Why this Microsoft employee’s romance with Apple’s Mac mini is over

“While I currently work at Microsoft, I’ve also been something of a Mac Mini fan for the past 5 years,” Jason Perlow writes for ZDNet. “While the Mini was not the machine that turned me from full-on Apple products hater to Apple product user — that distinction goes to the very first iPad, of which I have owned every iterative model since its release in 2010 — the Mini is what actually turned me into a Mac user, albeit not exclusively.”

“I probably would have replaced the older of the Minis in about a year or so with a quad core model, but this is not to be. Why? Apple has forsaken us Mac Mini users,” Perlow writes. “The new Mac Minis that were announced back in October are no longer upgradeable, and there are currently no other processor choices other than a dual-cores. The RAM is soldered onto the the mainboard (4GB or 8GB) and while you can replace the hard disks, doing so can void the warranty.”

“I have already said that Apple’s act of discontinuing development on Aperture has probably forced me into re-thinking my photo and video editing toolsets, and potentially abandoning the Mac the next time I have to make a hardware purchase decision,” Perlow writes. “Apple’s dumbing down of the Mac Mini has made that decision so much easier.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Your loss, Microsoft employee.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Old Tech” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Open thread: Is there a market for a ‘Mac mini Pro’ starting at $799? – December 1, 2014
Apple’s new Mac mini is quickly turning into a ‘disaster’ or something – December 1, 2014
PC Mag reviews Apple’s new Mac mini: The small-form-factor consumer desktop to beat; Editors’ Choice – November 18, 2014
Apple updates Mac mini; now starts at just $499 – October 16, 2014

78 Comments

      1. But there is no “higher end” model now, if iMacs are off the table for whatever reason (e.g. lack of upgradability).

        They could’ve offered a quad-core as $999 or $1099 upgradable features, and allowed in RAM and drive upgradability for the higher-end models for good measure, too. That puts it in the ballpark of the entry-level iMac with the guts of the Macbook Air, so normal consumers will likely spend the extra $100 and get a screen (and keyboard, and mouse…) included.

        What has happened instead is that “semi-pro” Mac users who don’t want or need an attached screen are now entirely cut out. If they were considering a Mac Mini, they sure aren’t going to pay 3x as much ($999 –> $2999) for a Mac Pro.

        1. Here is my reply to the original article. Could not post at ZDnet cause their login screen is screwed up. (go MS) LOL

          Jason, use what you like, like what you use. If you want customization ability, consider the old mac pro with a huge box to access all kinds of stuff. Or if you just want power, get a maxed out current mac pro. Its small and very powerful and you can always run windows 10 on it too (I am currently using Parallel but Fusion works too.)
          /s

          My point here is …. come on! You want a tower computer in the size of an existing mac mini. The laws of physics tends to get in the way here. Then cost comes in to play with the more options means stuff sitting on a shelf costing hardware turnover time.

          But the macPro is a good option. All the stuff you do not need to access can be put at the end of a thunderbolt 2 cable. And I hear that the 12 core system is pretty powerful.

          I would go with the user suggestion to add a lower fan and an upper fan to help cool the unit for heavy use.

          So, good luck with your quest. And remember, I hear Dell still makes 300$ systems. 🙂

          =====

          I totally understand that there are a few people that love to create and change their computers, trying to get the very best for next to nothing. COOL…

          But they are not a business target. There is so few of them and they want to spend so little money, that Apple just cannot afford the time and people to support it. (OK yes they have the money, but not the choice to darken their image by selling… make your own computers… See Dell and where they are now) Just saying.

      2. What is wrong with you people? Aren’t you capable of going to store.apple.com and looking at what is being offered under the Mac mini section?

        $200 extra buys you a core i7.
        $200 extra buys you 16GB of RAM

        Done.

        What’s with these fabricated claims that 8GB of the maximum RAM, or that there is no Core i7 option???

        $100 extra for the 2TB fusion drive and you can get the model that you want for $1,499.

        1. Yes, this is why it scares me that Cook got such a fat paycheck last year. Not so much that he is overcompensated, but that when people start to get interested in only making money (greed). They forget the Apple mantra of making the best products for the end user. The new Mac mini disappointed me greatly. I was waiting for the upgrade to purchase one, but I still haven’t because it is so buttoned down compared to past models.

    1. Agreed. I was considering replacing mr first generation retina MacBook Pro in a few years with a Mac Mini, but the highest end current model doesn’t come close in comparison to my 2.5 year old rMBP, or even the Mac Mini it replaced.

      Sadly this isn’t the only mistake Apple has made in recent years.

  1. the ram being soldered is irrelavent if you order it maxed out. i know apple’s price for extra ram is much higher, but at least you’re getting ram that they stand by and it will help hold the mini’s value.

    processor shouldn’t be an issue either. this mac is for consumers. if you need anything more than this, then you shouldn’t be buying a mini

    I’m still using my 2012 mini and it rocks.

    1. Apple wanted around $400 to max out my ram in my iMac. They out in some no name brand I’ve never heard of before…..

      I bought crucial for $110.

      Apple ram vs Crucial. I’ll take crucial *ANY* day.

      (Kingston etc, name brand with a history vs some low bid Chinese “brand”)

        1. Yes, the great Hynix ram!!!!

          Wait, who?

          Apple has used Samsung, and micron in the past… But they love Hynix. Which is Korean.

          There is another ram maker they use, starts with an “S” (not Samsung) I just can’t think of them.

          Brands that are not sold outside of Apple products.

          People bashed HP when they forced people to buy only their ram.. At much higher prices. But Apple can do nothing wrong to some people.

    2. The problem with the RAM isn’t just that Apple RAM is more expensive, it’s that you can’t upgrade it later. This has two problems.

      One is that you have to pay for your device all upfront instead of what many people have done and buy a Mac one year, and two years later (or so) upgrade it.

      The second is that in two years, the RAM and storage will likely be half the cost and/or larger.

      A great example of this is my 2011 MacBook Pro 15″. At the time, the maximum RAM was 8GB. The maximum drive capacity was 500GB as a hard drive or 128GB as SSD. That was fine when I purchased it, but 2 years later I was able to upgrade to 16GB and put in a 1TB SSD and 1TB HDD in the optical bay.

      “processor shouldn’t be an issue either. this mac is for consumers.”

      This is what I see as the biggest problem with Apple these days, even worse than the software quality issues. That is an attitude that “these products aren’t for you” simply because they’ve been intentionally restricted. It’s an attitude that just because you want a fast processor, you can’t have a it in a small inexpensive desktop or if God forbid you might have a few accessories, you can’t have (the rumored) MacBook Air 12″.

      It’s a bit frustrating to users who don’t perfectly fit into the narrowly defined rounded rectangle holes, and lessen the advantages of the platform when such compromises have to be made as compared to other platforms where more choices are available.

      It used to be that Apple was the under-dog and limited in the number of options it could offer. But now, it just seems like they’re excluding customers for the sake of excluding customers.

        1. Why not? The top-of-the-line 2012 Mac Mini was just a hair below the performance of the top-of-the-line rMBP of the same year. Quite a little monster. I would have thought Apple would be proud to offer such a tiny though capable machine.

            1. I agree dumming down computers is not good, and I agree with the general sentiment of the people here. I also think much of this discussion is tending towards the overwrought. >16gb RAM needs trend towards capabilities that I think the mini was never intended for.

        2. The 16GB in my example was in regards to the MBP, but yes, personally for the few bucks that 16GB of RAM will be in a couple of years, I’d much rather have that as an option than have a desktop Mac be a few millimeters thinner.

      1. kevicosuave, your observations are right on the money. Let me point out one perspective that you didn’t mention.
        All of those subsequent upgrades to your Mac extended its life. Apple goes around pretending to be a “green” company. If Apple were truly green, they would be building these computers to last; not building them for the landfill three years from now.
        Apple is spending tons of money to look green but can’t spend twenty cents per computer to actually make them greener. It’s all about perception; not reality. Tim Cook is a first class hypocrite.

    3. “processor shouldn’t be an issue either. this mac is for consumers.”

      Stupidest thing I’ve heard in a long while. I’m a consumer and I do a lot of video conversions on my 2.7 GHz quad core i7 rMBP. I wouldn’t think of doing them on my dual core i7 MacBook Air. Just because I’m merely a consumer doesn’t mean I don’t need or appreciate the power of a quad core i7.

      1. Well said, as it illustrates Apple’s similar hypocrisy with the nMP: the trash can configuration is quite unsuitable for SMB’s who don’t have the money or level of business for a huge high speed data storage rack….which means that Apple’s nMP abandoned the Small/Medium Business consumers as well as the Prosumers who do their own photo/video, etc.

        Now they’ve gone and eliminated the mini as an option too. That pretty much leaves a still-vulnerable-to-overheating (that damned “make it still thinner” IVE design prioritize tin bullshit) iMac.

        -hh

        1. I’ve had it with Jony Ive’s obsession with thin and Apple’s disallowing RAM upgrades. The latest iPhones are so thin that the cameras protrude when a few mm more thickness would have allowed for a flush lens and larger battery. I have a 2011 MBA maxed out with 4GB RAM that struggles with Yosemite Really annoying since the CPU can handle 8GB.

  2. I agree with the author. The 2014 Mac minis are a step back from the 2012 models. Sure the graphics and WiFi are better, but most people don’t buy Mac minis to do intensive graphics work or play graphics-intensive games. Also, if you really need the fastest networking possible, you’re probably using Ethernet instead of WiFi. Sure the SSD speeds are faster, but SSD’s in the 2012 models are no slouch & can easily achieve >500MB/s transfers according to BlackMagic benchmarking. The loss of quad-core options and inability to upgrade RAM inexpensively are huge. I’m even happier now to have my top-of-the-line 2012 Mac mini, and I was ecstatic after finding another refurbished 2012 quad-core after the 2014 models were introduced.

    1. Better graphics for games? Really? There are many games that do not use Intel HD Graphics 5000 or Intel Iris Graphics. I have two much older Mac Minis that may be more capable that the present one in that department. To me, that is only reason I have not upgraded in the last few years.

  3. Actually, I have to agree with him in part. How a company like Apple with billions in the bank is risking to loose its reputation by putting out substandard software is beyond me. iTunes 12 is a disaster (my father finds it unusable), iPhoto is very slow even on his fast iMac, iMovie is strange, and lets not even talk about iWork (I will probably have to go back to Office. So much for my Microsoft-free Mac). WiFi problems, poor Samba networking, etc on Yosemite. And now hardware-wise we are back to the bad old days of soldered RAM and non-upgradable hard disks.

    That’s just not user-friendly.

    1. Exactly _how_ does your father find it unusable? Can you give specifics? Could it simply be that he can’t adapt to the different design? That would not mean that iTunes is flawed… software evolves over time.

      I agree that the Mac mini needs to be more user-serviceable. They made good strides in that direction with the removable bottom, only to back-pedal again. It’s a real shame.

      1. just try to put songs onto the iPad. My father is now 81 and he managed to put songs onto his iPad in iTunes11. But in iTunes12 you have to click, hold, and mouse for a long time before you get to your target. This isn’t easy for older people (especially those who have arthritis).

        In short: it has become very user-UNfriendly.

            1. “supposed to be an improvement”

              Keywords there lol.

              IMO the old iTunes may have been a little clunky… but it worked fine. the new iTunes.. may “work” better, but it requires multiple clicks to accomplish what the old iTunes did with less, and sometimes a LOT fewer clicks.

            2. The iTunes programmers have been having fun altering the user interface for better or worse, usually worse, for years without squashing the myriad of bugs that have made it through unscathed for far too long.

              The most troubling part is that iTunes is the Ambassador program to Windows users using iDevices and if it acts as poorly on Windows as it does on the Mac, then Apple’s just shooting itself in the foot.

            3. Even those who love their iPhones and iPads, but are on Windows, they will often cite iTunes as *the* single worst thing about the overall iOS experience. Having helped set up a friend’s new PC with iTunes a few months ago and try to get it synced, I have to agree. Any issues I have with iTunes on my Mac pale in comparison. I had a brief problem un-syncing photos from my iPhone last week, not a big deal, figured it out in the end. Her iTunes couldn’t even download that free U2 album without freezing solid the three times I tried.

        1. If you don’t like iTunes 12 don’t use it go back to 11 I prefer
          10.7 with cover flow and dark background. I know it’s not easy to uninstall and reinstall older version But it’s worth the effort to use what suits you best!

  4. Agree with author. I was building a mac mini render farm which made quad core mac minis a pretty decent price for what you got. Hopefully they will bring it back, but i doubt it 🙁

    1. I’m hoping they see the error of their ways.

      I was willing to give Tim Cook the benefit of the doubt for a few years, but recent hardware and software decisions are telling me that he’s not the right guy for the job.

      1. The problem is that Apple’s seeing their continued revenue growth as validation that they’re on the right path. Hell, that’s what many here on MDN keep arguing.

        But they are eroding a lot, and I mean a LOT of goodwill among long-time Apple users in their excessive pandering to consumers (and a very select subset of consumers, too). Unlike pros, consumers are an extremely fickle bunch, especially when you’re charging them premium prices.

        And if the long-time supporters like, oh I don’t know, MacDailyNews and it seems most of the registered readership (judging from comments and ratings on comments), have publicly calling Apple out on persistent, ongoing issues and business decisions, you have to wonder if they’re adding to the house while ignoring the eroding foundation.

  5. Valid points, but completely ignored third-party software solutions, of which there are several excellent options. Apple is not the only software developer for the Mac, and with Swift now in the wild, there’s going to be many new entrants and unique Mac-only solutions in the market in the coming months and years.

  6. I totally agree with the author. The mini is no longer a choice for anything other than mail, web, etc…

    Also, the demise of Aperture was a big mistake (unless the upcoming Photos app is a lot better than iPhoto). I know a lot of photographers who switched to Mac just so they could use Aperture. Now that’s Aperture’s gone, all but one say they’ll be switching back to Windows.

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