back to article New Mac mini: Business in the front, party at the back

Remember the Mac mini? That cute li'l system that found its way into everything from server closets to DeLoreans? Well, Apple remembers it as well, and at Tuesday's "a little more" event, Cupertino gave the little fellow its first upgrade in well over a year. The new Mac mini desktop model is available in two versions, one …


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  1. Derk

    integrated Graphics chip.....pooo.

    1. Martin Huizing

      No, fully upgradable!

      Were we not reading the same article? It has dual pcie bridged slots! There is even room for 3 extra cd drives.

      Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to add an extra isa printer port in my new iPad.

      1. Derk

        Re: No, fully upgradable!

        Doh......The new Mac Minis ALL have the Intel HD Graphics 4000, integrated with the processor, where as previously you get buy a Mac Mini with a AMD Radeon HD 6630M Discrete chip. The Intel HD4000 is a 3 legged dog, with only about 50% of the capability of the discrete one, discrete, which means separate dedicated HD6630M chip. They could have gone for the Nvidia 640LE or similar.

        Not so F*@K*ing clever now eh?

        1. Martin Huizing

          Re: No, fully upgradable!

          Forgive my ignorance, dear Derk but your first post read 'integrated Graphics chip". You didn't say what integrated chip you would like to have seen inside this little beauty.

          Now who is not so F!@#!##!#!@!#@#@##$$#$^%$#$ing clever,eh?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Eh, is there a disc drive?

      When did that tech become obsolete?

      1. The FunkeyGibbon

        When Apple said so.

    3. PassiveSmoking

      What do you expect in a box that size? There's hardly room for a pair of double-slot SLI/Crossfire GPU cards.

  2. Martin Huizing
    Thumb Up

    'still affordable'

    Apple better be on speaking terms with El Reg now. Any potential buyer, after reading the article, will definitely be pursuaded!

  3. jeremyjh
    Thumb Up

    Just ditching a Mac Mini...

    ...for another Mac Mini! At work. You're right - they're very fine desktop machines.

  4. Aaron Em

    500MB hard disk eh?

    I think I'll pop for the 1TB upgrade, all things considered --

    1. Silverburn

      Re: 500MB hard disk eh?

      For those with old mac mini's there's a very high probability they've got external storage attached. I'm one of them. So they'll probably save cash and go for 500gb.

      It's nice that Apple thought about us oldies with Firewire 800's, but what about the display port? I've got an old 24" DVI Apple display which now needs an adaptor :-(

      1. PassiveSmoking

        Re: 500MB hard disk eh?

        I thought thunderbolt was displayport compatible?

        1. JaimieV

          Re: 500MB hard disk eh?

          It is - but Silverburn said "display port" (meaning a port for the display) not "DisplayPort".

          Fortunately HDMI can be broken out to DVI with a £2 cable.

      2. M_W

        Re: 500MB hard disk eh?

        The Mac Mini's come with a HDMI to DVI adaptor in the box -

      3. NumptyScrub

        Re: 500MB hard disk eh?

        quote: "It's nice that Apple thought about us oldies with Firewire 800's, but what about the display port? I've got an old 24" DVI Apple display which now needs an adaptor :-("

        It does, but HDMI to DVI is just a passive adapter that you can pick up for a couple of quid (e.g. I've seen some for just over £1.00). So you can use the HDMI out of the back, and on the other end of the HDMI cable bung one of those to plug in to the DVI connector on the monitor. You may even be able to find cables with DVI on one end, and HDMI on the other, as they are electrically compatible (one of them is a subset of the other, but I can never remember which).

  5. Chronigan

    If only it didn't have that damned hipster logo on the top.

  6. Mage


    maybe but you pay twice what it's worth

    1. Silverburn

      Re: Afordable?

      Worth is perceptive.

      To some of the more rapid fans, they'll be paying only half of what it's "worth".

      1. Silverburn

        Re: Afordable?

        * rabid. Doh.

    2. Armando 123

      Re: Afordable?

      Don't forget service after the sale, reliability, and lifetime of the hardware. Given that, the Mini isn't bad value for money.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Afordable?

        Hey, you dropped this icon.


        An iMac owner.

    3. Robevan

      Re: Afordable?

      No more expensive than a similarly specified DIY box, if you include the cost of a Windows licence. Not bad value.

  7. h3

    Everything Apple is pretentious.

    (No focus follows mouse the height of stupidity - UNIX certification or not).

    The old SGI boxes (Indy / Indigo etc) looked far cooler to me.

    (Even the file manager looked better (It is in Jurassic Park)

    1. JaimieV

      Focus follows mouse can be done with an addon (what, you want your Unix boxes to come with everything already configured exactly as you wish? Then you don't want Unix!).

      The 'fsn' file manager wasn't a part of IRIX, it was a downloadable experimental addon. And it was unusably shit.

      The SGI boxes were very pretty though. The 2.5kW PSU's were particularly glow-in-the-dark.

      1. cupperty

        No it can't ...

        ... not properly outside X. Search for Steve Yegge ...

        1. Kristian Walsh

          Re: No it can't ...

          Sorry, but as far as I'm concerned, focus-follows-mouse is an abomination. Leaving aside that it broke the mental model of what the mouse does ("choosing" things by clicking them), it required you to take your hands off the keyboard move the mouse and then reorient yourself constantly while multi-windowing.

          Hover focus is useful for scrollwheeling, where the task is choosing a place to put the action (in this case, the action is typing), but to move *input* focus purely on the vagaries of such an easily disturbed variable as the mouse position is nothing more than infuriating for most users.

          There's a reason why nobody copied it. As soon as manufacturers started doing HCI interaction studies with broadly-sourced user groups, these kind of hyperactive control schemes disappeared really quickly. (Drop-down, rather than click-down, menus were another pest that was weeded out quickly).

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: No it can't ...

            Focus follows mouse is one of the first things I change on any Windows box I'm forced to use - I can then nudge the mouse between windows with my elbow, no need to remove hands from the keyboard.

            Of course focus follows brain would be best ;)

            It's really annoying having to click and raise windows in order to do anything when just nudging the mouse and then doing what you want is available.

            1. Kristian Walsh

              Re: No it can't ...

              Alt-Tab. No need to use elbows.

            2. Ilsa Loving

              Re: No it can't ...

              You control your mouse with your elbow? O_o

              Can I have your autograph, Mr. Fantastic?

  8. MachDiamond Silver badge

    I like my old Mini, the one with the optical drive in it. There are times when you really need an optical drive. After a HD crash is a good one.

    They can drop the card reader. If it doesn't stack all of them, don't bother. More USB ports, especially one or two on the front would be handy.

    Where does Apple find 500mb hard drives? And, why bother.

    Apple needs to get a few people to review their designs that aren't under the influence of the Reality Distortion Field.

    The Mini is an excellent portable compter. It's more robust than a laptop and packs enough horsepower for tradeshow duty and presentations. I've had issues with plugging my laptop into unknown systems for presentations.

    1. Annihilator

      "Where does Apple find 500mb hard drives? And, why bother."

      Because it's a 2.5" disk, and that's quite a popular capacity for that form factor?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yeah 500MB is obviously a common choice when even a blank CD is 700MB , great comment fail though.

        Obviously a typo as it should be 500GB but an amusing one at least!

        1. NogginTheNog

          Am I showing my age...

          ...if I say I hadn't noticed the MB/GB mixup?!

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Annihilator

            Re: Am I showing my age...

            Not just you, hence my reply. Though would suggest OP makes sarcasm a bit more obvious if that was the case... unless they genuinely thought Apple were supplying a 500MB drive?

            But little hint, if you set out to pedantic, make sure you're also correct - for example, what's a "500mb" drive? Would that be a milli-bit? Meaning the disk can only store 500 milli-bits, meaning 0.5 bits? How would that work then? Stretch it further to question if it's a milli-barn if you like..


    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Where is the front media slot?

      The originals had a front DVD slot, and given that USB sticks are the official replacement why oh why is there no front USB port?

      The front ports on my desktop and the side ports on my laptop are the ones I use the most. (Ok, there's a pack of things plugged into the rear ports but they are the things that are never unplugged.)

      Why do Apple think I should clutter my desk with USB hubs?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I can't think of too many people who need quad-core but don't need a proper graphics system.

    And lets face it, ivy bridge dual core isn't *that* much better than a core2 duo, irrespective of Intel's architecture churn.

    Its neat, its quite nice (apart from the silly lack of an optical drive for playing films) and I'd like one, but not enough to part with that much cash. For that much, I can have a notebook with screen and keyboard attached, better graphics and more disk, and its probably still thinner than the mini!

    1. Silverburn

      Re: optical drives

      Welcome to 201x, where optical media is getting replaced with DRM'ed downloads and streaming. Technically superior? Better quality? Probably not, but it does suit the media companies who 'claim' piracy of conventional media is ruining their business. Yeah right.

      That and the small niggle that Apple don't support Blu-ray playback, and you're not likely to be buying crappy low res DVD's these days anyway if you're a media buff.

      Re: laptop vs do realise this is a desktop machine, right? And your laptop might be thinner, but it will be deeper and wider. But it's irrelevant as this is a desktop, remember...

    2. Trygve Henriksen

      Re: quad-core?

      Quad is nice when converting movie formats...

      I spent a couple of months ripping DVDs to create .MKV files which I then Handbraked into .MP4 / .M4V files.

      The job doesn't require any extreme graphics cards, but whatever CPU-resources you have really comes in handy...

      Used 4 DVD-drives (Internal, 2 x USB, and and old IDE-based internal model hooked up via the gutted remains of a FireWire-based HDD case) to rip.

      My 2005 Mini is 'slightly updated' with 2GB RAM, 80GB SSD, 2.16GHz Core2Duo CPU...

      (Used my Iomega MiniMax 1TB for temporary storage and sent the final files to my NAS)

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: quad-core?

        Converting video formats is actually something that graphics cards excel at as they support many of the codecs in hardware they also do parallelism much, much better than x86 CPUs.

  10. Donald Becker

    "Mac mini is still the world's most energy-efficient desktop – at idle it consumes just 11 watts."

    A Trimslice consumes under 2W at idle, ranging up to 6W under load. It's not quite as fast, but that's not part of the statement above.

    1. P. Lee

      But is it fast enough to be a proper desktop? MSOffice aside, can it power a decent spreadsheet system or cope with a 300 page tender document with resorting to vi and troff?

      Don't get me wrong, I think trimslice is great, and the mini is overpriced, but I think I'd be inclined to run trimslice as a thin client to a remote desktop.

  11. Mondo the Magnificent

    Mini movers..

    I dontated my "old" Intel based Core2 1.87GHz Mac Mini to my girlfriend who was a lifelong Windows user

    Before rehoming the little white box, I upgraded it to 10.6.8, 2GB RAM and a 320GB HDD and fitted a cheapie KVM switch so she could alternate between her Windows PC and the Mini

    Slowly but surely she felll in love with it and after a few months, the Windows machine became the dust trap as she now did almost all her work and media on the little Mac.

    Her biggest praise was on how little space it occupied on her study desk and how quiet it was compared to her 'old' system and eventually she bought a Mac mouse and keyboard and removed the old PC from her desk.

    It seems as if the Mini now offers some serious punch with Core i5/i7 processors, however the lack of an optical drive could deter some from ever buying one, even though they'll support almost any USB type DVD R/W.

    The strongst point of the Mini is the fact you can connect it to existing peripherals, so it can accompany and live quite happily alongside a Windows box with a little help from a KVM switch

    Apple were on to something when they released this little beastie all those years back...

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Mini movers..

      Yep, got one of those self-same Mac Minis here. Cheap and cheerful but also quiet, compact and useful.

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    So how does that compare with a *normal* PC?

    Given that Apple's *core* hardware is that of a PC.

  13. Zobbo
    Thumb Down

    Why is it so pricey in NZ?

    The basic model costs 949NZD here, yet 600USD to NZD is around 740NZD. I was tempted, but not now. Maybe Reg Hardware can show us some PC alternatives?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why is it so pricey in NZ?

      I can't quote for NZ, but US prices are always exclude taxes, whereas in the UK, prices are always quoted including taxes (VAT @ 20%)

      1. Zobbo

        Re: Why is it so pricey in NZ?

        Ah yes, I think you're right there. My bad,,,

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think my Raspberry Pi, sitting on my desktop, consumes less power

    OK it doesn't have some of the fancy bells and whistles, but neigher does the Mac Mini

  15. Dan 55 Silver badge

    "A $999 Mac mini server option is also availble... with two 1TB hard drives inside."

    Oooh, I'd like to see the failure rates on those bearing in mind Apple's legendary thermal engineering.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Umm ... graphics?!

    The article doesn't seem to mention anything about graphics / video capabilities? A lot of people have these things as under-the-TV HTPCs, this is a kind of important detail to gloss over!

  17. Hardcastle the ancient
    Thumb Up

    Ergonomics Vs Appearance

    I'd quite like a front mounted USB, as having to grovel round the back, or having an extension cable, rather spoils the neat visual effect.

    But I reckon I'm going to get one of these for Hardcastle the student.

    1. P. Lee

      Re: Ergonomics Vs Appearance

      > I'd quite like a front mounted USB

      Worse is the rear-mounted card slot (and lack of DVD).

  18. Chris D Rogers

    Massive Fail

    Rik Sir,

    No disrespect, but this region of the Mac Mini is as much as a joke as the 2011 revision, basically paying more for less, less function that is - I utilise my Mac Mini as a HTPC and for email/ webserfing - mine is the 2010 model with the Optical drive, low end discrete graphics and a C2D running at 2.4Ghz - it still performs just shall we say - has difficulties with large HD content files at 1080 and over 10G - that said its been a great little performer.

    Now, in 2011 they dropped the optics - a big mistake given many used it as a Home Media centre - even if the optic was not BluRay - this year, in keeping with giving you less for more, they have removed the option of a discrete graphics chip, and lets be honest, Intel HD4000 is crap compared to a discrete low-end chip with 512VRAM.

    Now the inclusion of i7 Ivy Bridge is good news, regrettably, the exclusion of the discrete graphic chip means the machine is a waste of time if you are using latest Adobe Creative Suite 6 - which for many of its programmes requires a minimum 1G of video graphics - the same applies to their iToy mobiles, be it the new 13in Retina or the MacBook Airs.

    The fact is, a lot of creative people actually utilise the Mac Mini connected to a 27in Apple monitor or other reasonable monitor - further, the inclusion of Apple's hybrid HDD solution is bloody expensive.

    In a nut shell, what could have been a brilliant machine has been crippled to save US$50 and maintain the Apple 305 price premium and thats before all very expensive BTO options.

    My advice, don't bother investing in this and wait for the Haswell equipped model expected in Sept. 2013 knowing Apple - at least this will have HD5000 - which according to most rumour sites is a huge leap of performance over Ivy Bridge and HD4000 - the reality is, it requires a decent low end BTO graphics option offering 1G VRAM - IS THIS REALLY TOO MUCH TO ASK!!!!!!!!!!

    1. karakalWitchOfTheWest

      Re: Massive Fail

      Ahem no....

      I use my 13" MacBook Pro with the "old" integrated Intel Graphics (Sandy something) with the Adobe Creative Suite in their newest incarnation and none of the programs require any special graphics hardware. At least for the things I use it.

      And for the optical drive: I used the opticals drives in my Windows PC, Windows Notebook, MacBook the last time (combined) I think half a year ago... It is definitely no problem today to live without an optical drive. at least for me....

    2. DapaBlue

      Re: Massive Fail

      Lack of discrete graphics is a pain, but maybe Apple has a plan in mind... I *think* I'm correct in saying that it's feasible to use the bandwidth of Thunderbot (now or in the future) to include your extra GPU as a small bulge on the cable? Potentially flexible configs, if keeping with the Apple cable tax.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Massive Fail

      > a lot of creative people actually utilise the Mac Mini connected to a 27in Apple monitor

      Then maybe an iMac would be a better choice for them?

      The Mac Mini is a beautiful device. I have used the i7 for running dozens of virtual machines - throw it in carry-on luggage, and customs people just think its an external hard drive. Nothing matches its power to size ratio, not even a high-end laptop.

      Now with an official 16GB option and USB3, it's better than ever.

  19. Bronek Kozicki
    Thumb Up

    as much as I dislike Apple ...

    .... I have to admit that this one is very nice little machine indeed. If only the pricing was more competitive ...

  20. Crisp

    Lack of connectors on the back plate.

    And where exactly is the parallel printer port? How does Apple expect graphics designers to print anything out?

    1. Toothpick

      Re: Lack of connectors on the back plate.

      And where are the connections to my cassette recorder. Do I need an adapter?

      1. JetSetJim

        Re: Lack of connectors on the back plate.

        err - 3.5mm audio in/out jacks on the back. The only problem is that I can't seem to get a cable to connect them to my wax cylinder player.

  21. fourThirty

    No optical drive

    Why would they want you to be able to watch media, from sources which they do not take a slice of the profits from?

    Optical media is not subject to Apple tax, so taking the drive out means people are more likely to just buy bits from iTunes!

  22. James 100

    "And where are the connections to my cassette recorder. Do I need an adapter?"

    No, there's audio in/out on the left, so your tape-deck should do just fine. It's the drivers you'll struggle with, and good luck getting Time Machine to back up to it...

    Looks like a nice little piece of kit, though, apart from the crummy integrated graphics - at least the separate power brick has gone, that's one thing I dislike from my two Minis.

  23. M. B.

    Love the Mini

    Work bought me one for integration testing with our corporate network. It's not that it integrates particularly well (because it doesn't), but it's certainly cheap enough to "forget" to asset tag it and small enough to fit it in my laptop bag. At home it works great, it's small, attractive case, silent operation, and decent port options made a fan out of my wife who finally figured out where to plug in the SD card and how to use iTunes to sync her old 3GS, definitely a big change from the vacuum-cleaner loud SLI i7 gaming rig which spends most of it's life in sleep mode now waiting for a World of Tanks urge to strike.

    Probably my favorite iProduct.

  24. Bobbicus Anthropithicus

    For my needs, the new i7 and USB3 look like a great upgrades. Clearly Apple never targeted the MacMini at gamers so if you need high performance graphics you'll want something else, but others that like OSX with more modular hardware than afforded by an iMac should be excited.

  25. Robert Helpmann??


    "To our eyes, it's also the world's most underappreciated desktop: affordable, compact, and unpretentious."

    Then it cannot be a Mac! It would be nice if Apple went this route with more of its product line, but why should it if cash can continue to be raked in by only selling at a premium?

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