October 21, 2014

Thoughts on the new Mac mini

Macminicolo is something as odd as a web host, or datacenter rather, that only uses Mac mini computers. That actually makes a lot of sense, because these things are affordable, durable, and has a small energy footprint. It’s always nice to see what these guys has to say about new Mac mini models, and the bump Apple did on the October event is no different. They list ten things about the new Mac mini here, and if you’re even the slightest interested in this computer, then at least glance through this one.

Not everyone’s happy about this update. Much like most of Apple’s computers, the new Mac mini isn’t easy to upgrade yourself. The RAMs not accessible at all, and it you want to swap out the harddrive you’ll void the warranty. The baseplate on the previous model, where you easily could open up your Mac mini, now features nasty screws. This is not a computer you’re supposed to open up and upgrade.

But here’s the thing, few computers are. I understand why you want to be able to open up your computer, but you don’t hear that sort of criticism about the Macbook Air, or the iPad for that matter? While I do believe that Apple could’ve made the Mac mini a lot more accessible for tinkerers, I don’t think that this is a big deal. The years where we bought a computer and then upgraded it two years later are past. Today there’s rarely any reason to upgrade a computer, unless it breaks, in which case most users will have to have it serviced by someone who actually knows what they’re doing anyway. Remember, those of us who are knowledgeable enough to open up a computer and replace parts are the minority.

All that said, the Mac mini update was pretty weak. Why they keep spinning disks around at all is beyond me, and throwing in a slow one at that, that’s just bad. It’s a shame that they cut the server model too, which had two disks, but I can see why. External storage is often not only an alternative, but a better one, and with both USB 3 and Thunderbolt there’s not really any issues of speed here. And again, the amount of users who actually had use for two internal disks (being RAID crazy people) are such a minority. I’ve got the previous server model, with SSD disks, and I’m more than happy with that. Not that I run it as a server or anything, I just wanted dual disks.

I’m glad the Mac mini is still around. It’s the perfect entertainment center, but it also makes sense when you want a stationary computer attached to an external screen. The Mac mini is more than powerful enough for most tasks, after all.

Thoughts? Let @tdh know on Twitter, or find me elsewhere. There is also a newsletter.