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View Full Version : Who buys a Mac Mini?



The_Hawk
3rd November 2010, 12:58 PM
After buying a Mac Mini I started wondering who these machines are actually aimed at? Let me start by saying that I don't consider myself the "average" user, rather I'm one of the Geeks who has lots of shiny toys (many of them Apple toys).

I was talking it through with one of the guys at work and still couldn't quite work it out. (although it makes *slightly* more sense since the price drop).

So a Mac Mini is $899, you don't get a screen, a keyboard or a mouse. Assuming your a "switcher" and have an old LCD, keyboard and mouse your done and can go home and enjoy the Apple goodness. It's the cheapest way to get into the Apple ecosystem but I have to assume this is a pretty small market segment.

Let's assume for a moment that you decided to purchase a newe keyboard and mouse in store, your up for another $200 for the wireless units, or not much less for the wired equivalents. This then brings the price up to ~$1100 and still relies on you re-suing your old screen.

To get an Apple screen isn't cheap with the 27" LCD costing $1,299. This would then bring your total up to ~$2,400.

Now lets consider the alternatives.

A MacBook has the same specs as a mini, has a built in keyboard, trackpad and screen and is nice and portable. At ~$1200 it's barely more than a Mini + keyboard & mouse. (before the price drop it was basically the same price). If you go down this path you get all the Apple loving in a single package and you could always plug it into your existing keyboard, mouse and screen if you wanted more screen space.
*Most* people I know are moving down the notebook path so they can move around the house. Wireless modems are common place with most providers "freebies" so most people are good to go.

If the end user really only wants a desktop the iMac is next on the list with the cheapest 21.5" unit coming in at $1,499. Again it includes a keyboard and mouse (and funnily enough the screen). It's far more powerful, has more RAM and a bigger HDD. More than most people *average* consumers will need. It's still far cheaper than a Mac Mini + Apple display and not all that much more than the above alternatives. For the *average* user it's fairly idiot proof as an all-in-one box and replacement down the path is easy enough since you just buy a new one.


So back to the main point. Who buys a Mac Mini? Switchers who REALLY don't want a laptop and want to re-use their existing peripherals? Nerds like me who want to build a HTPC? Surely thats an amazingly small market segment?


Now the Mac Mini Server… for small businesses or technically minded households who want a central server on the cheap it's great. Personally I would like to see the mini server stapled to a 4 drive NAS box to be used for larger scale central (and redundant) storage, iTunes sharing (although I would like to see more work done to make it a true central hub), Time Machine destination etc etc. But the Mini itself… I don't get why it still exists (even though I just got one :P)

Geoff3DMN
3rd November 2010, 01:18 PM
Who buys a Mac Mini? Switchers who REALLY don't want a laptop and want to re-use their existing peripherals? Nerds like me who want to build a HTPC?

I have 2 mac minis, 1 of them is a HTPC and the other one sits on top of my windows gaming machine.

Huh? I can hear you saying... well you see I've got a windows machine (quad core with a 5850 graphics card) just for gaming and the mac mini for general web browsing and everyday use connected via a KVM switch to a single 24" monitor on my desk (no not an Apple one just an Asus).

There is a family iMac at home in the lounge room but the above setup is in the study and is my personal rig.

I don't think a mac mini is a substitute for a laptop either, I've got a MacBook Pro as well.

Devil rolla
3rd November 2010, 01:19 PM
Well, for me, I had a MBP for 3 odd years. Loved Apple stuff, need it for work. Great Guns. So my mrs & I move in together with no dvd player and a Fat internet connection. K-Rudd dropped me $800 cold and I didn't even hesitate, also ordered the 4gb ram from the MT sponsor and I was sorted. So instead of buying a dvd player I convince her for the MM, its a dvd player and we can watch anything I download on the tv.
She's sold.
So thats all good. Move again and the mini has a small security system built into it for now ( usb webcams and SecuritySpy software ). I buy afew external drives to hang off it, but sell them to buy a drobo ( best idea ever )
Move again, buy a cheap 24" from MSY ($200), pick up a cheap AU keyboard off here, buy a magic mouse and im sorted.
Have the new place fully wired with Cat5e, drobo-switch-router all in another room. Mac mini now runs as my server for Growl / iTunes / twitter / adium / dropbox etc etc.
Touch wood the little bugger has been bullet proof. Some times running for a month or so without a restart. Also as it moved from a HTPC back to a desktop I had to buy an Atv, and grabbed one off the refurb page.

For me its perfect, i got a piece of perspex made up for it, and its mounted under my desk. Yet, when I tell ppl I have a mac mini... they are like, whats that ?
Even mac people ( people who own an iphone or MB/MBP ). Really this site, and my mac mini was the gateway drug to my expansive list in my sig. My house ecosystem really rocks to me, I guess the only problem is that Apple have me by the balls.
I wanted to switch to android at the end of my 3G contract, but with eyetv, Mocha VNC, the endless games etc I COULDN'T LEAVE. My iPhone just fits into my life and home ecosystem so perfectly, that leaving the ecosystem would be crippling.

The mac mini is so versatile, that yes it is a niche product, but a great product for alot of people for alot of different reasons. I'm stoked apple have them, and refreshed it also.

~ My Mac Mini Story

leon
3rd November 2010, 01:23 PM
I bought a 2010 server to use as a HTPC.

glacierdave
3rd November 2010, 01:24 PM
Also people for whom space is an issue but want better connectivity than what a laptop offers (particular MacBook).

Also people who've just invested in a really good screen and don't want to replace it or make it redundant.

Also people who may want to use it "headless" or via a KVM and just remote into it for particular tasks (e.g. a download box, file server, etc).

Also people who may want a Mac but also want their own choice of monitor rather than the one included in an iMac - e.g. I really wanted a 24" screen because that's the space I've got available or all that'll fit on my monitor arm, etc.

Although I tend to agree, the Mac mini is a more niche product than the iMac or MacBook (Pro) range. Sorta like the MBA is the niche product in the laptop range - not for everyone but for the right person it's perfect.

Stevoid
3rd November 2010, 01:55 PM
I've got two of these babies in my house.

The first one is a early 2009 Mac Mini from when they dumped a Nvidia 9400M in it. I purchased this for my dad who shall we say, is a rather limited user. The transition from his old windows box to OSX was easier with a familiar setup ie, using his existing keyboard, mouse and monitor. Nearly two years on and he loves the little box. He shows it off to all his friends that he can make fairly decent looking DVDs and organise all his photos in iPhoto into albums.

The second one (2010 fancy model) is sitting under my TV acting as a HTPC running Plex. People use either their iPhones to control it or the little Apple remote.

It's a great little box if you already have a nice big screen and you want to continue using it.

u98925
3rd November 2010, 02:07 PM
I bought a 2010 server to use as a HTPC.

I'd be interested to know why you bought the servers version opposed to the unit with the optical drive?

...and yes, i'm looking at buying one and using it as a HTPC :cool:

leon
3rd November 2010, 02:12 PM
I'd be interested to know why you bought the servers version opposed to the unit with the optical drive?

...and yes, i'm looking at buying one and using it as a HTPC :cool:

Don't need an optical drive as the PS3 is for Blu-Ray/DVD.

I preferred the extra storage of the server (having OS on one drive and EyeTV recordings on another), faster CPU and more RAM. It was better value that the optical drive one.
I don't like things to look messy and wasn't willing to have an external drive hanging off my mini, requiring its own power supply etc.
Much neater solution.
The server OS was a PITA so a obtained the optical drives OS version and all is great now.

The driveless server version also looks prettier.

Devil rolla
3rd November 2010, 02:16 PM
The driveless server version also looks prettier.

A true Mac man to the core. lol

Alessiman
3rd November 2010, 02:24 PM
I've got a MBP, a Mac Pro and 2 Mac Mini's at home running plex as media servers

1 is connected to a 63" plasma in the lounge, the other to a 46" LCD in the bedroom

They are both fed by a Plex Server running on my MacPro

Alec Fraser
3rd November 2010, 02:33 PM
Well, I ditched my 4 year old 24" iMac for a early 2010 Mini because I was running out of space. I had the iMac on the same desk as a 24" Dell that had the PS3 and 360 hooked up to it. Now I've got all three hooked up to the one monitor plus I got a bump in performance moving to the Mini.

Devil rolla
3rd November 2010, 02:35 PM
1 is connected to a 63" plasma in the lounge, the other to a 46" LCD in the bedroom


You have a 46" LCD in your bedroom.... Baller much ?

Alec Fraser
3rd November 2010, 02:36 PM
You have a 46" LCD in your bedroom.... Baller much ?

Porn looks better at 46"s ;)

Devil rolla
3rd November 2010, 02:51 PM
man, your would want blu-ray or ban on a 46" though...

reemixx
3rd November 2010, 02:57 PM
Well, I ditched my 4 year old 24" iMac for a early 2010 Mini because I was running out of space. I had the iMac on the same desk as a 24" Dell that had the PS3 and 360 hooked up to it. Now I've got all three hooked up to the one monitor plus I got a bump in performance moving to the Mini.

THIS. Exactly this.

I also sold my 24" iMac and *almost* bought a Mac Mini for this very reason. In the end, I went with a 13" MacBook Pro, but the general idea is the same for someone who doesn't require portability.

Being able to hook up three different devices (in my case: Mac, PC, Xbox) to a single external display is fantastic for space saving.

DeKa
3rd November 2010, 03:25 PM
I'm thinking about buying a Mac Mini with the price drop. I'd replace my 24" 2.4 C2D iMac with it.

At the moment, on my desk at home I have a Lenovo X200S on the left, my iMac in the middle, and a crappy Dell 23" monitor on the right... which the Lenovo is attached to. The ergonmics are not good, but nothing else really works on the space available.

If I bought a new Dell Ultrasharp IPS monitor, I could hook it all up to the one screen.

dezinerau
3rd November 2010, 03:31 PM
Didn’t you pretty much answer you own question?

Mac mini users could be:

1) Switchers who already have at least a screen (that was me, a few years ago) — it’s also easier to give as a hand-me-down to family.
2) People who want a desktop Mac with an upgrade path that doesn’t involve paying for a whole new screen every time (me)
3) Tech-heads who want a HTPC more powerful and feature-rich than the first- or second-gen Apple TV (me again, until recently)

Sure, it’s not a huge market, but points 1) and 2) would surely be enough to continue selling the product, especially considering it contains mostly laptop parts inside. It becomes especially useful once you have more than one in the house, given their relatively high resale value.

Until recently I had three in the house. It started out with my partner having a second-hand G4 model as a main desktop computer. That was soon replaced with a second-hand Core Solo 1.5GHz model, so I inherited the G4 as my main computer to replace the PC. Then I bought a new Core2 Duo 2GHz, so the G4 was moved to act as an HTPC. After a while my partner bought a second-hand Duo — the Solo moved to act as the HTPC, and the G4 was sold for a tidy sum ($300).

Now that I work from home I replaced my Core2 Duo with a Mac Pro, the HTPC was replaced with new Apple TV. The Solo has been sold on eBay for nearly $400 (I’d like to see a 4˝ year-old PC fetch that much). I’ve yet to sell the Duo, but I’d expect it to sell for more (it damn well better).

Anyway, my point is that the ability to upgrade simply by buying the box, without having the extra expense of screens and peripherals, is great for people who might not have as much money to throw around. Selling the old one also goes a fair way to covering the costs of buying a new one.

pyrite
3rd November 2010, 03:42 PM
Ultimate HTPC box :)

Alec Fraser
3rd November 2010, 03:46 PM
THIS. Exactly this.

I also sold my 24" iMac and *almost* bought a Mac Mini for this very reason. In the end, I went with a 13" MacBook Pro, but the general idea is the same for someone who doesn't require portability.

Being able to hook up three different devices (in my case: Mac, PC, Xbox) to a single external display is fantastic for space saving.

Yeah, I was tossing up between the Mini and a Macbook (Air even ;)) but I've got a work Lenovo, a personal Sony Vaio that I use as a windows gaming PC and an iPad...I really didn't need another portable machine, I just wanted a cheap Mac with better specs than the iMac.

TBH, I doubt that I'd go iMac again...they're gorgeous, but cost and convenience make the Mini a better deal for me now.

Alessiman
3rd November 2010, 04:27 PM
You have a 46" LCD in your bedroom.... Baller much ?

It was the main TV in the lounge but I upgraded it to a 63"

Being in an apartment the only place logical to put it was the main bedroom. Selling wasn't an option as I'd be lucky to get $600 for it so decided to keep it

I guess i have a big bedroom too!

TheKeddi
3rd November 2010, 04:46 PM
I bought a mac Mini, the new model, as I like the fact of having separate units, screen and computer so I can upgrade either when I feel the need. I love the little fella, and have had 3 over the years. I have also had various iMacs and macbooks as well but at the moment the Mini is my only Mac!

QuickSilver
3rd November 2010, 04:52 PM
I already had a Samsung 23" LCD monitor (the sort with a TV tuner too) in the study as an extra screen for my MBP 13", and I could watch TV when I wasn't using it as screen. My Quicksilver G4 tower finally packed it in after 7 years of service, so it was easy just to replace it with the mini, already had a screen there and the good old G4 keyboard and mouse.

Of course, another plan was to move it into the loungeroom and use it as a media PC, but the wife has decided she likes her computer very much now, and anyway, there is the previous-gen AppleTV I picked up as a cheap refurb when the new ones came out I have to put through its paces as a media box.

Oh, and they are such a neat little unit, who would believe they could make it in such a tiny package? This is the last model before the new one, and it looks neat sitting on my desk.

Anthonyw
3rd November 2010, 06:09 PM
Mac mini user here. Early 2009 model is going strong. It was my first foray into macs and I think I'd go another one again. I like the size, how quiet it is and low power consumption. It also means I can use my Dell monitor for xbox, ps3 etc when not using the mini.

Wouldn't mind chucking in a ssd as the standard drive is pretty slow. Other than that works brilliant for general use, app development and light photoshopping. Media encoding is a bit slow but I don't do much of that.

davemc
3rd November 2010, 07:13 PM
Got a Mac mini as well. Was using my Macbook as a desktop with a 24" and keyboard mouse. So when I wanted to upgrade was either go to a 21.5" or $2k for the 27". So I got a runout mac mini for $500 added memory etc
worked out cheaper. Although still yearn for the 27"
The 9400 graphics is good for some games better the the GMA on the Macbook.
Took my friend to look at mac mini she brought the iMac 21" instead even though she had a monitor etc.. Maybe more sense to her.
The price drop on the newer models will help. Although really not much more for the macbook or iMac

bennyling
3rd November 2010, 07:48 PM
Decryption has a Mac Mini, perhaps you could ask him ;)

decryption
3rd November 2010, 07:57 PM
Decryption has a Mac Mini, perhaps you could ask him ;)

That's true! (see (http://anthonywrites.posterous.com/big-list-of-gadgets-i-own))

I picked up a Mac Mini to use as a HTPC box a few months ago while they were bum rushing the non-unibody models, so it was quite cheap. After a while I realised it's overkill and then decided to sell my iMac and use it as a desktop machine.

So I probably wouldn't buy one for any purpose other than a headless Mac, as a refurb iMac goes quite cheaply these days ($1229 for a 21.5" iMac).

But hey, the Mini's are obviously selling, as Apple keeps making and updating them!

sobie2000
3rd November 2010, 09:24 PM
Htpc.

Nothing beats a Mac Mini running plex. With price drop I'm getting a second one rather than a boxee box ( but I'll probably get one of these too just to play with for couple weeks before selling it).

Reubania
3rd November 2010, 10:35 PM
I'd be interested to know why you bought the servers version opposed to the unit with the optical drive?

...and yes, i'm looking at buying one and using it as a HTPC :cool:

I purchased the late 2009 Mac Mini with the optical drive. Why? Because my MacBook Air doesn't have one. And I'm old school. I still purchase music CDs...so I need an optical drive to rip everything to put onto my iTunes.



Yeah, I was tossing up between the Mini and a Macbook (Air even ;))


That's what I have! A Mac Mini and a MacBook Air



Htpc.

Nothing beats a Mac Mini running plex. With price drop I'm getting a second one rather than a boxee box ( but I'll probably get one of these too just to play with for couple weeks before selling it).


+1

It's stunning. I have the Mac Mini as a HTPC, running Plex, it downloads, stores all my iPhoto and iTunes on it's 300GB HDD, with a 2 x 1TB external HDD for automatic backup and an additional 1TB external HDD for movies.

I will be the first to eat my words...after the late 2009 Mac Mini came out and I mocked it for it's 5 x USB 2.0 ports. I currently have 1 x iPhone connector cable, my Sony Cybershot mini USB cable, the 1TB external HDD connected and I use the 2 x 1TB Western Digital HDD on Firewire.

wideEyedPupil
8th November 2010, 08:07 AM
Mac mini colocation: FAQ (http://www.macminicolo.net/faq.html)

These guys host with a lot of MacMinis.

The local primary school has heaps of MMs with using no-name LCDs for display. Mac K&M though.

wideEyedPupil
8th November 2010, 08:08 AM
I'm really glad Apple went to work on the power consumption of the MacMini with so many people seemingly leaving them running 24x7.

domlanic
8th November 2010, 08:21 AM
I almost did... but decided to wait for the next update. My reasons were-
1. Portability; more compact (and durable?) than my 15" MBP or 21.5 iMac
2. Have various screens, keyboards & mice
3. Considered the server version but don't understand why :confused:
4. Travel- chuck it in a trolley case, borrow/ buy peripherals at destination
5. Real reason- it's so damn COOL!!

mitty
8th November 2010, 09:00 AM
I've got a 2009 model Mac Mini for our HTPC/torrent box. It's basically the main computer in our house. It's plugged into our 46" LCD TV and also has a 24" Dell LCD for doing general computer work.

It's the 2.0ghz C2D model. I got it for $650 brand new from JB, and I figure I'll pretty much keep it til it dies.

soulman
8th November 2010, 09:17 AM
I have two, though I use a Mac Pro myself. There is a 2008 C2D one here for use by my admin assistants - two part timers - and anyone else who needs a machine temporarily, plus we have a 2009 model server. I bought the first one as a refurb and chose it because we had spare screens available and because I just don't like iMacs much. All in ones are not my thing. Rightly or wrongly, I perceive them as not flexible enough. The server was just perfect for our needs and meant that I could finally stop serving files off my machine, plus gave us a whole range of extra services that are handy. It's been a good jigger so far.

davewantsmoore
8th November 2010, 09:46 AM
But the Mini itself… I don't get why it still exists (even though I just got one :P)

Agree. I recently bought a macmini server for HTPC duties, and went through the same thought process as you did. I don't get it.

With the demise of the Xserve, and features proposed in Lion, I can't help feeling that in 5 years time there won't be mini's left, and OSX Server's features will somehow be rolled into the consumer OS. Can't decide if this will be good or bad though.

dopus
8th November 2010, 12:51 PM
For me the mini is a great alternative, to replace an aging PowerMac dual G5 (be nice to have a PC that doesn't heat the room) :-). I have a 24" Dell monitor, keyboard and mouse already. Actually do have a mini now as well, but it is used a HTPC and iTunes server, audio ecording etc. If Apple make an i5 mini, that would be awesome (assuming the price was ok).

Dog Knight
8th November 2010, 06:29 PM
I would happily use one as a media centre if I had the spare cash.

MY dad had a 27 inch lcd + apple keyboard & mouse on his old G4. It was the perfect upgrade for him. He only uses it for internet use, quicken and iphoto. Doesnt need anything more powerful. Plus as he never turns it off, cheap to run too.

BoyB0y
12th November 2010, 10:13 PM
I'm considering buying a Mac Mini as a computer that would do daily basic tasks including word processing and web browsing, nothing that requires large amounts of processing powers.

The Mac Mini is a low end Mac aimed at consumers wanting an affordable Mac to run Mac applications.

kungfucamel
12th November 2010, 11:03 PM
I got 2 that arrived today for use at work. One is for me to use and the other for my boss. His only requirement was to have windows so I used Fusion to migrate his existing vista machine over and mine I use for general admin stuff plus I can remote desktop into all the servers fine. takes less than a tenth of the space of the previous desktops.

Fitshaced
22nd December 2010, 09:36 AM
I bought a Mac Mini last night. My original plan was to use my Macbook pro as a media server by clamshelling it??!?? (is that the term?) and using Plex. Then, using an ipad for streaming from the MBP. But the MBP gets too hot and its fans go into orbit when streaming a movie.

So, the Mac Mini now has plex and connected to my 32'' Sony Bravia. Brilliant. I have a 500gig and 640gig hdd's connected to it as well as the inbuilt 320gig. I just need to disable front row from starting up via the apple remote and, instead start Plex. Then, I'm sorted.

Oh yes, I use my iPhone 4 as a remote but have the apple wireless keyboard close by.

Airtunes works well with my Airport Express downstairs. I think I need an orange.

DagrtheSnide
22nd December 2010, 09:50 AM
I just need to disable front row from starting up via the apple remote and, instead start Plex. Then, I'm sorted.

That is a selectable option within Plex.

Fitshaced
22nd December 2010, 10:00 AM
That is a selectable option within Plex.
Is it? I had a look but couldnt find it.