View Full Version : mac mini ppc or wait for intel?

2005-11-29, 18:50
I have a cousin who needs a computer pretty soon, he will be using it for surfing the net and using the basic office programs like word, writing papers.

I told him the mac mini would be pefect for this esp, since he wont be playing games or doing some super highend video work or anything.

Anyways...my concern is how apple is switching to intel, and I just read a rumor that a mac mini intel box is coming out in january?

Should I tell him to get the ppc mini now or should he wait?

2005-11-29, 19:24
First, I'm moving this to the Purchasing Advice forum (where you'll happen to find others asking the same question).

If he can wait, he should because there might be new models (PPC or x86) announced the first week of January at the MacWorld expo.

Second, read (and have your cousin read) the thread here titled Read this BEFORE posting ANYTHING about the Intel/x86 switch!! (http://forums.applenova.com/showthread.php?t=8488) Basically, the transition is being done so that no current software (or very little, at least) should break in the mean time. Future applications should be "fat" binaries that are compatible on both new x86 and old PPC Macs.

Third, welcome to AppleNova! :)

2005-11-30, 09:57
What Brad said, basically.

Honestly, it's just another five weeks or so...if he really, truly "needs a computer" RIGHT THIS MINUTE, then you know your answer...go get it!

If, however, he's in a position to wait another five weeks, until the Macworld Expo in January, he might see a really snazzy, updated mini released. And he can have the latest and greatest. Perhaps Intel-based, with some neat new features and capabilities...maybe some that we're not even aware of yet?

Most folks tend to hold off on purchases in the weeks leading up to a major Apple event, of which MWSF is probably the largest and most-anticipated.

Can't speak to your cousin's needs/patience, but that's basically the lowdown: if he truly needs something right away, then he needs to get one. But if it's more of a "non-necessity" purchase and he's in a position to hold off a bit, I'd suggest he wait and see what MWSF brings.

It's what I would do...and probably most others here, getting this close to January (and with such strong Mac mini-centered rumors flying around lately).

Hope this helps?


2005-11-30, 11:48
thanks, but the the major good thing about the mini too is the price, its a great deal compared to dells, will the intel one be 500 bucks too? or what are people saying about the price?

2005-11-30, 13:35
No one knows. In fact, I haven't heard any speculation about a price; it's probably far too early for that. I imagine the price would certainly not get any cheaper; Apple has a certain margin to maintain and the Intel components won't cost significantly less.

2005-11-30, 13:58
...and there's also the possibility that the mini could be segmented a bit, spreading over a wider price range.

There could still be a $499 entry level model, as is. But perhaps the Front Row and DVR stuff (pretend the rumors are true) would be on a higher-end, more tricked-out version, costing $800 or whatever? I'm having trouble believing they'll pack all that functionality and capability into their barebones, entry-level Mac (and not put it on everything else?).

But there's no way to know because we simply don't know their plans...nobody does, outside of Apple and maybe a few insider types like a Macworld editor or whatever.

If I had to guess, I'd say there will still be a $499 base model, just because it looks good in the line-up, and (if it's packing the specs of this most recent silent upgrade) it probably serves the needs of 80% of the people out there.

Apple would be crazy to kill their sole affordable, entry-level model!

After years of getting OS X dialed-in, letting the iPod halo effect do its thing, receiving all this praise and attention from the press and thumbs-up from Wall Street, the last thing they need to do is suddenly kill the one affordable, easy-to-migrate-to Mac they offer! I think it would be quite foolish, and I can't imagine them doing that. Not now, of all times!

2005-11-30, 14:02
thanks, but the the major good thing about the mini too is the price, its a great deal compared to dellsThat's an apples to oranges comparison. Each have their place. The mini is only a great deal when you compare it to computers of similar size or computers running OS X. Generic minitower PC's including the Dells will beat it on raw performance, storage space and expandability. Of course those don't really matter for the intended use.

2005-11-30, 19:47
I will kill steve jobs if the mini intel doesnt have a 500 buck model

2005-11-30, 19:59
I think that if anything, the mini needs to move DOWN the price bracket, not up. $600 $500-$700 (edited) is a lot to spend on a low-end computer with no monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Prebuilt systems from major computer companies (Dell, HP, etc) are as little as $300 and include the keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Sure, they're crappy, but they're $300.

2005-11-30, 20:25
I've often wondered that too, if the mini - considering that it has no keyboard or mouse, and, frankly, isn't a jawdropping performer or sporting any special specs - could skootch down a bit further?

But it's Apple...their "bargain basement entry level" is anyone else's "overpriced and out of reach".


But it would be cool to see either:

- a $399 Mac mini :eek: (who would've ever thunk?)
- it remains $499, but comes with keyboard and Mighty Mouse...just to make it more attractive, enticing and appearing more "complete". I'd hate to use a Windows keyboard with a Mac...even with remapping software, I want to see the Command symbol and deal with the Mac-centric conventions (Command and Option, as opposed to Alt and Control, or whatever it is on PCs).

These keyboards can't cost THAT much, can they? Apple should - at the VERY least - include those. Mice are more subjective, personal, etc. Everyone has their favorites. But switchers would probably have an easier go with the transition using a properly laid-out, labeled Mac keyboard.

Think about it...if I switched to a PC, I'm not going to want to use my Apple keyboard with it. I'd be a mess, pushing the wrong keys, mentally transposing them, not seeing them named in a way that corresponds with the menus.

2005-11-30, 22:46
By the way, regarding keyboards... another VERY IMPORTANT function of the Apple keyboard is that it has a USB hub in it. Almost no keyboards have that because most PC keyboards (and by extension, most keyboards period) still use the PS/2 connector. It's simpler and cheaper for PC users and there isn't much need for USB in a keyboard anyway, which is why PS/2 is still used. Mice are transitioning, though, with all but very basic mice using USB connections. The keyboard hub is a necessity for the Mac mini because Apple only put two friggin' USB ports on the thing. The average PC has four, and the cheap ones you get from Dell or wherever usually ship with a PS/2 mouse and keyboard, thus leaving all the ports open. That same PC won't have a Firewire port, but there's little reason to have one now since the iPod doesn't use it anymore. Furthermore, on the PC you can add Firewire using a PCI card if you really need it.

Another point I should make is that Apple is capable of writing it into the OS to detect your keyboard layout and have it switch the keys around accordingly. I used a cracked x86 version of OS X on someone's computer not long ago and the key functions were remapped to match the Mac layout. So the Alt key was turned into Command, the Windows key became Option, and the Ctrl key stayed the same. Normally, the Windows key is the same as Command while the Alt key is the same as Option, resulting in the two being switched around. Briefly holding F12 opened the PC's optical drive. I don't know whether it actually determines which keyboard you have or whether it just always swaps the functions (since it's pre-release software).

There are some things I should mention about that $299 Dell desktop, though. First of all, the low price is due to a $50 mail in rebate. Customers rarely fulfill such rebates, and even if they do they take weeks or months to get back. So you actually pay $349 and then get a $50 check back two months later. Also, although the Dell includes a keyboard, mouse, and 17" CRT monitor (the monitor can be removed for a $50 savings), it has half the RAM of the mini and only comes with a CD-ROM drive. Doubling the RAM to 512 MB and adding a Combo drive brings the price up by $90.

So once all of this stuff is done, the computer is actually $440 before the mail in rebate, $390 if you choose not to get the monitor, and $340 if you also do the rebate. This is cheaper than the Mac mini, but not tremendously so. It'd be nice to see the value of the low end mini get at least a little better... they should make the god damn 64 MB VRAM update official, and maybe include a keyboard and mouse with it as well. Or drop the price by $50-$100 without including the keyboard and mouse.

2005-12-01, 12:12
I bet they will. I can imagine some movement in those areas (lower prices, or perhaps bundling a keyboard and mouse...although, that's going to drastically change the box size - and perception of cute smallness, huh?)


Some months ago, I mocked this up, while thinking about just such a scenario (http://homepage.mac.com/pscates/mockups/minibox.jpg).

While some wiggle room is certainly allowed on those two given dimensions (8" and 28"), the thing to note is that the products themselves, shown in the drawing, are properly size-related to one another.

28" might be a tad long and unwieldy, so Apple could make something more like 20" long (factoring in that the current white Apple keyboard is 17.25" wide). They could ship the keyboard standing up vertically, then place the mini itself (also standing up vertically), the mouse, cables and disks in front of the keyboard, and wind up with a box about 20" wide, 8" tall and 4-5" deep.

Hardly a monster, compared to the boxes the 20" iMac, G5 towers and Cinema Displays come in.

In fact, take the box a 17" PowerBook comes in and whack it to half-height...that would hold the above, give or take.

2005-12-01, 12:25
One packaging consideration is that the mini is very heavy compared to the keyboard. They'd have to make sure the mini is centered inside the box, which would make the box thicker but not wider.

I guess yet another option is to make a very tall, narrow box, putting the mini at the bottom. But that would be really stupid looking, and unwieldy.

2005-12-01, 13:44
An updated box idea:


(I drew this before reading Luca's comment about the mini's weight, which I should've taken into account! In the above illustration, imagine the mini's position being flip-flopped with the mouse)

Putting the mini on the end, as I've foolishly depicted, would indeed make for awkward, unbalanced carrying. I wasn't thinking...


Other than that small detail ( :D ), it's got potential. Just over a foot-and-a-half wide, about 6 inches deep and 8 inches tall...with the mini centered in the box, lengthwise, for better balance and weight distribution.

That, my friends, is how you package/sell a Mac mini with a bundled keyboard and mouse (give or take an inch or two, here or there).


* Note, as in the older drawing from my earlier post, all items shown are proportioned correctly in relation to one another...so it's accurate/truthful in that respect, how everything "fits" or sits next to other items..although, the Apple logo SHOULD appear upside down on the mini, if the optical drive is facing upwards...oops! :p

ANOTHER option would be to have the keyboard and Mac mini only sitting "down below" in the styrofoam holding areas...and have a "tray" nestled on top, as other Macs - the iMac, I recall - containing the manuals, cables, disks and mouse.

That's all tweakable...the main point being a box an inch or two larger (allowing for styrofoam padding/support) than the longest dimension of the two largest items: the 17.25" width on the keyboard, AND the 6.5" width of the Mac mini itself. That's where I get the 19" and 8" from.

Allow for those two "master dimensions" (AND striving to keep the mini centered), and work from there...realizing the smaller, more compact mouse, cables, manual and disks can easily be tucked/fitted into any number of layouts or ideas (flat in a tray on top, vertically on either side of the mini, etc.).