Apple sells two Mac minis; one is a server edition, the other is a standard Mac mini. What are the differences between the Mac mini and the Mac mini server?
I know that the server doesn't have an optical drive and runs a server edition of OS X. Besides this, what are the other differences? What is the advantage of buying a Mac mini over buying a Mac mini server? (besides, of course, that the server runs OS X Server, and one is faster than the other) Will the server last longer, be able to handle running 24/7, whereas the standard one won't?

  • None of the new Mac minis have an optical drive. You can see the breakdown here: store.apple.com/us/browse/home/shop_mac/family/mac_mini/select
    – user10355
    Feb 16 '12 at 7:15
  • NP. They are impressive machines. I picked up a base model and it's a workhorse. Upgraded to 8 GB of RAM (Mushkin) on the cheap, threw in my OCZ Vertex 2, and picked up a spare HD cable from PowerBookMedics to install the default drive into the secondary bay. Blazing fast, compact, and all for a total of around $650. I haven't used CD/DVDs in years, so I'm happy for the reduced profile of the machine. Highly recommend, and not just for a media center!
    – user10355
    Feb 16 '12 at 17:23
  • To the best of my knowledge, Apple has not indicated that the mini server (or Mac Pro server) has any "server grade" hardware. That said, there's also no indication that any modern Mac can't run 24/7.
    – joelseph
    Feb 16 '12 at 19:09
  • I would also like to know what is the difference between running OS X Server and just running OS X with your own MAMP setup?
    – cm2
    Feb 16 '12 at 19:47

Comparison of Mac Mini and Mac Mini Server (as of mid 2011)


  • Server: Quad core i7
  • Mac Mini: Dual core i5

    • The base model of the Mac Mini does not support AES-NI which is recommended when using FileVault 2.


  • Server edition and Mac Mini base model: integrated HD Graphics 3000
  • High end Mac Mini: dedicated graphics, AMD Radeon HD 6630M with GDDR5

    • Note: This is very recommended for Lion on large external displays. The integrated HD Graphics 3000 do not perform well in Lion as of 10.7.3 - even on my 15'' MBP.

Hard drive:

  • Server: 2 x 500GB at 7400rpm
  • Mac Mini: 1 x 500GB at 5400rpm - and thus quieter

Optical Drive:

  • Server: none
  • Mac Mini: none


  • The server edition weights 0.3 pounds more.

Video, Audio, Network, Dimensions:

  • same
  • 1
    Neither the Mac mini or Mac mini server have optical drives these days.
    – cm2
    Feb 16 '12 at 17:05
  • See updated question.
    – daviesgeek
    Feb 16 '12 at 17:11

The difference is a few hundred bucks.
Kidding aside, though, there are several differences between the two models. Some differences are that the server version runs off of a Quad-Core i7, has dual 500 GB HDDs and a more powerful graphics processor.
Check out the side-by-side comparison here.

  • See updated question.
    – daviesgeek
    Feb 16 '12 at 17:12

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