• Overview
  • Technical Specifications
  • Accessories
  • Configuration Ideas

Mac mini with Thunderbolt Technology

Transform a Mac mini with Thunderbolt Technology into a Full-Fledged Expandable Rackmount Server!

Are you considering your options for a rack-mounted computer? Looking to replace an aging Xserve® system? For many applications, a Mac mini or Mac mini with OS X® Server with Thunderbolt technology has all the power necessary to allow it to function as a full size server. But by itself, the Mac mini's compact size and form factor can limit its potential. Most importantly, it does not provide slots for PCIe expansion cards necessary to increase its functionality and connectivity. Sonnet's award-winning xMac mini Server PCIe 2.0 expansion system/1U rackmount enclosure addresses these issues and expands a Mac mini's potential in a big way.

Starting with our popular RackMac mini 1U rackmount enclosure as a template, we created a specially-designed 1U rack enclosure to securely house your Mac mini(1), and provide it strategic airflow cooling. Then, inspired by the demand for our Echo™ Express line of Thunderbolt-to-PCIe card expansion systems, we added two PCIe 2.0 expansion slots (with integrated power supply and fans) that connect to the Mac mini via its Thunderbolt port, included a central power hub for the Mac mini and PCIe slots' power supply, and finished by adding an additional Thunderbolt port for daisy chaining to other Thunderbolt devices. For added convenience, the front panel provides a USB 3.0 port and a power button while other Mac mini interface ports are extended to the back of the chassis and mounted on the rear panel for convenient interfacing of Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI and two USB 3.0 connections. The PCIe expansion slots power on and off in unison with the Mac mini. To support a wide range of popular mobile racks, carts and portable rack cases, the third generation xMac mini Server is just 17.75" deep.

Key Features

Adds Connectivity and Capabilities to Mac mini—Connects two PCIe 2.0 slots via Thunderbolt technology to the Mac mini, supports high-performance expansion cards

Server Room Ready—1U rackmount enclosure with user-replaceable power supply and fans, built-in cable management features

Diverse PCIe Card Support—Supports Fibre Channel, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, pro video capture and playout, SAS/SATA RAID controllers, pro audio, and other PCIe cards

Supports Thunderbolt Expansion—Enables daisy chain connection of additional Thunderbolt technology devices through second Thunderbolt port

Front Panel Operation—Front panel power button activates power switch on Mac mini; USB 3.0 port enables connection of keyboard, mouse, thumb drive, etc.

Power for High Performance PCIe Cards—Integrated 150W power supply provides plenty of power for any cards you install; auxiliary PCIe power connector enables use of power hungry cards such as the Avid Pro Tools|HDX or the RED ROCKET

Rear Panel Connectivity—Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI and two USB 3.0 ports are mounted at the rear of the chassis for easy connectivity

Energy Efficient—Variable-speed fans automatically adjust to the unique needs of each configuration, and the auto power on/off feature ensures there is no energy wasted with cards powered on when the Mac mini is sleeping or off

Shadow

xMac mini Server combines the utility of Sonnet's RackMac mini 1U rackmount enclosure with the functionality of an Echo Express Thunderbolt-to-PCIe card expansion system to enable you to transform your Mac mini with Thunderbolt technology from a simple server to something much more. Imagine the possibilities.

 

Thunderbolt
Thunderbolt Expansion
The second Thunderbolt port allows daisy chaining of additional Thunderbolt Technology-enabled peripherals.
PCIe Card
Supports Wide Range of PCIe Cards
Supports Fibre Channel, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, pro video capture and playout, SAS/SATA RAID controllers, pro audio, and other PCIe cards.
Connectivity
Two PCIe Slots + Up-to-Date Connectivity
Two PCIe slots provide diverse expandability; front panel USB 3.0 port enables easy USB peripheral connections while the rear panel features convenient interfacing of Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, and two USB 3.0 cables.
Energy Efficient
Air Cooled & Energy Efficient
Variable-speed fans automatically adjust to the unique needs of each configuration; energy saver power on/off feature ensures there is no energy wasted with PCIe cards powered on when the system is off.
Power
Central Power Hub
A central power hub for the computer and power supply for the PCIe slots provides energy for everything with one power cord.
Less Than 18" Deep
Built to Rack and Go
The xMac mini Server is less than 18" deep, perfect for a wide range of popular mobile racks, carts, and portable rack cases.

Add Professional PCIe Cards to Your Mac mini

A Great Design Made Better

With thousands of xMac mini Servers in daily use around the world, Sonnet has received great feedback from users, and we have updated this product with the features most important to them. This third generation xMac mini Server combines the best qualities of previous models and adds new features to make it the most capable model yet. The xMac mini server now supports one full-height, full-length card plus one full-height, half-length card. If you need to install a PCIe card that includes a daughter card, like the ones included with RME's HDSPe MADI FX card, Blackmagic Design's DeckLink 4K Extreme, and the Lynx AES16e-50, the supplied mounting bracket allows you to securely mount the daughter card inside the chassis next to the main card, leaving the second PCIe slot open for another PCIe card. The rear panel includes mounting holes for two BNC connectors used for HD/SDI output from cards like the RED ROCKET, or for MADI and word clock input and output from cards like the HDSPe MADI FX. A larger power supply plus an added auxiliary power connector enables this xMac mini server to support even more cards than before.

Built for Future Expansion

xMac mini Server PCIe Slots

The xMac mini Server provides you easy access to its PCIe slots and the computer's ports; simply loosen two thumbscrews and slide the top cover off. Once inside, installing PCIe expansion cards is easy. An included Thunderbolt cable connects your Mac mini to one of the xMac mini Server's Thunderbolt ports, linking the PCIe slots to the computer. The xMac mini Server's second Thunderbolt port allows daisy chaining of additional Thunderbolt peripherals such as additional PCIe expansion (like Sonnet's Echo Express III-R rackmount chassis), pro video breakout boxes, video capture and playback devices, audio I/O devices, and more.

xMac mini Server as a metadata controller for an Xsan® storage area network? Yes, you can. xMac mini Server as an ingest station for uncompressed HD video? Absolutely. xMac mini server as a virtual sound check, pro audio plug-in DAW and record rig? Sure! This Sonnet solution enables you to expand your Mac mini's capabilities in ways you never imagined; click the Configuration Ideas tab for a few concepts. For PCIe card compatibility information, see our PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart for a list of cards(2) that have been tested to be recognized over a Thunderbolt connection and compatible with Thunderbolt technology requirements.

Eye on the Future

Thunderbolt 20Gbps IconBoth the xMac mini Server and Mac mini computers available today feature 10Gb/s Thunderbolt technology. Apple has already started enhancing some of its computers with 20Gb/s Thunderbolt 2 technology, starting with the MacBook Pro® and the new Mac Pro®. With an eye on the future, we designed the third generation xMac mini Server to be easily upgradeable to Thunderbolt 2(3).

 

Smart Design Inside and Out

xMac mini Server Mechanical DrawingThe xMac mini Server has numerous thoughtful design touches. The power supply and fans are user-replaceable. The front panel USB 3.0 port connects to the Mac mini, enabling you to connect a keyboard, mouse, or thumb drive to the computer without having to access its ports from the back. Other Mac mini interface ports are extended to the back of the chassis and mounted on the rear panel for convenient interfacing of Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, and two USB 3.0 cables. A cable passthrough opening on the back panel allows you to route other cables to the computer or the internal connections on an installed card. One USB 3.0 port on the Mac mini is left available to connect a software license control dongle, such as the iLok, securely within the xMac's enclosure. The xMac mini Server's power switch turns the computer on and off without the need for you to reach around back, and the PCIe slots power on/off with the Mac mini for maximum energy savings. An opening in the front panel allows the Mac mini's power indicator to shine through. There is a central power hub for the computer and power supply for the PCIe slots, enabling you to power everything with one power cord. Sonnet includes an easy-to-install lock that secures Thunderbolt connectors(4) plugged into the xMac's Thunderbolt ports and prevents accidental cable disconnections. Holes for cable ties enable you to secure cables inside, keeping them tidy while avoiding accidental disconnects. Threaded holes in the side of the enclosure match up with Sonnet's Rack Slide Sets, which provide you an easy way to pull out your xMac mini Server to access what is inside.

Rack Slide Set

Stays Cool and Very Quiet

Fan AirflowThe third generation xMac mini Server's design has been refined to deliver increased airflow over installed PCIe cards. This enables its four variable-speed fans to effectively cool the cards while operating at slower speeds, and as a result, reduced noise levels. The xMac mini Server is ideal for use with cool-running PCIe cards, including most pro audio, video capture & processing, and many other cards, yet is capable of keeping hot-running cards cool quietly in the most demanding work environments.

Power for High Performance PCIe Cards

The third generation xMac mini Server integrates a universal 150W power supply and includes an auxiliary PCIe power connector for cards that require supplementary power, such as the Avid® Pro Tools|HDX or the RED® ROCKET™. In short, there is plenty of power for any combination of compatible cards.

Thunderbolt Cable LockThunderbolt Cable and Lock Included

Sonnet includes a Thunderbolt cable and lock that secures Thunderbolt connectors(5) plugged into the Echo chassis. It is easy to install and prevents accidental cable disconnections.

Sonnet Thunderbolt Expansion Partners

Sonnet works closely with the following partners to ensure Thunderbolt compatibility for their products. See the PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart for an up-to-date list of products that have passed Thunderbolt compatibility testing with Sonnet products.

AdobeAJAAppleApogeeArecaATTOAvidBlack Magic DesignBlueFish 444CalDigitDeltacastExaSANFocusriteFusion ioHigh PointLynx Studio TechnologyMatroxMyricomNewer TechOWCREDRMESiennaSmall Tree Softron Media ServicesSolid State LogicStorageDNATandberg DataTolis GroupTools On AirUniversal Audio


 Mac mini, PCIe cards, and cables shown in photos that are not included with xMac mini Servers are shown for illustration purposes; items sold separately.
See Technical Specifications Tab for footnotes
Part No.  
XMAC-MS-A xMac mini Server(1)
Hardware  
Warranty 5-year
Dimensions (WxDxH)

19 x 17.75 x 1.72 in. (48.3 x 45.1 x 4.4 cm)

Weight

16 lbs (7.26 kg)   

Form Factor Rackmount
External Connectors
  • Two Thunderbolt (one open, one used)
  • One RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet port extension
  • Three USB 3.0 ports (one front mount and 2 rear mount)
  • One HDMI port extension
Internal Connectors
  • 6-pin Mini-Fit Jr (provides auxiliary power for PCIe cards that require it)
  • One C-8 power
Expansion Slots
  • One x8 (x4 electrical) PCIe 2.0 half-length
  • One x16 (x4 electrical) PCIe 2.0 full-length
Compatible PCIe Cards(4) Up-to-date PCIe cards listed on our supporting PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart
Power Supply

Universal 150W, 90-260V AC, 50-60 Hz

Operating Temperature

+32º F to +95º F (0º C to +35º C)

RoHS Compliant Yes

Package Contents

  • xMac mini Server, assembled
  • 0.5-meter Thunderbolt cable
  • Daughter card mounting bracket
  • Thunderbolt cable
  • Thunderbolt cable lock(4)
  • Power cord
  • Documentation

Note: Mac mini and PCIe cards sold separately

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compatibility

Mac mini or Mac mini with OS X Server (models produced from 2010-present, with Thunderbolt ports)

OS X 10.8.5+

OS X Server and OS X Mavericks compatible

PCIe Card Compatibility

For up-to-date PCIe card compatibility see our PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart


Technical Notes

  1. Mac mini and PCIe cards sold separately.
  2. Compatibility requires the installation of Thunderbolt technology-aware drivers, available from the manufacturer. See our supporting PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart for a list of up-to-date compatible PCIe cards.
  3. Thunderbolt 2 upgrade exchange kit for xMac mini Server is planned to be available for purchase at a future date, subject to Apple/Intel certification. Upgrade is compatible only with third generation xMac mini Server (part no. XMAC-MS-A); older models not supported. This upgrade is NOT part of the Thunderbolt 2 upgrade program for Echo Express III-D, III-R, or SE II.
  4. Thunderbolt cable lock compatible with Apple and Sonnet Thunderbolt cables. Not compatible with optical Thunderbolt cables.
  5. Thunderbolt cable lock is compatible with Apple and Sonnet Thunderbolt cables. For more information see Support Article FAQ 785.


Specifications subject to change without notice.


Mac Logo PCI Express LogoroHS Logo

xMac mini Server Accessories Part No. Description
Fusion Rack Slide Set Rack Slide Set (17.5-21") FUS-RSS-P Rack Mount Sliding Rail Kit (17.5-21" rack)
Rack Slide Set (23-26.5") FUS-RSS-S Rack Mount Sliding Rail Kit (23-26.5" rack)
Rack Slide Set (27-30.5") FUS-RSS Rack Mount Sliding Rail Kit (27-30.5" rack)
Rack Slide Set (29-32.5") FUS-RSS-L Rack Mount Sliding Rail Kit (29-32.5" rack)
Thunderbolt Cable Thunderbolt Cable TCB-TB-05M 0.5-meter Thunderbolt cable
xMac mini Server Quiet Fan Kit xMac mini Server Quiet Fan Module(2) XMFAN-Q-A Quiet replacement fan for third-generation xMac mini Server models only (XMAC-MS-A)


 

Scenario 1: Metadata Controller

xMac mini Server can transform a Mac mini with OS X Server into a full-function metadata controller for an Xsan setup, or into a metaSAN metadata master. This combo also makes an ideal replacement for an aging Apple Xserve.

With the installation of:

  1. A Sonnet Gigabit Ethernet adapter card plugged into the integrated, half-length PCIe card slot

  2. An Apple or ATTO Fibre Channel Adapter card plugged into the full-length PCIe card slot

Racking up a second xMac mini setup as described above provides two redundant metadata controllers that occupy a total of just 2U of rack space and cost a fraction of available alternatives.
  Number 1
 

Scenario 2: Large-Capacity RAID Storage Served to More Users

xMac mini Server can transform a Mac mini with OS X Server into more robust server with high-capacity RAID storage connected.

With the installation of:

  1. A Sonnet Presto Gigabit Pro PCIe Gigabit Ethernet card or a Presto 10GbE 1-Port 10 Gigabit Ethernet adapter card plugged into the half-length PCIe card slot

  2. A Sonnet Tempo SATA Pro 6Gb 4-Port eSATA controller card plugged into the full-length PCIe card slot, with up to four Fusion™ R400S RAID 1U rackmount storage systems connected, each system with up to 12TB of usable storage in protected RAID 5 mode (total of up to 48TB)

Take full advantage of the SATA storage and Ethernet bandwidth using OS X Server's powerful services such as managed-access file sharing, built-in calendar, mail, podcasting, VPN, and Web server capabilities, or use FileMaker® Pro server to host your FileMaker Pro databases. SATA storage can be served at 250MB/sec to users.
  Number 1
 

Scenario 3: Virtually Unlimited-Capacity Shared RAID Storage for Large Workgroup

xMac mini Server can enable you to deploy virtually unlimited RAID-protected shared storage across a larger network.

With the installation of:

  1. A high-performance 6Gb/s SAS/SATA RAID controller (like the one included with Sonnet's Fusion RX1600RAID 16-drive rackmount storage system) plugged into the full-length PCIe card slot, connected (naturally) to the Fusion RX1600RAID, each chassis with up to 56TB of usable storage in protected RAID 6 mode (total of up to 448TB)

  2. Sonnet's Presto 10GbE 1-Port 10 Gigabit Ethernet adapter card plugged into the half-length PCIe card slot, connected to a Gigabit Ethernet switch.

This setup will serve the large storage pool (storage capacity can be increased by daisy chaining up to seven Fusion RX1600 Expansion systems) to a workgroup with an aggregate speed of up to 750 MB/sec of local storage speed and aggregate network access speeds of up to 425 MB/sec.
  Number 1
 

Scenario 4: Video Ingest Station

xMac mini Server can transform a Mac mini with OS X Server into a video ingest station for Avid® and Final Cut® suites.

With the installation of:

  1. A high-performance video capture card (like a RED ROCKETBlackMagic DeckLink, or AJA Kona) plugged into the full-length PCIe card slot.

  2. A SAS controller card (such as the ATTO ExpressSAS H680) installed in half-length PCIe card slot, connecting one SAS port to nearline rackmount SAS RAID storage and the second SAS port to rack-mounted LTO tape backup.


Racking up a second xMac mini setup as described above provides two redundant metadata controllers that occupy a total of just 2U of rack space and cost a fraction of available alternatives.
  Number 1
 

Scenario 5: AVID Pro Tools|HD Native Multitrack Record Rig

Mac mini Server enables you to create an extremely compact and powerful ProTools multitrack recording rig that occupies just 1U of space.

With the installation of:

  1. An AVID Pro Tools|HD Native PCIe card plugged into the half-length PCIe card slot, connected to one or more AVID Pro Tools HD Series interfaces or mixing board.

  2. A Sonnet Tempo SSD PCIe drive card with one or two SSDs attached, installed in the full-length PCIe card slot.


This setup will enable you to work with up to 256 voiceable audio tracks recorded to and played back from one or two high-speed SSDs at up to 600 MB/s read, 380 MB/s write.