Thursday, February 03, 2005

More on the mini

Everyone's chatting about the latest development at Apple, so this is likely to get lost in the mix. I've been in contact with Bill Fox at www.macsonly.com. Great website, by the way for understanding what is happening in Mac land. Anyway, here is what I've been looking for in terms of hardware details that PC users are wanting to know. Bill's reply to my major issue with the Mac mini revealed some important information about the internal guts:

"The hard drives in the mini's are not Mac drives they are typical 2.5" ATA notebook drives found in PCs and Macs. Their RPM is 4200. You can get a 100GB 5400RPM notebook drive or a 60GB 7200RPM drive and those are the largest and fastest available.

If one needs a huge drive, one can use an external FireWire or USB 2.0 3.5" drive."


Apparently the Mac mini hard drive is not only small, but ALSO kind of sluggish. Most PC notebooks seem to have 5400RPM drives in them, but the mini is only 4200RPM. However, you only need serious performance on the drive end of things if lots of data is being moved around.

I think I've figured out the best combination for how to work with a Mac mini. I would get the default base $499 system and then pick up a external Western Digital 250GB USB hard drive (7200RPM) for an extra $141 (memorylabs.com has a good deal according to pricewatch.com) and a USB hub (the mini only has two USB ports). So, after S&H charges/tax/whatever, the total system cost is about $700 and blows away my primary server specs. (most PCs today do, but not by much - the hard drive to RAM and RAM to CPU transfer rate still blows away some newer quad systems), rivals my primary super-fancy 3GHz system in some regards, and compares nicely to the laptop. It would even fit on my existing server tower case quite comfortably.

$700 for a nice system suitable for pretty much anyone (minus those with serious data processing needs - we're talking about people who move well over 2GB/min). Not as nice as my 3GHz, but still nice. The idea of the Mac mini is beginning to rub off on me. I've never been a fan of Mac simply because of the price (and those awful one-button mice - thank goodness for my USB 2.0-compliant Microsoft Explorer mouse), but the mini really is a different beast.

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