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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  • CharonPDX - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    People talk about how Apple is incapable of switching to the i3/i5/i7 plus a discrete GPU because of size constraints...

    Yet they forget that the original MacBook Air and the original Mac MIni were both three-chip solutions, with CPU, Intel Northbridge, and Intel Southbridge. If they could fit all three at some time in the past, why can't they fit three now? (CPU, Intel chipset, and nVidia/ATI GPU.)

    Especially the mini, whose motherboard has GAINED area. (Not much, since it doesn't fill the whole newly-enlarged chassis, but it did gain a little.)
    Reply
  • james.jwb - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    Aggressive profit requirements per sale at Apple is probably a major reason. Reply
  • Penti - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    Of course they can, redesigning the boards. But for a discrete mobile gpu too, they also need room for the added memories just like in the MBPs. (Well there's two sides of a PCB). It's a design choice not a limit. They could probably put something like Mobility HD5650 without upping the price and up the ram to 4GB and still make a lot of money. i5-520M 2.4GHz and HM55 costs $265 from Intel, though they also have a much higher power usage. P8600 goes for $209 plus nVidias 320M chipset. The same money + gpu. But it's worse in europe any way since they priced it when the dollar was high, so the mac mini is 809 euros (incl 19% sales tax) that's 900 US dollars before taxes. So we pay over a thousand dollars for something that goes for 699 in the states. For that kind of money 4-8GB, Mobility HD5650, faster drive etc should be standard. It should rather be something like €630. So we pay almost a 30% overprice. On a product that has a 20-30% margin easily. Reply
  • GeorgeH - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    The current MacBook Air has a bigger battery than the original, so 3 chips (and the extra cooling hardware that would be required for a discrete GPU) wouldn't fit without sacrificing battery life. Reply
  • Penti - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    Yes it's pretty busy already, http://guide-images.ifixit.net/igi/AaB5PK5d35HGTsZ... & http://guide-images.ifixit.net/igi/KJJyYGCKwbfhmAJ... in the Air. Much more room in the Mac Mini. Enough for discrete graphics I would say, with a serious redesign. Higher density DRAM (x16) might help (some) in the MB Air though. Reply
  • Penti - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    And the redesigned board (later mid 2009), http://cart-products.ifixit.net/cart-products/ULXA... & http://cart-products.ifixit.net/cart-products/Ti4N... No more room there. Reply
  • Penti - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    Just to add, mobile discrete GPU will be too much for a 40Wh battery as the macbook Air is using any way. Reply
  • solipsism - Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - link

    YOu seem to be forgetting the rounder edges on the case reducing the footprint over a square 7.7”x7.7” footprint, the placement of the components and the PSU which now resides inside the Mini for the first time.Unless it’s using TARDIS technology that MoBo isn’t likely to be big enough.

    You also have to account for the engineering of larger heat sinks, more or bigger fans and potentially increased power needs. It’s not the simple achievement you are making it out to be.

    My guess is that these small machines will get the Core-i when they remove the ODD. They aren’t going to add a $500 9.5mm slot-loading Blu-ray drive and they haven’t added AACS to Mac OS X so you all can stop scratching your head over what should be obvious. They are going to drop ODDs from notebooks and small PCs and move forward from there.
    Reply
  • farhadd - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    You can use any keyboard you like, not just an Apple. F12 functions as the eject key on non-apple keyboards. And you can customize the keys to make the command / option keys whatever you like, not just the windows / alt key that it defaults to. Reply
  • farhadd - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    Apple still sells white macbooks with 2GB of RAM standard. Reply

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