Why my Mac Mini romance is over

It was the perfect combination of compactness, just enough processor power and upgradeability that made it an excellent value for many Mac users. But now I can't recommend it anymore.
Written by Jason Perlow, Senior Contributing Writer on

In the midst of all the commotion during the last iPad and Mac launch event back in October of last year, many of you may have missed some details about the newly refreshed Mac Mini.

Suffice it to say, it was a downer for many of us.

You see, while I currently work at Microsoft, I've also been something of a Mac Mini fan for the past 5 years.

While the Mini was not the machine that turned me from full-on Apple products hater to Apple product user -- that distinction goes to the very first iPad, of which I have owned every iterative model since its release in 2010 -- the Mini is what actually turned me into a Mac user, albeit not exclusively.

Naturally, being someone who works at Microsoft, I do all my main productivity work in Windows. But being a digital photography buff, my machines of choice for photo and video editing are my two Mac Minis -- a 2011-era system and a 2013-era system, both of the dual-core type, but have had third party memory and SSD upgrades done to them by the great folks at Other World Computing.

One has been maxxed out to 8GB with a 256GB SSD and the other 16GB with a 512GB SSD. For the purposes of being used with Aperture and iMovie as well as keeping up with Apple's OS releases for my own educational merits, they are really nice little systems.

While the Mac Minis were not easily serviceable machines -- I preferred to send them out to OWC to do the upgrades rather than perform the work myself -- they still were great little systems.

They took up almost no desk space, so if you had to share a monitor and keyboard with a Windows PC using an inexpensive KVM switch it was no problem. They also made great living room PCs for the same reason. And for someone on a budget who didn't need one of the more expensive Macs, they were good values.

I probably would have replaced the older of the Minis in about a year or so with a quad core model, but this is not to be. Why? Apple has forsaken us Mac Mini users.

The new Mac Minis that were announced back in October are no longer upgradeable, and there are currently no other processor choices other than a dual-cores. The RAM is soldered onto the the mainboard (4GB or 8GB) and while you can replace the hard disks, doing so can void the warranty.

I have already said that Apple's act of discontinuing development on Aperture has probably forced me into re-thinking my photo and video editing toolsets, and potentially abandoning the Mac the next time I have to make a hardware purchase decision.

Apple's dumbing down of the Mac Mini has made that decision so much easier.

Why not buy a more expensive Mac and go with say, Adobe tools on that? Mainly because I don't want to buy a more expensive Mac, as they aren't my primary workstations.

I don't want an all-in-one like the new iMacs, as I like to be able to replace my monitors and use them interchangeably with the different systems I own, and I don't need another laptop, so we can forget Macbooks.

I'm not a high-end content creation professional, so I don't need a Mac Pro.

What does that leave me with? Well it leaves me with my current Mac Minis until they eventually become completely unsupported and can no longer run a modern version of Mac OS X.

And for those of you dweebs screaming "Hackintosh", forget it. I'm a law abiding citizen and Apple has the right to enforce its EULAs and conditions as it sees fit. As pissed off as I am at them right now, software piracy is never the answer.

I've also experimented with Hackintoshery in years past, and knowing full well how much of a time sink it can be, I'm not exactly in the mood to let it become my third or fourth hobby.

I just don't have that kind of time.

Indeed, the Aperture stuff is a bit of a drag, but I can always go Adobe Creative Cloud and if I have to, when the time comes, I'll move that subscription over to Windows.

It's not what I would prefer to do but unless Apple decides to undo what it has done to the current generation of Mac Minis, sometime in the next few years I'm likely to be done with Macs entirely.

Has the recent change in Mac Mini design scorned you from future Mac purchases? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

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