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August 6, 2014 - Dave Hecei
We are rapidly approaching the two-year anniversary of the current Mac mini. There are no indications of a new mini coming soon, except for a quickly removed reference to a mid-2014 Mac mini on an Apple support page. It is a popular computer and is very overdue for an update or even a remake. Here’s what my ultimate mini would be.
The ultimate mini would look very much the same as the current mini on the outside. The mini has all the ports and connections in the back. Apple could get rid of the Firewire port as long as they replaced it with a second Thunderbolt port. They could also remove the SD card slot, who wants one of those in the back anyways? With the SD card slot gone they could add two more USB 3.0 ports. I love the speed of USB 3.0 and six ports is almost enough for the power user. Add to that the two Thunderbolt ports and this mini could handle most anything. And to make it look really sweet, like the new Mac Pro, I’d love to see the mini available in black.
One the inside, the ultimate mini would have the very latest Haswell Core i7 processor. Just having a newer processor will be a big improvement since the current mini is still running the previous generation chips called Ivy Bridge.
The latest Intel i7 is a quad-core design with Hyper Threading, which means that the Mac OS thinks there are 8-processors. It would come with 8GB of RAM and the same PCIe-based SSD storage as the latest MacBook Pros and Airs. Using PCIe instead of the more standard SATA type interface increases the read and write speeds of the SSD significantly. This means that the computer boots faster, loads apps faster, and processes data faster.
Another benefit of the latest Core i5 and i7 processors is better graphics. The current mini uses the integrated Intel 4000 HD graphics – good, but not great. Haswell has the faster Intel Iris and Iris Pro graphics. Just like having faster storage speeds, a faster graphics engine helps improve overall speeds, not just gaming.
This is all just wishful thinking. There is no reason that Apple could and would do any of these improvements to the mini, if in fact they do any at all. The mini sits at the bottom of the Mac lineup as the smallest and least expensive Mac available. But it also means that it is unique in that it can do almost anything. They make great servers, home theatre PCs, general-purpose desktops, casual gaming consol, etc. The mini is super small and consumes much less energy than a big tower PC. Pair it with a wireless keyboard and mouse and it can be installed in a closet or other cubbyhole you can find.
Unless you have a very specific use for a Mac mini today I don’t recommend buying one right now. While I don’t know that one is coming within the next few months, it just seems that it is due any minute now. I know if I were to buy one today, Apple would announce the new one next week.
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