The current Mac mini has an integrated GPU called the Intel HD Graphics 4000. It is the same one that is in many of the portables from the current Macbook line. It is mostly useful if you are doing video work, gaming, or using a display (external or internal.)
When a Mac has an integrated GPU, it will share memory with the main system. In other words, if your Macbook Air has 4GB, the integrated might reserve 512MB of that, leaving 3.5GB of RAM for OS X and applications that you are using.
For most of the minis here, GPU performance isn't critical. For services like web or mail, the GPU isn't used a whole lot. But for those customers who do use the GPU (and for others who use Mac minis at home as the main machine), you'll be glad to hear that Mavericks is going to increase that memory allocation to the GPU. I'll explain:
Currently, a 2012 Mac mini with Mountain Lion will allow 384 MB to 768 MB of system memory allocation depending on how much RAM you have installed. For instance, if you have 4GB of RAM, your GPU will get 512 MB
And if you have 16GB of RAM installed, your GPU will get 768 MB.
However, once you upgrade to Mavericks (10.9), that same Mac mini will now be allocated a full 1024 MB of RAM:
You'll probably want to be sure you have enough RAM to go around when that full 1GB is allocated to the graphics.
It's nice to see advancements in software lead to better use and performance of current hardware. (This is similar to when we discovered that a firmware upgrade allowed the Early 2009 Mac mini move from 4GB to 8GB maximum for installed memory.)
So for those of you relying on the GPU performance in your Mac mini, that Mavericks upgrade should be a nice upgrade. (And if you're running a headless Mac mini, the dummy dongle is another GPU enhancer.) Add this to the list of things to look forward to in Mavericks.
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