The apple rumor mill never sleeps. This week, it was Mark Gurman and Debby Wu of Bloomberg who prompted the discussion with their somewhat vague report on a new MacBook and a "professional" update to the Mac mini.
John Gruber has spent a lot on Daring Fireball I think about what the MacBook update might look like and exactly where it fits into Apple's laptop model, but I'm more focused on the Mac Mini News.
I've long been a fan of the tiny desktop Mac I've owned two or three of them over the years, most recently a model from 2012, which currently acts as my file and media server. It's a great little computer, especially after taking the time to upgrade it, but it never made me feel like a "professional" machine, which made me think, "What exactly could a pro-mac do?" -Mini include?
Putting the "Pro Specifications" into "Prospects"
The Mac mini was never really a powerhouse, though the current version ̵
But the small footprint of the machine has always excluded certain high-end options like one Offer Graphics Card More Powerful Than Intel's Integrated Iris Graphics Chipset
I'm having trouble anticipating this last part to change significantly in any future Mac mini, if Apple actually keeps the form factor largely equal. Even the MacBook Pro uses an improved version of the Iris chipset. Apple's solution for pro users who need more power seems to be external GPUs connected via Thunderbolt. Speaking of Thunderbolt, the Mac mini would need to get Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports to support the latest peripherals. I would hope that it would keep the HDMI connection it has had for the last several versions: media centers are a common use for the Mini, and having the most common digital AV connector makes this a more attractive option than dealing with dongles ,
Speaking of Use Cases, this is the real issue for the Mac mini. In which pro situations does Apple expect this machine to be used? Media servers are not really a pro-level scenario; Most Macs today are quite adept at handling even large video files.
No, when Apple says "pro" it normally means "creative professional". Tasks like Photoshop, 3D modeling, visual effects, film editing, music production and so on. But a Mac mini with its relatively limited graphics performance does not seem to do any of these tasks – certainly not as much as an iMac Pro or the company's upcoming Mac Pro. How exactly does the company position its small, low-cost machine against these high-performance options?
There are a few niches, literally and figuratively, for which the Mac mini is uniquely suited. Headless server, especially rack options. Other places where space is scarce, eg. B. with a TV set for a wall-mounted display. Or those adventurous hackers who want to find out how to install a Mac mini in their car, for example. It's hard to see a MacBook Pro or an iMac in one of these cases. Maybe a displayless Mac is exactly what the server administrator asked for.
Pros, no cons
But all this begs a bigger question: how does the "Pro" Mac mini fit into a line-up that already includes a powerful desktop (the iMac), an even more powerful version of this one Desktops (the iMac Pro), and an upcoming update to the standalone desktop powerhouse (the Mac Pro)? That's a lot of pro machines for a company that only makes a relatively small percentage of its sales to professionals.
A place where the Mac mini traditionally competed is the price; It is traditionally offered at an entry point of $ 499, but for a machine without much power. This is still a viable option because Apple has no other computers that are so cheap. But you certainly will not get a "pro" machine for $ 499, despite the fervent hopes of a few.
In the end, it largely depends on what Apple's goal for this machine is. While I, like my colleague Jason Snell, would like to see the company accept a smaller form factor such as the NUC, I am skeptical that Apple is or wants to go. While I imagine an update to the computer will add some of the above-mentioned bumps to reconcile the machine with other modern Macs, I suspect that when we hit the new Mac mini Looks very much like the old Mac mini.