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Thread: Got my Mac mini this morning! - Read my first impressions...

  1. #1
    Maximum Bitrate gork's Avatar
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    Got my Mac mini this morning! - Read my first impressions...

    Straight from China, my "overnight" shipping worked out to about 52 hours, but hey.. I have travelled to China and it took me nearly that long to make the trip "door to door!"

    Anyway, I thought I'd give my first impressions about how this thing would go in a car and note some things that aren't visible in the photos or specs that will be of interest to people doing installations.

    1) Power Supply: The power supply has a 10 pin connector that is symmetrical ie you can plug it in upside down and it's the same. This means that there are at most 4 voltages from the PSU, but I haven't been able to get my multimeter to it to see for sure. The pins and power brick are really pretty small for 85W so it's still likely that it's a single voltage source (here's hoping)

    2) Cooling: The mini runs cool and quiet. The bottom gets pretty warm. Air comes into the case from vents around the entire perimeter of the bottom of the case and is exhausted from the back vents by a fan. I can't tell if it's a variable speed fan though since it's so quiet. I would assume that it probably is variable speed. Owing to the airflow, it might be kind of difficult to run this thing in an enclosed space. I don't really see how you could easily pipe cool air into the vents. It will probably have to stay oriented upright instead of on its side to have proper airflow. I plan to see if thermographiX supports its thermal sensors and do some tests in various orientations to know for sure.

    To run in a hot car, the thing really might need a fan upgrade. Hopefully some nice disassembly photos will surface soon without me having to rip mine totally apart to see if the fan is something standard... One could always enclose the space around the rear exhaust and duct it to an external exhaust fan that would basically vacuum air through the case..

    3) Physical: The computer and case feel extremely solid and sturdy. I have a friend whose father equates quality with density, and this is a product he would immediately buy. It's very small and it weighs a lot. Even though I have seen photos of the inside of the lid, it really looks and feels like it was milled out of a solid aluminum block. Although it's proabaly a bit delicate to open up, I would not be scared of making the attempt. I would be scared to open an iPod and people do that without damaging them, so this ought to be a walk in the park. The base is a solid 5.5" square 3/16" thick rubber pad. For mounting, this will mean that you can probably cinch a strap down over the top, make some stops to keep it from sliding backwards, and the rubber pad will hold it in place pretty well.

    4) Power management: Pushing the power button on the mac mini simply suspends the machine without a prompt or anything. This is a bit different than the behavior for most of other macs. Some will trigger a shutdown; others will show a window prompting the user for shutdown/suspend/etc. Pushing the button when the computer is asleep will re-awaken it. Apple really is pretty inconsistent with their power button behaviors across their lines, so this is kind of a stroke of luck for the car pc enthusiast. It appears there is a normal 2 pin header on the motherboard for the power switch, so if this also turns out to be true, a normal PC shutdown controller like the ITPS or a single-voltage OPUS PSU (if they decide to make one) will be ideal for use with the mac mini without needing any special modification.

    5) Misc: The DVI->VGA adaptor is awesome. It has these little thumbwheel screws on the side. It beats the hell out of the little 3" pigtail used on the powerbooks. Someone put a lot of thought and effort into this little insignificant part. If the whole computer business flops for Apple, they ought to start making DVI to VGA adaptors!

    The only thing I had trouble with doing is getting the thing to run a 16:9 resolution for a gateway plasma display. This probably won't be a big deal for car users as everyone is generally running 800x600, but may bug those diehards who want to get the magical 800x480 resolution on their xenarcs or lilliputs. There is a program I used called switchresX to get some more resolutions, but I also found that you may be able to get the same result by running "defaults write Preferences NSEnableShowAllDisplayModes YES" in a terminal window

    I will try to answer any questions about it that I can, but my excitement to get the new toy is short lived, as I've currently sent it out of town for a few days.. It's new job is to run the plasma monitor for the tradeshow booth, and there is a show next week...
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    Mac Car Moderator kandyman676's Avatar
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    Gork,

    Thank you for sharing your first impressions and testing of your Mac Mini unit:-) Definitely gives the rest of us some insight on this product beyond the hype and photos.
    "If it works this good why F with it?" -KMFDM "Intro"

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    yes my question is,

    How the ***** did you get yours already!??!?!

    seriosly! I bet you gave steve jobs a ********** with a little bit of ****** for it didnt you?!?!?!


    haha j/k :-p

    but anyway? how?

  4. #4
    Maximum Bitrate gork's Avatar
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    iwakura:

    I ordered it quickly and paid $22 to have it shipped overnight. I didn't even order it the day it was announced.. I ordered it the next afternoon. The machine is even BTO with an airport card and bluetooth. I was suprised it came already, too, but the Apple guy on the phone said it should ship the 17th or 18th to arrive the 18th or 19th, but I guess they did not inform them that they were shipping out from China.

    The machines apparently clear customs in Alaska, so if you live up there, you could have had one a few days ago!
    MY CAR IS FOR SALE!
    See My Project Page for Details - 2003 BMW E46 ///M3
    Custom Dash Monitor Housing - OEM Fitment
    Custom Overhead DVD-ROM Housing in Headliner
    BMW I-Bus Integration
    My homepage with many other fun projects!

  5. #5
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    But I was told they didnt come out till 2 weeks from now *cries*
    its not fair....

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the info. The tidbit about the simple header pin connection for the power switch is nice to know (the less soldering the better).

    Just to clarify: You did actually get it to display 800x480 on the appropriate screen?

    ~Lake

  7. #7
    Maximum Bitrate gork's Avatar
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    Negative. I did not manage to get it to do 800x480. I was trying to find *any* 16:9 resolution that my plasma screen would display.. Finally I ended up with 1380x768 or something like that... The mac will probably need some trickery to do custom resolutions like that, but it could be possible. SwitchResX is basically the equivalent of powerstrip on the mac. It lets you specify custom timings and resolutions. I will probably check it on a GAIN (xenarc) screen next week when it comes back to see if I can get it to do it.
    MY CAR IS FOR SALE!
    See My Project Page for Details - 2003 BMW E46 ///M3
    Custom Dash Monitor Housing - OEM Fitment
    Custom Overhead DVD-ROM Housing in Headliner
    BMW I-Bus Integration
    My homepage with many other fun projects!

  8. #8
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    Funny thing about the heat issue, my uncle and I have worked on many many macs and one thing is clear: they hate fans. Can't blame them. But they goto extensive lengths to not use them, which makes them pretty easy to cool, a 120mm fan will do a world of difference and not make a sound, hell my uncle once cooled his g3 taken out of the case on his dining room table by blowing on the heat sink. Seriously. I need to get one of these. Thanks for the first impressions!

    -matt

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    power button

    all desktop macs suspend if you press the power button
    the iBooks and powerbooks will usually show a window because the normal way to suspend them is to close the lid

  10. #10
    FLAC NiN^_^NiN's Avatar
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    Well if you guys remember my post i said that on the MB of the mini mac there was only 2 traces from the power supply a + and - and if the plug can work nomatter what way it's turned around then it supports the theory i have about it being 1 voltage which is good

    If it did use more than one voltage then flipping the plug is impossible in theory think about how the figure 8 plugs work 1 voltage but don't need to be plugged in a specific way i'm 100% sure it's 1 voltage as the plug and the actualy mb proves it to me

    It looks like all you would need is a laptop adapter for the car and get a shutdown controller or you could have a small relay which pushes the power button and then a timmer which cutys power in 1min after engine shutoff etc.

    but the software is where we should concentrate first I think as im sure the hardware is easily adapted to car enviroment

    I don't know why i keep comming to a mac forum when i will never buy it and don't even use macs :P but i like to help
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