly. If you want the ports (and you probably do) then you need a power supply that can handle all the ports. And that has a knock-on effect on the rest of the size.
You can save a little volume on cooling, but the power supply sets a lower limit. Look at a teardown for where the space goes in the current mac mini.

Of course Apple COULD sell something that doesn't provide as many slots -- a mac mini lite with say
- one (limited power) USB-C slot
- one ethernet
- one HDMI
- no USB-C
(maybe even no speaker, to save even more space)

but is there demand for that rather than a full-service mini? My guess is not really.
- - Post merged: - -

On the contrary they want to have less ports, more wireless and more proprietary wireless products - and pricey high tech dongles and docks. Audio jack - or airpods and and airplay? Four USB C ports or one port and their own thunderbolt 3 display with four ports on it? Guess which one makes their grandchildren richer?
You have no idea what Apple wants.
All you know is what the paranoid fringe keep claiming Apple want. And the paranoid fringe are wrong EVERY year; but that doesn't stop them continuing to insist that Apple want to steal our precious bodily fluids and lock us up in cage to turn us into batteries...
- - Post merged: - -

on the flipside; imagine the kind of hardware they could put inside the existing case. Maybe an rdna2 GPU by AMD?

A man can dream right? An ARM Mac with PS5 Power graphics.
Apple spent the last week telling us that new Macs will contain APPLE SILICON. And they spent the GPU parts of the last week telling us "here's how you program for an Apple-style GPU, if all you are used to is a PC-style GPU".

AMD or nVidia (or Xe) GPU's are NOT COMING to the ARM Macs. Give it up.
What will be there in their place will be an Apple GPU. And it will be AWESOME!
 

Moonjumper

macrumors 68020
Jun 20, 2009
2,261
1,947
Lincoln, UK
I've speculated previously on Mac forums that there might be a small pocketable Mac Nano, although that would be in addition to a Mac Mini instead of replacing it a it serves a different function. But I could see the Mini getting a bit smaller, although I would be more interesting in gaining power to fill the void below the Mac Pro (the iMac is something different, it is what I use because there is no screen-less Mac in that performance range).
 

yellowhelicopter

macrumors newbie
Jun 5, 2020
16
10
Have you looked at intel NUC?
But they have much more free space inside and are better ventilated, look at all those vent openings. Plus they have power supply outside. And... does Intel actually use desktop CPUs in the NUCs? I believe it uses mobile segment versions only, though maybe there are few exeptions in larger cases.

Anyway, I would rather want mini slightly larger than it is. For easier ventilation, disassembly, upgradability and connectivity. Slight size increase isn't an issue for mini desktop. I mean why +- 10cm should matter for device that is intended to stay in place, at least most of the time.
 
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endlessike

macrumors member
Jun 8, 2010
38
20
AMD or nVidia (or Xe) GPU's are NOT COMING to the ARM Macs. Give it up.
What will be there in their place will be an Apple GPU. And it will be AWESOME!
I’ll be you a nickel AMD GPU options will be present on iMac, MacBook Pros and Mac Pros. I’ll betyou another nickel that they will also be supported as external GPUs for the mac mini and macbooks.
 

cmaier

Suspended
Jul 25, 2007
18,030
15,874
California
I’ll be you a nickel AMD GPU options will be present on iMac, MacBook Pros and Mac Pros. I’ll betyou another nickel that they will also be supported as external GPUs for the mac mini and macbooks.
I’ll take a nickel bet that they will not be an option internal to the iMac or MacBook pros. No idea what their Mac Pro plan is.
 
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