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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  • iwodo - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    By end of 2012, we should be able fit Sandy Bridge, 4GB Ram, SSD, and a much faster GFX within the same size. Reply
  • james.jwb - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    We will never get to the end of 2012 :) Reply
  • tech6 - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    The Apple box is nice but its too bad Apple feels the same way about Blue Ray than they do about Flash (and SSDs apparently).

    The ASRock i3 based box reviewed earlier is much better value for those seeking an HTPC. For around $700 it delivers i3 performance, a remote as well as BD.
    Reply
  • Oscarcharliezulu - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link


    Is the CPU soldered in place? No chance of diy CPU upgrades?
    Reply
  • futurepastnow - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    Yes, it is. Can't you tell just by looking at it? Reply
  • Ratman6161 - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    It's almost as if they scoured their parts bins for the parts that were obsolete and would otherwise be thrown out and stuck them in a white plastic box and slapped a $699 price tag on it. It may be the cheapest way to get a new OS X system - but it seems to me like Apple has lost it's way with this product. If the goal were to lure new OS X users, I suppose I could see this if it were priced at about $300.

    I know Apple people hate price comparisons with Windows PC's but since the hardware is basically identical these days, the comparisons are inescapable. I recently bought my wife a new HP laptop at Best Buy. It has an i3 330M (which blows away the 2.4 GHZ core 2 duo in my Dell laptop by the way), has 4 GB of RAM and a 500 GB 7200 RPM hard drive. And of course the laptop has to include a screen as well. It cost $649.00 + tax. Given spare parts bin components being used, there is just no way that the Mini should cost more.

    Like I said, you have to really want OS X to buy this.
    Reply
  • Ratman6161 - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    I forgot to mention that this thing comes with absolutely no input devices so if you want Apple stuff the real price is $819. And unlike a laptop it doesn't even need a battery. Reply
  • futurepastnow - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    While I couldn't care less about Apple's mouse and keyboard, upgrading the mini (via Newegg, not Apple) to 2x2GB of RAM and a 7200 RPM drive increases the total to nearly $840. That's completely unacceptable. Reply
  • fic2 - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    My laptop doesn't need a battery unless I want to use it on the go. It is usually plugged into a wall sitting on my desk at work with the battery laying next to it. Reply
  • v12v12 - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    Haha I 2nd these comments of common-sense! This is nothing but another overpriced Apple rehash of old-technology into a small, shiny, sleek, box. Profiteering for "Apple" is merely how to out fox the fanatical, tech-obsessed "Mac-phile" user base, out of their snidely earned cash.

    It's way out of date, comes with sub-standard parts, no BR, "mini" crap ports, sub-par full HDMI port blah blah. Oh and the PRICE? I know the editors have to give Apple a soft, white pillow to slam them down on, but come on... Take a look at these quotes right here;

    "The user experience of the Mac mini is noticeably diminished by only having 2GB of memory."

    “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.”

    That's a very polite way of saying something (honest) such as, "Apple is again cutting corners in the hardware department, yet making it seem 'adequate' for most users." Is 2GB "fine" for 8/10 “users” (highly ambiguous!?) YEP sure is. I work with a huge Win/OSX client base and NOBODY is screaming about needing 4GB of ram, but the industry standard IS 4GB now. 2 is "acceptable," but not up to pace. It's per user's demands, but (in general) anyone with experience dealing with "Apple" knows they've cut corners again. You just softened the blow.

    Let’s recap; SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS ($820*) for:

    -No peripherals*---WTF?
    --Dated CPU
    ---Sub-par Ram (should I bother asking about timings/quality of the Dimms, lol?)
    ----Sketchy Vid-output connections (HDMI 1900x1200!)
    -----Sub-par GPU vs a laptop (all it is stuffed in a small box)
    ----Sub-par 5400rpm HD. (Is this a joke?)
    ---No SSD???
    --PRICE! (Overpriced KB/M?)
    -No IR remote (this IS marketed as an HTPC?!)

    And lastly... dealing with "Apple" is nothing but a PITA if you're not blindly "appeased" with what they've attempted to brainwash you into buying, and then spoon-fed to you. Oh BTW... it's up to YOU to provide your own bib and paper towel to wipe off all that drool. That is until you use the thing and realize; OMFG I shoulda gotten a smaller LAPTOP instead.
    __Apple MARKETING is very, very keen on deception and mental-washing and this is how; SMALL FORM FACTORING (SFF). SFF'ing is nothing but a MARKETING ploy.
    Reply

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