The new, slimmer mini gets user access, loses its power brick, and comes in a version suitable for an SMB server platform.
The new, slimmer mini gets user access, loses its power brick, and comes in a version suitable for an SMB server platform.The longstanding rumors of the Mac mini's death were apparently greatly exaggerated. Today, Apple has announced two new models that represent significant changes and upgrades from the previous line.
Both models come in a unibody aluminum case, manufactured the same way the MacBook Pro bodies are. At 1.4 inches high, the new mini is half an inch shorter than the old model, though it's also about an inch wider and deeper. For the first time, it also provides access to the interior: a removable panel on the bottom makes it easy to replace the RAM. The power brick is also gone, with the power supply built into the case. As for connectivity, the mini loses one USB port -- down to four -- but gains a true HDMI port in addition to a Mini DisplayPort. It also gets an SD card slot, and the graphics have been upgraded to the NVidia GeForce 320M chip, which, Apple claims, gives twice the performance of the previous mini.
The new Mac mini, front (top) and back.
The base desktop mini has a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo chip, 2 GB of RAM, and a 320GB hard disk and lists for $699. It can be configured with a 2.66GHz chip for an extra $150, 4 or 8 GB of memory (add $100 or $500, respectively), and a 500GB hard drive ($100). These are all nice upgrades, but it's frankly a little surprising that Apple raised the price in the process. It's not so much that the new mini is overpriced (though some, of course, think all Macs are overpriced); it's just that Apple's usual approach is to upgrade while maintaining the same price point, or to keep the old model around at a lower price, as they did with the MacBook.
The other model, though, is an attractively priced option for a business server. Starting at $999, it comes with a 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo, 4 GB of memory, and dual 500GB 7200RPM hard drives, with additional memory available. (You lose the optical drive in the server model, but you can add an external SuperDrive for $99.) It also comes with Mac OS X Server Snow Leopard preinstalled. (OS X Server by itself sells for $499.) The server software supports a whole slew of workgroup services besides just file sharing, such as a shared calendar, iChat and Mail servers, Web hosting, a wiki server, and a VPN or Mobile Access Server. For a Mac-based SMB, OS X Server running on this new mini is a powerful communications and collaboration tool.