Apple today revised their desktop computer lineup, including a quick refresh of the already updated Mac Mini. The new Mini lineup sports faster CPUs, larger hard drives, and an interesting twist on the hacks we’ve all already been performing: A dual-hard disk drive Mac Mini Server with no optical drive! Maybe we won’t need to upgrade the Mini right out of the box anymore…
First, note that the Mac Mini generally remains the same. The case is unchanged and the logic board still sports the nVidia GeForce 9400M with integrated graphics. The unit still sports five USB ports, FireWire 800, dual graphics ports (Mini DisplayPort and Mini-DVI), Gigabit Ethernet, and 802.11n AirPort wireless. What’s new then?
The base model $599 Mac Mini (like my MB463LL/A) has been replaced by a new model (MC238LL/A) with welcome spec updates. The old 2.0 GHz P7350 CPU has been replaced by the previously-optional 2.26 GHz P8500 Core 2 Duo. The 120 GB hard disk drive has been upped to 160 GB, hopefully with better performance. Thankfully, the Mini now comes with 2 GB of RAM, but it’s two 1 GB sticks so upgrading requires a complete swap-out. Build-to-order customers can specify the 320 GB or 500 GB hard disk drive and up to 4 GB of RAM.
The upper-class $799 Mac Mini (MB464LL/A) has been replaced by the MC239LL/A, which finally includes worthy upgrades to justify its higher price. The CPU is no longer the same, now boasting a 2.53 GHz P8700, and it comes with 4 GB of RAM right out of the box. The 320 GB hard disk drive remains the same, though built-to-order Macs can have a 500 GB drive instead. A 2.66 GHz P8800 CPU is also optional for custom Minis.
Behold, the Terabyte Mac Mini Server!
A new upscale dual-drive $999 Mac Mini Server (MC408LL/A) is the real news here. Sporting the top-of-the-line 2.53 GHz P8700 CPU and 4 GB of RAM, this bad boy also deletes the SuperDrive (and its slot) in favor to two 500 GB hard disk drives! This beast is only available with Snow Leopard Server pre-installed, however. Since so many folks are using these systems as home or small office servers already, this is nice,
What about price? $999 would easily be enough to build a dual-500 GB drive Mini from one of the lesser “desktop” models, but the server OS costs $499 from Apple, making an unofficial Mac Mini Server impractical. The cheapest Apple Xserve starts at $2,999, which is out of reach for the smallest offices. So a $999 Apple server with all the same software functionality sounds awfully nice! 1 TB of hard disk drive space is amazing in such a small package, and the fast CPU and full 4 GB of RAM means there is no need to self-upgrade. Add in a Drobo, DroboPro, or the Promise RAID offered by Apple and you’ve got a very nice server indeed!
Hopefully the dual-drive server will use OS X’s RAID capability to mirror the two drives for reliability. Otherwise, make sure you use Time Machine to back up your data! You’ve got about a 6% chance of losing a drive in the first year. Although AppleCare will replace the hardware, your data is irreplaceable!