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Sources Point to Atom Based Mac Mini in March, Kinda Weird Though

Tom’s Hardware has released some information pertaining to Apple’s upcoming Mac mini refresh, a possible move to the Ion platform and the use of an Atom based processor. The information is strange however because Intel’s Atom is targeted at netbooks.

The report explains that Apple will most likely unveil a new Mac mini in March around the time of Cebit. They go on to explain that Apple may use Intel’s Atom processor, which as you can see from some benchmarks done by PC World, is nearly a downgrade from what Apple currently has in the Mac mini. We’ve corroborated with 9to5mac on this one, and something doesn’t add up. Either the device is something new, or Apple is planning on positioning the Mac mini as a cheap netbook class product.

An Nvidia partner confirmed to us that Apple was the first to receive samples of Nvidia’s Ion platform, which we covered extensively during CES. In fact, Apple received prototype units long before Nvidia partners who opted to work on Ion. We’re told that some partners still only have blue prints of Ion.

Additionally, they speculate that the Mac mini could be smaller in size, and will still be in the $500 to $700 price range. As the report notes, Apple’s current unibody notebooks already use Nvidia’s 9400M GPU, which is exactly what the Ion platform uses, so a transition into a Mac mini makes sense in their opinion. “The GPU is capable of full HD video decoding and also supports Nvidia’s CUDA technology for more general purpose computing.” Still, a low(er) powered Atom based Mac mini is relatively hard to get excited about.

Interestingly, they updated the post claiming to be “unsure” that Apple would be making the move to Ion, but confidently cited an Nvidia partner as being the source saying “Apple has Ion for Mac mini.”

Comments [9]

9 Comments to “Sources Point to Atom Based Mac Mini in March, Kinda Weird Though”

jared @ January 15th, 2009 at 9:31 pm
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Why in god’s name would Apple backtrack with the Mac mini? The Tom’s Hardware story just kind of seems like they’re talking in circles. I’m not sure why Apple would use the Atom at all? Are they nuts?

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Aviv @ January 15th, 2009 at 10:25 pm
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That’s the thing Jared… It’s just such a low powered processor. Unless the Mac mini is priced ridiculously low, I’m not sure this report is entirely accurate.

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L. Becton @ January 16th, 2009 at 5:56 am
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Looks to me like a netbook is on the way!

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Chris @ January 16th, 2009 at 5:58 am
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What if they will be merging the AppleTV with the MacMini and hitting a really low price point? While it may be a downgrade to the Mini, it would be an upgrade to the ATV.

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Jakeb @ January 16th, 2009 at 10:05 am
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I think Chris is onto something. Remember the brief rumor from a few weeks ago that Apple would make the AppleTV software available separately to all Macs? So maybe there will be both a Mac Nano (“Netbox”?) with the Atom processor and a regular Mac Mini. If you could buy the Nano chassis with the AppleTV software (new AppleTV) for $230/$330, and upgrade it to MacOS X by buying it ($130), You’d end up with a low-end netbook-like Mac for say $360 to $460. That’s a good price point in a recession, and the machine would be slow enough not to cannibalize sales of a higher-end Mac Mini at, say, $599. And the Mac Mini becomes your high-end AppleTV.

Of course, all just idle speculation, and worth what you paid for it. I do think some additional flexibility is the way to go at the low end, though, particularly if it lets Apple reduce costs through increased volume of the same hardware.

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Aviv @ January 16th, 2009 at 10:25 am
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Jakeb: I just hope Apple doesn’t get carried away with using the Atom in anything. It’s quite a low powered processor and unless the device is extremely cheap, I’d be shocked to see people getting excited about what could potentially be a weaker, slower Apple TV or Mac mini.

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Aviv @ January 16th, 2009 at 11:10 am
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Actually, after thinking about it.. Maybe… Nahhh, still the Atom. Still slow.

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Ideasplace @ January 16th, 2009 at 5:24 pm
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Perhaps it will be based on the new NVIDIA Ion platform, they seem to like NVIDIA at the moment!
( http://www.engadget.com/2009/01/12/nvidia-ion-platform-gets-demonstrated-at-ces/ )

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Ideasplace @ January 16th, 2009 at 5:25 pm
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That’ll teach me to read all the article before posting. Sorry folks

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