Intel Mac mini Graphics: 64MB or 96MB? - Macenstein

Intel Mac mini Graphics: 64MB or 96MB?

Posted by Helper Monkey

Moments after Apple’s announcement of the new Intel Mac Mini, I rushed to the Apple store to place my order. I had just read the descriptions on Apple’s new Mac mini webpage, and was quite impressed. All In all, I thought it looked like a fine machine, decent specs, and the price seemed reasonable given the upgrades.

Among those specs that made me refrain from hesitation in ordering was Apple’s claim that the new mini comes with 96MB (of albeit shared) video memory.

“96MB?!?!�, you shout? “You are wrong! It clearly says the new Mac mini has 64MB of shared graphics memory!�

Well, apparently we’re BOTH right. It just depends on which page of the mini site you read. I happened to be reading the DESIGN page which states the mini has 96MB or video RAM. (And still does, as of this writing). But the What’s inside page for the Mac mini claims only 64MB.

Click above to see the full web page, incase Apple updates it.

Suffice it to say I am now a little bit concerned about the new mini’s ability to play back some high-res video and possibly even to accelerate some of the core imaging effects that Apple seems to be increasingly tying into OS X. I ordered the dual-core version with a total of 1GB of RAM however, so I would hope that the machine should be able to handle most multimedia tasks well.

Still, I would like to think that Apple would have paid a little more attention to the tech specs they list on a new product before it goes live. The What’s Inside page is not the first thing Joe Blow consumer looks at on the Apple site, and I feel some people (like myself) may feel a bit misled. Personally, I am usually more careful, and not so quick to order, but my family has been looking for a 3rd computer, one for the kids really (for movies and games), and we decided to wait until the new Mac mini was announced before ordering.

Now, there’s always the chance that maybe Apple made a mistake on the What’s Inside page and we will all be pleasantly surprised to find our minis ship with 96MB or graphics goodness, but somehow I doubt it. Most media reports and official Apple press releases list 64MB (if they even list the somewhat embarrassing graphics specs at all).

I should be receiving the unit in 1-2 days, so I’ll let you know how it runs then. Stay tuned.

13 Responses to “Intel Mac mini Graphics: 64MB or 96MB?”
  1. Tuna Helper says:

    Hey man, sucks for you.

    But to be honest, I think that machine will be fine for playing back video, dvds, music and photos and crap.
    and kid’s games (depending on how old your kids are) aren’t going to task that system too bad. The dual core chip will make it all good.

    Now what you WILL maybe find is slow rosetta performance on those non-Intel kids games.

  2. Steve Jobless says:

    The ordering page doesn’t even list graphics memory like they do on all their other models, either on the main Choose your mini or the actual dual vs. core ordering page, they just list the card as Intel GMA950 graphics to the right in the blue box.

    Looks like Apple knows it should be embarrased.

  3. Tuna Helper says:

    well, since they list both thr 96MB and 64MB specs only once on the site, and not at all on the ordering page, you probably COULD ask fro a refund if you wanted to return it. It IS legitimately confusing. Still, I think if you wanted a mini, this is not going to disappoint you.

  4. Redpaw says:

    As an avid user of the 1.42 w/1 gig memory, I’m thinking you shorted yourself on the memory allowed for proper use. I’m of the opinion the maximum memory should be implemented and I understand it to be 2 GIGS max on the new unit.

    I would have liked to see 128M for video memory minimum but even then it would have been shared….

    I think you’ll love the new unit and if ever use it to full potential with just a gig of memory.

  5. Jeremy says:

    I think it will be 96MB because one of the footnotes on the specs page states that it uses a minimum of 80MB of the systems 512MB. If it uses a minimum of 80MB, then it can’t be 64MB

  6. Anonymous says:

    Design page fixed…64 MB

  7. sam says:

    They may have fixed the ‘Design page’, but the specs page still lists at the bottom:

    1. Memory available to Mac OS X may vary depending on graphics needs. Minimum graphics memory usage is 80MB, resulting in 432MB of system memory available.

  8. Eric says:

    While yes, at first glance the Intel GMA950 looks like a poor choice for Apple, it’s actually not. The GMA950 is actually a decent chip, far exceeding the Radeon 9200 in the previous Mac mini without the cost of an ATI card. The clock speed of the actual GPU comes in at 450MHz with 4 pipelines (the 9200 was 250MHz also with 4 pipelines). Now the RAM seems like a bit of an issue. For starters, it is twice as much as the previous Mac mini, but it’s shared vRAM which means that it’s taking the system memory, so that’s bad right? Not in this case. In the case of the Mac mini, it offers a far superior vRAM option than what they would use if it were independent. Because the RAM on the system is fast 667MHz DDR2 RAM, it’s probably safe to say it’s faster and better than what Apple would have put in if they went with a fully independent and dedicated graphics card. For comparison, the 32MB of vRAM on the 9200 clocked in at 400MHz and was DDR1. So in summery, this graphics card option lets Apple offer the best option for the least amount of money. As for only allowing 64MB of vRAM, they probably figured it’s twice what was in the old Mac mini and if it were 128MB it would be overlapping with the iMac. Also, since the RAM is fast, it should be able to refill it often enough that there should not be any significant performance issues associated with using 64MB of vRAM instead of 96 or 128.

  9. Eric, you’re one of the few people to actually make a sensible statement (for or against) regarding the graphics in the new mini. I think that users need to wait for comparative benchmarks before making judgements (the negative comments on MacRumors were not well considered).

    Apple is not stupid to the point of making the graphics in the new mini less powerful than the old mini.

  10. Steven says:

    THE RAM IS DYNAMICALLY ALLOCATABLE. If it works the same as on PC’s the chip will allocate anything from 64 MB to 224 MB depending on needs. I can’t *believe* you *WASTED* an entire article on this stupid issue!! Just google it.

  11. der Passant says:

    Eric’s comments are supported by the benchmarks on the Macintouch site. It appears that the integrated graphics is equal to or better than the previous graphics card in the G5 iMac

    click on notes and tips

  12. Chris says:

    Another good point I’ve seen brought up elsewhere is 3D acceleration, namely, Core Image (?) … will it be as smooth as the 1.42 Ghz MacMini? Better? Not sure. I just did some googling and found Intel’s spec page – says it’s accelerated for Direct X, and it apparently supports OpenGL 1.4, but they weren’t really advertising that. I must say, a short coming of this computer, and one I think that could have been tackled very easily is the lack of a dedicated S-video/component/RCA video out in addition to the DVI port. If I want to use my Mac Mini as a PC workstation during the day, and then use it to play movies on my widescreen HD televsion in the evening, I actaully have to unhook the video cable from one monitor, put on the adapter, and jack in the other screen? What an un-Apple way of doing things. It would be brainless to just have an s-video or another aforementioned video out port on the back of the computer so you could seamlessly play video on a seperate screen. The GPU supports it, and don’t tell me there’s not space on the back for it. Too bad. I hope they change this soon – it’s almost a perfect head-less mini computer!!

  13. Jeremy says:

    Talk about confusing…I was at the local Apple Store today and I checked out the new Mini. According to the profile, all the demo units said they contained 256MB VRAM!?! I asked an associate and they told me that the hardware profile was incorrect (huh?) and the minis contained a constand a shared 64MB VRAM all the time (no more, no less).

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