Choosing the Right Mac for Your Server

There are only four types of Macs to consider using as a server: Mac mini, iMac, Mac Pro, and the discontinued Xserve. Each is good for some type of network, and no size fits all. The specifications for Mac models change every year, so it's a good idea to check the Apple Web site ( from the Tech Specs link on each Mac's web page.

You don't need a brand-new Mac, though. A server is a good use for an older Mac, provided it has enough power for what you plan to do with it and meets the minimum requirements.

You also don't need a display monitor connected to the server. After you install Lion Server, you can run the server headless, using the Lion Server administration tools on another Mac on the network.

This section describes the four Macs, starting with Mac mini for lightweight tasks and ending with Xserve for large networks or heavy-duty tasks. If you haven't read how different server tasks affect the hardware, see the section “Criteria for Selecting Server Hardware,”, earlier in this chapter.

Mac mini as a server

While I was writing the previous version of this book, Snow Leopard Server For Dummies, an internal reviewer scoffed at the idea of using a mini as a server platform, saying that it “makes no sense.” I was undaunted. Several months after the book's publication, Apple came out with a special server version of the Mac mini.

I would like to believe that Apple read the book and thought, “What a great idea!” The reality ...

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