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 Post subject: Alternatives to MacMini for energy efficiency
PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 2:49 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 4:49 pm
Posts: 336
Location: Upper left hand corner, USA
What other machines compete with the Mac Mini in low idle power while providing enough processing power to handle routine work for reasonable future-proofness?

(e.g. <10w idle power, but Core2Duo 2.4GHz+ - so reasonable computing power ) ... t=mac+mini

What is the point of Atom processors?

Seem to be cheap, low performance, relatively low efficiency machines.

Machines with similar benchmarks to atom processors are distinctly sluggish when it comes to javascript and flash content now. This does not suggest that today's atom powered machines will be good web browsers (net machines) for the next several years. (i.e. not very "green")

Performance per watt is not good compared with Core2 systems when doing work, and the Mac Mini shows that can make Core2 systems low
power at idle too.

Is there anything comparable to the Mac mini in efficiency that uses standard parts (so it might be repairable/upgradable), or is doing away with all that part of how they achieve low power?

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:26 pm 

Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 2:35 pm
Posts: 811
Location: Greece
I completely agree about the atom cpu. Add the fact that many atom boards are inefficient designs with outdated chipsets and you end up with power consumption comparable to a core i3 (on the mini itx intel board) at idle.

A real alternative to the mac mini would be a laptop. These have mobile cpus and chipsets binned for low voltages in addition to other carefully selected, efficient parts. The high level of integration also helps, reducing redundant components that could potentially use power.

The mac mini itself is essentially a laptop without the input devices and monitor. It is designed using the same principles and the fact that it has power consumption similar to a laptop should come as no surprise.

Another, DIY alternative would be MOTD (mobile on the desktop), basically a standard motherboard (usually mini itx) using mobile parts. Msi makes such, although they are usually expensive. You get the benefit of slightly more easily interchangeable parts while sacrificing a little in integration. I have seen no power figures for such systems though, so I don`t know how this compromise works out.

Actually, I find it unfortunate that such power efficient platforms are not more widely spread. Perhaps mobile computers partially fulfill the same needs though it would be nice if there were more choices in slim, power efficient "build your own" systems.

Finally, a third alternative would be to use the mac mini to boot windows/linux ...

My PCs: Workstation : HTPC in a CD player case : Custom Mini ITX projects

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 03, 2010 9:31 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 11, 2004 8:55 pm
Posts: 111
Location: New Zealand
I tend to leave my machine on all day and just let it hibernate when not in use. I wonder how a laptop would deal with periods of extended use or always on. I think they are designed to be used for short periods at a time and are not as efficient as a desktop case at evacuating heat buildup.

I would also like to see someone come up with a power efficient machine like the Mac mini. I want something I can build myself and has upgrade potential, such as the ability to add new drives and more memory easily. Its a nice little machine but I don't want to pay Apple's prices here in NZ.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 04, 2010 7:29 pm 

Joined: Tue Feb 13, 2007 7:28 pm
Posts: 1406
Location: USA
Dirge wrote:
I wonder how a laptop would deal with periods of extended use or always on.

For the past 10 years I've had laptops for my work computer. Current one is about 3 years old (maybe older, it was a hand-me-down from a previous employee) and I've had multiple instances of running it continuously for 14 hours. I don't even think the fans work properly anymore, because it gets far too hot to be literally used as a lap-top, yet never an increase in noise. Yet it's been perfectly stable for the 7 months I've had it . . . Travels everyday, too . . . The only problem I've had with past units is that the fan bearings tend to wear out after ~3 years and become very noisy.

I find laptops are like cars. A good one will give you absolutely no problems for years as long as you don't abuse it too egregiousness, but a bad one will give you problems from day one and never behave no matter how often you have it in the shop. And just like with cars, brand is only a slight indicator of reliability.

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