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I'm currently looking for a Mac mini for development. I know the FAQ says no programming, but please bare with me, there's nothing related to code in my question.

I will need to connect 3 Kinect sensors to a computer for an installation. The form factor the Mac mini is ideal, but the main limitation is the number of USB controllers. The Kinect sensors use a lot of bandwidth and each sensor requires a separate USB controller.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the latest Mac mini seems to have only two USB controllers wired to 4 USB ports. Looking on Wikipedia, I see there was a model with 3 USB controllers:

The Mac Mini 2009 model gave access to 3 different USB busses on the back. Port 2 shares a USB bus with the IR connection. Ports 1+5 and 3+4 are each on their own USB bus. So it should be possible to get a throughput of 3x480=1440 Mbit/s.

My question mainly is: which is the newest Mac mini that has 3 USB busses? Also, with the new one is there any decent way to expand that somehow?

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It seems that those after 2009 (which reverted to 4 USB ports instead of 5), only have 2 buses. The 2009 models are likely the only models with 3 USB buses.

If you get one of the newer ones with Thunderbolt, it's possible to connect to a Thunderbolt Display which would add a third hub. I don't know of any devices off-hand that will give you just another USB hub via Thunderbolt, but if they're not out there already, they're bound to show up.

  • Thanks for the input(+1). I'll read about Thunderbolt, although USB busses to connect 3 Kinect sensors is all I need. – George Profenza Jul 3 '12 at 22:22
  • Good luck. You could also consider an iMac btw. I noticed today that on my late 2009 iMac each of the 4 USB ports reports that it's on a different bus, paired with one of the internal components in each case (Bluetooth, card reader, IR receiver, camera). – Vickash Jul 3 '12 at 23:16

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