New Mac minis get first tear down and Geekbench scores

Apple’s refreshed Mac mini lineup already received some nice RAM upgrade options from OWC this morning, but now we get a look at the insides of the updated Macs courtesy of a tear down from Mac Mini Vault. The website also published Geekbench scores for the device, showing some impressive performance increases over the 2011 models.

First off, it found minimal changes to packaging and the positioning of the new Mac mini’s internals:

The overall packaging size was unchanged, however marketing specs have been updated and the inside organization has been optimized… Under the hood only minor differences are visible. Most notable are the fan design, Hitachi hard drive, and connections for the antennas. (2012 on left – 2011 on right)

As for Geekbench, the new stock Mac minis were able to record a score of 7433 running 10.8.1 out of the box. In comparison, Mac Mini Vault had a 2011 Mac mini running 10.8.2 clocked at 6583. Mac Mini Vault also noted it will begin testing alternative OS options for the new Mac mini server edition next week:

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Apple October 23rd event: What we know, expect and some new tidbits

Had you heard? Apple’s got a ‘little’ event going on at the newly-decorated California Theatre tomorrow where they will FINALLY showcase the iPad Mini, new Mac Minis, a Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro as well as software like iBooks 3.0 and iTunes 11.

First, the bad news: We’ve heard that the some of the iMacs that we found earlier have been pushed so far back that they might not warrant inclusion at the event this week. That doesn’t mean they are cancelled but because there have been some issues with the products and the including them is a “gameday decision”. We’re obviously hoping they make the docket.

And now the good news: Read more

Estimated prices on 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros: Starts around U$1,699

Alongside the new mini/iPads, Mac Minis, and iMacs, Apple will reveal a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display on Oct. 23. We have now received pricing information on the base model and the “best” model. We believe the entry model 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro will cost roughly $1,699 at launch, based on wholesale prices we received, while the higher spec model will cost $200 to $300 more.

The base model Retina MacBook Pro retails for $2,199 in the United States, so the 13-inch varieties would create a more inexpensive option for those who also prefer a smaller device. We expect these to be available shortly after launch, but we can probably expect some supply constraints as we saw with the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro. We also expect initial supply constraints on some of the new iMacs.

It sounds like the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro will have a 2,560-by-1,600-pixel display (the same as a 30-inch Cinema Display), with the effective area being the same as the 1,280-by-800 screens as the current MacBook Pros when used in pixel-doubled Retina mode. We do not yet have other specs on the Retina Pro configuration, but we will update as that information comes in.

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OWC puts together Mac Mini Stack Max: USB 3.0, 4TB 3.5 inch drive, eSATA and more

We love this add-on to the Mac Mini that turns it into more of a pro-device (and a cube!).  The business up front is a DVD-R drive (not sure about BluRay) and an SDXC card reader that complements the one on the back of the mini. On the rear, you get a high power USB source for quick-charging an iPad as well as a few USB 3.0 ports that require separate drivers.  Also on the back is an eSATA port for fast external peripheral support as well as two Firewire 800 ports. Inside, there is room for up to a 4TB 3.5 inch hard drive which you can order with the Mini Stack Max or you can bring your own.

This is interesting because it is moving the Mini more toward a pro-like setup.

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OWC has not put a price on the Mac Mini Stack Max but expects them to be available in March. Read more

Apple outlines some limitations of Thunderbolt displays

Following the first shipments of Apple’s new 27-inch Thunderbolt Display, a new support document reveals some limitations regarding multiple display support that we weren’t exactly expecting.

Nearly every current Mac model is able to support two Thunderbolt displays. The exceptions are the 13-inch MacBook Air (mid 2011), which only supports one, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro which supports two, but disables the device’s main display to do so. Also of note, the $800 Mac mini can support three Thunderbolt displays thanks to the AMD graphics and its HDMI port.

One other somewhat surprising limitation of the new displays is the inability to daisy chain a Mini DisplayPort screen off the new Thunderbolt display. The support document explains:
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Thunderbolt Displays now shipping to end users

…in New Zealand anyway.  One 9to5Mac reader said that the Thunderbolt Display he ordered on August 17th was now en route to his home.  If anyone else has a shipping display let us know in the comments or at tips@9to5mac.com.

What’s perhaps most interesting about this shipment information is that these displays aren’t shipping directly from China as most Apple products do. They are shipping from a holding spot in Australia (below) perhaps indicating that the wait on these displays isn’t because of hardware, but in fact software, which, incidentally was updated last night on Thunderbolt MacBook Pros and Mac Minis.

Get your MacBook Air ready for Thunderbolt with EFI firmware update 2.1

Apple’s Thunderbolt hardware pieces are coming together and to get ready, Apple is updating MacBook Air firmware. The 4 MB update promises to enhance the stability of Lion Recovery from an Internet connection, and resolve issues with Apple Thunderbolt Display compatibility and Thunderbolt Target Disk Mode performance on MacBook Air (mid 2011) models.

Thunderbolt parts have already began shipping and new products include Docks, external PCI Card adapters, as well as storage.

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New MacBook Air and Mac Mini best prices

From 9to5Toys:

We noted before the release of the new Apple products that it often pays to wait a week before buying Apple’s new products.  Not only don’t you get “the first ones off the line”, but prices drop significantly over the first week.

A number of Apple Authorized Retailers/affiliates are new selling Apple’s new MacBook Airs and Minis at prices up to $100 lower than Apple.  MacMall and Amazon appear to be the lowest.

MacMall has the MacBook Air for the following prices (note: $30 more is taken off at checkout):

1.60GHz 11″ MacBook Air 2GB/64GB  $940.89
1.60GHz 11″ MacBook Air 4GB/128GB $1,129.07
1.70GHz 13″ MacBook Air 4GB/128GB $1,216.37
1.70GHz 13″ MacBook Air 4GB/256GB $1,502.52

 

 

Update: The MacMall deals are over.

Mac Minis are lowest at Amazon, however…

2.30GHz Core i5 Mac mini $569.00
2.50GHz Core i5 Mac mini $769.00

And the 2.00GHz Core i7 Mac mini Server is lowest –  $959.99 at MacConnection.  

For RAM upgrades, you aren’t going to do better than this 8GB for $45

Note: Best Buy will often match these prices.

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New Apple hardware: What you need to know


The old Cinema Display (left) had three USB ports on the back and required a cable with separate power, USB and Mini DisplayPort connections. The new Thunderbolt  display (right) adds Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800 and Thunderbolt, all fed to a computer via a single Thunderbolt cable (in addition to three USB ports, built-in microphone and FaceTime HD camera).

We take it you’re still digesting the new hardware Apple has released this morning. Before you grab that credit card, here are some observations you may wanna take into consideration.

MacBook Airs

• Built-in FaceTime camera has not been upgraded to high-definition. As a result, you are not able to FaceTime in HD with people who use the latest iMacs or MacBook Pros, which sport a FaceTime HD camera

•Based on the description from Apple  “And because we place the flash chips directly on the logic board, they take up much less space — about 90 percent less, in fact.” , it sounds like the SSD is probably no longer upgradable via OWC and others (thanks commenter)

• Just as previous, RAM is soldered directly on the motherboard so configure your machine carefully because you won’t be able to upgrade RAM yourself later
• Just like with the previous generation, the 11.6-incher lacks an SD card slot found on the 13-inch model
• Last year’s models got a significant discount today 

• New Airs sport Bluetooth 4.0 compatibility versus Bluetooth 3.0 in the previous generation, which gives you low-energy wireless Bluetooth transfer within a short range of up to 50 meters, per this Wikipedia article
New MacBook Airs can use Firewire and Gig Ethernet! If you hook up your new MacBook Air to that latest Apple Thunderbolt Display, you will enjoy the ultimate simplicity because a single Thunderbolt cable is all you need to charge your notebook and transfer data from your monitor’s Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800, an additional Thunderbolt port, three USB ports, a FaceTime HD camera, 2.1 stereo sound and a built-in microphone.  Perhaps Apple will release a Thunderbolt to GigE, Firewire, etc. standalone adapter.

• On the Thunderbolt Displays, the old MagSafe would have been a better match, because the new one has to be bent around (see the image below) for MacBook Pros

• Additionally, On MacBook Airs, the Thunderbolt port and MagSafe are on opposite sides of the keyboard meaning that cable is going to Y-Out behind the computer.

The new Thunderbolt Display comes with a new MagSafe adapter, which has to be bent around the computer rather than going straight on, like the old MafSafe adapter could have

Mac Minis:

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Apple Certified Refurbs: 11.6″ MacBook Airs drop to $749, Minis (with Superdrives!) drop to $469

From 9to5toys.com

Along with the new MacBook Air and Mini updates today, Apple dropped the previous Apple-Certified refurbished versions to all time lows offering $250 off yesterday’s prices.  Remember, Apple’s stock of the older models didn’t just disappear.  Many moved to “Refurb”.  Apple also includes the same 1-year warranty.

MacBook Air MC505LL/A Core 2 Duo 1.4GHz 11.6″ 64GB SSD for $749 ($80 drop)
MacBook Air MC506LL/A Core 2 Duo 1.4GHz 11.6″ 128GB SSD for $949 ($50 drop)
MacBook Air MC503LL/A Core 2 Duo 1.86GHz 13.3″ 128GB SSD for $999 ($80 drop)
MacBook Air MC504LL/A Core 2 Duo 1.86GHz 13.3″ 256GB SSD for $1,249 ($80 drop)

Compare those to the new MacBook Airs:
2.4-lb. MacBook Air 11.6″ Core i5 1.6GHz 64GB SSD for $999
2.4-lb. MacBook Air 11.6″ Core i5 1.6GHz 128GB SSD for $1,199
3-lb. MacBook Air 13.3″ Core i5 1.7GHz 128GB SSD for $1,299
3-lb. MacBook Air 13.3″ Core i5 1.7GHz 256GB SSD for $1,599


Apple Certified Minis Also saw drops (Remember, the $469, $549 models have a Superdrive and probably make better media centers  ;):

Apple Mac mini MC270LL/A Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz Desktop for $469 ($130 drop)
Apple Mac mini MC438LL/A Core 2 Duo 2.66GHz Desktop for $549 ($170 drop)
Apple Mac mini MC438LL/A Core 2 Duo 2.66GHz w/ Snow Leopard Server for $749 ($100 drop) Read more

Apple ‘leaks’ Thunderbolt-equipped LED Display…on their website

MacRumors noticed that Apple placed images of their new LED Cinema Display on their website yesterday. The leaked display looks identical to the current model, but will have a Thunderbolt port on the back to easily connect with Apple’s latest Thunderbolt machines: iMacs, MacBook Pros and Mac Pros, MacBook Airs, and Mac minis in the very near future. You can tell that these are new displays based on the unreleased model number, previously thought to be a new White MacBook that they are attached to and by the OS X Lion wallpaper.

The differentiation is important because, as Apple has warned in a previous KB article, the CD no longer has to be the end of a Thunderbolt chain of devices.  For instance, you could have an external hard drive array connected to your monitor permanently rather than having to plug into another device which would terminate at the monitor.  For MacBook Air/Pro users, this would allow the ‘power-USB-Thunderbolt’ cable to do everything, yet again.

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Tomorrow might not be the best time to buy a new Mac

9to5mac partner Dealnews today publishes price trends research showing that the best time to buy a Mac might not be at launch.  Tax issues aside, even waiting a few days for Amazon and other outlets to carry new Macs can save a hundred bucks or more.

We’ll of course have any announcements, should they happen tomorrow and links to products as soon as they become available.

As always, keep an eye on 9to5toys.com for up to the minute deals on Apple products and accessories. Read more