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December 5, 2017

Apple’s three Mac Minis released in 2011 now unsupported ‘vintage’ devices

by John_A

Apple recently updated its list of vintage and obsolete products to include the Mac Mini released in 2011. That means the device is no longer supported by Apple, thus it won’t be qualified for service or repairs. It now falls between Apple’s five-to-seven year “vintage” window, and will become an official “obsolete” product in 2019.

The Mac Mini line itself hasn’t seen a hardware refresh since 2014, but new units are supposedly on the horizon. Apple first introduced its miniature Mac computer in 2005, which served as the company’s first Mac-branded product to ship without a built-in display, a compatible mouse, or a keyboard. The idea was to address customers who were looking to move away from Windows-based PCs, and already owned those three external devices.

But the last refresh to the Mac Mini was three years ago, leading to speculation that Apple may be discontinuing the line altogether. To clear the air, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed in a recent email that “we do plan for Mac Mini to be an important part of our product line going forward,” eliminating any doubts about the product’s future. Meanwhile, based on Apple’s support policy, the last refresh will enter vintage territory between 2019 and 2021.

Here are the current three Mac Mini models:

$499
$699
$999
Processor:
Core i5-4260U
Core i5-4278U
Core i5-4308U
Graphics:
HD Graphics 5000
Iris Graphics 5100
Iris Graphics 5100
Memory:
4GB LPDDR3
@ 1,600MHz
8GB LPDDR3
@ 1,600MHz
8GB LPDDR3
@ 1,600MHz
Storage:
500GB 5,400RPM HDD
1TB 5,400RPM HDD
1TB Fusion drive
Connectivity:
Wireless AC
Bluetooth 4.0
Wireless AC
Bluetooth 4.0
Wireless AC
Bluetooth 4.0
Ports:
2x Thunderbolt 2
4x USB-A (Gen1)
1x HDMI
1x SD card slot
1x Audio input
1x Headphone jack
2x Thunderbolt 2
4x USB-A (Gen1)
1x HDMI
1x SD card slot
1x Audio input
1x Headphone jack
2x Thunderbolt 2
4x USB-A (Gen1)
1x HDMI
1x SD card slot
1x Audio input
1x Headphone jack
Size (inches):
1.4 (H) x 7.7 (W) x 7.7 (D)
1.4 (H) x 7.7 (W) x 7.7 (D)
1.4 (H) x 7.7 (W) x 7.7 (D)
Weight:
2.6 pounds
2.6 pounds
2.7 pounds

As the chart shows, the current Mac Mini devices sport outdated, fourth-generation processors and graphics. To put that in perspective, Intel just began rolling out its eighth-generation line, with additional chips hitting the market in early 2018. The 2011 Mac Minis now certified as “vintage” are based on even older processors: Intel’s second-generation Core i5-2415M, Core i5-2520M, and Core i7-2635QM chips.

There’s no doubt that the Mac Mini line is in dire need of a refresh. Apple’s move to “retire” the 2011 model is also understandable given that companies can’t continue to support outdated hardware forever. Apple’s gracious business practice in providing parts and services for five years after products are no longer manufactured is undoubtedly why the company has such a huge customer base. Many manufacturers cut hardware support after a year or two.

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