Gamer's Take on Nvidia Mac mini, Mac mini Teardown and 1 TB Upgrade, SuperSpeed USB 3 Coming, and More
This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News
All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.
News & Opinion
- New Mac mini Could Be Sleeper Hit
- A Gamer's Take on the New Mac mini
- Is the Mac mini Overpriced?
- Mac mini Teardown
- Mac mini 1 Terabyte Hard Drive Upgrade
- Apple Ups Mac Build Plans on Strong Reception to New Desktops
- FireWire Target Disk Mode to the Rescue
- RTFM: May Not Always Be Right
- 4.8 Gbps USB 3.0 Test Spec to Be Released in June 2009
- iFixit Mac mini 1 TB Hard Drive Kit
- miniStack the Perfect Companion for Mac mini, iMac, and MacBook Pro
- OWC First to Offer 8 GB Memory Upgrades for 2009 iMacs
- OWC First to Offer 4 GB Memory Upgrades for 2009 Mac mini
- Ramjet Has Memory for New Mac Pro
- Safari 4 Buddy Accesses Hidden Preferences for Safari 4 Public Beta
- SafariStand Adds Functionality to Safari Browser
- Free iAntiVirus Protects Your Mac from Viruses
- Crossgrade from iListen to MacSpeech Dictate for $99
News & Opinion
Barrons' Eric Savitz reports:
"Could the next hit product from Apple be the new version of the Mac mini?
"In a research note this morning, Kaufman Brothers analyst Shaw Wu writes that the new version of the Mini 'could be a sleeper hit.' Wu report hearing 'surprise positive feedback' on the Mini from distribution partners and customers. He writes that the decision to use Nvidia chipsets, providing improved graphics performance, 'is being warmly received.' Wu says he would have liked to see a lower price point, but that others note you now get more for your $599....
"Meanwhile, Wu writes in his research note that the overall reception for the new Macs 'seems fairly positive,'...."
Macworld's Peter Cohen says:
"Last week's refresh of the Mac mini brings Apple's lowest-priced computer into line with the rest of Apple's product line, using a new motherboard design that features Nvidia 9400M integrated graphics. The net result is a big gain for Mac gamers on a budget, according to our tests....
"...the thing produces very playable frame rates in Quake 4 and Unreal Tournament 2004 . . . and it also runs Call of Duty 4 at a very respectable 35 frames per second....
"The secret is Nvidia 9400M graphics...."
Macworld's Jim Dalrymple says:
"Since Apple updated its Mac mini line a week ago, I've found myself getting into some pretty heated discussions with friends, colleagues, and others, about the mini's price tag....
"...One model, with 1 GB of RAM and a 120 GB hard drive, sells for $599, while the other, with twice the memory and 320 GB hard drive, costs $799. You'll note that those were the same prices of the previous mini configurations.
"And yet, some of the people that I've talked to think Apple should have seized the opportunity to really put it to Dell and other PC makers by substantially slashing the price of the mini....
"On the surface that argument makes sense. But I think there are some inherent problems with that strategy...."
PR: iFixit picked up the new Mac mini from their local Apple store and took it apart.
Highlights of the First Look teardown are:
- Both the hard drive and RAM are easily upgradeable once you remove the upper case, which is the somewhat tricky part, requiring judicious employment of a putty knife. (iFixit sells an appropriate tool if you don't have one)
- The processor is now soldered to the logic board. Those people who had grown accustomed to upgrading mini processors will be greatly disappointed by this. Bummer - this is retrograde.
- The SuperDrive used in the new Mac mini is finally SATA interfaced, as in the new iMacs and MacBooks.
- If you install 2 GB RAM in a $599 low-end mini, it recognizes and uses 256 MB of video memory.
- According to iFixit (and I agree), Apple's 'high end' $799 mini is a complete rip-off. For $200, all you is get 1 GB extra memory (market value $20) and 200 GB additional hard drive capacity (market price $50).
PR: iFixit's Mac mini 1 Terabyte Hard Drive Upgrade How-to step-by-step guide shows you how to:
- Swap out the existing hard drive for a 500 GB drive.
- Remove the optical drive and install another new 500 GB drive in its place.
- Enable Remote Disc to share the optical drive of a nearby Mac or PC.
This guide walks you through the process of replacing the stock hard drive and optical drive with two 500 GB hard drives. iFixit also sells a Mac mini 1 TB Hard Drive Kit.
AppleInsider's Katie Marsal reports:
"Apple this month is increasing the number of Macs on order from its Taiwanese suppliers following a better than expected response to its refreshed desktop line, according to a new report.
"Speaking to clients in a research note Wednesday, Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu said sources within the Cupertino-based company's supply chain and distribution channels are seeing a 'stronger-than-expected reception' to new iMacs, Mac minis and Mac Pros announced last week.
"'We find this quite impressive in light of very difficult macroeconomic conditions,' he wrote....
"'To us, the new Mac mini is like a Mini Cooper, a premium small form factor product but with decent horsepower. We believe the Mac mini could turn out to be a surprise dark horse hit,' he wrote...."
Macworld's Scott McNulty reports:
"FireWire target disk mode has saved my bacon countless times. If you're not familiar with FireWire target disk mode it transforms a Mac equipped with a FireWire port (either 400 or 800) into an external hard drive. Simply hold down the T key when you boot up and the Mac in question, as long as it supports this mode, will boot into FireWire target disk mode. Connect it to another Mac with a FireWire cable and the disk mounts in the Finder like any other external disk would."
OWC's Ilene Hoffman writes that the RTFM (Read The "Fine" Manual) maxim may not always steer you in the right direction:
"Apple may seem perfect to all of us, but every once in a while, a little gremlin creeps into your life.
"We found a possible little bug in the new Mac Pro manual on installing RAM. If you have 2 chips the manual says to put them in slots 1 and 2. Apple's Memory Slot Utility, however, contradicts that and says slots 1 and 5 are correct. The manual appears to your right.
"So, the manual says one thing and the Memory Slot Utility indicates another. We're working to confirm which is right and which is wrong, but our bets are on the Memory Slot Utility winning this combat."
Nikkei Electronics Hiroki Yomogita reports:
"Compatibility test specification for the next-generation USB, 'USB 3.0,' will be formulated as early as the first half of 2009.
"According to Agilent Technologies Inc, which is engaged in the formulation of the test specification, the 'Test Specification 1.0' is planned to be released at the end of June 2009. This was announced by Jim Choate, Agilent's USB Applications Product Manager, during a seminar titled 'USB 3.0 - The Impact of SuperSpeed USB' in Tokyo March 6, 2009."
Editor's note: USB 3.0 SuperSpeed mode will be 10x as fast as USB 2.0 High-Speed mode. As always, real world throughput will top out at about 70% of the maximum rated speed. USB 3.0 devices and cables will also support sending and receiving data on separate wires, allowing simultaneous reading and writing of data (USB 3.0 has more wires than 1.1 and 2.0). It will also allow more power, which should let you charge portable devices more quickly. dk
PR: Mac minis come with either 120, 250, or 320 GB standard. iFixIt's Mac mini 1 TB Hard Drive Kit makes swapping in a second hard drive for the optical drive relatively easy. The kit includes everything you need. Be aware however that some basic soldering will be required in order to connect the power cables.
The 1 terabyte hard drive kit includes:
- Two 500 GB, 5400 RPM 2.5" SATA hard drives
- 15 pin SATA power to 4 pin power cable
- 6 pin SATA power and 7 pin SATA data to 4 pin power and 7 pin SATA data cable
- Putty knife
- #0 Phillips screwdriver
- Step-by-step instructions online
The kit sells for $249.95.
PR: Newer Technology, Inc. (NewerTech) has announced miniStack®, its award-winning powered hub storage solution that features up to four different interfaces - FireWire 800, 400, USB 2.0, and eSATA - offers FireWire 400 device connectivity, additional port flexibility, and expanded storage capacity up to 1.5 TB to the newest Mac mini, iMac, and MacBook Pro models.
Plug and Play FireWire 400 Devices with New Macs
The NewerTech miniStack solves the dilemma of how to use existing FireWire 400 devices with the new Mac mini, iMac, and MacBook Pro 17" models, which only come equipped with FireWire 800 and USB 2.0 interfaces. Each miniStack model features a unique ergonomic rear and side powered hub port configuration with up to three FireWire 400 (one uplink and two additional) and four USB 2.0 (one uplink and three additional) ports. With its port flexibility and with all interface connection cables included, miniStack eliminates the hassle and expense of buying extra cables or adapters and enables a new Mac owner to Plug and Play multiple digital devices, such as scanners, printers, memory card readers, digital cameras, and iPods, into one centralized hub simultaneously and clutter-free.
Big Performance from a Small Footprint
Designed to mirror the size and appearance of the Mac mini, miniStack is also an ideal space-saving desktop hub for use with the new iMac and MacBook Pro 17" models. Its compact 6.5"W x 6.5"L x 1.5"H size houses a single Serial ATA (SATA) hard drive up to 1.5 TB for data intensive uses such as Audio/Video editing, digital photography, MP3 music libraries, and high-speed back-up. Built for high performance, miniStack offers storage and retrieval of up to 1.5 million JPEG photos, 526,000 MP3 songs, or 750 DVD quality movies with data transfer rates up to 150 MB/s.
Compliments Macs, PCs, Networks, Entertainment Systems
With its interface flexibility and 2.6 lb. bare weight, miniStack is the ideal portable external hard drive storage solution to move among multiple Macintosh computers and laptops and virtually any Windows(r) or Linux(r)-based computer with a USB or FireWire port. miniStack can also be added to an Airport Extreme(r) wireless network via USB to wirelessly share files, perform Time Machine backups, and share other devices like printers. Plus, miniStack is A/V rated for high-performance home entertainment systems and sharing content with Apple TV(r).
Maximum Features in a Mini Footprint
- Provides storage and retrieval of up to 1.5 million JPEG photos, 526,000 MP3 songs, or 750 DVD quality movies with data transfer rates up to 150 MB/s.
- Up to 1.5 TB storage capacity with energy efficient and Enterprise class hard drive models available
- Up to 32 MB of data cache
- 7200 RPM hard drive
- Oxford bridge chipset
- FireWire 800, FireWire 400, USB 2.0, and/or eSATA bootable
- 6.5"W x 6.5"L x 1.5"H size
- 2.6 lb. bare case weight
- External AutoSwitching 100~240v 50/60 Hz 3 amp UL listed power adapter
- Auto-Power on/off automatically with computer
- Intelligent thermal monitoring for minimal fan power consumption and Whisper Quiet operation
- All supported interface connection cables included plus a FireWire 800-400 interconnecting cable (9-6 pin cable).
- Kensington security slot
- $200 retail value disk utility software bundle
- Three year solution warranty
Two Models Up to 1.5 TB Starting at $104.99
The NewerTech miniStack is available in two models priced starting from $104.99, the "dual interface" miniStack v2.5 which features three FireWire 400 and three USB 2.0 ports and comes in 10 preconfigured 7200 RPM solutions from 80 GB to 1.5 TB; and the "quad interface" miniStack v3 which offers one eSATA, two FireWire 800, one FireWire 400, and three USB 2.0 ports and comes in nine preconfigured 7200 RPM solutions from 160 GB to 1.5 TB. Both models are available immediately from NewerTech's exclusive distributor, Other World Computing, at www.macsales.com, as well as through the retail channel.
PR: Other World Computing (OWC) announced today the first available third party DDR3 Memory Upgrades up to 8 GB for the new iMac desktop computer models announced by Apple this week on Tuesday. OWC Memory Upgrades offer iMac users the advantages of upgrade options not available from the factory and cost savings of up to 50% on same size upgrades, plus a Lifetime Advance Replacement Warranty and Money Back Guarantee.
OWC Memory Upgrades Offer iMac Owners Two Advantages:
- More upgrade options (not available from the factory): with the announcement of the new 2 GB and 4 GB single module upgrades for the iMac, OWC provides two additional memory options for the iMac not offered by the factory.
- Lower cost than factory options: OWC Memory Upgrades cost up to 50% less than the factory upgrades. In addition, with OWC Memory Upgrades, users retain their original factory memory modules that can either be set aside for future use or be sent to OWC to further increase upgrade savings with a cash back trade-in up to $19 per Apple factory memory module.
OWC Memory Upgrade Modules and Kits up to 8 GB new iMac 20" 2.66 GHz, and iMac 24" 2.66 GHz, 2.93 GHz, 3.06 GHz 2009 models:
- * OWC 2 GB DDR3 Memory Module - $33.99: Add to existing 1 GB factory chip for 3 GB total memory, upgrade not available as a factory option.
- * OWC 4 GB (2 x 2 GB matched memory modules) DDR3 Memory Kit - $49.99 50% lower cost than factory 4 GB upgrade for iMac 20" model
- * OWC 4 GB DDR3 Memory Module - $349.99: Add to existing 1 GB or 2 GB factory chip for 5 GB or 6 GB total memory, upgrade not available as a factory option.
- * OWC 8 GB (2 x 4 GB matched memory modules) DDR3 Memory Kit - $697.99 36.5% lower cost than factory 8 GB upgrade for iMac 20", 30% lower cost than factory 8 GB upgrade for iMac 24" models
For more information on OWC Memory Upgrade Modules and Kits for the new iMac 2009 models as well as options for all Apple iMacs, and to order, visit:
Internal Hard Drive Upgrades Also Available
OWC also provides competitively priced, high performance internal hard drives to upgrade/replace factory stock drives in new and existing iMac computers. Storage capacity can be increased up to 2.0 TB with upgrade prices starting at $94.99 for a 1.0 TB 7200 RPM drive.
PR: OWC memory upgrades offer additional options & savings of up 57% vs. factory installed. Backed by full lifetime warranty & money back guarantee
Other World Computing (OWC) has announced the first available third party DDR3 Memory Upgrades up to 4 GB for the new Mac mini desktop computer models announced by Apple this week on Tuesday. OWC Memory Upgrades offer Mac mini users the advantages of upgrade options not available from the factory and cost savings of up to 57% on same size upgrades, plus a Lifetime Advance Replacement Warranty and Money Back Guarantee.
OWC Memory Upgrades Offer Mac mini Owners Two Advantages:
- More upgrade options (not available from the factory): with the announcement of the new 2 GB Memory Module for the mini, OWC provides an additional memory option for the mini not offered by the factory. The OWC 2 GB Memory Module can be added to an existing 1 GB factory chip for 3 GB of total memory.
- Lower cost than factory options: OWC Memory Upgrades for the Mac mini cost up to 57% less than the factory upgrades. In addition, with OWC Memory Upgrades, users retain their original factory memory modules that can either be set aside for future use or be sent to OWC to further increase upgrade savings with a cash back trade-in up to $7.00 per 1 GB Apple factory memory module.
OWC Memory Upgrades up to 4 GB for new Mac mini 2.0 GHz and 2.26 GHz 2009 models:
- * OWC 2 GB DDR3 Memory Module - $33.99: Add to existing 1 GB factory chip for 3 GB total memory . . . this upgrade not available as a factory option.
- * OWC 4 GB (2 x 2 GB matched memory modules) DDR3 Memory Kit - $64.99 57% lower cost than factory 4 GB upgrade for mini 1 GB/120 GB HD model, 35% lower cost for 2 GB/320 GB HD model.
Internal Hard Drive Upgrades from OWC Offer Additional Performance and Savings
OWC also provides competitively priced, high performance internal 2.5" hard drives to upgrade/replace factory stock drives in new and existing Mac mini desktop computers. Storage capacity and speeds can be increased up to 500 GB and 7200 RPM with upgrade prices starting at $57.99 for a 250 GB 5400 RPM drive . . . a savings of 58% compared to the factory 250 GB 5400 RPM upgrade. For the ultimate Mac mini performance storage configuration, OWC is accepting pre-orders for a 500 GB 7200 RPM upgrade . . . the biggest and fastest hard drive ever offered for the Mac mini.
PR: The Mac Pro has 4 or 8 memory slots. Check your Apple System Profiler to find which version you have. The Mac Pro also comes in three versions, which run 667 MHz, 800 MHz or 1066 MHz memory.
Heat Sinks for 667 MHz and 800 MHz FB-DIMMs
Ramjet uses the only heat sink that is certified by Apple for use in the Mac Pro. Other brands may use heat sink types that cause overheating leading to increased fan usage and slower performance. RamJet claims its heat sink runs 7 degrees cooler than the folded plate design, and 15 degrees cooler than the flat spreader design of heat sink.
Ramjet kits contain a matched pair of FB-DIMMs. The kit will consist of identical brand/model/spec IC's, with matching batch numbers. Our memory will also mate perfectly with Apple original FB-DIMMs.
1066 MHz Matched Sets
- 6G DDR3-1066 kit for Mac Pro (3x 2 Gig) $129
- 8G DDR3-1066 kit for Mac Pro (4x 2 Gig) $169
- 12G DDR3-1066 kit for Mac Pro (6x 2 Gig) $249
- 16G DDR3-1066 kit for Mac Pro (8x 2 Gig) $329
- 32 GB kits Coming Soon
Mac Pro Compatible Hard Drives
- Seagate 250 GB SATA II 7200 rpm 16 MB $53
- Seagate 320 GB SATA II 7200 rpm 16 MB $65
- Seagate 500 GB SATA II 7200 rpm 32 MB $72
- Seagate 1.0 TB SATA II 7200 rpm 32 MB $129
- Seagate 1.5 TB SATA II 7200 rpm 32 MB $169
- Samsung 500 GB 7200 RPM SATA II 16 MB $59
- Samsung 750 GB 7200 RPM SATA II 32 MB $87
- Samsung 1.0 TB 7200 RPM SATA II 32 MB $114
PR: Safari 4 Buddy is a simple little freeware utility that enables you to change several hidden preferences in the Safari 4 Public Beta web browser
When I first installed Safari 4, I found myself quite happy with the tabs up in the title bar, and with the cool Top Sites feature, but I did get a bit of a shock when I noticed that the Stop Page Load button had gone missing. Couldn't find it in the Tool Bar customization palette either. Very strange thought I. I absolutely could not survive without a loading stopper button, which I use many times a day (dialup again). However, a quick Google search revealed that the Stop Loading button has been integrated with the little activity spinny-wheel in the address field. Just click on the spinner to bring things to a halt. I actually like that idea too. What I still didn't like is that the blue progress bar in the address field had gone missing as well. Apple's in the address field progress bar motif has never been popular with me, but it's a whole lot better than no progress bar. However, a bit of Google digging turned up the command line formula for restoring the blue progress bar, which I successfully applied.
Unfortunately, that did away with the little activity wheel and its stop/reload button function. Evidently, it and the progress bar cannot simultaneously coexist. The solution for me was a right click on the toolbar, which summoned the toolbar customization palette, form which I was able to drag in the old school Stop/Reload button, and all was well.
However, there's an easier way to experiment with your preferred configuration of the Safari 4 user interface than mucking about in the Terminal.
Safari 4 Buddy is a simple little freeware utility that enables you to change several hidden preferences that enables you to change several hidden preferences in the Safari 4 Public Beta web browser, such as: moving the Tab Bar, reverting the Progress Style indicator, disabling Google Suggest and Top Sites and more, without having to dip your toes in the Terminal command line waters. It's a tiny download, and appears to work fine.
System requirements: Mac OS X 10.5.6
PR: SafariStand adds numerous functionality-related enhancements to the Safari browser, including:
- 'Stand Bar' (Bookmark, History, Side Bar compatible, Simple RSS Reader) 'Bookmarks Finder'
- 'Site Alteration'
- original bookmark property (color label, category, comment)
- syntax coloring in viewed source
- bookmark separator
- Tidy by date order sub folder for download file
- Auto close downloads window
- Open "_blank" Link in New Tab
- kill favicon
- 'Copy Link HTML Tag' context menu item
- Ignored Key Action
- and others
New in version 4.0L166:
- support Safari 4.0 beta
- added flv download menu to Action Menu
- delete : Stand Bar, Key Action and Bookmark Info
- Mac OS X 10.5 or later, Safari 3.2 or later
- SafariStand x.xLxxx is for Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5).
- SafariStand x.xTxxx is for Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4.11).
- Safari 2.x users, use SafariStand 2.0b17
SafariStand version number synchronizes supported Safari version.
- 4.0Lx is Safari 4.0 Leopard only.
- 4.0Tx is Safari 4.0 Tiger only.
- 3.1Lx is Safari 3.1 Leopard only.
- 3.1Tx is Safari 3.1 Tiger only.
- 2.0bx is Safari 2.0 only.
System support: PPC/Intel
PR: With PC Tools iAntiVirus™ you are protected against the most nefarious cyber-threats attempting to gain access to your Mac and personal information.
Once your computer has been infected, a virus or worm will usually attempt to spread itself to your friends, family and associates by accessing your email contacts and networked PCs. The infection may also allow hackers to access files on your Mac, use it to launch attacks against other computers and websites or to send mass SPAM email.
PC Tools iAntiVirus provides real-time protection and comprehensive system scanning to ensure your Mac remains safe and virus free.
Protection against Mac specific threats
The iAntiVirus database has been designed from the ground up to detect and remove Mac specific threats. This enables a high level of protection whilst keeping memory footprint and resource usage at a minimum. The iAntiVirus™ database is not cluttered with signatures for Windows specific threats which your Mac is immune against.
Simple to use
iAntiVirus has been designed with the user in mind. The user interface is purely functional, making it simple to scan for, remove and manage infections.
A variety of scan options
You may perform a variety of scan types using iAntiVirus, this allows you to strike a balance between the time taken to complete a scan, and its thoroughness.
OnGuard protects your Mac against infections in real time. Whenever an infection is detected and blocked, an alert is displayed below the system menu bar. OnGuard automatically places detected infections in quarantine, works silently in the background and uses minimal system resources.
iAntiVirus quarantines all detected infections, allowing you to easily view and restore items in the case of a false positive (for example: when scanning with engine heuristics set to high).
Automatic Smart Updates
Frequent updates to detect and guard computers against new threats and viruses as well as provide enhancements to iAntiVirus are automatically installed and downloaded through the Smart Update function. Threat signatures are updated within hours of a high risk malware outbreak to protect you from the latest online threats.
Low resource usage
When in monitoring mode iAntiVirus has been designed to work silently in the background, threats are blocked and removed without any system impact, while only a small alert window is displayed to advise you that your Mac has been protected against an attack.
System requirements: Mac OS X 10.5 or later.
System support: Intel
PR: "All good things must come to an end." And so it goes with the MacSpeech Dictate Crossgrade Program exclusively for iListen users. Your chance to crossgrade to the world's premier speech recognition solution for the Mac, MacSpeech Dictate, at the price of $99 comes to an end effective March 31, 2009.
With MacSpeech Dictate, you'll enjoy a wide variety of features and enhancements that makes using your Mac much more intuitive and natural, using just your voice. With MacSpeech Dictate, you just think it, speak it, and create it. It's that simple ... that easy. MacSpeech Dictate's features, accuracy, and capabilities make it as fun, productive, and intuitive to use as the Mac itself. You'd expect nothing less from the world's premier speech recognition solution for the Macintosh.
Here are some of Dictate's features:
MacSpeech Dictate will astonish you with its accuracy. You simply talk and leave the recognition to MacSpeech Dictate. And MacSpeech Dictate's robust phrase training capability actually learns as it goes based on your voice input. With this amazing feature, MacSpeech Dictate provides even greater accuracy and more fully integrates into your Macintosh computing experience.
Works With The Apps You Already Have
Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop, QuarkXPress, and on, and on ... MacSpeech Dictate works with them all. And, of course, MacSpeech Dictate works great with Apple's applications as well, including iChat, Mail, iPhoto, Keynote, and more.
MacSpeech Dictate works great with most any text document, even those it didn't create. The 'Cache Document' and 'Cache Selection' commands let MacSpeech Dictate read a document's contents, or just a selected portion of it, so you can easily navigate and edit existing text.
Minimal Training Required
With only a few minutes of training, MacSpeech Dictate provides astounding accuracy and productivity. With very little time investment, you'll be using MacSpeech Dictate's superior capabilities.
This all just scratches the surface of what MacSpeech Dictate provides.
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