Spoiler Alert! Nobody but Apple makes a Mac mini but it may not matter. Yes, Apple’s CEO says the little Mac that could is an important part of Apple’s future, but you wouldn’t know it from the specifications which are years old.
While Apple dawdles around and remains highly focused on the iPhone, the Macs have not fared so well in recent years. General consensus among critics is that Mac notebooks are underpowered and overpriced. Nothing new there, amirite? What are hardware competitors doing? That Mac thing.
Mac360’s writing staff are unanimous that, 1) Apple’s hardware here and there does not compare to competitors, and, 2) there is a market for a Hackintosh that works. The new iMac Pro compares favorably, of course, but Apple might be correct that there just isn’t much of a market for powerful technology beasts these days, despite the noise from fans and critics.
As to the Mac mini, well, it hasn’t been upgraded in years, and the last upgrade was more of a downgrade, yet it sits in the lineup right alongside the MacBook Air which suffers from a similar fate.
Meanwhile, PC makers have newer hardware with better specifications, each hamstrung somewhat because Windows 10 and Chrome OS. Oh, and speaking of Chromebooks, did you know there is such a beast as a Chromebox? Think Chromebook without a screen, keyboard, trackpad, or mouse.
Sound familiar? If so, feast your eyes on this. A Chromebox.
Just like today’s aging Mac mini, the new Asus Chromebox 3 isn’t much to look at, and doesn’t exactly have specifications to wow anyone. First, it runs Chrome OS but has Intel’s new 8th generation CPUs. Mac mini runs 4th generation Intel Inside. The Chromebox has 802.11ac Wi-Fi and gigabit Ethernet and the all important single USB-C port. There are dual HDMI ports, a DisplayPort connection for a, well, display. Uglier and older such devices were priced in the $500 range so not that much off the Mac mini mark.
Because the new Asus Chromebox 3 is a product of CES 2018 we don’t have many details, including which Intel Inside, how much RAM or SSD storage, but the aforementioned models came with 4GB RAM and 16GB SSD inside, so even though newer CPUs are available, an entry-level Mac mini comes with a 500GB hard drive and 4GB RAM, while $200 more bumps that to 8GB and 1TB respectively.
That means an aging Mac mini holds it own in the price and performance departments against far newer devices. Maybe Apple hasn’t bothered with a recent upgrade to the Mac mini line because for the same money you may get newer, but performance won’t be any better.
Then, there’s the MacBook Air.
That leads me to a need for an official Hackintosh platform whereby specific Windows 10 hardware is made to run macOS High Sierra or macOS Bakersfield or whatever comes later this year. Yes, Hackintosh is a thing and it would be less of a thing among Mac users if Apple simple kept hardware updated to the latest and greatest every year instead of short-changing customers by selling products that are years old but sold as if they are new.