Newsletter #348 Preview: The Mac Hardware Report: What About a Cheap Minitower?

July 29th, 2006

On the surface, Apple has a fairly complete line of products. If you want a relatively inexpensive note-book, for example, you spring for the MacBook, although some might not consider it so cheap. The MacBook Pro covers the rest of the line, but there are some who might crave for the really thin and light note-books that come, say, with the Sony label on them.

When it comes to a professional desktop, right now the choice is to spend a lot of money, or compromise. And, yes, today, two thousand dollars is a hefty figure to ask of a customer to pay when they see all those ads about cheap PC boxes from Dell for just $399.

Of course, there are all those comparisons that demonstrate that the Mac and the PC are similarly priced when you assemble all the appropriate options on the latter to match the former. And there’s certainly evidence that Dell wants to move you quickly up the line so its profit margins will increase. Things aren’t so go at Dell these days.

But the real issue here is what the customer actually wants and needs. The Power Mac can be overkill for many, but it has its good points, such as the fairly easy expandability. Unless Apple pulls a real surprise, the successor, which will probably be dubbed Mac Pro, will be little different in terms of the basic form factor and pricing.

But what about something that lies between the Mac mini and today’s top-of-the-line desktop? Is Apple missing a golden opportunity here?

Story continued in this week’s Tech Night Owl Newsletter.

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9 Responses to “Newsletter #348 Preview: The Mac Hardware Report: What About a Cheap Minitower?”

  1. Magnus says:

    I think it’s a good idea. Personally I would love to see basically a Mac mini but in a larger case which I could throw drives into, put in different cards, etc. But that won’t be something Apple would want to do cause it would give them less control over things. Basically, I’d want a DIY machine that I can fiddle around with myself.

    Also, I think Apple should bring out a sub-notebook or ultra-portalbe, whatever you want to call it. I actually wrote a bit about that this morning, as a comment following the CNet Q1-Newton battle. Since the 12inch Powerbook is gone and won’t be replaced as far as I can tell a really slight, small notebook would make sense, I think. Those really small Sony Vaios are very popular in the Windows space, so I don’t see why Mac users wouldn’t want the same. Take the MacBook, put in a smaller screen, and take out the optical drive.

  2. Aaron says:

    I agree Apple should expand the desktop..if it wants to capture more of the Switchers the old 3 desktop model line won’t do…DELL has a large line up for ever pocket book….a larger Apple Selection is needed!

  3. John says:

    This is the reason I opted for a used Sawtooth G4 tower and upgraded it with a 1ghz processor. It isn’t as fast as a new Mac but I can get in it easily and the total cost was less than $300. Since I am not interested in a Mac Mini, iMac, or laptop it was my only affordable option if I wanted to have a fairly modern Mac.

  4. Max says:

    Ok, but don´t you guys think Apple wants it to be that way?

    They know people wants the Mac, its a culture, a religion!!!

    Thats why Macs get so long to depreciate!!

    Well, i sure think they need a low priced tower model, but lets not depreciate our product, lets stay on the top.

  5. Max says:


    Look who wants to be an iBook! (at least the “different” idea)

  6. Andrew says:

    I think the’ve got it about right now. Mini for casual use, iMac for casual use with style, and Power Mac/Mac Pro or whatever for the professionals and gamers.

    I too bought outside of that model and have a used Sawtooth upgraded to 1.0GHz (amazing how capable a 7-year-old computer can be), but that was before the mini was introduced and because I wanted to reuse a lot of components (video card, memory, hard drive, DVD-RW) from a PC. When you add to the $300 or even $100 cost that you might luck into an old G4 the cost of a decent video card, processor upgrade and memory you will end up with a machine that costs a bit more or at best the same as the last G4 Mini, with about 80% of the performance. The Mini is also newer, MUCH quieter and of course smaller.

    It can be fun to tinker, and I’ve really enjoyed bringing that old Sawtooth up through various upgrades, but the Intel Mini is a better value.

    Now, to find a cheap 802.11g card, a 1.8GHz Dual G4, Core Image capable video card and another memory boost.

  7. justme says:

    I’d love to see a mini+ or ‘Mac’ (assuming the PowerMac will become the MacPro..)

    I’d like to see a mini+ (Cube? mini^3? mini Extreme?) include the following –

    Core 2 Duo – Socketed – User Upgradeable??? (Conroe or Memrom – Whatever the next iMac is based on)
    1 – User upgradeable PCI Express slot for Graphics card (BTO/CTO options from the Apple Store)
    Intel Integrated Graphics standard (to keep cost down – see above for better graphics options)
    Digital audio (in/out)
    1 – Full Size (user Upgradable) 3.5 SATA HD
    4 – (User Upgradable) ram slots
    1 – FW 400 port
    1 – FW 800 Port
    4 – USB 2 ports
    10/100/1000 Ethernet
    Built-in AirPort and Bluetooth.

    Price? Entry level, w/ Intel Graphics only (open PCI-E slot), 1GB ram $999.99..

    This would leave us w/ the following line of Consumer Desktop Macs.. (assuming Apple upgrades to Core 2 Duo at the same time across the board) Core Solo mini (same as now) $599 – (perhaps a touch lower $499?) Core 2 Duo mini (Memrom) otherwise same as current Core Duo mini $699-$799, Core 2 Duo mini+ $999, Core 2 Duo 17″ iMac $1299, Core 2 Duo 20″ iMac $1699…

    Prob. never happen, but I’d buy 3 of these mini+s I’ve made up in my head…

    Just my $0.02…


  8. Bill says:

    There won’t be a minitower, but last january a rumor site had the Mac mini being “raised” at the top to accomodate a standard 3.5″ hard drive.

    That is likely to happen, but Apple has always wanted the pros to pay.

    Consumers get sealed boxes, like the original iMac, at least since Jobs returned.

    Like John and Andrew, I just bought a G4 tower (400MHz, Gigabit Ethernet model) since it was DIRT cheap (

  9. Bill says:

    There won’t be a minitower, but last january a rumor site had the Mac mini being “raised” at the top to accomodate a standard 3.5″ hard drive.

    That is likely to happen, but Apple has always wanted the pros to pay.
    under $100 delivered off ebay),
    to replace an old iMac G3.

    RAM, hard drive upgrade was easy-peasy (had the spare parts on hand).

    It looks great paired with the 19″ LCD display I just bought (just over $100 after rebate)

    Don’t see a need to upgrade the video card anytime soon (Age of Empires II is the most taxing game we play)

    CPU upgrade? – when they get cheaper – I bet a 1 GHz upgrade will be under $100 by next July

    I’ll keep the G4 tower until the kids get tired of playing their OS 9 games.

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