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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  • Guspaz - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    Ever since the "Intel HD" integrated graphics (the ones that are on-package for certain i3/5/7 models) came out, Intel has had passable integrated graphics. They perform on-par with the GeForce 9400M (which was benchmarked in this review). That's not saying much, but it's an enormous improvement over the previous generation of GMA. That 9400M as benchmarked, though, is from a year ago (mid 2009), so I can't argue that Intel has caught up enough with nVidia to be a viable alternative for Apple. If they keep up the current momentum, though, they'll probably catch up with nVidia soon enough.

    From a more anecdotal perspective, I recently bought a Toshiba Portégé r700 (Anandtech recently discussed it in their "under 14" article) which (for my model) features a Core i5 520M. The graphics are Intel's on-package.

    Performance is acceptable. StarCraft 2 is playable at native resolution with a perfectly smooth framerate, but this is admittedly at low to low-medium settings. That's more than I expected to get out of it, though; I didn't buy this thing for gaming, so anything at all is a bonus.
    Reply
  • thunng8 - Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - link

    9400M graphics was first released October 2008, not mid 2009. Also, the Integrated graphics used in the i3 mobile is clocked significantly lower than the i5 desktop. Only on the i5 that the Intel integrated graphics almost matches the 2008 9400M. Reply
  • Stuka87 - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    I would have loved to see how it compared to the previous Mac Mini's with the intel graphics and such.

    And like some others have asked, will it run Starcraft 2? I typically play on my PC, but would be nice to not have to switch some times (Since saved games are saved on b.net).
    Reply
  • archer75 - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    I'm curious to know how World of Warcraft performs at 1900x1200 with all in game settings maxed? Reply
  • icecreampop3 - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    At 1280x1024, maxed, 23fps according to notebookcheck.net. I'd say maybe 18 fps @ 1080p. Reply
  • archer75 - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    I just looked up some youtube videos of wow running on the mini at 1920x1080, slightly lower than my resolution of 1920x1200 but they were getting 18-25fps in cities and warsong. So not that great. Reply
  • james.jwb - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    Not only a WOW player, but you want a Mac Mini?

    You must be one tough SOB to admit to this ;)
    Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    I'm really confounded by the price jump over the previous generation. If it had stayed the same, I may have found the Mini to be worth it. Reply
  • mados123 - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    A better alternative for an HTPC would be the Viewsonic VOT550 w/ Blu-ray, Core 2 Duo 2,2GHz, 4GB, etc. for around $600.

    http://www.viewsonic.com/vot530-550
    Reply
  • Claudius-07 - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    Just got an Acer Revo and installed XBMC. I have a seagate T+, HDX 1000, WD Live, and the Revo+XBMC is the best thing thus far (however can't bitstream HD audio). Anyhow, love Apple but still scratching my head on this one for the price. Reply

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