It depends on what Mac mini you have really.
The G4 Mac minis can handle up to 1GB of RAM.
The earlier Intel ones can come preconfigured with up to 2GB of RAM.
Now, seek if you are running Snow Leopard or Snow Leopard Server, you can install up to 8GB of RAM.
If you are running a 2011 Mac mini with Lion or Lion Server, you can install up to 16GB of RAM.
Obviously, we are in favor of Mac minis being used as servers. Here is a list of some of the reasons we feel this way.
- Compared to an XServe, the Mac mini is very inexpensive hardware. You can get started with just $600 for a new one. (Or grab a nice used one for around $400.)
- In a data center, one is basically paying for space.Because a Mac mini is smaller than an XServe, you’re able to find much less expensive colocation. We start our colocation at just $35.
- When you do consulting, offering a dedicated server to each client is a great selling point. This way, they know their data is safe and they have access to the full resources of a server. With XServes, this used to be an expensive offer. But with the Mac mini, it’s no problem at all.
- Mac minis make load balancing easy. If you need to handle big loads of traffic, you can use DNS based load balancing. This will allow different requests to be sent to different machines. Not only does this make sure everyone has the speed they need. But this also allows for seamless transition in case of a hardware problem. If one machine goes out, no big deal. The end users won’t even notice.
- The Mac mini comes with four USB ports and one Firewire port. This means you can add just about as much hard drive space as you’ll ever need.
The list can go on and on…
If you want to have a well functioning server, you’ll want to be sure to get everything right from the start. This would include the network, power, and sharing settings.
We’ve put together an ebook that will show you how to setup a brand new Mac mini with Mac OS X Leopard so that it’s ready to be put on a network and be used as a server.
You can download that ebook here. (PDF)
With the G4 Mac minis, sale running OS X Server was a bit slow. This was due to the limit of 1GB of RAM.
But, prostate with the newer Intel Mac minis, you are able to run up to 4GB of RAM. With this extra capacity, Leopard Server and Snow Leopard Server runs great on the Mac minis. You can use any of the services like mail, web, dns, and file sharing.