Ever since the Mac mini was introduced, it has been an amazingly powerful and yet extremely compact system. With each successive upgrade, the Mac mini models gain more performance but still maintain excellent power efficiency.
The latest models also, for the first time, do not have any optical drive or drive slots. Instead, there is space in even the base Mac mini configuration for two hard drives (a special bracket is required unless your Mac mini already has two hard drives installed).
Uses for Mac mini servers are varied but include:
- Groupware Server
- OS X Lion Server
- Basic Virtualization Server with VMware Fusion or Parallels Server MME
- Virtualization Server with VMware ESXi 5.0 Update 1
- Development Server
- Web Server
Many more functions can be assigned to a Mac mini. We have personally tested Mac mini servers in various configurations running continuously for over two years without more than an occcasional reboot for software updates.
Mac mini Configurations
It depends on your needs, but the primary difference in the Mac mini Server as compared to the other two standard configurations is the processor. The Mac mini Server has an Intel Core i7 quad-core processor installed while the other two configurations sport a dual-core processor.
In our opinion, the best configurations are either the entry-level Mac mini or the Mac mini Server. The mid-level Mac mini uses a discrete graphics card rather than the Intel HD 3000 Graphics of the other two models. There is no advantage in the discrete graphics card for all but the rarest of server tasks.
While it is possible to order all of your upgrades pre-installed from the Apple Store, we recommend for cost and performance reasons that you purchase the Mac mini in its standard configuration and then add the upgrades yourself. We either recommend that you install the upgrades before sending your Mac mini to us or use our upgrade service which provides a QuickUpgrade session for unlimited parts for $50. Common upgrades include hard drives, SSDs, and memory.
Hardware upgrades are also included in our Mac mini QuickStart service where you purchase a Mac mini and whatever upgrades are needed and send them to us. We do the upgrades and basic configuration and then put the machine on the Internet and provide you with a temporary login so you can take over the machine and use it to your liking.
In the majority of situations, we recommend upgrading to a full 16GB of memory. We have had great success with the Corsair 16GB (2x8GB) kit. If you would rather only go with an 8GB upgrade, the similar Corsair 8GB (2x4GB) kit is also excellent.
We understand that sometimes it is beneficial to have an external drive or drive array connected to your Mac mini. We support customers in this endeavor but pricing depends on the size of the unit which directly correlates to how much space the unit takes in our racks.
A basic USB or FireWire 2.5-inch external drive requiring no separate power supply is available as an add-on to your service for $10/month or $100/year.
A larger single 3.5-inch USB, FireWire, or Thunderbolt external drive that requires a separate power supply is available as an add-on to your service for $25/month or $250/year.
A larger multi-drive array such as a Promise Pegasus R4 is available as an add-on to existing service but the pricing depends on how much power and space the array takes in our racks. Please contact us for more information.
Classic Mac minis
If you have a “Classic” Mac mini, meaning a pre-unibody Mac mini with aluminum sides and a white top, we have a limited number of spaces still available.
You can start the process by going to our Pricing page.