Ars Technica reviews Apple Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server: ‘Much to praise; a steal at $999’

Apple Online Store“What makes OS X Server 10.6 a perfectly reasonable choice for small-to-medium-sized businesses is new pricing coupled with a custom Mac mini configuration. For $999, you can buy a perfectly speedy office server with a full, unlimited-seat license.,” Glenn Fleishman reports for Ars Technica.

“Before 10.6, Apple charged $999 for its unlimited user license, and $499 for a 10-user version. The 10-user limit, however, applied only to simultaneous logins for certain kinds of services, including AFP (Apple Filing Protocol), Apple’s native file-sharing service. The 10.6 release threw that pricing out the window,” Fleishman reports. “There’s one version of OS X Server 10.6: $499 for an unlimited user version. OS X Server can be installed on nearly any system capable of running the regular version of Snow Leopard (which itself costs $29 for a 10.5 Leopard upgrade version that could be used for a full installation). OS X Server since 10.5 can also be virtualized with one paid license per virtualization; the $499 price makes virtualization cheaper, too.”

Fleishman reports, “By comparison, Windows Small Business Server 2008 comes in two editions (naturally) for either $1,089 (standard) or $1,899 (premium) with five client licenses, and charges $77 or $189 respectively for each additional client license. The premium version includes Microsoft SQL Server 2008 for small businesses, and, because MySQL is included with OS X Server, one could argue the premium version is most comparable.”

Fleishman reports, “The Mac mini Server ($999) is the other development… For $999, you get a 2.53 GHz Intel Core Duo, 4GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 RAM, two 500GB drives, one FireWire 800 port and five USB 2.0 ports, gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, and Wi-Fi (802.11n) [plus the Snow Leopard Server operating system].”

Fleishman reports, “In my weeks with the combo, I found much to praise, and many elements improved significantly over the 10.5 release. For a straightforward start-to-finish setup, this combination seems like a steal at the price, despite the problems I found—and especially if you take my advice for tweaking spam-filter settings.”

“As with many Apple products, I would prefer if the experience were less frustrating at points at which the company should have tested and anticipated problems. But overall, Apple has kept most of the rough edges and hidden much of the configuration madness from the potential smaller-office audience,” Fleishman reports. “Because Apple has packaged this offering so inexpensively, combining so many typically separate features into one offering, you can afford a little outside help. The cost will still wind up being far less than using any of the alternatives for what you get in one hardware and software package.”

Full review here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. And yet the talking heads keep saying that Apple products will cost you more with their premium pricing.

    The uninformed clueless talking head idiots will never see this (and many other) obvious contradictions to their OLD tried and NOT true chant!

  2. I was in the server market a couple of months ago, and for me the choice came down between the HP MediaSmart server and Apple Mini. I chose mediasmart ex490, even though everything else in my house is Apple. Why? Easy to add internal storage without having a daisychain of HDDs attached. It works flawlessly with Macs, streams media to iPhones and my PS3, converts video, integrates into iTunes, and best of all, it works with TimeMachine for bare metal backup recovery. And best thing of all, I got all that for $400 less than the mac
    mini server. It was a no-brainer.

  3. You are right about one thing: I wanted a home server not a business server. I’m not sure which market apple is trying to cater to with their server, so I agree that the comparison may have been off. For a homeserver, however, the core 2 duo, any graphics card, and FireWire are not necessary. The gigabit network port is very fast with transfering files from any Mac to the server and four slots for internal hdd’s means I don’t need the FireWire port for external hdd attachments (up to 16TB). Now can u explain to me how your Mac Mini or Time Capsule recovers backups that have been stored on failed HDDs? Does it pull it out of thin air? If it does, I’ll go get one right now, because that’s truly recolutionary.

  4. @Maconymous – it’s people like you that make me start to believe a basic IQ test should be mandatory before being permitted to post anything on a website. you expose clearly the down side to free speech.

  5. @ Maconynous re, “Now can u explain to me how your Mac Mini or Time Capsule recovers backups that have been stored on failed HDDs? Does it pull it out of thin air? If it does, I’ll go get one right now, because that’s truly re[v]olutionary,” truly a dumb counterpoint.

    And if I may, prioritizing your configuration on the basis of internalizing all your HDDs in the same server box is like putting all your eggs in one basket. Not recommended if your are using you server for backup purposes. If I have to tell you why, you really need further education.

  6. The server comes with HDD duplication in case of such an event. The only thing that can happen is either a power surge or infection. I have a UPS for the former and Mcafee/disabled Internet access for the latter. No computer is safe from random HDD failures, but I agree that it’s good to make backups of backups.

    To all other bashers: why do you have to resort to name calling? I am trying to explain to someone who may be looking for something similar that there are options other than apple, that work really well with their macs.

  7. Maconymous

    It’s simple.

    If you have a complete Time Machine backup on an external drive – which is where a backup should be so you can take it offsite – simply reinstall Leopard or Snow Leopard from your recovery disks (which you will have kept somewhere safe, otherwise you’d be an idiot), install all the available updates and then use Migration Assistant to bring back all of the additional apps and user data.

    Glad to of help!

  8. Come on, you claim to be so smart and yet you ask how one can access a headless server? Heard of remote desktop connections? It’s on macs too, ya know!

    I don’t need hd transcoding.

    I have imaging software for the server os that does the same thing time machine does, though granted not as elegantly. But it works the same. In case of failure, I can restore the image of the server from an external hDD via USB.

  9. I agree. Well put and thanks for not continuing the blind bashing of anything non-Apple. There are many of products that work well for people who need them until they need or are ready to get an Apple product.

    FWIW, I am typing this from my brand new 27″ iMac (although the cheaper one ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”raspberry” style=”border:0;” />).

  10. “”Before 10.6, Apple charged $999 for its unlimited user license, and $499 for a 10-user version.”

    I think I’ll get the ten user version for $500 less.

  11. No worries. It happens. Some people on here wouldn’t want us talking at all, when clearly even two opposing mindsets can agree to come to a peaceful and civil end. That’s the kind of info/knowledge exchange that freedom of speech is supposed to facilitate.

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