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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  • Casper42 - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    I know you said you already sent it back, but I'm curious why you didn't toss in an 80GB Intel G2 SSD (or a SandForce as mentioned), upgrade the RAM to 4GB and run it through all the paces again?

    Sure it comes out to be a $1000 machine at that point, but it would have been nice to see what the total potential of the platform would be. And putting in the SSD would arguably reduce the power footprint slightly as well.
    Reply
  • akatsuki - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    I think Apple's SSD support is still a bit thin anyway. Once they add TRIM support, etc. I think it will be a much better time to benchmark.

    I can't imagine spending that kind of money on a Mini over an entry level Macbook or a dedicated HTPC device - especially since GoogleTV and AppleTV revisions are due soon and should revitalize that area.
    Reply
  • cjs150 - Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - link

    Would have hit reply but for some reason locks my machine up

    No way would I use this as a server. Far better is to pick up an Atom board with a PCI-E slot (for a nice raid card), 4gb of memory and use Ebox (free) as the server software. Would cost 50% of the Mac mini price.

    Having just built one for a home server it is simply and just works without fuss
    Reply
  • thunng8 - Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - link

    Some nice nostalgia with the Powermac G5 2.5Ghz. I enjoyed reading about it. I'm surprised at how well it holds up in the benchmarks. Just a minor nitpick, but the Dual 2.5Ghz model was released in mid-2004, not early 2005. Reply
  • aliasfox - Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - link

    Agreed - would love to have seen some "vintage" games, just to see if an ancient midrange graphics card can hack it against a modern integrated chip. Throwing in an old Northwood (or was it Prescott by the end of 2004?) system just for comparison's sake would be amusing, too.

    Ancient's relative, too - I'm running (and occasionally gaming!) on an 8-yr old Power Mac (with a Radeon 9700pro) and do "general" stuff on a PowerBook that's nearly as old...

    I think one of the reasons that Power Mac G5s hold their value so well is that they are the only machines (pre Mac Pro) that could hold multiple HDs internally, as well as be upgraded (for a price) to a relatively modern GPU - ATI 3xxxx series, nVidia 8xxxx series, I think.

    As for the mini... as much as I like Apple's products, I can't get behind the pricing of the Mac mini - sure, it's a great piece of industrial design, and I'd love to have a stylish, small, nearly-silent box in my home theater set up, but having to drop $800 before getting 4GB of RAM means this is far, far out of its price range. $499-599, maybe $699 with BD and 4GB of RAM... too bad Apple doesn't believe in BD. Or RAM. Or internal 3.5" HDs...
    Reply
  • _gescom_ - Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - link

    Great machine, but definitely way too expensive at 760+ EUR.
    It should cost 450/500 EUR like the old one.
    Why additional 250+ EUR? I know, we sheep, you bleep.
    Reply
  • Setsunayaki - Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - link

    This is actually worse than a Laptop in a many ways...

    The scope of computers have changed and the public has proven the majority of people view email, write papers, use internet....or listen to music. Very basic things...

    I find that netbooks are way better...considering you can buy an always-on internet connection with them and their battery life is good. When one looks at basic usage, i know people can talk about performance and other things out there....

    But how many people out there who own computers as basic users end up using 30 - 40% of the processor on a dual core or quad core? I am still sitting here on a Quad Core and unless I am gaming or doing something heavy, I don't use it at heavy load. Once one eliminates the need for heavy servers or Heavy Gaming altogether...computers lose their grace..

    I remember I bought a Laptop in 2005 for $300 on sale. I know by now every laptop outperforms mine, but I don't do 3D gaming on the laptop and I run on Ubuntu Linux. I am not even at the point where my processor chokes and most of the time I don't even use 2GB of RAM on the laptop.

    Sorry, but with so many better offerings which include a monitor, keyboard and built in mouse along with portability, this MAC-Mini would have been great 4 years ago, unfortunately too little, too late.
    Reply
  • hummerchine - Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - link

    Man, you guys are a tough bunch to please! I own over 20 computers right now, from a gaming PC me and my son built with top shelf parts, to 5 Dell PCs, to a Mac Pro running a 30 inch monitor, to my wonderful new MacBook Pro 17", to three Mac Minis (not the latest...and best...ones), and multiple other Macs and PCs. Jeez, for many uses the Mac Mini totally rocks! And for many uses, it is the best computer you can possibly buy.

    I just cannot get over the seething hatred of Apple I sense so often...usually from people who hate them so much that they never use any of their products, and thus really know nothing about what they are talking about.

    I have not used the very latest Mac Mini, but since it's better than the two new ones I bought earlier this year that are awesome I'd have to guess it's awesome too!
    Reply
  • Rayb - Wednesday, August 11, 2010 - link

    I see you really bought into their marketing hype, line, hook and sinker.

    An ION1 box fully loaded can do exactly the same things, including BD playback wireless and remote for around $200 less. Do you see the irony now?

    With people like you thinking this is cutting edge tech in a new shinny box, I rest my case.
    Reply
  • aliasfox - Wednesday, August 11, 2010 - link

    I for one don't hate it - I hate the price.

    Even without i3 or i5, it's a great box - but at $700 (or near $850 with a basic monitor, keyboard, and mouse), it's far, far too expensive - in fact, the 'on the road' price is so close to a white macbook (with screen, keyboard, trackpad, and battery), that one has to imagine that Apple doesn't really *want* the mini to sell in huge numbers.
    Reply

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