The Mac mini appears to be just as solid as Apple's other desktops, running non-stop without any performance or stability degradation, thanks to careful selection of hardware, extremely controlled driver updates, and the very robust Mac OS X.  Right now, one of the most attractive elements that the mini can offer to beginning computer users is safety and protection from viruses, spyware and pretty much all other forms of malware.  Obviously, that can't continue to be true forever, but for the foreseeable future, it's definitely an advantage of owning a platform that makes up around 2% of the market.  The beauty of it is that the mini belongs to a family of 2% of the market, yet retains (for the most part) file, networking and printer compatibility with the majority of the Windows market, without the malware.

Out-of-Box Software Completeness

The big question is: do you need any more software other than what comes with the mini?  iLife '05 offers the best in photo organization as well as easy-to-use, non-linear video editing software, but what the mini lacks is out-of-box compatibility with the Microsoft Office documents. 

There are two solutions to the Office problem, either purchase Microsoft Office 2004 (or an earlier version) for Mac OS X, or purchase iWork '05, which is significantly cheaper at $79.  I will discuss iWork in greater detail later on, but offering the ability to import Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint files will solve most of the problems that would result by not having Office installed (granted, most competitive machines at this price point don't have Office installed either).  Update: As many have correctly pointed out, the mini does ship with AppleWorks 6, which will let you open Office 2002 files, and TextEdit will open Word document files that are text-only. AppleWorks 6 is a bit of a dated application, however, and it does ruin a fair bit of the OS X experience because of it.

Other than that, Mac OS X comes with a very full-functioned text editor called TextEdit.  Although it can't open Microsoft Word documents, thanks to Mac OS X's system-wide spellcheck, TextEdit works extremely well as an entry-level word processor for the mini.  Email is covered with Apple's Mail, which can be best summed up as a faster, easier-to-use competitor to Microsoft Outlook.  Of course, things like IM clients and web browsers are already taken care of; Apple's iChat and Safari come pre-installed and there are a number of free alternatives available for download across the web.  Of course, the mini works fine sharing files and printers with PCs, and has one-click web and ftp servers ready to go out of the box. 

Performance Impressions Taking it Apart
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  • aliasfox - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    mlittl3- that's hilarious.
  • mlittl3 - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link


    Everyone just went through the eight stages of dealing with grief from the first post to the last. Cool!

    1)Shock - Apple reviews on Anandtech
    2)Emotional Release - just those crazy Mac fans, it will all pass
    3)Panic - maybe Apple might just have something here. Oh no, what about my shuttle box!?
    4)Guilt - maybe I should have been nicer to Apple all along. I'm now out of the loop.
    5)Hostility - those f*cking Mac fans. They don't know how cheap PCs can be.
    6)Inability to Resume Business-as-Usual activities - must read forum every second to ensure a Mac fan doesn't get in a good point without rebuttal
    7)Reconiliation of Grief - see description of emotional release
    8)Hope - we can stop reading and go to another hardware review site where there aren't any Mac articles. If we ignore Apple, they will go away.

    You guys crack me up. Let me know when the funeral is.
  • ElFenix - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    heat sink is two words. thanks.
  • ransath - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    Cocnord..."By the way, it is the same 'narrow minded' engineers as you call them who make miniMac. No?"

    Nope - they are OPEN minded "revolutionizers" caught in the Steve Jobs "reality distortion" field :)

    Concord - my apologies to you for being a smart ass. My comments weren't meant to be malicious, I was just poking fun at you. As I said to cygni, I will refrain from them in the future.

    BTW - I drink 2 or 3 Mountain Dews (Code Red) everyday! w00t!
  • WorkingHardMan - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    #157 "I guess Mac folks are used to paying for everything and don't mind it" - I guess this is a perspective thing. I've always thought of the Wintel crowd as being the ones that like to pay for things that can be had for free on other platforms, since just about all the software I've ever needed either came with the Mac or was easily available as freeware or low cost shareware. In fact, I long ago concluded that one of the reasons you only found 12,000- 15,000 Mac software packages for the Mac vs. the 80,000+ (well, way less if you don't count the games) on the Wintel side is that (1) You don't need a lot of the utility programs like those used by the Wintel crowd to keep a Mac going, (2) free programs on the Mac drive out commercial products, and (3) Mac people are more into value than cost, and are less likely to pay for a program than a Wintel user unless it really makes their life easier. And, or course, most of the major Open Source projects are Unix/Linux stuff and run on Macs (you do know that Mac is a Unix system?), that are ported to Windows.

    I also find it curious that Wintel people are always concerned about the availability of software on the Mac, but when you find out what programs they use it is usually MS-Word, MS-Excel, MS-Powerpoint, Adobe's Photoshop, and Quark DP, all Mac programs that have been ported to Windows, usually years after their depute on the Mac. And what is the Windows user interface but an imitation (and some would argue, not a particularly good one) of the Mac OS? [I have to admit here, that I haven't spent a lot of time with XP, but both Windows 95 and Windows 98, at least from the UI standpoint, were pretty half-baked imitations of Mac 85, and even MS would like to forget that Windows 1.x through 3.x ever happened).

    Similarly, to me it is the Wintel users that seem to include among their ranks the shrill who regard computer operating system selection as more of a religion than as choosing the best tool for the job ( in this thread, people like Concord come to mind).

    As I said, it's a perspective thing, what the "Wintel" crowd looks like vs what the "Mac" crowd looks like seems to change with where you are sitting. The good thing about the 3 articles to which this whole thread is supposedly relating, is that one member of one camp made a concerted effort to put away his prejudices and see what life was like on the other side. It was undoubtedly a difficult job, and I think he did a good job with it.

  • mzlin - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    I meant after anandtech, of course :)
  • mzlin - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    Arstechnica is the single best technology site on the internet. Their software and hardware reviews are done by programmers and engineers and is full of all the technical details you would ever want to know while at the same time assessing the more consumer-oriented questions such as value, productivity, practicality. Then they are very up-to-date on general science, technology, and internet news. I have learned of many an upcoming trend or internet phenomenon from them.
  • Entropyq3 - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    arstechnica is head and shoulders over the others in terms of general level, even though it has deteriorated (IMHO). Go to the technical forums, and you will find knowledgeable people.
    If you just want to blubber about technical stuff and voice opinions, please choose one of the others. ;-)
    Seriously, there are knowledgeable people in all three of these fora, but the signal-to-noise ratio is way better at arstechnica.
  • msva124 - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    Speaking of which what are some other hardware sites to go to? I know of three,,, and Are these any good? They all look very similar, just wondering if there is a certain one that is better than these three that I should take a look at.
  • linuxOwnzIfUrLeet - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link


    you used to be my hero below john carmack and martha steward.

    After seeing you get married and now this mac loving I can only believe that you've lost your engineering edge.

    Your poster on my wall will now be taken down.

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