Should Apple make a Mac mini Pro?

“The Mac mini arrived in 2005, several months after its potential existence was basically denied by Apple,” Gene Steinberg writes for The Tech Night Owl. “At $499, the Mac mini was strictly no frills, without a keyboard, mouse or display. If you wanted to upgrade memory or change out the hard drive or other parts, you had to use a putty knife or a similar tool to open the case. I wonder, in passing, what the designers were thinking.”

“Evidently the message got through, for a time. A major revision to the form factor, priced at $599, included an easy-access slot at the bottom for RAM upgrades,” Steinberg writes. “But it went away in 2014, when Apple released a tepid refresh at $499 that followed through on the approach taken with notebooks. RAM was soldered to the logic board.”

“There it stood until Apple marketing VP Philip Schiller was asked about the mini during that roundtable with a handful of tech reporters in early April. Although it was largely focused on Apple’s failure to deliver an upgrade to the Mac Pro since 2013 — and the promise that a redesigned model was under development — Schiller did make a notable comment about Apple’s cheapest Mac, saying, ‘the Mac Mini is an important product in our lineup and we weren’t bringing it up because it’s more of a mix of consumer with some pro use,'” Steinberg writes. “Could Apple truly build one with more powerful parts and not detract from the basic simplicity and compact design of the original?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’d love to see an updated Mac mini with user-serviceable RAM and truly powerful BTO options. Would you?

40 Comments

    1. ABSOLUTELY NOT!

      Apple needs to reserve the Pro moniker for true professional machines. They must not keep up the ludicrous labeling of their high(er) end machines as “Pro” machines, e.g., the iPad Pro and the lower and mid range versions of the current MacBook “Pro”.

      And for software developers claiming they can use a Mac mini to develop code makes it a Pro machine… BS. I was developing software on the original thin man Mac that then ran on the super computers of the day. Does that make the development platform — the 128K Mac — a “Pro” machine? Hardly. The Pro machines of that day were the Suns and Apollos and such.

      There is no realistic way that a true professional’s machine is going to fit within the Mac mini form factor and not melt itself down — or, if a miracle happens and they can get the heat out of the box, have fans that are obnoxiously loud or a heat sink that can boil water.

      The Mac mini is a fantastic machine for what it is. It needs to be brought forward to the current state of the art in all areas and maybe allow for replaceable SSDs and RAM. But, that will never make it a “Pro” machine.

      1. I think you got the meaning of that “Pro” totally wrong. No desktop computer could plausibly be labeled Pro under your criteria, except possibly top-of-the-line PowerMac G5 when it first came out.

        In Apple’s taxonomy, Pro is given to any device that is meant to be used for work, rather than in school, or at home (for home-related purposes). There are only a few non-pro Macs (iMac, Mac Mini, MacBook), and even among those, many people still use them for work.

        Pro is just a word.

        1. As someone who’s used pro and consumer model Macs for business and personal use, I agree.

          It’s a “Pro” (and what they are doing with it) that makes a machine a Pro.

        2. You sound extremely confused, Predrag.

          Shadowself is right. Diluting the name “Pro” weakens the Apple brand. Already has, actually.

          Also, to the point of the article: no professional level desktop user gives a sh!t if Apple makes the box thin or “mini”. They want power.

          There is no such thing as mini pro. Mini roadkill, maybe, but not mini pro.

          1. Wishful thinking, Paul. Anyone involved in marketing will tell you that if you throw in ‘Pro’ into the name of the product, you will enhance both the perception of the product, as well as the value of the brand.

            As I said, at the end of the day, ‘Pro’ is just a word. More importantly, it is a marketing world, nothing more.

      2. Friend, if you can stuff it in a Mini with a Quad Core i7 – 32GB+ of RAM and discrete video via TB3 or built in, it’s a Pro by any modern definition of what makes a Pro today or yesterday.

        What makes a system a pro, is what you do with it, not what existed 20 years ago. SG3 is long gone. BTW those systems were way over engineered.

        Look at what makes a super computer today? Not custom CPUs, but tons of off the shelf components. Look at how Cray builds systems these days.

    1. Apple already makes the Mac Mini Pro. It was released in 2013, it’s black, and it’s cylindrical. It’s also a total flop because its too expensive for consumers and too weak for pros.

  1. Yes.

    But they probably won’t because they it would last too long. But we’ve been waiting for something stackable, clickable, snapable and upgradeable. But I doubt Apple would ever go back to making the RAM replaceable. Just gotta pray they won’t start doing that to the hard drive next!

    1. ? Really…I replaced the HDD with not just one new drive (1TB SSD) but also stuck in a 1TB HDD for TM backup. I also increased the RAM to the Max at 16GB. Modified it to run on 12 volts and it’s become an excellent Music server run with RoonServer!

  2. No.

    A Mac mini range should be optimized for the consumer market, and therefore be affordable.

    A Mac Pro range needs to be better in every way, with emphasis on durability and adaptability and sheer power. It’s okay to be on the expensive side if it’s truly professional grade.

    Never should Apple ever confuse the two.

  3. I have a late 2012 quad core i7 with 16 GB of ram that I added. Everything mini they’ve made since then has been a step backward. No chance I’ll replace this computer until Apple comes up with a more compelling version.

      1. I have one with two 2TB drives for music and videos. It just stays connected to my TV. I’ve also got another one with two 1.5TB drives for regular desktop use.

        1. In other words, the Mac mini is well aimed at consumers. Why would a pro want a computer that is sealed, can’t be updated, and has low performance because it is thermally constrained?

      2. I’ve got the same as well. And it’s got… wait for it… CONNECTORS!!! I can actually plug things into it without a mess of inconvenient, messy, unreliable adapters! (What a thought, eh?)

  4. …or they could simply fire Tim for mishandling the Mac side of business…

    Everyone is bragging how much money Apple has in the bank….

    I say they could have a lot more if they would actually sell up today Mac products but Apple is sooo focused on iOS devices it seems.

  5. Apple doesn’t have to abandon the consumer mini.

    Based on something like the Intel Xeon E3-1200 V4 with integrated GPU, or preferably a medium performance mobile GPU like the 460M in the MBP. Hopefully an Nvidia option…

    It could be a bigger or a taller mini to handle heat properly coming from moderately more powerful components. And it has to be user upgradable and serviceable.

    HP has one mini Pro level model. And Pro means 24/7 rush work and top reliability for production environments where up time is mostly preferable to ultimate shaky cycles. A mini could be a computer to handle light to moderate and continuous production work.

  6. Design models with the iMac chip options and Thunderbolt/USB3 slots. Volume would need to allow currently common high-capacity flash drives, high capacity RAM options and HDMI connectivity.

    Shouldn’t be that hard to “design” and produce an appropriate “Mini” enclosure working from a clean sheet of paper ;<)ox.

  7. I was going to buy a Mac mini, but they stopped making the 2012 model. My needs are simple: easily replaceable RAM and drive, maybe ability to change out GPU (maybe?), and the option to buy one with 0 RAM and no drive so I could buy what I want to install. Seems to me that’d be easy for Apple. I will not buy another Mac until they make one I can at lease replace RAM and drive. I think.

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