Archive for the 'Hardware' Category

Mini Workhorse

June 16, 2010  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

When the first Mac Mini with Snow Leopard Server was announced in October 2009, I was intrigued.  A Mini with two hard drives totaling 1TB could certainly work as a file, mail, and calendar server for a small office.  And now Apple has upped the ante.

At first blush, the new Mac Mini Server seems like mostly a cosmetic change with a minor processor bump.  The headline always seems to be the processor, but a 2.53 GHz to 2.66 GHz jump is pretty negligible (and mostly irrelevant for file servers).  It’s nice to see that Apple now supports an 8GB RAM configuration.  RAM is at a premium on servers.  But even if you don’t want to spend the $400 to upgrade from 4GB to 8GB, you’re definitely going to enjoy the new 7200 rpm hard drives.

Previously, the Mini came with what were essentially laptop hard drives, 5400 rpm.  The server version now comes with two 500GB 7200 rpm drives.  It’s a subtle difference, to be sure.  But even minor increases in data access speed will start to add up over the weeks and months.

I have been looking into getting a server for some time.  At the moment we are using primarily syncing and sharing technologies.  But a central server has some appeal.  Now it’s just a matter of finding the time to implement it.  The new Mini is cute, but I don’t need another desk accessory.

More on the new Mini Server

October 25, 2009  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

AppleInsider has a nice cost comparison between the new Mac Mini Server and cheap Windows servers. Apple essentially deciding to throw in a free copy of OS X Server really tips the balance in favor of Macs (and it’s not even close!)

Or, as AppleInsider put it:

Prior to Snow Leopard, the unlimited user version of Mac OS X Server cost $999; that’s what the unlimited user version now costs with the Mac mini server thrown in for free.

I’m not deluding myself into believing that small businesses that currently run Windows are going to race out to buy Mac Minis to replace their servers. But for small businesses that are on the fence or leaning toward Macs, this could be a game changer.

Apple ups the ante for business

October 20, 2009  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

Apple released new Macs today, and these new models offer more than just a trifling speed bump. The new 27″ iMacs are shrinking the previously large gap between the iMac and Mac Pro lines. It won’t come cheap, but a 27″ iMac can sport 16GB of RAM and a quad-core Intel processor, along with a 2TB hard drive.

But probably the biggest news of the day (apart from a multi-touch mouse – which I’ll really have to stop into the Apple Store and play with to get some impressions on it) is the server Mac Mini. For $999, you can get a Mac Mini loaded with Leopard Server. It also has a second hard drive in place of the optical disk player for a total storage of 1TB. If we ever decide to move away from Dropbox for more control over our file storage, it will definitely be worth a look.

New Macs (as if you didn’t know)

March 4, 2009  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

Apple announced new Macs across the entire desktop line yesterday (Mac Pro, iMac, and Mac Mini). I’ve been in the market for a new iMac, so these updates are very welcome (although with the economy being the way it is, the rush to buy one has subsided just a little).

Still, there’s lots to like about the updates. I am most impressed with the changes to the Mac Mini. The Mini has long lagged the iMac in four key performance-related areas: processor, memory, memory speed, and hard drive speed. Now it looks like we’re down to three. The Mac Mini and the iMac both sport a 1066MHz front side bus. Prior to Tuesday’s updates, the iMacs raced along at 800MHz while the Minis were saddled with a 667MHz FSB. Unfortunately, the Minis are still limited to 5400rpm hard drives. That may have made sense at one time, but now 7200rpm hard drives are even available on Macbook Pros. It’s time to let the Mini catch up.

The iMacs saw a nice boost too. The big shock for me was the switch from two 20″ models and two 24″ models to a single 20″ model and three 24″ models. For me, the 24″ model never made sense before. For the price of the cheapest 24″ iMac, you could almost buy a 20″ iMac and a 20″ Apple Cinema Display (this model has since been discontinued but it was still available when I purchased my current iMac). If you’re willing to step outside the Apple Store and buy a non-Apple display, you could definitely have made that purchase. I would much rather have two 20″ displays side-by-side than a single 24″ display. The reason for this seemingly crazy pricing situation is that Apple bundled better processor and graphics into the cheapest 24″ iMac. If you don’t need that extra horsepower, the larger monitor becomes a very pricey upgrade.

Now things are entirely different. The cheapest 24″ iMac comes in at $1499 with a larger hard disk and more memory. But I can see lots of people wanting to upgrade to 4GB of RAM (a must in my opinion!) and 640GB hard drive (320GB is becoming “small”). Upgrading the 20″ iMac to comparable RAM and hard drive brings the price to $1374. In my opinion, $125 is a small price to pay for the larger screen real estate.

I don’t have much to say about the Mac Pros. My last true desktop was an 867MHz Mirror Drive Doors PowerMac. I can get so much done on a laptop or iMac that I would be wasting my money to buy a Mac Pro. Still, I enjoy pricing one out occasionally to see what kind of ridiculous specs and prices are available. A dual 2.93GHz, 32GB RAM, 1TB HD model currently rings up at just over 12 grand. At least there is free shipping.

Why Mac? (revisited)

December 11, 2008  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

In the past two weeks, I have had two laptop computers malfunction in some way (three actually, but I didn’t have the third laptop for more than a few hours). The first is my work laptop. It’s a Dell Latitude, provided by my law firm. The second is my wife’s home laptop. It’s a MacBook Pro (a first generation model from 2006).

What’s remarkable isn’t that both problems had problems, but in how easy it was (or not) to recover from those problems. The Dell died first. Or rather, it didn’t die, but had to be put out of its misery. I managed to contract a bad case of spyware/adware. All the adware removal and anti-virus tools at our disposal couldn’t rid the computer of its unwelcome guest. IT hooked me up with a replacement laptop, but that one burned down, fell over, and then sank into the swamp (it had an undiagnosed hardware problem). The third laptop worked. All of my files were transferred over and I was ready to get back to work. Or was I? The replacement came installed with all of my “core” applications, but I use much more than just the core applications. So I had to install a number of other applications and set up all my preferences and options for the applications before I could really begin using the computer.

The experience rescuing my wife’s MacBook Pro was quite different. The computer still works, but it appears to have the graphics problems that have plagued the early MacBook Pros (the computer still works, but the screen is black). We connected the MBP to a spare Mac Mini with a firewire cable. Then it was simply a matter of running Migration Assistant, selecting the user accounts, and letting it run. A couple of hours later, the Mac Mini was up and running with my wife’s account and applications intact. The only real problem we encountered is a few applications that store a full path name in the preferences (for reasons I won’t get into, when we imported the account we changed the account name). These problems were pretty simply to solve, though. Overall, the whole recovery experience was fantastic on the MBP compared to the Dell with Windows XP. Just another reason I am sold on Mac.