New Mac mini loses optical drive, gains Bluetooth 4.0 (updated)

New Mac mini loses optical drive, gains Bluetooth 4.0 (updated)

Summary: Apple today announced a new Mac mini with a Sandy Bridge processor, Thunderbolt high-speed I/O port (like the MacBook Air) and no optical drive (like the MacBook Air).

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Apple today announced a new Mac mini alongside new MacBook Airs and Mac OS 10.7 Lion.

Like the 3G MacBook Air, the updated Mac mini ships with Intel's Sandy Bridge processor and a Thunderbolt high-speed I/O port. According to Apple's press release the new Mac mini delivers up to twice the processor and graphics performance of the previous generation.

The new Mac mini comes in two desktop configurations and one server configuration:

Desktop configurations

  • 2.3GHz Intel Core i5, 500GB hard drive, 2GB RAM - $599
  • 2.5GHz Intel Core i5, 500GB hard drive, 4GB RAM - $799

Server configuration

  • 2.0GHz, dual 500GB hard drives, 4GB RAM - $999

Perhaps the most interesting development is that Apple has dropped the optical drive completely from the new mini. (Something I recommended two years ago.)

...if an app you need isn’t available from the Mac App Store, you can use DVD or CD Sharing. This convenient feature of OS X lets you wirelessly “borrow” the optical drive of a nearby Mac or PC. So you can install applications from a DVD or CD and have full access to an optical drive without having to carry one around.

The other option is to purchase Apple's external SuperDrive ($79) which works with both the Mac mini and the MacBook Air.

The new Mac mini server configuration includes a 2.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, Lion Server, 4GB RAM and dual 500GB hard drives for $999 (US). Configure-to-order options include adding up to 8GB RAM, two 750GB hard drives, or up to two 256GB solid state drives.

Update: MacRumors notes that the new Mac mini and MacBook Air support Bluetooth 4.0 and Bluetooth low energy:

...a new specification that offers ultra low-power data transfer and has been touted as opening the door to a host of new wireless peripheral devices.

The new Mac mini is the first to support discrete graphics:

The new Mac mini also makes a transition to discrete graphics on the high-end model, utilizing the AMD Radeon HD 6630M and offering up to twice the graphics performance of the previous generation. The low-end and server Mac mini models continue to utilize integrated graphics in the form of Intel HD Graphics 3000.

What do you like/dislike about the new Mac mini?

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Operating Systems, Software

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43 comments
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  • RE: New Mac mini ditches the optical drive

    A lot of folks were trying to use the Mini as a HTPC. Removing the optical drive just made it even less useful for them. At least Apple didn't remove the HDMI port.
    BillDem
    • This way you can't load store bought software on it.

      @BillDem
      so you'll have to go to the Mac store online.
      William Pharaoh
      • RE: New Mac mini ditches the optical drive

        @William Pharaoh How does the mac store online take care of the fact that people need the optical drive to play DVDs in an HTPC... Do you even know what an HTPC is?
        snoop0x7b
      • RE: New Mac mini ditches the optical drive

        @snoop0x7b Pretty sure he meant the Mac App Store but in his flustered hurry to bash Apple he forgot the include "App".
        non-biased
    • RE: New Mac mini ditches the optical drive

      @BillDem
      Not a lot of use Apple TV and stream... cd's dvd's and blu ray need to go!
      Hasam1991
      • RE: New Mac mini ditches the optical drive

        @Hasam1991
        Lol yeah right at this time cd and dvds and blu ray ar still needed as apple tv is useless and you have to pay over and over. then they add the pointless thunderbolt port instead of the usb 3.0 port which is the standard so now you have a useless port like firewire was and no drive but a higher price. Apple really does fancy it's buyers as retarded lol
        Fletchguy
      • RE: New Mac mini ditches the optical drive

        @Hasam1991 Which apple product comes with a bluray drive again?
        snoop0x7b
    • RE: New Mac mini ditches the optical drive

      @BillDem It's called Handbrake, it runs on your other computer, and it works wonderfully well. I haven't played a DVD in years, and I'm questioning keeping my Blu-Ray player since I'll either stream through Netflix or buy/rent through iTunes most of the time.
      Champ_Kind
      • RE: New Mac mini ditches the optical drive

        @Champ_Kind.. Even Handbrake needs to read DVDs.

        Sure you can rip it on another computer, but then you have to have a second computer (with a DVD drive). You might as well just run an HDMI from that second computer and skip the Mini altogether. I use a mac mini for my home entertainment center. I specifically use the mini to play region 2 DVDs while my regular DVD player plays the region 1 DVDs.

        What's more, what if you need to reinstall the OS? Is Apple going to release Lion on an SD card?

        Bad move, Apple... or smart move if it sells more $80 external DVD drives - but that's a d*ck move in my opinion.
        jack@...
      • RE: New Mac mini ditches the optical drive

        @Champ_Kind Forget that, PavTube and Rip the Bluray!
        slickjim
    • RE: New Mac mini ditches the optical drive

      @BillDem I can be wrong, but I found most users of the mac mini were setting them up as a media center (HTPC) as you indicated. It was bad enough Apple refused to support bluetooth, but without the standard super drive the unit is useless for playing DVD movies. I was looking forward to upgrading my Mac Mini to the i5/i7 processor not to mention the additional RAM and HD storage. Not going to now... for me at least the mini has lost its usefulness.
      Masari.Jones
      • RE: New Mac mini ditches the optical drive

        @Masari.Jones Are you talking about your current mini? The new mini supports Bluetooth 4.0.
        non-biased
    • RE: New Mac mini ditches the optical drive

      @BillDem <br><br>Anyone building an HTPC who wants a DVD drive is somewhat living in the past.<br><br>Of course these will read USB or FW drives - heck go get a FW Blu-Ray writer from LaCie - and play optical games as much as you want.<br><br>Or of course assuming there is a another computer in the house - I believe many people now know how to work file sharing? Maybe you have heard of it?

      My TV plays movies - without an HTPC.

      It can read these straight from my Mac - or from a USB stick - it did not occur to Samsung that the TV would be useless without a DVD drive - maybe Samsung are mad??? I don't know.
      richardw66
    • RE: New Mac mini ditches the optical drive

      @BillDem It's not optimum but as stated in the article if you have another Mac near by you can share the optical drive on it. I have considered getting one to setup as a HTPC as well and this would be something to consider but it certainly doesn't make it unusable for that purpose.
      non-biased
  • Purchase a SuperDrive?

    Does the Mac Mini not work with standard external optical drives? From the way you wrote your article, it sounds like only Apple's SuperDrive will work. Can you clarify?
    toddybottom
    • From Apple's web site

      @toddybottom

      Yes a SuperDrive will work as will CD/DVD sharing from another Mac or PC.
      oncall
      • RE: New Mac mini ditches the optical drive

        @oncall
        He asked if a regular external optical drive will work or not, not if the Apple Superdrive will.
        Droid101
    • Any Optical Drive

      @toddybottom
      It depends upon what you mean "work with..." It will probably work with any USB/Firewire external optical drive, as in reading, writing, playing a movie or CD, but the computer won't boot from any USB Drive--thus, no booting from a system DVD or CD. I happen to have a Firewire LightScribe optical drive, but I've never tried booting from it. As I can boot from Firewire hard drives, it wouldn't surprise me if it would boot from a Firewire system DVD as well. Too bad there aren't a lot of Firewire optical drives out there.
      kg6ygs@...
      • RE: New Mac mini ditches the optical drive

        @kg6ygs@...
        Firewired died alongtime ago and the new thunderbolt port is on the same path or limited use and then extinction. If your not running a music production studio then firewire was a useless port.
        Fletchguy
      • RE: New Mac mini ditches the optical drive

        @Fletchguy - it's called target disk mode and it's awesome; it allows you to turn your Mac into one of the most expensive external hard drives ever. It makes backing up the data on your system about 1000x easier than digging around for and removing the hard drive out of the system.

        Also, USB2 had nothing on FW800 for external drives, just like how USB3 has nothing on Thunderbolt (which has Intel's support, meaning it's going to be around for a while).
        Champ_Kind