Newest generation of Mac Minis now come without an optical drive, which is Apple’s effort to completely eliminate this option, and replace it with download-only feature. Some users are resisting to such change, since they believe that this is yet another Apple’s effort to “capture” you into its ecosystem. This means that Apple thinks that you don’t need an optical drive since you download music, videos, TV shows, and movies from the iTunes Store, and you buy and download applications using the Mac App Store. In return, you receive more sophisticated design, and incredibly thin and light computers. If you’ve bought the newest Mac Mini, you can still use optical drive thanks to a product from Newer Technology, which is named MiniStack Max.
MiniStack Max doesn’t only bring an external optical drive, but also additional storage, and lots of additional ports which all works together with your Mac Mini and transforms it into a real powerhouse. Designers at Newer Technology clearly designed this product to be a companion to your Mac Mini, since their silhouettes are completely the same, as well as their finishing materials. Still, it doubles the height of Mac Mini. You can place your Mac Mini on top of MiniStack Max and you’ll get a very nicely looking computer. Its finishing materials are aluminum and plastic on the back side, which matches Mac Mini, and creates unified look.
Speaking of its specifications, MiniStack Max will turn your Mac Mini into a really powerful desktop computer. There are numerous specifications, so you can go to its official website and custom build your own system. For example, you can decide if you’d like to have 2.5” or 3.5” hard drive with maximum capacity of 2TB (which will cost you $260, which is its highest price). You will also get a rewritable CD/DVD drive, but you can also choose Blu-ray, but which could not be used with OS X. On its back side, you will see plenty of additional ports, and those are three USB 3.0 ports, eSATA, two FireWire 800, and the port used to supply power to this device. There is even built-in SD card reader.
As you can see from the specifications, MiniStack Max could bring you options which are not native to Mac Mini. This means that you wouldn’t get them even if you decide to purchase the most expensive Mac Mini model. It even goes beyond Mac’s abilities, since you can’t natively use USB 3.0 ports. This means that this port will still work, but its speeds are limited to USB 2.0.
MiniStack Max is a perfect companion to Mac Mini. Since Apple’s computers are a significant investment, many people decide to purchase Mac Mini mostly because of its affordability. Along the way, they start missing some features, and this is where MiniStack Max could be put to a best use. Finally, the only downside that I could see is that it doesn’t connect with Mac Mini through Thunderbolt protocol, which seems like a missed opportunity.