BENCHMARKS: Mac Mini’s brain replaced with a Core 2 Duo - Macenstein

BENCHMARKS: Mac Mini’s brain replaced with a Core 2 Duo

Posted by Helper Monkey

Faithful Macenstein reader rico sent us a posting on the Taiwanese forum Oikos discussing the results of replacing an Intel Mac mini’s standard Core Duo chip with a Core 2 Duo chip (the 2.16GHz Merom T740). After a quick Babelfish “Traditional Chinese-to-English� translation, we can see why he was so excited!

While the Mini does not recognize that its brain has been replaced by a Core 2 Duo chip (it lists itself as simply having a “genuine Intel CPU�) the benchmarks certainly don’t lie.

When compared to both a dual 1.8GHz G5 and a dual 2.5GHz G5, the Merom-running mini beats them both in an iTunes MP3 to AAC conversion despite the mini’s slower hard drive.

It also does very well running a 26 action test in Photoshop 7 (coming in third, but a not-too-distant third), especially given that the mini is using Rosetta to translate the PPC version.

All in all very promising results. In the past upgrading Apple CPUs has been limited by the heat generated when placing faster chips in computers not capable of cooling them down. But since this generation Core 2 Duo chips actually generate LESS heat than the current generation, upgrading these new Intel Macs may be the easiest CPU upgrade in Apple’s history.

46 Responses to “BENCHMARKS: Mac Mini’s brain replaced with a Core 2 Duo”
  1. Phil from NYC says:

    what do the Core 2 Duos cost the average Joe Blow consumer? How financially feasible is this?

  2. Zac says:

    Wow. I have been waiting for intel to come out with something faster than the G5. This looks like it is it. I am very impressed. And Merom is a laptop chip too. Conroe should be faster. I look forward to August.

  3. csipod says:

    Nice, I just wish you could upgrade the proc in the Macbooks.

  4. Adolph says:

    The current Core Duo’s don’t retail for cheap. I think the advantage of buying a faster processor built in is that you get to take advantages of Apple’s processor pricing. On the other hand, upgrading in a year or so when the processors are cheap looks really appealing. My plan is to get a Core Solo mini soon (maybe after a speedbump) and upgrade the brains in a year or so.

  5. Mactrix from Israel says:

    The Mac Mini is known as apple chipest computer, so i guess it not gonna cost more then the regular 800$ ,so is affordable for the average joe (answer to Phil), remember that the the mac mini is a BYODKM (Bring Your Own Display Keyboard and Mouse).
    I’m wait to perches one my self for connecting it to LCD HDTV (the new chip will be “strong” enough to play HD movies)

    And i must add, the latest Intel chip set, the core due, core 2 due (or in their hebrew name: Yona and Merom) are israeli development. (a little nationality pride) 🙂

  6. BreakDaMout' says:

    It’s been done at least twice already…. but is ever so worth doing!

    News article (first one):

    How-to slide show (second one, maybe):

  7. Kyle Mistry says:

    Now imagine two of these things in a Pro Desktop Mac. Craziness.

  8. 1337 says:

    mac users dont get it, apple are over pricing you on the hardware in the first place, now that they have switched to intel you can finally make a 1 to 1 comparison. not saying pc’s are perfect, but apple are evil and the sooner you realise it the better. and now the reason im leaving the post, and i hope that it doesnt get taken down because of your big egos, but the “brains” of the mac. how retarded does that sound, its a cpu or if you prefer, processor. typical mac talk i guess

  9. Anonymous says:

    a fairer comparison between a 2.16 1 core duo vs 2.16 core duo 2 would have been better. are these meroms that much better?!

  10. Anon E. Mouse says:


    g0 b4(k t0 $(h00£ n3wb13

  11. Roger says:

    Mactrix, your pride is well deserved dude. The Israel design centers are saving Intel’s cookies right now. I worked in technology development at Intel a little while ago and those guys from Haifa were flippin’ brilliant. They actually did a great job with Timna (I love the Hebrew names) but the Rambus flap pulled the carpet out from under them. That’s when they were assigned Banias and the rest is history. Good to know somebody realizes who deserves the credit… and it ain’t Hillsboro or Fort Worth!

  12. Gabe says:

    1337, people buy Macs for the OS and software, not for price/performance.

  13. ktolis says:

    the real questions:
    how can i get a core duo 2 and how much it will cost me.

    i want one. NOW!

  14. RacerX says:

    >1337, people buy Macs for the OS and software, not for price/performance.

    so they buy them for the lack of software – don’t want too many choices bogging down the decision process.

  15. TheMama says:

    Hey, the links don’t work!
    I wanted to have a look at the korean site but the browser returns me a 404!
    Anybody got a working link?

  16. Mactrix from Israel says:

    1337, you r like all the PC (windows base) users, stay on PC for one reason…Games.

    today Apple have the best Computers on the market and the price is worth it !!

  17. sure says:

    Lack of software? Most people use their computers to browse the web, check email, and talk to people online

    thats it. everyone who is even reading this site right now is way more tech-oriented than the large majority of computer users

    why do you need all the software possibilities of a windows machine when OS X is idiot proof, virus free, and comes with programs to do those 3 things? also, for many people, OS X is just more fun to use than WinXP (and especially vista, where I have to click through 10 dialog boxes to do anything)

    and yes, I have a windows machine (a very top of the line one at that), but my macbook is way better at what it does than windows is

  18. Andrew says:

    Even when Apple was not price-performance competitive, which it currently is, it was still an easy choice to buy a Mac. I have a G4 Mini that I bought about a month before the Intel Mini shipped, knowing the Intel was coming. I didn’t buy that G4 Mini because I was afraid of Intel, I bought because I hired a new employee and she needed a computer. The G4 Mini was a perfect fit for the work she would be doing, at a reasonable price.

    Were to hire someone today (I’m currently interviewing legal secretaries), a Core Solo, Core Duo or perhaps a leftover G4 Mini would again be high on my list. Other options are a new iMac, or even a used one wwith either G4 or G5 processor.

    The point is that not all work requires or will even remotely benefit from a faster or more modern processor. In my office sits a 15″ PowerBook G4, while a 12″ PowerBook G4 is my companion on trips. Sure I’d like a new MacBook Pro, but when I thought seriously about the upgrade, I realized that the only thing I would really gain is the convenience of a built-in iSight as opposed to the standard iSight I currently carry and use at most once per month, and the ability to boot Windows XP, which would only be to play games.

    For absolutely everything else I do, the speed differences on the MacBook Pro compared to the PowerBook G4 is measured in seconds. I really don’t care if Mail launches in 1 instead of 2 bounces on the dock, or if iTunes comes up in 2 seconds instead of 4, once open, even on the lowly and supposedly old-tech G4 these applications all run smooth and fast. I can’t type any faster than Word can render text on the G4, or even on a Core Solo Mini running Word through Rosetta.

  19. No2Apartheid says:

    Yeah, nice tech. But I praise the engineers too much Roger. Did you know that the Intel factory is reportedly built on disputed land? And who doesn’t know about the Apartheid Wall and the genocidic policies of the government there…

  20. No2Apartheid says:

    Intel factory in Palestine —>

  21. Lau says:

    dude… Apple is soooooooo not overpricing you!!! In the cost of the computer you can include the OS & iLife apps… ARE YOU CRAZY??? OVERPRICED?!?!? whatever……. want windows?? BUY A PC! want a good computer??/ BUY A MAC!!!

  22. theDose says:

    Why do PC morons keep bashing the Mac, or vice versa? It’s lame, boring and uninspiring. Use what you use, and stop belting out uninformed info!

    If you think the Mac has no software, you’re dead wrong. The Mac programing community rocks! Look at software makers Damn amazing software! There’s a a couple of sites like or where you can search for hundreds of thousands of software that is either comparable to or way better than what you can find for the windows/linux platforms.

    You konw, there’s this little circle of stuff you know, and there’s this even bigger circle of stuff you know you don’t know. (Like you know you don’t know how to levitate) But for everyone out there, there’s an even bigger, waaayyyy bigger circle of stuff you don’t even know you don’t know.


  23. Mactrix from Israel says:

    To No2Apartheid, did u know that as an israeli citizen i have rights too !!!
    rights to LIVE ! terror heart innocent citizen and the fence (what u call “wall”) built because terrorist attacks, and so far it make good job.

    i were an IDF solider once, and trust me, you dont need to belive everything the news is broadcasting.

  24. Mactrix from Israel says:

    And No2Apartheid, by the way….. the intel factory is in Kiryat Gat an israeli southern city ,witch is not disputed lend !!!

    U need to learn some facts.

  25. Roger says:

    Intel has two facilites in Israel and is considering a third. The one I worked with was in Haifa.

    No2Apartheid, I don’t know what it is about nuts that just can’t sit by idly while someone says something nice about Israel. You make yourselves look bad. Dude, in this forum it’s just about the silicon and Israel is awesome at it. Try to get over it. Israel is pretty damn smart about a great number of things, so if you’re having trouble admitting it you’ve got some hard times ahead.

    I don’t want to get into the argument about how building a fence is terrorist act but blowing up buses is OK. Or the fact that you nuts think ALL of Israel is occupied territory. Or the fact that you want to wipe them off the map.

    And no, I’m not Israeli. Or even Jewish. I just recognize excellence. If there was a kickass engineering team on your side of the Jordan river I woud dig that too. Meantime, you might try your propaganda on someone less informed than me, ’cause I ain’t buying it.

  26. 1337

    Thanks for your comments. I will have less an ego thanks to you and now I can see the light!!! Yep that is my big ego.

    When I decided to buy a new computer I also considered Boxx, HP and Dell and I couldn’t find a better deal for the money I had ($2500). My options at that time were all single processor PCs and none were faster than a dual G5 2.3 (for the same money). Now, even AMD is going to have a hard time with this new Core duo 2 chips.

    Of course, if you know how to build a PC yourself, using average parts and you consider that your time is worth nothing then a PC is cheaper.

    The other scenario is that you can afford to pay a lot of money. Say, $7000 and even more. Then you will find a faster PC or you can build one very fast yourself.

    These core processors are Newer than the aged G5s and Apple adopted them right from the start. And also Apple (Your dreamed evil) dumped IBM to offer the best to their customers. If you can think why Apple developed OS X with Intel in mind more than 5 years ago so they can switch their hardware when they consider a better roadmap. That may be evil to you, but that is why I’m still using a Mac and I am considering another Mac with Intel inside.

    1337 stop repeating ideas from malicious ignorant people like if you really know what you are talking about. I bet I can teach you something about PCs and I use a Mac. Sorry my Big ego again. You are right!!!

  27. fenman says:

    I am getting fed up with the PC brigade repeating fallacy and lies about Apples being more expensive and with less to offer.

    First of all before you get your flame throwers out, I have 2 Dell Servers, 1 Dell Workstation, 2 Toshiba Notebooks (inc 1 tablet), 1 OQO UMPC, 1 Apple Server, 1 Apple Desktop 2 Apple Notebooks, 1 Phillips Desktop. I am running OSX, Linux, Windows, Solaris (all in differing versions as well). Therefore I feel qualified to speak on behalf of 99.9% of the market.

    Apple last year was 4th largest in market share of all manufacturers in the US (not my figures IDG’s) and with literally thousands of manufacturers out there that is no mean feat.

    2 weeks ago a client asked me to compare Apple MacBook Pro’s (in standard spec) with their nearest Dell Notebook equivalent. To my surprise Apple was cheapest in actual cost in all three cases. Sure the entry level MacBook Pro was only about 1.5% cheaper but the flagship 17″ MacBook Pro was about 40% cheaper than its Dell equivalent. (All done in UK Pricing)

    The conclusion is that given Mac’s are typically kept by their original owners for between 4 and 5 years (not my figures but IDG and others) as opposed to Windows based PC’s being kept for between 18 months and 2.5 years under the same conditions, then clearly there is also a Total Cost of Ownership that is significantly lower for Apples.

    As for software choice, yes there are a few packages that are so good under Windows only that they are worth keeping Windows alive for, but not many (commercial that is). Software developers (I am one) do not look at market percentage to decide whether a platform is worth writing programs for, they look at physical numbers of machines. In that context, even 5% of several billion personal computers is still a significant number and more than enough to justify investment in the platform. As for virus writers, the total PC market back when viruses were first getting major hold and proving to be a pain was smaller than Apple’s market share now – so that argument is not true either.

    I like this Merom idea and may just explore doing it to my MacBook Pro.


  28. IDF=SS says:

    “To No2Apartheid, did u know that as an israeli citizen i have rights too !!!
    rights to LIVE…”

    Translation: Israeli lives/territories are sacred, Palestinian lives are garbage and their land is for the taking… and if you think anything to the contrary, you don’t know what the f you’re talking about.

    In case anyone is interested in the facts, Israel is on a continuous land expansion, and they currently kill three Palestinians for every Israeli.

  29. American Right Winger says:

    Hey IDF=SS and No2Apartheid, stick Palestinian designed chips up your Mac. And pray that they don’t blow up.

  30. Mactrix from Israel says:

    IDF=SS and No2Apartheid, I Believe u r the same person.
    I’m not gonna try to argue with u cause extremist like u can’t get no sense.

    As Roger was saying we here to talk about technology. for politics, search for some forum so u can get your frustration out.

    Israel is strong with technology because she needed to improve her weapon systems against her enemy’s, that in 58 year, try to annihilate us for 5 times !!.

    So u can countium talking about “Apartheid” (im sure u learn this word 2 days ago) or SS, cause what is still don’t kill us……only make us stronger.

  31. IDF=SS says:


    1. If Isreal were not engaged in continuous land grab, killing innocent Palentinean men, women and children all the while, they would not have the security issues you do; you reap what you sow. What is objectionalble to pro-Palestinian Americans (beyond the fact the the IDF regularly drives bulldozers over living people) is that we pay for your arrogance in the form of 9/11 and the Iraq war. In other words, our biggest national security threat is your attitude.

    2. Your weapons technology, from your fighter planes to your nuclear arsenal, is made in the good old USA, not invented in Isreal… your arrogance is boundless.

    3. IDF=SS and No2Apartheid and I are not the same person. Tho it’s certainly standard propaganda metodology to cast reality in a manner that it supports an agenda… straight from the Goerbles playbook; funny how well you learned.

    4.”I’m not gonna try to argue with u cause extremist like u can’t get no sense.” Good, you mengele the English language in manner that is painful to read.

    And to the american right winger… if you’re so red white and blue, you should be in Iraq rather than cowering behind a keyboard tapping away in a haze of pseudo-patiotism.

    Having said all this, I’m happy to talk strictly tech if you are.

  32. Avi From Tel Aviv says:

    To IDF=SS and No2Aparthied

    You are being silly,because u don’t know the facts. The weapons Israel using,invented in Israel. In fact,the weapons USA are using,also invented in Israel. So cheack the facts first.

    Secondly,you are not allowed to talk about Israel,cause u know so little.How can u argue,if u say we kill innocent people? What about the other side? just be quiet,and go back talking about mac.

  33. Mactrix from Israel says:

    OK you Won, U left me absolutely speechless, im quit.
    Go and smoke some victory cigar.

    and here a site for u to check out:

  34. Focus says:

    Please stop with all of this political nonsense.

  35. Roger says:

    IDF=SS and No2Aparthied,

    Israel is a US ally. That means we share, and tech goes both ways. Just like the Brits – we contribute Trident warheads and submarine reactor plant design, they contribute Harrier jets, RADAR, and SoNAR. Both ways.

    We established fabs in Israel, and they’ve been great at not only making process technology (and that’s not easy to do) but we’ve gotten back from them in the form of Banias (Pentium M/first Centrino), Dothan (2nd generation Pentium M/second Centrino), Yonah (Core and Core Duo/Centrino duo) Merom(next Xeon), and Conroe (Core2).

    Nobody who has worked with them has a doubt that they could do this on their own. Nobody was helping them when they were attacked (by you) from four sides in ’57. and again in ’67. and ’72. and on and on and on.

    You know why we Americans like them? Because they’re like us. They’re underdogs. Everybody shits on them. Nobody cuts them any slack. But do they give a crap? No. They’ll continue to work, and create, and invent, and reap the rewards. In doing so, they are creating one of the world’s best standards of living for their people and producing some awesome technology along the way.

    They don’t need a handout, or aid, or fighter jets (they make some pretty good ones all by themselves, by the way). We sure as hell didn’t help them produce the nukes!! Hey, they won’t even admit TO US that they have ’em! They don’t even need you to like them.

    People like that are destined to be successful, no matter how much you want to screw that up. That is the very genesis of technology.

  36. WB says:

    This forum is awesome, you’ve covered everything from PC/MAC hatred to the Middle East (and some tech too!). Can we talk about abortion now?

  37. Mactrix from Israel says:

    Hi Roger, u got something these 2 jokers don’t have….knowledge.
    We can see we r talking with some people with a lek of knowledge.

    you know your tech, you know your history. and this is why we israelis like americans, cause bottom line…we share the same thoughts and understands itch other moves.

    every riot in the arab world there are 2 flags that getting burned, american and israeli. just because we share the same ideal of freedom.

    and now back to r topic…….THE MAC RULES !!!!!!!
    and please mr. apartheid and mr. SS, lets stop with the politics. you worry about the fence/wall and I worry about the reserve army i need to do next month.

  38. and I am from Poland says:

    You are really great. I wonder if somebody manages to replace IGM945 with decent video chipset in one’s mini. That would be a real miracle.

    By the way, the name was Goebbels, written with o umlaut. Use google before posting, flamer. This is the same kind of propaganda as for ‘polish’ death camps during WW2.

  39. MR. MXYZPTLK says:

    WB Says: Can we talk about abortion now?
    I am pro abortion. Not pro CHOICE, just pro abortion. for everyone.
    I think if no kids were born for one solid year the world would be a better place.

    And the Mac rules.

  40. Roger says:

    thanks Mactrix, I have lots of respect for you guys. LOL they can burn our flags together dude. Doing that is a lot easier than actually stepping up and making something for themselves.

    Back to the tech…
    I think Intel is coming around and has been amazed at what came out of the IDC (Israel Design Center). There wasn’t much thought to assigning them their first project, Timna (a complete computer on a chip design, for the low-low end market, around 1998). It was completed and ran OK but never released- Craig Barrett canceled the project because the chip integrated a Rambus interface on-die and needed Rambus RAM – in an ultra-cheap pc. When it became obvious that DDR was going to beat Rambus, and that Rambus would stay at a price premium, Intel added an external Rambus-to- PC-100 translator chip to the product so they could use Timna with PC-100… but that jacked up the cost, and put us right back to needing multi-chips for our “computer on a chip” project. Timna was canceled, as was its successor, already being designed.

    I think this may have poisoned Intel engineering at the memory controller on the CPU concept that has worked so well for AMD. Intel has admitted that this is invevitable for future CPUs but nobody knows when.

    Anyhow, Timna barfed so they next got assigned Banias, the first Pentium M / Centrino. The rest is history – nothing but home runs for IDC since then.

    They did contribute some stuff to projects as far back as Pentium (the original). The rumor inside Intel was that the name Pentium was derived in part by homage to Vladimir Pentovsky, a Russian Jew who relocated to Israel and was hired by Intel Israel. He apparently came up with a lot of the ideas used by a “superscalar processor”, that is, one that had 2 pipelines and could execute two instructions simultaneously. This had been in development for RISC processors at the time but never for CISC/x86. Just another rumor I heard in my 6 years at Intel.

    Also, the development name for the Napa chipset was originally Gaza. Guess who bitched?

  41. Mactrix from Israel says:

    Huh ! this is a nice rumor about the pentium name. i dont know if its true but i guess u have batter info then me if u were an intel insider.

    who bitched about the Gaza name ? i mean….we’re bin giving the processors names so far, so we not gonna choose the name Gaza for the chipset !?!?!?.

    By the way, i diden’t heard about a third intel facility in israel but, i head intel want to build a research facility in the Gaza Strip. i think they drop the idea now after the Hamas has won the election over there.

    The research facility in haifa (northern israel) is for the development process and the southern facility (in kiryat gat) its a manufacturing factory, where the chips is produce.

    so intel make a good deal, in the same place (israel) they are developing, manufacturing and shipping all over the world (and israel is in good geographic place for a worldwide shipping, right in the middle)

    so how the chips can still get low price if they are produce in israel ???
    the government (the apartheid government 🙂 LOL ) make a deal with intel that they will give them 600 million $ subvention to build a factory in israeli with big unemployment ratio city’s.
    so kiryat gat had chosen over india or china :-).

    in other topic…
    you think i should wait with buying mac mini, to august ?

  42. Roger says:

    Mactrix, I dunno if the rumor was true, but it was one of the ones going around Intel. Traditionally the project lead gets to choose the code name. I never heard of this being changed before before the Gaza flap. Also Intel insists on using only geographic names so the code name doesn’t convey any suggestion of performance or copyright. AMD started using car names to descibe chips after the K7 (Mustang, Corvette, etc) before some car companies threatened them.

    As far as the government helping out with the $$$, they do the exact same thing everywhere… they did it here in Hillsboro too. However, Hillsboro sure benefits in return, so it winds up being a good deal for all concerned. I certainly wouldn’t have moved all the way across the US to pay Oregon 9% of my income if it wasn’t for Intel.

    Intel cannot build chip facilities just anywhere, and there are none in India or China. That’s because producing the chips requires very intelligent workers and an excellent labor pool. The process requires constant oversight and adjustment or the yields drop. The number one factor in cost of chips is yield. Bad factories jack the price up – the money originally used to build the fab becomes almost inconsequential after the first year of operation. Israel is competitive in price because they are very smart and they run their fabs very well – even by Intel standards.

    I am actually not too surprised that Conroe runs on Yonah motherboards – typically the thing that kills this (except for pin compatability) is the supply voltage. Voltage gets lower every generation because the gate dielectric material must be made thinner with each reduction in geometry. Both Yonah and Conroe are 65nm (P1264 process, in Intel terminology) and so could have similar Vcc requirements. Apple very likely did not make the voltage regulator on the motherboard of the Mac Mini adjustable to support future CPU’s – very likely they will just re-spin the board for any future inclusion of Core2.

    I wouldn’t bother waiting – both this and the news that Mac Mini can support Core Duo up to 2.16 GHz make the upgrade path pretty clear to me.

  43. Mactrix from Israel says:

    Roger, i know the CPU upgrade is easy but the real question in graphics !!

    is the chip for the coronet mini, Intel GMA950 graphics, is gonna be easy to upgrade too ? or u will need to replace the motherboard ?

    or should i really wait for the summer for the new intergraded graphics card ?

    im not a big gamer, but if you got a mac that can run windows, u once in a while what to play a game, decently.
    and would u think it be strong enough to support HD movies ?

  44. Roger says:

    Sorry Mactrix, there is no way in the world the graphics will be upgradable. The same is true for many integrated-graphics solutions, but there is no space for an expansion slot of any kind on the Mac Mini motherboard or inside the case.

    No Intel Mac has had upgradable graphics so far. The MacPro (or whatever they call the Power Mac G5 tower replacement) very likely will have a PCI-Express X16 slot for a graphics card, and probably will come with a pretty good one installed. But that will be a lot of $$$ of course.

  45. Roger says:

    oops, forgot to mention that it will most likely be good at HD movies. It is basically identical to my MacBook, with Integrated GMA950 graphics and 1.6GHz Core Duo instead of 1.83


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