Mac Mini circa 2010

it’s a total work of art. really it is. but there’s lots more than the stark nothing look of it to like. or is there?

pretty much everyone is going to sing “HDMI port! about damn time!” but lack of HDMI port is only a problem if you are using a Mac Mini as the center of a Home Theater. and lots of LARGE screens can be driven using an DVI cable converted. I know it works because I set one up to do that. given the tasks that I would employ it to do this port isn’t a boon. but maybe someday I’ll want to watch content that is protected visually and I’ll actually need this feature. but I seriously doubt that will happen anytime soon.

I was curious about how small the motherboard has to be as the new case is totally short. the old mini has lots of risers and formers allowing parts to get stacked. so I printed the bottom case image as seen on Apple.com and placed real objects on it. it looks like there is lots of room until you consider there is also a power supply inside that case. the PS likely takes out the space to the right of the hard drive from front to back. if the optical media wasn’t in the case the height could be lowered by 15mm.

going by the dimensions of the Mini (which are 7.7″ by 7.7″ and match the AppleTV size) the motherboard would be approximately 7.5″ x 4″. this really packs it in there. although the mobo for the MacBook Air is even smaller. the older Mac Mini is actually an 1.2″ smaller. and it had 1 more USB port.

the video card will always be an issue especially with the Windows crowd looking in. when you look at the Mini (or any of the MacBook line) you see there just isn’t room for anything else. one could argue that there would be room if you lost the Super Drive. but if that happened the case would get thiner not full of another feature. the other complaint that people will make is that 2.5″ drives are not as speedy as 3.5″ drives. but in what context is the complaint? because if you are looking at pure benchmark data those numbers are no where close to how you interactive with your computer. it’s really tough to notice the difference between your favorite app loading on various Macs. in fact I challenge you to feel the difference. you can’t so it doesn’t matter how fast an app loads.

Apple has finally learned that RAM upgrades shouldn’t require a trip to the hardware store for putty knives to crack open the case. after removing the round rubber cover the RAM is right there. interesting is that it looks like a same dual SO-DIMM connector that plagued the aluminum PowerBooks. hopefully this fatal flaw of the G4 won’t be an issue with this version of the Mini.

it’s really easy to be critical of the price but even more so when you start poking around the BTO options. this little computer can even more very expensive very quickly. but there are places where this Mac is the perfect thing. where what why? so my aging MacBook Pro)totype is long out of AppleCare. I’ve thought about the next Mac that will replace it. it’s possible that Mini could fill the bill. especially considering that one could by 3 of them for the price of on MacBook Pro.

  MacBook Pro)totype (2006) Mac Mini 2010
Speed
2.16 GHz
2.4 GHz
RAM
2G (or 3G if mix max’d)
2G (8G max)
HD
640 G (self upgrade)
512 G
Video
ATI X1600
GeForce 320
Firewire
400
800
USB
2
4
     
Price
$2600
$700
     

having two more USB ports would be awesome. it would mean not having to unmount to swap. and getting back FireWire 800 would certainly seem like an upgrade even though I’ve lived without it for so long. I guess I never really noticed. odd huh? the GPU isn’t something that is going to affect my day to day. I do so little with Motion and I’m not doing any 3D work at all.

90% of my job is typing centric. and I’m pretty much very happy with my current setup. which is the MBP connected to a large display that has a aluminum keyboard in front of it. which makes it exactly like running the Mini. there are three tasks that I do where I would like much, much more power: working with video from Final Cut, exporting audio from Sound Track and compressing final content. these are the places were a Octo would rock my work. but I have to question if spending 4X more is worth it in the long run?

and maybe there is for one single reason: perception. clients don’t need to know that the jobs they are asking me to do can be done with the smallest Mac ever made. they might question the rate or my talent because of the tiny Mac. it’s always a good idea to prop up that the things we do are hard and need powerful equipment. it makes everyone feel better. after all, they are the ones paying for it so bring on the Octo!

oh yeah, one more thing. it’s probably a good idea to check out similarly shaped systems just for comparison purposes. Like the Dell Zino HD which makes everything above seem like a pretty good deal.