- User Rating: Excellent
Ease of Use:
Quality of Tech Support:
Pros:A small affordable Apple desktop machine that is an ideal gateway to OSX.
Cons:Setup requires wired USB keyboard. Reccommend upgrade to 7200 rpm hard drive (should be standard)
The Bottom Line: Great machine the most part. I would have given this five stars if not for the keyboard setup issue, the 5400 rpm cheesiness & Apple bloating the form factor.
This is the second Mac Mini I have purchased. The first was a solo processor 1.5Ghz with half a gig of memory and the internal CD-DVD drive. My epinions review for that machine is here. It should be noted that my original Mini is still in operation, having been passed down to my mother-in-law as a replacement for her archaic Windows tower PC a few years back. The submission date on my first Mini review was in 2007, and the purchase represented my first foray (outside of iPod) into the Apple O/S. I did not want to change to Mac, but Windows problems with viruses and instabilities (in that era..I don"t know now..) drove me away. Part of the reason I bought the cheapest Mac at the time was fear I just wouldn"t like it and would end up eating an expensive tech purchase. That is not how it worked out though. In 2008 I got an iMac and last year my wife bought a MacBook Air. This newest Mac Mini purchase will be her desktop Apple machine.
Right out of the box, I noticed that the new Mini was about a third thinner than my old one. Thin is in but so is "small" so I have no idea why Apple decided to stretch the actual footprint a good 25% over the original. With the size of components shrinking to iPhone sizes, and with the elimination of the optical drive, I would have expected the newest iteration Mac Mini to be smaller in every dimension than the five year old model I am replacing it with. Not that it is particularly important, and I know this is a bit subjective, but compared to my old Mac Mini, this one looks a bit like a word that rhymes with grass.
I was prepared to purchase a new monitor to go with the new mini (24" LG LED model) but I was not prepared to have to make a return trip to the electronics store to buy a USB keyboard in able to set-up the new Mini. The wireless bluetooth MAC KEYBOARD I already owned is useless until after setup (using USB keyboard I had to run out and buy) and then it works with no issues whatsoever. I am simply gobsmacked that Apple would sell a computer without the innate ability to sense ONE OF THEIR OWN KEY INPUT DEVICES right out of the box.
On a more positive note, the Mini recognized the USB Microsoft HD-5000 camera/microphone combo I purchased long ago (and finally found a use for) without any problems or additonal software or driver downloads.
The test drive:
This is the base model mini with the minimum available RAM (2G) and uses a less powerful video card than the upscale version. Opening a single picture off the desktop using the "preview" application in OSX is, IMHO, ridiculously slow. The hard drive in this machine is the slower 5400 rpm variety. I have yet to actually stress test the new Mini with some video editing e.g., but I can see right off the bat that my much older iMac is still quicker. If you ignore the internal optical drive, from a tech viewpoint, my old iMac only bests the Mini in having a faster hard drive (7200 rpm), so that is where I suspect the performance bottleneck probably lies.
The built in wifi was given a workout last night as I streamed a movie (through sharing setup for Macs) off my wife"s MacAir instead of copying it over onto the Mini and playing like I normally would. Flawless.
Browsing isn"t as responsive as on the MacAir or iMac, but that is likely also a limitation of the speed of the hard drive or the installed graphics. I have loaded my premium Spotify software, my Skype software, VLC media player and Vuze with no problems. There is no remote control provided on this Mini like I got on the first one. They must have dropped the user carousel/interface for photos, videos etc. that they had on my first Mini. My guess is that Apple probably moved those features over to their Apple TV product.
It is a bit early to make a final determination, but outside the minor perturbation of having to chase down a USB keyboard for the initial setup, the performance and features of the Mini are about what I would have expected for such a device. Perhaps a tad slower than I had envisioned a newer Mini should be in comparison to my old one, but should still provide a solid, reliable computing platform if history is any guide.
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Amount Paid (US$): 600
Operating System: Macintosh
Processor speed: over 1000
RAM: More than 256
Hard Drive (GB): Over 50