Mac Mini IT opinion

An interesting take on the Macintosh Mini from ComputerWorld senior news columnist Frank Hayes today at MacCentral.

Basically, he thinks it is going to have an effect on the IT marketplace, and probably for the better, but not because it will take off, mostly because it puts Apple aiming computers in the direction IT would like them to go: cheap, replaceable, and hard to modify.

I'd like to believe that Apple will also grab some market share with this pint-sized Macintosh (or at least drag people into the store with it), but in corporate IT, this may be all Apple can hope for: to continue pushing the envelope so that the Windows purveyors can follow suit and sell their inferior, but cheaper clones.

My opinion is still out, since I haven't seen a Mini in person yet, and I don't know anyone who has one, but I'm most concerned about the video subsystem. Much of the design is brilliant, but with the recent push inside of Apple to lead the way in using the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) for much more than just games, I'm questioning whether there is enough umph in the Mini's 9200 with 32MB of VRAM to give a good demonstration of what Tiger (or even Panther) is all about.

The 9200, for example, wasn't included in a list of compatible cards on the original Tiger web site (now down, but possibly visible from Google's cached page). However, that lists seems mostly to require pixel and vertex shaders, which are definitely in the 9200.

More disturbing is the minimal amount of VRAM on the board. 32MB may be OK for some applications, but the lack of expandability makes it unlikely that you'll be doing much gaming on this board at all, and some power Windows users who decide to take the plunge to try out the Mac are going to be disappointed at the performance of the Mini if they get a few dozen windows going (not that you'd want to do that on a Windows box that doesn't cost four times what the Mini does).

All things considered, I'm hopeful, but a bit concerned.