We have the largest computer company in the world, a shit load of people work there, supposedly smart people. Yet they can't put together a refresh of many of their desktop machines. Why the fuck not? What do all those people getting paid all that money do all day? I can only imagine the conversations, "it takes years it has to be super innovative". No it fucking doesn't not on the PC, just put the latest processors and tech in it. You don't have to innovate every fucking time, not on the desktop PC. We see this all the time with Apple devices and I can't understand it.
I mean I don't understand what do they do all day every day for 800 days that they can't refresh this simple Machine. Maybe I'm being nieve here or I'm missing something.
Apple has built their reputation on high quality. To continue to deliver takes immense effort, even for incremental programs, and often almost if the talent internally shifts to whatever is new or deemed important, at the expense of everything else.
So it's not that they don't know, it's not that they don't care. It's that they believe in sacrificing opportunities elsewhere so that they can focus on what is truly important.
Another shift that happens internally is executive focus. Executives at apple are extremely hands on with products. They don't micromanage, but instead constantly judge whether a product is on course and has taste. We use to prepare monthly keynotes that went all the way to the top, hitting each executive along the way, who was interested in taking the pulse of every project underneath them. This approach does not scale to more than a handful of product lines per executive.
There is a lot of risk inherent in this approach, because if they line up a home run with half the company over a few years and then you whiff, you could be in a tough spot. By that's exactly what apple does. And one of the advantages is that people are rarely worried about whether apple is committed to an entirely new product, because they go all in each time they move. For example, apple is absolutely committed to making the watch dominate the smartwatch market. It isn't a hobby for them.
The solution the internal apple devoutiees would see to this problem is to cut the Mac mini entirely if it stopped selling, rather than refresh it. It is believed to not be worth splitting the companies attention.
Edit: as other commenters have mentioned, apple is also not the largest maker of these products, just the one with the largest valuation. They have less, more focused talent, and larger margins.
Edit edit: I just remembered the giant picture of Steve jobs in Infinite loop I used to walk past to lunch all the time that said "I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what's next." pretty much sums this up.
There's still lots of room for Apple to grow their existing Mac business. They've started to make inroads into the enterprise market, traditionally dominated by Windows. They could really press that. They could stay competitive in more markets than just the thin-and-light laptop market -- the Mini is one example, the high-end laptop market is another, and the workstation market is a third.
Instead, they're apparently conceding these battles, and turning their massive resources toward finding another Next Big Thing, which may not even exist.
The uniqueness in the Mac Mini lies in Mac OS. No laser sharp focus is needed for incremental hardware updates.
The Mac Pro has unique hardware, but between major redesigns it does not need any incredibly hard work. Just incremental improvements.
I find it absurd too that a company with so much cash in the bank cannot keep a few people performing incremental improvements on their product lines. The Mac Pro for example, is hopelessly outdated now.
I think they underestimate the compound effect of an ecosystem. Several little products, even if they don't bring in insane revenues such as iOS, can help attracting key users which are those that drive innovation. It also contributes to the overall experience of regular folks. For example, by discontinuing screens or routers, things are not as seamless as they once were.
I won't buy Apple hardware any more because I don't want to be locked into their ecosystem. I don't want to be subject to the whims of a "tastemaker" who decides that I don't need PCIe or USB or a headphone jack. I don't trust Apple not to neglect a key platform for years.
Apple can afford to lose me, because iPhone sales are equivalent to the GDP of some countries. If at some point that golden goose starts looking unhealthy, they might regret pissing off their most loyal customers. They might suddenly realise that the creative professionals who were a cornerstone of their brand have abandoned them.
As of today, the Mac Pro has gone 1137 days without an update. Three years is an eternity for a music producer or a video editor to go without fresh hardware. The introduction of 4K video has only exacerbated the issue, as has the fiasco of FCPX.
A lot of people feel deeply betrayed by Apple. People who would happily give Apple $10,000 every couple of years for a fully loaded Mac Pro. People who have bought every Apple desktop since the Macintosh. People who are role models in their fields. People whose choices define the term "industry standard". Can Apple afford to alienate those people?
To me this is just a sign of broken management. Apple has a minimal product line. Not being able to refresh products regularly is unacceptable. Furthermore, they don't have a complete ecosystem anymore which has an impact on the whole experience.
Google is also broken, but in a different way. They are stuck in a perpetual cycle of release-abandon products, with some insane duplicities. For example, Hangouts/Allo/Duo.
Google has discontinued the much praised Google Reader, plus replaced open Google Talk by closed Hangouts. Also released Allo & Duo, confusing everyone. A royal mess.
Apple is unwilling to update Mac Pro & Mini frequently. They have also discontinued their screens (and third party USB C ones are not working well) and also discontinued all their routers.
Also, I don't think they will change for anyone or anything. Many of the executives have witnessed firsthand the death and resurrection of apple by Steve Jobs and seen the formula work again and again, from the iMac to the iPhone. They truely believe that they are either going to make products that makes a dent in the universe or go bankrupt trying.
The problem with this ^focused^ (linear) thinking is the real value of apple in the past has been from ^diffuse^ (intuitive, unconscious wondering connections, slightly riskier) thinking. I know this is simplistic but the successful apple will be using both modes.
Apple is in love with the big, sexy revolutionary unveiling and that thrill and opportunity is what they are laser focused on. If it doesn't get them to that point, they say No to it.
That thing might require linear or divergent thinking to make work. But it's all this fixation on that end goal, that flash of excitement and freshness that they, their shareholders, the press and the majority of their users are all hooked on.
Fair point. Direction at apple doesn't have Jobs for aesthetics. apple has long forgotten the brilliance of Woz and open access to hardware. We'll see how this plays out (as I type out on mbp kb).
/me shakes head in dismay
Total neglect of 60% of their products (Mac pro, Mac Mini), and ditching complete other productlines (Cinema displays, Routers) at the same time, is unprecedented...
I really think Cook is messing it up. Especially not even having the option of a regular keyboard on a 15" MBP, is almost insulting.
Apple may be neglecting 60% of their products (not sure if that's accurate...), but if 60% of their products are generating 1% of their revenue, it seems like a good idea to neglect them.
I think Apple has gone way beyond the days where "power graphics/media users" are important or even relevant to them. Every kid I know has an iPhone, wants to upgrade their iPhone, or "drops" their iPhone on purpose every 2 years, crushing the screen, so they "have" to get a new one using Mommy & Daddy's phone upgrade. One $10K PowerMac == 20 $500 iPhones.
If it were your business, what would you focus on? Not saying I like it, because I still have a slide phone and don't give a shit about Apple's consumer products, and wish they still cared about a great developer machine. But I understand why they don't.
I had no problem replacing the hard drive in my 2011 Mac mini, and it was only the second time I'd ever worked with laptop-type components. And the first time I gave up shortly after opening up the case (of a machine that had been given to me in non-working condition).
IMO the bigger issue with the Mac Mini is that it used to be designed with very similar internals to the plastic/polycarbonate MacBook.
When they discontinued those machines in favour of laptops with integrated RAM and storage, my suspicion is the design path became less clear and required more engineers.
How is a 3-year-old PC good quality?
It's like they are chasing exploding fountains of gold, with tunnel vision and no rear view mirrors.
Can you explain what exactly was meant (in an internal-politics sense) back when the Apple TV was referred to in each keynote that mentioned it as a "hobby project"?
It's weird- the practice of never talking about product roadmaps started in an era when whatever customer angst and uncertainty it generated was vastly outweighed by customer and media delight when the next step in that roadmap was finally revealed, which at the time happened like clockwork at 6-month intervals. Now people want them to talk about product roadmaps not because they're excited to know when/what the next great Mac is going to be, but because they're worried that there won't BE any Macs anymore (at least not any that they would want to buy). :(
It was right decision at the time to build the new OS only for mobile devices. But now laptops and desktops have also touch screens. It was easy to foresee this. So Microsoft decision to build touch OS for laptops and desktops payed off. But who at Apple will take the blame for the decision made 5 years ago to still have two separate OSes? I guess it is safer to continue Steve Jobs vision, even knowing that Steve often changed his mind.
That lack of Mac Mini internals upgrade is really insane. It seems that no exec wants to be associated with that simple project. In most innovative and valuable company everyone has to work on something revolutionary, otherwise someone will be not considered as the right person for Apple.
I guess that "laser focus" and "saying no" are now mostly used in internal office fights.
The iPhone will be able to carry their business over the hill of user discontent in the meantime.
Apple repeatedly said their laptop/desktop/macos variants will remain for hardcore users who need that freedom, while ios is for users who want simplicity.
How many of those hardcore users actually do like the new MBP and do not bother talking about it ?
I would honestly appreciate to see a bit more fact & figures instead of anecdotal evidence.
Apple, more than any other tech company, usually attracts the "can do no wrong" type of fans. They're still around for this product lineup but much quieter than usual. That should be worrying for Apple, assuming they still care about Macs.
Just now, the internet and clickbait journalism give these voices much more weight. Apple isn't the underdog anymore and Apple bashing produces page views.
That said, of course Apple products aren't perfect. But they never were. But even 10 or 15 years ago, a lot of Apple supporters didn't buy 1.0 releases of new products, didn't install OS/X x.0 releases and so on.
How reasonable are these critics? E.g.: How many users do really need 32GB RAM on their MBP, an option not available before, but now a big failure if you read comments, blogs and articles about Apple. I bet its a tiny minority that is truly
limited by this constraint. But still, everyone is complaining.
I argue: One reason is that it took Apple one and a half years to refresh the MacBook Pro, leading to pent up demand. Previous models were refreshed after max. 0.8 years, from 2015 to 2016 it took 1.7 years.
Why update products if the update is only marginally faster/better/newer than the current model?
Really, I can buy a new Acer or Lenovo notebook with a shiny new model number and a lot of "enhanced", "new" and "better" features every two months. It is more difficult to buy the old, trusted models of Lenovo notebooks than fresh models - that all are only better according to marketing, but somehow not faster or better and often somehow crippled in real world use. Do you want that from Apple?
Probably because we constantly hear stories that they have combined their OS teams. The recent problems with PDF Kit seem to confirm that there is a convergence and quality / features of the macOS side of the house are not a priority.
As for the employees, Apple has about 115 thousands, IBM has about 379 thousands, Samsung has 319 thousands, HP has 289 thousands (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_largest_informatio...).
You probably meant the most valuable (stock number * stock price).
Cook has said multiple times that their biggest challenge is acquisition and retention of talent.
You have to work there for 2 to 3 years before you start matching FB or Google.
$700 at Apple gets you a much slower 3 generation old i5 with a 1TB hard drive. But, with MacOS.
It's one thing for Apple to charge a premium for better hardware. But that is NOT what they're doing. They're charging the same amount for ancient, inferior hardware.
However the nuc generation7 i5 is the lowest model with the iris graphics.
For example, Apple's custom UEFI, plus a Bluetooth controller that boots in HID mode and loads configured pairings from NVRAM, allows you to "hold down [key combination] at boot" on your Mac Mini's Bluetooth keyboard.
Or the fact that all the desktop Mac models have internal speakers (and not just the motherboard PC speaker kind) and internal microphones, so OSX can guarantee it always has those devices available to use to play system event notification sounds, or for Siri, or for FaceTime, or for visual-impairment accessibility tooling, etc.
Or the fact that you can still plug FireWire or DisplayPort devices into a Mac Mini through its Thunderbolt port (with a passive adapter to map the pins) and the motherboard will happily accept the device; whereas no PC would have any idea what to do with those wire protocols, even if you plugged them into the port of an explicit Thunderbolt PCIe card you bought.
If you could get these things from a NUC, then sure, there'd be no point in the Mac Mini.
If they were to do the kind of update you suggest, there would be a lot of bad press stating the obvious ("It's just the same as before, but faster and more RAM. No new alloys or anything!"), and it would drive down prices for inventory of the old model.
 Makes even more sense when you consider who has what apps. Microsoft had a huge lead in Windows apps, so of course you want to bolt your touchscreen onto that. Apple has the huge lead in iOS apps, so better to bolt a keyboard onto that than a touch screen onto the Mac.
Keeping the same price for a machine over 3 years and not even going through the motion of offering spec bump is no very considerate. That really looks like Apple keep the line just for that sucker that is born every minute.
Customers aren't even aware of the lack of competitiveness.
With the management led by a logistics/operations man, you end up with products that are UNinspired.
It's a pity Mr. Jobs picked Mr. Cooks to be the successor.
But doing that burns goodwill with your customers.
When they do the math, iPhone might seem the most lucrative (they seem not to care about anything else) but since they are killing the ecosystem with no Mac Pro, no Mac Mini and with so called pro MacBooks, developers will abandon Apple eventually. Even if iPhone becomes/remains the most technologically advanced smart phone on the market, it would be like a distant paradise island with no airports. Airplanes (developers and subsequently the end users) will be landing on alternative airports on emerging islands, letting them prosper. Consequently, Apple island will be deserted.
So now I'm using a Nexus 5X. It's okayish, but costs 1/3 the price of the iPhone 7 that would also be relatively ok. Phones are just phones these days.
The awkward part is that if you've ever played audio or video on an iOS device, you've executed some of my code.
I disagree with this. Most Android phones have a bad track record of getting OS updates (which may not be extremely important with Play Services not being part of the OS) and security updates. Depending on what one buys, it may be a phone with an outdated OS and no security updates or something that gets by for two to three years (on average). Apple provides updates for four years or longer (this has been the minimum for the past several years).
Combine the above with more malware spreading through APKs from random sites and "friends", I'd say Android is still stuck in the DOS era of PCs.
Of course, I realize this is a very harsh comparison that doesn't touch upon the flexibility that some users love, but in my opinion, non-tech-savvy people shouldn't be using anything but the best flagship phones if they choose Android and stay away from getting APKs from different sources. Any cost advantage with respect to an iPhone then disappears.
That's a massive deal breaker.
The digital divide between those who can afford an iPhone and those who cannot is glaring on the security front. One of the ways this could get better is for Apple to introduce truly low priced phones (no, the iPhone SE is still quite expensive in developing countries). That's probably as much a pipe dream as getting Android manufacturers to care for their customers.
I finally switched permanently last year, and man has it been worth it. I can actually browse my own files on my own phone, and it does virtual reality better than any current Apple product! I grew up with Apple around me and I used to love them, but they have fallen behind and made terrible choices and I won't feel bad for them if they fail.
Motherfucker. I BROKE Objective-C 2.0 and its GC in order to meet the soft real-time constraints of video rendering, I made all video related objects reference counted.
Now there's ARC, but back then I took so much flack just to make video work appropriately.
Anyways the guy 10 years my junior didn't know anything other than the Java GC so explaining myself was futile.
Moral of the story: Don't work for Hudson River Trading.
Corollary: Don't be old.
I haven't installed Cyanowhatever it is now - mainly because the IR sensors and gestures are really handy.
Sadly it's too late for Cyanogenmod. http://lifehacker.com/cyanogenmod-is-dead-and-its-successor-...
I'm baffled by this. Touchbar is innovative to some degree, but I usually connect my Macbook Pro to a bigger display and close it—making touchbar useless. So disappointed by Apple lately...
The Cinema Display is not so much different from the Mac Mini in that sense. You feel bad that you don't have a new one, until you realize just how much better the alternatives have become.
I bet most people don't ever use it after the first week.
For me, constantly looking down at the keyboard somehow doesn't feel natural. I prefer to keep my eyes on the screen.
That actually opens up a huge can of worms, as networking as a host of security issues. One example is with a VPN connection. For obvious security reasons, when a lot of VPNs are active, they force all networking to flow through them. That is problematic, because the remote side has no way to route the toolbar traffic back to it.
So, VPN software is now busily building out exceptions to their routing rules. Don't worry, I'm sure this won't lead to bugs or future security holes...
It for instance controls the camera, so without hacking the touchbar it is impossible to use the camera without the light turning on.
It also controls the fingerprint reader in a way that makes it hard to get the secrets that are protected by the fingerprint without actually providing the fingerprint.
If we left the ecosystem, the cost of native iOS development would increase, and companies would build portable (and/or crappy) apps instead. macOS indie apps would also lose some customers, and IMHO these apps are what makes the Apple world worthwhile in the first place.
This means a well polished, but expensive app can be easily ousted out of a top search result spot by a rushed clone at a lower price point, even if people end up deleting the crappy one after a day or two anyways. Basically both modern app stores place a ton of value on "new" things but don't care about software built to last. So as a dev you are incentivized to abandon your old projects and just stick out new ones every few months. And on iOS it gets even worse with paid search ads which can be targeted at competitor app names.
Couple that with a 30% revenue cut, no access to your users (So you have no ability to refund them or discount future purchases), and the stores having the ability to oust you at any time and it becomes obvious that the only sustainable business is continuous crap-ware or SaaS with your main business outside the App Store. Just look at the Top Grossing chart, there isn't a single paid app till around 80 and even then the app is Minecraft.
Honestly when I go any store, I sometimes wonder how all those companies with products on the shelves, manage to sell enough goods to keep the engines running.
Amazon.com wasn't a Windows desktop app even though most customers would have used Windows to buy from Amazon. You could say that shifts like the Web are inevitable and nothing Apple could do will change that. That's probably right, but the way in which it happens and the role old incumbants play in the new world does depend on whether or not they are hated and actively avoided by the new elites.
I believe that Apple is making the upcoming decline steeper and deeper right now.
Now, as they make the Mac worse and worse to have, who knows, maybe people will finally be motivated enough to build an Xcode that runs on Windows or Unix. But you'd still have to have at least one Mac to do your publishing.
But where is the excitement? Where are the growth opportunities? Where's the space for experimentation? Where are things moving?
Once all the wealthy people on this planet have their iPhones and their six favorite apps in their six home screen rows, all extremely vetted by Apple, the market is saturated and stagnant.
You can't skate where the puck is going to be because the puck has come to a complete stop and all players are sitting on top of it.
I'm a Mac, iPhone and iPad user. But would I ever build a _new_ company on that platform. No. Definitely not.
Maybe iOS isn't the new platform, but it's certainly a good place to start. Still miles ahead of the next few options.
I buy all of my Apple hardware used from third parties. I don't buy any apps, music or books from Apple. I only use free apps.
The only time Apple gets a cent from me is when I pay for my developer license.
When I show my customers what a giant PITA it is to work with Apple and iOS, many of them start planning a switch to Android or Windows.
I've been single-handedly responsible for moving entire companies away from iOS in one way or another.
Would that turn into a downward spiral? Don't know.
That sounds totally unrelated to the age of the machine, and totally related to what's installed, the mini running out of disk, etc.
Maybe do a clean install of the OS?
Aside from the mechanical parts (CD ROMS, Hard Disks, etc), the "digital" parts of a PC do not age and their age does not affect program execution speed (all other things being equal).
Either they work, or they don't (well, corrupted memory can cause crashes when accessed, but it wont slow down programs).
The NUC he describes sounds perfect for what he wants. Kaby Lake might not have many noticeable improvements over Skylake for most uses, but the integrated graphics for streaming high resolution content are significantly better. Furthermore I don't think there is any Mac that has HDMI 2.0 necessary for sending 4k video to a regular television at greater than 30Hz.
MacBook (Retina, 12-inch,
Early 2016) and
MacBook Pro models
support 60Hz refresh
rates over HDMI when
used with a supported
HDMI 2.0 display, an
HDMI Premium Certified
cable, and a supported
USB-C to HDMI 2.0
For future readers, here's one as an example: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FIVSC6Y/
This tiny little Zotac ZBOX that I got for $150 off Amazon has a less powerful CPU than the 2010 Mac Mini from the article and Windows 10 flies on it.
Honestly, I can't fathom why anybody would have chosen a Mac for an HTPC within the last decade to begin. I can see why people would buy an Apple TV, but if you want the "full" OS because you want to do more stuff - you can't beat Windows.
I've covered that in: "all other things being equal".
Also, can't a Mac Mini that old be upgraded with a 2.5" SSD and more RAM?
Maybe not in six years. But I've been shopping for 25-year-old music synthesizers and the field is filled with discussions about how to replace bad capacitors, broken power supplies, and (most interestingly) failing chips.
I ended up with the latest "Skull Canyon" NUC as well. Even though it is thinner than my old Mini, its footprint on my desk is about the same, it's just less square. I'm not a fan of the color or the design; it seems marketed at teenage gamerzzz, not at the boring middle aged guy who prefers a minimalist Scandinavian style. But that's not very important. I did have to buy the SSD and the RAM separately, I had to install Windows myself (so that's no better than buying a Mini to run Windows on), and I did have to hunt for a couple of drivers. I don't know why they don't sell a fully configured machine.
Its fan is not as quiet as the Mini, and it has some weird transient behavior when it wakes up from hibernation. It didn't come cheap (I maxed pretty much every spec though). It is very fast, it does the job competently, but I don't Love it like I Loved the Mini. Sad that Apple has abandoned this cute nifty little machine.
Intel is a bit lazy. Many manufacturers are selling cheap fanless devices for a lot less money. Their Core m3 is a fanless CPU. They should release a fanless NUC themselves.
I love NUCs because their hardware just works on Linux and they are relatively affordable. Fanless cooling would make them perfect.
Quad-core i5, 120GB SSD, 8GB RAM, Ubuntu preinstalled. $600 plus $50 shipping to the US (they're in the UK): http://www.atlastsolutions.com/fanless-mini-itx
They Atlast guys are also very friendly, and they know Linux.
Often, bigger/faster is not better... :)
It's bizarre to see a company with the wealth and resources of Apple not even putting out spec upgrades for their machines. I could say the same about my old MacBook Air I've been wanting to upgrade. Just throw us a bone here Apple. Even a small bump in specs.
What's so bizarre is that the things that people want are actually the easiest and cheapest things for apple to do.
All anyone wants is a macbook air with a retina screen. Not a new 12" one, not a new form factor, not design and engineer some new razor thin design ... just take the same old cad drawings and put a nicer screen on it.
All anyone wants is a mac pro tower (not the wastebasket) with nicer internals and fast SATA/USB ports. That's it. Nothing new to design, no new manufacturing processes - you don't even need new press photos.
If you're going to relegate the product line(s) to second tier, why not just save a ton of money and give people exactly what they were all asking for ?
So, I highly doubt that Apple will listen to what people want. I mean, Apple would make a killing with a new Mac Mini with better spec, a Macbook Air with better screen res, couple of USB-C ports, a 24" iMac instead of 21, etc...
But Apple won't do it because that would be listening to people, and this is something they're too proud to do.
I mean, I agree with what Jobs said when he suggested that customers expect Apple to innovate and curate and make it's own decisions about what products it develops. But I think you can also take that too far, especially when your customers are screaming at you on certain topics.
I'm probably speaking for thousands of people. It's been complete frustration to see what Apple hasn't been up to on the Mac front. Apart from not updating a few ranges for years (and introducing updates that reduce or remove the kind of expandability the core Apple customer base wants), not reducing the price of old systems is highly insensitive on the part of the company. It looks like in another one or two years macOS won't support some of the aged hardware that Apple sells. That may be the time it'd completely junk those ranges. It's sad to see this.
Though lacking in certain ways, the HP Z2 Mini seems like a decent alternative for people who can move out of macOS.
The Z2 Mini is a completely different class of hardware.
People who are looking for an alternative to the Mac Mini would be well served by an Intel NUC, Zotac ZBOX , or Gigabyte BRIX .
If I was going to buy a Mac Mini, it's to have an affordable Mac that I can stick somewhere in my house to run occasional OS X software. I already have a few other computers, plenty of them running Linux. A Mac Mini is a great way to get a cheap OS X setup going.
Also, it's not low margin, they charge $200-$400 for each upgrade you make. So if you only want a 1.8GHz box with 5400rpm spinning rust, then you're still paying $500 and Apple can't be out more than $300 in parts and costs. Especially given that they've been selling this model for 3 years, the cost of production is quite low.
I still have a Late 2012 Mac Mini. The CPU is almost as fast as the 2014 and I put in 16 GB RAM when I bought it (you could just pop off the bottom without a screwdriver). Later I also added a 500GB SSD. It still runs great.
Still selling the 2014 Mini is even a bigger offense than if they'd sell the upgradable late 2012 flavor.
"Mac mini (Late 2014) does not have user-installable RAM."
(Once you get ahold of the screwdriver it's actually not as hard as it looks. You can DIY the motherboard removal tool from a wire coat hanger and in 40 minutes of focused work you'll be done.)
I don't need a laptop and, consequently, I don't want to pay a single penny for portability.
My previous monitor was almost ten years old when I gave it away, and I'd have kept on using it if I hadn't had to buy a larger one (tl;dr small desk, got a big 1080p monitor and hung it on the wall behind the desk for extra space). Unless an iMac is going to last me 10-12 years, there's no point in paying a single penny for a monitor that I'm going to stop using when the computer it's glued to goes obsolete. Sexy design, stupid engineering.
That leaves me to choose between a Mac Mini and a Mac Pro. I don't need a Xeon machine, but a three year-old dual-core i5 machine with a crawling hard disk isn't quite on-par with what I need, either.
My current machine is a five year-old quad-core i7 that's running just fine. My only beef with it is that between 2012 and 2017, a bunch of things happened on Linux and now I'd really, really rather use OS X (hell, I'd rather use Windows if it didn't shove ads down my throat...).
An up-to-date Mac Mini would be exactly what I need -- small, runs OS X, doesn't come with a bunch of hardware that I don't need, can run Emacs, compile C programs, run Perl/Python/whatever scripts, plays music and ssh-es into other boxes (my current machine does all that, too, except its OS keeps breaking)
the really pricey trashcan Mac
If I'd needed something new for refreshing a couple of web pages, I'd have bought a Raspberry Pi or similar. Would anyone really buy a Mac Mini, new, to do this?
I haven't jumped into that ecosystem yet so I'm not sure how great they are or what the best ones are. I've been thinking of buying a few of them to replace the Rokus around my house.
I have the Xiaomi MiBox 3 and it's a pain to put other apps on it. Anything that isn't explicitly Android TV compatible won't be installable from the Play Store, and even if you sideload it, it doesn't show up in the menu. Amusingly, this is the most useful that "OK Google" has ever been (Xiaomi's remote+voice control is excellent)
I will say it's worth reading up and buying based on chipset+firmware. You probably want Android 5+, something that runs Kodi well, Ethernet and HEVC decoding. I'd recommend the Mibox but Google and Xiaomi have really made a mess of it.
Hackers are more likely to build themselves a hackintosh and triple boot.
- Getting the NUC to wake up after sleep is a hit or miss. Sometimes I can still SSH into it, but I never manage to get the display back on.
- One in every 200 boots the fan just doesn't start. Since the fan isn't very loud, some people might not notice this, which might or might not be a problem.
- One in every 1000 boots the fan seems to be the only thing that starts.
- Sometimes Wifi doesn't come up or goes down. Getting it back up is impossible.
- Getting into BIOS is annoyingly difficult.
I had some more problems but I think they were my monitors fault (looking at you, Dell).
I've been using Linux since forever now and I never had so many problems with any machine.
If it were really that bad I definitely wouldn't be able to use it as my daily driver. My Dell 5510 on the other hand is a PoS that I've had replaced 4 times now. I won't buy another Dell product because of that and their horrible support.
Only Kaby Lake has VP8/9 hardware acceleration. Skylake doesn't.
One of my favorite desktop machines is the Intel Skull Canyon (NUC6i7KYK). It has an i7-6770HQ, supports 32GB of RAM (all of the newer, i.e. Skylake and greater do) and the real difference I wanted was the fact that it has two M.2 slots AND a true Thunderbolt 3 port (for support of the Razer Core external GPU enclosure).
Highly recommended if you want a performant machine in a small form factor with multi-monitor support and flexibility given it's size.
I only hope that Gigabyte continues to make the Brix line, especially when Ryzen drops from AMD. As much as I like the Skull Canyon I'd love to drop Intel from a pure privacy standpoint.
Are you referring to the Intel Management Engine? I was under the impression that AMD was as bad if not worse than Intel in that regard:
Or is Ryzen expected to be better in that regard?
If AMD wanted to compete on something they could compete by being the chip provider that was security-friendly. The failed Talos secure workstation proved that at least some people are willing to spend lavishly on truly open, user-controlled hardware. My supposition is that there could be pretty solid demand if the price point weren't ~$10k.
We have a handful of Broadwell (5th gen) and Skylake (6th gen) NUCs running at work using Ubuntu 15.10 and 16.04. Everything works great including WiFi.
uhm... look into power settings? That's common for most os.
I'm using a Lenovo Q190  that runs lubuntu. It's a little slow to start, but everything runs fine. I run Plex Server, Plex Home Theater, Spotify, and RetroPie.
I would gladly trade it for a 2010 Mac Mini. That's crazy. Just reinstall everything and run a scan on your disk and RAM.
 For a more complete spec including the other parts you may need, see: https://rwmj.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/new-home-gateway-route...
All I put on them are Chrome and Mame.
The $99 ComputeSticks are just powerful enough to play standard def video from someone like NetFlix or Amazon. Higher bit rate streaming video is too much, and the'll stutter. But they have higher spec ComputeSticks I've not played with for $199, and $299. (Maybe I'm being grumpy, but most video content simply does not need to be 4K, or HD.)
They are great with 3D graphics, as far as rendering. I write 3D, and have been having a good time with their 3D performance, using WebGL.
Seems like the Nuc prices are just at that level that one could pick up a desktop with the necessary CPU, video card and RAM while being expandable to the future - where the Nuc is not...
Even the slowest compute sticks had a BayTrail-T Atom in them which has support for hardware decoding of any 1080p content you're likely to come across and technically supports 4K 30FPS playback (though doesn't have the necessary DRM support to play any commercial 4K content). If your machine had trouble playing back any 1080p content you probably had something misconfigured in your player or video drivers so it was incorrectly using software decoding.
It's very upgradable as well. It ships with one open DIMM slot, so upgrading to 4GB RAM is dirt cheap.
The Celeron 2955U isn't a speed demon, but it's good enough for a home machine.
And, you can get a ROM image that allows running an actual linux distribution instead of ChromeOS: https://johnlewis.ie/custom-chromebook-firmware/rom-download...
Has anyone here tried these devices with Ubuntu, or maybe a more cut down distro? Could you use one of these as an internet and word processing box, with a normal/decent experience?
The CPU on mine (about 2 years old) is: https://ark.intel.com/products/81072/Intel-Celeron-Processor...
(a) quiet at load
(b) have the PSU integrated in the case?
Those are about the only redeeming qualities of a Mac Mini right now, and it pisses me off to no end that no one bothers with (b) on the Wintel side.
Edit: please don't explain to me how a power brick that's sometimes as large as the NUC doesn't bother you, it does bother me.
Give credit where credit is due.
However it has a small external power brick. It's only about 1/4 the size of the machine (at least that's for the UK PSU).
Getting further off topic, the only other piece of hardware I know of where they bother is the Playstation. The XBoxes use ugly power bricks, just like the Wintel boxes.
Large, slow fans are much quieter (and easier on bearings!) than high RPM fans.
To be honest, I think the NUC or any other intel platform is overkill for TV these days.
If you don't mind ~35mm more depth to your TV, you can mount the NUC on the back. Or, mount it to the back of a monitor, for an iMac replacement.
However, if you want something that plays media but doesn't (necessarily) also have to be able to receive regular terrestrial signal it shouldn't matter much beyond user preference and ease of installation/maintenance/debugging.
Think Penguin sells a stick that's a bit pricier, but also presumably very easy to use with Linux: https://www.thinkpenguin.com/gnu-linux/usb-tv-tuner-w-suppor...
There's also the Linux TV site that discusses the software side of things: https://www.linuxtv.org/wiki/index.php/TV_Related_Software
they make outboard tv tuners that will either do over-the-air or digital cable and stream wired or wirelessly. one model even transcodes to h.264 and they publish plugins for kodi and plex along with working with a variety of commercial and open source apps. it was my preferring tuning device with both myth tv on linux and Microsoft media center until i ditched cable entirely.
At least that was a case few years ago, when I was checking how to play a full HD mkv file on my Mac Mini.
I run Plex Server, Plex Home Theater, Spotify desktop app (in the background), and EmulationStation. I've been very happy with it so far.
It would be nice if I could get Netflix integrated, but I just use my phone and a Chromecast for that.
[ed: part of the reason setup and maintenance of Linux is easier is thanks to powerful, integrated package management systems, like apt]