The future of Mac Mini

I’m sure you’ve read all about Apple's latest Mac Mini, a stripped-down machine for those wanting to try Mac OS X (according to Steve Jobs in his recent keynote). It also appears to be a good way to get mum-and-dad off your back with it’s practically non-existent rate of viruses and spyware. It even makes a reasonable server being that it comes with Apache, a firewall and can share your Internet connection – even wirelessly.

It’s already been pointed out that the Mac Mini is based on PowerBook technology however there appears to be one significant change (apart from the obvious transition from laptop to desktop) and that’s the graphics processor.

The current PowerBooks sport the Nvidia FX Go5200 on the 12″ and the ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 on the others. The Mini is supplied with the ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 last seen on the slower-in-every-other-department iBook.

It’s a strange omission given that they are trying to wow Windows users to the Mac and part of that attraction is the smooth hardware-accelerated interface. Windows users have to wait for Longhorn, not due any time soon, for such features (unless Microsoft break Avalon off and give it to XP users).

Here’s some benchmark results for the desktop chipset – these figures don’t tie up exactly but getting benchmark notebook chipset comparisons is rather tricky. A quick summary would seem to indicate that the Go5200 is less than half the speed of the Mobility 9700 while the 9200 is even slower than that.

I can only imagine the rationale behind this, perhaps ATI have given them clearance pricing on the 9200, perhaps the thermal or power issues are too much for anything more. After all, it’s not like the Mini could take much of a dent out of other sales being that it’s a different market for Apple (perhaps with the exception of the eMac).

Here’s hoping we see a Mac Mini with a 9700 (dual-link DVI please) and a 1.67 G4 processor option soon.


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