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Sonnet

xMac mini Server
PCIe 2.0 Expansion System 1U/Rackmount Enclosure
for Mac mini with Thunderbolt Port

Mac / Thunderbolt / USB 3.0 / HDMI / Gigabit Ethernet / Energy Star
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 their popular RackMac mini 1U rackmount enclosure as a template, Sonnet created a specially-designed 1U rack enclosure to securely house your Mac mini1, and provide it strategic airflow cooling. Then, inspired by the demand for the Echo™ Express line of Thunderbolt-to-PCIe card expansion systems, two PCIe 2.0 expansion slots (with integrated power supply and fans) were added 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.
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.
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 has 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.
Smart Design Inside and Out
The 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 connectors4 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.
Stays Cool and Very Quiet
The 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.
Built for Future Expansion
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, 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 the PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart for a list of cards2 that have been tested to be recognized over a Thunderbolt connection and compatible with Thunderbolt technology requirements.
Eye on the Future
Both 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, Sonnet designed the third generation xMac mini Server to be easily upgradeable to Thunderbolt 23.
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.

Product Specifications:

Manufacturer Part Number

  • XMAC-MS-A

External Connectors

  • Two Thunderbolt (one open, one used)
  • One RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet port extension
  • Three USB ports (one front mount and 2 rear mount)
  • One HDMI port extension

Expansion Slots

  • One x8 (x4 electrical) PCIe 2.0 half-length
  • One x16 (x4 electrical) PCIe 2.0 full-length

System Requirements

  • Mac mini or Mac mini Server with a Thunderbolt port
  • Mac OS X 10.6.8 or greater
  • Mac OS X Server 10.6.8 or greater

PCIe Cards Supported2

  • One full-length, full-height, x16 PCIe 2.0 card
  • One half-length, half-height, x8 PCIe 2.0 card*
  • PCIe 1.1 cards also supported

* Requires use of half-height bracket.

Power Supply

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

RoHS Compliant

  • Yes

Operating Temperature

  • 0° C to 35° C (32° F to 95° F)

Weight

  • 16 lbs (7.26 kg)

Dimensions

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

Warranty

  1. Mac mini and PCIe cards sold separately.
  2. Compatibility requires the installation of Thunderbolt technology-aware drivers, available from the manufacturer. See 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, compatible only with third generation xMac mini Server (part no. XMAC-MS-A); older models not supported. NOT part of the free Thunderbolt 2 upgrade program.
  4. Thunderbolt cable lock compatible with Sonnet, Apple and most other manufacturers' electrical Thunderbolt cables. The lock is not compatible with optical Thunderbolt cables.
Manufacturer provided specifications for Sonnet Technologies p/n XMAC-MS-A UPC#: 732311010316

Gallery

This product is compatible with... Learn how to find your Mac's model ID
Mac mini Intel
Mac mini (Mid 2011)
(July, 2011)
Model ID: Macmini5,1 & Macmini5,2
2.3GHz, 2.5GHz, 2.7GHz
Mac mini Intel
Mac mini (Mid 2011 Server)
(July, 2011)
Model ID: Macmini5,3
2.0GHz
Mac mini Intel
Mac mini (Late 2012)
(October, 2012)
Model ID: Macmini6,1 & Macmini6,2
2.3GHz, 2.5GHz, 2.6GHz
Mac mini Intel
Mac mini (Late 2012 Server)
(October, 2012)
Model ID: Macmini6,2
2.3GHz, 2.6GHz

Includes

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

Note: Mac mini and PCIe cards sold separately

* Thunderbolt cable lock compatible with Sonnet, Apple and most other manufacturers' electrical Thunderbolt cables. The lock is not compatible with optical Thunderbolt cables.

Configuration Ideas

Scenario 1 Metadata Controller
The xMac mini Server can transform a Mac mini into a full-function metadata controller for an Xsan 2 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 Gigabit Ethernet adapter card plugged into the integrated, half-length PCIe 2.0 slot
  2. A Fibre Channel adapter card plugged into the full-length PCIe 2.0 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.
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 Gigabit or 10GigE adapter card plugged into the half-length PCIe 2.0 slot
  2. A 4-port Sonnet Tempo SATA E4 Pro eSATA controller card plugged into the full-length PCIe 2.0 slot, with up to four rackmount storage systems connected
Take full advantage of the SATA storage and Ethernet bandwidth using Mac 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.
Scenario 3 Unlimited-Capacity Shared RAID Storage for a Large Workgroup
The 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 SAS/SATA RAID controller, connected to a rack mounted storage system
  2. A 10 Gigabit Ethernet card installed in a second slot

This setup will serve the large storage pool to a RAID workgroup with an aggregate speed of up to 750 MB/sec of storage speed and agregate network access speeds of up to 425 MB/sec.


Scenario 4 Video Ingest Station
xMac mini Server can transform a Mac mini Server into a video ingest station for Avid® and Final Cut® suites.

With the installation of:
  1. A high-performance video capture card plugged into the full-length PCIe 2.0 slot
  2. A SAS controller card installed in a second slot connecting one SAS port to nearline rack mount RAID storage and the second SAS port to LTO-5 rackmount 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.


Scenario 5 AVID Pro Tools|HD Native Multitrack Record Rig
xMac 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.


Customer Ratings

Write a Review 4.5 / 5 2 out of 2 (100%) reviewers would recommend this product
Verified Buyer
Reviewer: Duke Location: Burbank, CA Age: 55-65 Experience Level: IT Professional Owned Product: less than a month
Rating: 4/5 Think this will work well September 1, 2016 As advertised, this is well thought out. There is an extra Thundrbolt and usb 3 on my mac mini, so i need to figure out how to use them. Make sure any cards you want to use via pci-e are thunderbolt ready. some of the older aja/blackmagic cards won't work. Quiet and cool, it is everything in one place.

I would recommend this item to a friend! Customer Videos:

Verified Buyer
Reviewer: Anonymous Location: Bellevue, WA Age: 35-44 Experience Level: IT Professional Owned Product: 1-3 months
Rating: 5/5 Fantastic solution for Mac mini server April 28, 2014 The latest version of the XMac mini server is exactly what I'd been hoping for to create a true rackmounted replacement to our aging Xserve running FileMaker Pro Server.*

First off, I should note that the original Mac mini I ordered from Apple was the server version, which came with two 1 TB SATA hard drives. Following the video instructions from OWC's website, I replaced those drives with two 120GB OWC Mercury Pro 6G SSDs, which was no easy task, but it worked out fine. I set up the two drives with software RAID 1 for redundancy.

Once I received the xMac, I installed the Mac mini in it, which took only a couple minutes. For secondary storage, I installed an Apricorn Velocity Solo x2 Extreme PCIe card in one of the available slots, with a 256GB OWC Mercury Pro 6G SSD on it. I already had the Apricorn card; otherwise, I would've probably used an OWC Accelsior_E2 card. The performance of the SSD on the PCIe card is about 350 MB/sec write and 510 MB/sec read, which does show the constraints of Thunderbolt 1, but is nonetheless plenty fast for my needs (the SSD on the PCIe will hold FileMaker database backups).

The build quality of the xMac is outstanding and really feels like it was made to last. I love the fact that the it has a front power button for the mini, along with a USB 3 port.

If you don't use full length PCIe cards inside it, there's quite a lot of unused space in the front part of the xMac chassis. Rather than utilizing a PCIe card for additional fast storage, as I did, it'd be helpful to have a native Thunderbolt to SATA/SAS converter inside the chassis, with the ability to mount one or two 2.5" drives in the usused space. Something like the innards of the Mercury On-the-Go Pro, mounted internally. http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other%20World%20Computing/MOTGTBH5T1.0/

Based on my experience with the xMac mini, I'm really looking forward to Sonnet's forthcoming xMac Pro Server solution, which is like the xMac mini but on steroids. It also has some internal storage options, although a PCIe card will be required.

* Like most Mac IT professionals, I've had major concerns about replacing the fully-redundant Xserve with a consumer-grade device like the Mac mini, which has absolutely no redundancy for its power supply and other components. However, the Mac mini server is so inexpensive that it's really not a problem to just keep a spare on hand, or have one in service as a standard Mac workstation in the office and grab it if the server dies. As long as I maintain an ironclad backup regimen (which is simple to do with FileMaker Server 13's new incremental backups, Carbon Copy Cloner, and Retrospect Server), it won't be a big deal to swap out machines. And it's a whole lot cheaper than buying a traditional rackmount server plus a full set of spares. Now, a single Mac mini setup obviously won't work for truly mission-critical server roles, and if I had such an need, I'd use OS X Server's IP failover function with two Mac minis connected to an iSCSI SAN. Or consider something other than a Mac server. :-)

I would recommend this item to a friend!

Sonnet xMac mini Server PCIe 2.0 Expansion System 1U/Rackmount Enclosure for Mac mini with Thunderbolt Port Mfr P/N: XMAC-MS-A MacSales.com SKU: STIXMACMSA Turn your Mac mini or Mac mini Server into a 1U rack mounted server with PCIe expansion slots. Sonnet Technologies 5 Year Limited Warranty Ships: Same Day Only $1,295.00MacSales.com Price $999.00
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