Apple Mac Mini rises from the grave with updated everything

Today's Apple event is ongoing as we speak, and the company is releasing a slate of new Mac and iPad products. One of them is a spankin' new Mac Mini with fully revamped internals. The existing model was so long in the tooth as to be considered borderline irrelevant, but the upgraded machine might make up for it by packing quite the punch inside its slim dimensions.

CPU choices now start at quad-core Intel eighth-gen Core processors, and six-core options will also be available. In a pleasant surprise, buyers can pack in as much as 64 GB of 2666 MT/s memory in the machine's user-accessible SO-DIMM slots. Every Mac Mini now comes with flash storage by default and can be specced with SSDs as large as 2 TB.

Considering how much Apple loves to eliminate any sort of port that might be called "legacy," it's a bit of a surprise to look behind the new Mac Mini and find four Thunderbolt 3 ports, two USB Type-A ports, an HDMI 2.0 output, and an Ethernet port with an option for 10-Gb connectivity. Despite all the hardware that's packed into this enclosure, the external dimensions remain the same as the old Mini. The enclosure is now dark gray, too, or Space Gray in Apple parlance.

Potential buyers appraising this potent, petite powerhouse can get theirs for a $799 starting price. Apple says the machines can be ordered right away and will be in customers' hands on November 7.

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    • AutoAym
    • 1 year ago

    Quite the markup for a Bean Canyon NUC + extra Titan Ridge controller in Space Grey.
    [url<]https://ark.intel.com/products/codename/126382/BEAN-CANYON[/url<]

      • tipoo
      • 1 year ago

      They’ll still be cheaper, but that’s also sans RAM, SSD, and OS licence.

    • tipoo
    • 1 year ago

    65W CPU, inexpensive 10 gig ethernet addon, new cooling to deal with it…It’s checking a lot of the right boxes. A GPU option even in the MBP class would have been awesome, but maybe would have thermally constrained the CPU in turn.

    They winked at upgradability with mentioning SO-DIMMs on stage, but I’m wondering if it’s back to the single screw cover 2012 upgradability, or it’s still more annoying like the 2014 which bolted the steel plate to the bottom.

    • riviera74
    • 1 year ago

    This is the first MacBook Air that is actually worth buying in at least three years. Same for the Mac Mini. Either would make a nice Christmas present for that Mac lover who is stuck with an ancient Mac/PC notebook from 2013 or earlier.

    • shank15217
    • 1 year ago

    Apple should have used AMD Raven Ridge. come on Apple, grow some balls.

    • shank15217
    • 1 year ago

    For $4199 + tax + apple tax you can get the highest end integrated gpu machine ever made.

    • confusedpenguin
    • 1 year ago

    So, I configured a Mac Mini to as close as the same specs as my ASUS desktop which is a Core -i7 7700 at 3.6 Ghz and 16 Gb of ram. The mac mini came out to $1,500. My desktop was also $1,500 and it came with a GeForce GTX 1070. I also bought it earlier this year around summertime. Conclusion? Apple Tax.

      • Thresher
      • 1 year ago

      Not to sound too fanboyish, but there is more to the value decision than what you mention. For some, having a very small computer or having MacOS (or both) are defining reasons to buy the unit.

      Reducing it to just cost and configuration over simplifies the purchasing decision for a sizable portion of the market.

      • End User
      • 1 year ago

      Apple releases a 6 core Mac mini that supports up to 64GB of memory and all you can think of is “Apple tax!”. Good grief.

      • UberGerbil
      • 1 year ago

      Now go pay someone to fold your desktop down until it fits in the same volume as the mini.

      Seriously, that’s a silly comparison, in the same vein as the clueless folks who complained thin-and-light notebooks cost more than the 15.6″ doorstops.

      Now go configure a NUC with the same components and you’ll discover there’s less tax there than you think.

        • MOSFET
        • 1 year ago

        [quote<]Now go configure a NUC with the same components and you'll discover there's less tax there than you think.[/quote<] Especially if you add an Akitio or Sonnet for the 1070. (I was about to reply to cp with something about the NUC when your reply popped up, UG)

      • tipoo
      • 1 year ago

      Try more Apples to Apple. Because people have been trying to match it exactly and either come out similarly in price, or did something wrong (lower wattage previous gen CPUs, spinning hard drives, etc).

      For a box this size with these components, it seems in the fair zone.

    • ptsant
    • 1 year ago

    The available selection of ports, RAM capacities and storage is great, at least for Apple. A well-configured machine comes at $1500+. Which is not bad, considering the hardware involved.

    • jihadjoe
    • 1 year ago

    Apple’s non-phone stuff is usually great on release. The problem is they then decide “job done!” and leave the spec exactly the same for god knows how long.

      • DancinJack
      • 1 year ago

      Yeah, it’s a shame the MBPs are the only thing they update on a regular basis (and the iPads but that’s less important IMO).

    • the
    • 1 year ago

    Raising from the grave just in time for Halloween.

    • Kougar
    • 1 year ago

    Any idea whose 10GbE controller that is? It has Nbase-T support so if it is Intel it would indicate some interesting new things in future chipsets, finally.

      • DancinJack
      • 1 year ago

      derp

      • Airmantharp
      • 1 year ago

      I’d expect an Intel chipset from Apple, but it could be the AQR107 from Aquantia. Using two of them now across an HP SOHO 10Gbase-T switch and see the throughput without issue.

        • Kougar
        • 1 year ago

        It would be the first Intel NIC I’ve heard of that has built in Nbase-T support, which would be an exciting feature to have native in future Intel chipsets.

        I suspect Aquantia, but given the space constraints and Apple’s history I’m hoping otherwise.

    • DPete27
    • 1 year ago

    65W TDP CPUs inside a 7.7″x7.7″x1.4″ chassis. Impressive.

      • blastdoor
      • 1 year ago

      Yet also kind of pointless. Apple designs its desktops with these artificial, self-imposed space constraints and then sings the praises of the engineers who figure out a way to make it work. And I guess the engineers deserve the praise. But the designers deserve something else :-/

        • ptsant
        • 1 year ago

        I see the point if you have a need for a semi-portable machine that you can carry from home to work or to a country house. Otherwise, only people living in cramped cubicles would care about having the smallest possible footprint. I mean even a full ATX tower fits underneath most desks without any difficulty.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 1 year ago

          I hate having my desktop tower under my desk because I keep kicking it by mistake. It sits behind my monitor facing to the left, since my desk is 30″ deep.

          My wife is getting a Mini because her desk is an older antique writing desk that’s been in my family for many moons, and because of the drawers there is no room underneath. She might be better off with a laptop but just refuses to give up her 24″ display.

    • willyolioleo
    • 1 year ago

    So… Remind me again why I shouldn’t just buy a laptop and plug it into a desktop monitor instead?

      • DPete27
      • 1 year ago

      Cuz this uses Desktop CPUs. The i3-8100 [should] hum away happily at 3.6GHz all day long, whereas mobile CPUs inside Apples laptops are going to be down around the 2GHz mark at best for >>$$

      • Anonymous Coward
      • 1 year ago

      If you’re not planning on moving it around, the big flat laptop shape is annoying. Also there is some money to save (which makes sense, given the lack of screen, battery, keyboard, any moving parts aside from the fan, etc).

      • UberGerbil
      • 1 year ago

      If you need a laptop, ie a portable all-in-one machine, buy a laptop.

      My mother lives in a very small space, but she needs a 20″+ screen (with scaling turned up) because of her eyes and she wants a full-size keyboard because of her arthritis. And she will never, ever take it anywhere. So I got her a NUC so I didn’t have to pay for a keyboard and screen that would never be used and got a much more compact form factor that better fits in her space.

        • JustAnEngineer
        • 1 year ago

        Hang an itty-bitty NUC or equivalent off of the back of your large monitor, and don’t worry about it. You get all of the functionality of an all-in-one without any of the nasty drawbacks.

          • UberGerbil
          • 1 year ago

          Yes, I guess I wasn’t clear: that’s exactly what I did.

      • joselillo_25
      • 1 year ago

      laptop fans are usually ugly to hear, very high pitched.

    • Beahmont
    • 1 year ago

    So an Ethernet port with 10GbE. Hopefully Apple knows something I don’t and there will be new and not mindbogglingly expensive 10GbE switches to connect it with soon.

      • Redocbew
      • 1 year ago

      Doubtful, but there may be one within the next 5 years before we see another new Mac Mini.

      • UrCorrado
      • 1 year ago

      Asus makes a 10 port switch with 8x 1Gbit and 2x 10GBase-T ports for $260. Its not CHEAP but its also not prohibitively expensive. Honestly, I wish we started seeing more N-Base-T switches out there. I’d love to get 2.5 or 5Gbit out of my existing Cat5e cables.

        • MOSFET
        • 1 year ago

        The anecdotal evidence surrounding the Asus switch is not only not good, it’s really bad. [i<]When[/i<] it's cool enough to operate, you won't come close to 10Gb anyway.

      • Airmantharp
      • 1 year ago

      Is [url=https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=0XP-002G-00UZ5<]this HP eight-port[/url<] just expensive or is it mindbogglingly expensive?

        • Redocbew
        • 1 year ago

        I’m not sure what the going rate would be, but yes I might have boggled just a little bit.

    • Krogoth
    • 1 year ago

    I miss the Apple Cube…..

      • derFunkenstein
      • 1 year ago

      You can stack fourof these things on one another and get approximately a cube-shaped cluster.

        • UberGerbil
        • 1 year ago

        …and then account for cooling by drilling down through all four of them using the circular cutout guide Apple thoughtfully provided.

    • JosiahBradley
    • 1 year ago

    Still more ports than the MacBook Pro and this isn’t even pro, wtf Apple?

      • tipoo
      • 1 year ago

      Though, the Pro 15 has two Thunderbolt controllers, this has one.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 1 year ago

        That is a bummer, but in something relatively inexpensive it’s also totally understandable.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 1 year ago

    Since the Mac Mini doesn’t have a built-in display, using external graphics is more interesting than it is on a notebook. When Apple enabled TB3 graphics to accelerate the internal display, it took a huge performance hit. That’s expected, because you have to send the image back up the pipe, but it made it less attractive all the same.

    It’s $999 to upgrade the base spec to 256GB of storage, which I was originally going to get my wife. But it’s $1099 for the upgraded six-core Core i5-equipped model. That might be what she winds up with, because the extra cores will extend its life. She’s currently got a Haswell-based Hackintosh with a Core i3-41xx something or other, and it’s feeling slow along with acting strange. Later macOS updates have not been kind to it and its GTX 660 graphics card.

    The rumors ahead of the event were that the new mini would be significantly more expensive than the old Haswell-based models, but that’s not really the case here. That’s a chunk of change for a PC, but it’s honestly not bad.

    Edit: I can save seventy whole dollars on the $1099 config buying through the education store. Since I’m a student I guess I can do that still. 😆

      • morphine
      • 1 year ago

      Well, I do think that this new Mac Mini is a nice powerhouse, but I find your remark of “not bad” for the pricing a little puzzling. The build quality is almost certainly top notch and the four TB3 ports are a godsend, but $799 for a model with a Core i3 [edit: previous had dual-core i5], jebus… talk about inflation.

        • tay
        • 1 year ago

        It’s a quad core i3. I think there’s no turbo boost though. It’s better designed than a NUC and you get macOS. The RAM is user upgradeable, you can add TB3 storage that will be as fast as PCIe storage.

          • morphine
          • 1 year ago

          Point taken about the Core i3, but as pointed out, there’s not turbo boost. macOS doesn’t add any value to the machine more than Windows does, and it’s still $799. That’s enough for a loaded Core i7 NUC. If it had been $650, I could see it, but $799 is just way too much.

            • cygnus1
            • 1 year ago

            I think you’re also missing the value of the 4 TB3 ports. That’s either 8 or 16 PCIe lanes exposed for expansion possibilities over an i7 NUC which only has a single TB3 port (which should be 4 lanes). That will let you do an eGPU [u<]and[/u<] TB3 storage without slowing either one down. Also, I think you conceded it, but that particular i3 really is a solid performer from what I've seen because of it being 4C4T, instead of 2C4T of the previous models.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 1 year ago

        A top-notch mini ITX build isn’t going to be much cheaper (edit: i guess that’s not entirely true), though it’ll potentially be overclockable.

        Here’s where I got the “not bad” from:

        Core i3-8100 – $130
        ASRock H370 mITX board – $100
        8GB DDR4-2666 (2x4GB Ripjaw V) – $70
        Intel 600p 128GB NVMe PCI x4 SSD – $67
        Corsair SF450 SFX 80-Plus Gold PSU – $85
        Fractal Design Node 202 – $72
        Windows 10 Home OEM – $100
        Total: $624. So for Apple, I say again…not bad. I left off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but that would only add minimally more, like $40 if I go for a higher-end mobo with that stuff built in.

        The high-end config pricing disparity is wider. Apple wants $100 to go up to the rough equivalent of a Core i5-8400. They want $200 more for 256GB of flash. In the build above that’d take you to $750 or so. With Apple that runs you up to $1099. To her (and to me, for that matter, since I have a 2017 15″ MBP) it’s worth paying extra for macOS.

          • cygnus1
          • 1 year ago

          I agree on macOS. I have an aging 2011 mini that isn’t getting new macOS version, only security updates for a little while longer. It’s a quad core that I was able to max out with 16GB of ram and an SSD and it does great still considering it’s a 7 year old platform. But, there are lots of features it’s missing because the new OS features required newer wifi or bluetooth hardware for instance. This finally looks a good upgrade, just not sure when funds will be handy to actually pull the trigger on that purchase.

          Assuming the old mini keeps on living I think it might end up as a little proxmox node or something else useful other than a desktop.

      • tay
      • 1 year ago

      Nothing extends life like RAM. You can upgrade yourself so to 64 GB later so this should be useable 8 – 10 years like most other macs.

        • mczak
        • 1 year ago

        That’s true. Albeit base storage is too small to be useful (and much more so a couple years down the road). And SSD prices are completely ridiculous here – seems apple didn’t notice yet prices have come down a lot lately… I mean even at half the prices apple is selling them I’d consider them a rip-off… At least I’m quite sure apple is still using proprietary connector, if it’s not soldered, so you pretty much have to go with external storage, which at least luckily is not much of a problem thanks to 4 TB3 ports.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 1 year ago

          The good news about macOS is that it can boot from external drives with no tomfoolery like what’s required with Windows. I agree it sucks that the default amount of storage is too small, but it can be overcome more easily than it can with Windows.

            • cygnus1
            • 1 year ago

            AND on this new model, that external storage can also be PCIe via TB3 for basically the same performance as what’s built in. I honestly don’t think I could ever justify getting more than maybe the 256GB upgrade at most because of that.

      • UberGerbil
      • 1 year ago

      I’m not sure about “not bad” — I know a bunch of people who own minis to do one job: building iOS apps, and that was because they were the lowest-cost way to do that (assuming you didn’t want to deal with the flakiness of a hackintosh). I imagine this one will push a surge of the old model onto the used market, but once that dries up the calculus will change.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 1 year ago

        If that’s all they’re doing, I wouldn’t expect them to dump their Mac Mini unless it’s one of the recently-obsoleted Sandy Bridge models. And I wouldn’t worry about storage on the base model if that’s all they’re doing, either. Once you have macOS and all the developer tools installed, you should have around 80GB free. I build an app written in Xamarin (which requires around 5GB of extra junk from Microsoft) and it all fits in the flash part of a 2013 iMac’s fusion drive.

        Android development can add quite a bit, if they need the emulator and any Android system images (which all weigh in around 2-3GB each, plus your virtual devices). I’d start to worry at that point, I think.

      • Thresher
      • 1 year ago

      Can the SSD be replaced?

        • derFunkenstein
        • 1 year ago

        I’m betting no, but it’s hard to tell from the pictures on Apple’s site. And if it is, that doesn’t matter too much because it’s not like it’s a standard M.2 slot.

        They pointed out the SO-DIMMs but did not point out anything upgradeable about the storage. Because of that, I have to think it’s soldered.

          • Klogg
          • 1 year ago

          I think with the T2 chip there is no option but to use raw, soldered storage chips. T2 contains the drive controller, encryption, etc., so it isn’t going to play nicely with complete NVME packages on an m.2 slot.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 1 year ago

            Didn’t think about that, but you’re absolutely right.

    • chuckula
    • 1 year ago

    Thanks AMD!!

    But I’m still waiting for the January 2020 ARM miracle chip update. It would be unthinkable for Apple to wait more than 14 months between major updates to the Mac Mini after all!

      • End User
      • 1 year ago

      2019

        • chuckula
        • 1 year ago

        You anti-Apple shill!

        2016. They just haven’t told us yet!!

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