Styling and Use

The mini’s design is cohesive with the rest of Apple’s lineup. The unibody aluminum construction is less functional in a stationary desktop compared to a notebook that has to be rugged, but it’s nice to look at nonetheless.

At the front of the Mac mini is the opening for the internal slot loading 8x SuperDrive. The drive can write to DVD±R discs as well as dual layer variants. DVD±RWs and CD-R/RWs are also supported. There's no option for a Blu-ray drive.

Like all Macs, there’s no eject button - for that you’ll need an Apple keyboard (not included). There are actually no input devices included in the purchase price, so expect to add another $120 if you want an Apple keyboard and Magic Mouse ($140 if you want them to both be wireless). There’s no remote included either, although Apple’s IR remotes do work with the mini.

The power button is around back, as well as the power connector. The power supply is internal so all you have on the outside is a single white cable with no power brick.

Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800 and four USB 2.0 ports line the rear along with the miniDP and HDMI outputs I mentioned earlier. A new addition is the SDXC slot on the back.

The mini has a single internal speaker but you also get digital/analog 1/8” line in and line out jacks. If you’ve got an iPhone headset, just plug it into the headphone minijack and you’ll get both headphone and mic functionality.

The Mac mini ships with 802.11a/b/g/n support but has no external WiFi antenna. The antenna is located in the base of the unit, directly underneath the removable access cover.

The internal antenna behaves virtually identically to a notebook’s WiFi. In fact, I got very similar WiFi performance out of the Mac mini as I did with this year’s MacBook Pro. With a good access point, getting reception at around 60 feet away through walls in a house wasn’t a problem.

The only issue I had with the Mac mini’s WiFi was when I placed the unit in my theater room. The theater is enclosed in two layers of drywall and has a small closet with a metal equipment rack in it. With the mini in the middle of the equipment rack, surrounded by amps and a pre-processor, I couldn’t get more than 1.2MB/s to the nearest access point which was less than 30 feet away but outside of the room. While that’s still enough bandwidth for surfing the web, it’s not enough to stream HD video from a networked file server.

I wouldn’t fault the Mac mini’s WiFi however. I was simply asking too much of it. But keep this in mind if you don’t have ethernet running to a similar setup. Thankfully, I do have ethernet going to the rack and thus it wasn’t an issue.

The mini’s design looks great until you start hooking a bunch of cables up to it. Despite the four USB ports, you’ll want to use Bluetooth peripherals where possible. In an HTPC setting where all you need is a HDMI cable and Bluetooth input devices the setup is very clean.

The New Mac mini Spin the mini
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  • MonkeyPaw - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    I don't understand why it has to keep getting smaller and smaller. The original Mini is by no means a monster. I remember setting an old FX5900 on my old G4 mini, and I laughed that the card stuck out about 2" on each side.

    I guess my point is that I would have rather seen Apple boost the specs all around as opposed to shrinking the package (and raising the price). Apple continues to miss the boat (at least my boat, anyway) when it comes to price/features. I just don't think Apple cares about market share. They want to continue to sell overpriced items to a smaller audience. I guess that's fine, as they seem to make nice profits doing so. But the original Mini made me buy my first mac, and eventually I bought an iBook and a dual-G5. The dual G5 became mysteriously crash-happy, and I haven't been back since. Appke just can't draw me back in yet, not with this price/product.
    Reply
  • thunng8 - Thursday, August 12, 2010 - link

    That is not correct anymore these days. Modern 7200rpm 2.5" hard drives are only marginally hotter than the 5400rpm variety. It would make no difference in a mac mini enclosure. Reply
  • woutersamaey - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    It would've been nice to read more on the Mac Mini with Mac OS X Server. To my opinion, it looks like an interesting SOHO server. It has faster (2 of them) 7200 rpm disks and 4 GB of RAM. Reply
  • solipsism - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    Anand wrote, "With no DMI/QPI enabled NVIDIA chipsets, Apple is either going to have to increase the physical size of many of its products to transition to newer Intel CPUs with 3rd party GPUs or live with Intel/AMD integrated graphics going forward. I'm very curious to see how this plays out over the next 12 - 18 months.”

    There is plenty of space when they remove the ODD. It’s obvious they aren’t going to move to Blu-ray if they haven’t in August 2010 and haven’t even added AACS to Mac OS X.

    The ODD is large, slow, prone to breaking and goes unused by most consumers these days. To put it into perspective takes up 25% of the 13” MB/MBP footprint, as well as 5” of port-side space which all Mac notebooks could use.

    On top of that, there is no 9.5mm Ultra-Slim Slot-Loading BRD that would be feasible for the needs of a company obsessed with thin.

    Honestly, Anand, if they haven’t added AACS to Mac OS X, added the option to their Mac Pros with full-sized ODDs, and left their optical disc authoring apps to rot why would you even expect this to arrive in such a svelte machine as the Mac Mini.
    Reply
  • Ratman6161 - Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - link

    ...because that isn't what this system uses. Take a look at the page in the review where they show pictures of the system torn down and talk about the Nvidia GeForce 320M and go on to say "The 320M has the graphics, memory controller, SATA controller, PCIe and USB interfaces. " The 320M seems to be a common part on Windows based laptops so it's nothing special - but it isn't Intel. Reply
  • larson0699 - Wednesday, August 11, 2010 - link

    @solipsism: The new mini also has a server edition ($1k, apple.com/macmini/server), 2 HDD, no ODD, though none of that open vertical space helps the limited real estate of the motherboard itself.

    @Ratman6161: As far as I can tell, only Apple has used the GeForce 320M thus far -- you may have mistaken that for the GeForce GT 320M, the former being an IGP and the latter a discrete GPU. Notebookcheck is a great place to compare mobile GPUs by specs, 3DMark scores, and their uses among OEMs, and that's where I learned of the similarly named IGP.
    Reply
  • mschira - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    How does the Mac mini fare with a contemporary medium demading game, such as Starcraft 2?
    Best
    M.
    Reply
  • jabber - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    For that price and application I would want a BD drive in it.

    I mean a BD drive would be what? An extra $50 (real world price) bu then the Apple price would be an extra $200.

    Hmmmm.
    Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Wednesday, August 11, 2010 - link

    Not just the cost but also a threat to streaming HD content from Itunes which seems to be another reason for not having blu-ray according to Steve Jobs.

    I agree with you though hence I bought a Dell Studio Hybrid which is a very similar machine in that it uses laptop component but it also has a blu-ray drive - I'm surprised it didn't get a mention at all in the article.

    John
    Reply
  • PrincePickle - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    At least Apple is concentraiting on bringing decent GPU's to their lineups. The industry as a whole has been slacking with educating consumers on the benifits of discrete GPU's. Reply

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