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First Look: Mac Mini (Summer 2011)

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First Look: Mac Mini (Summer 2011)

2:49 /

Apple's new $799 Mac Mini demands that you abandon disc-based media, and that you surround it with considerable, potentially expensive extra hardware to realize its full benefits. It makes most sense for those that need it for a specific niche-case, or for those that simply value style over functionality for the dollar.

Hi! I'm Rich Brown, Senior Editor for cnet.com. Today, we're gonna take a look at Apple's brand new Mac Mini. So, this particular review unit is the $799 model. Apple has a couple of other options available including one starting at $599. There's also a server model available for $999. So, this is the middle of the road system. It comes with a 2.5GHz Core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 500 GB hard drive. There's also an AMD Radeon HD 6630M graphics chip. Now in addition to those specs, there's also a few new features that are important to know about this system. It has Apple's new OS X Lion Operating System as well as the new Thunderbolt Port on the back. Probably controversially though, the system lacks an optical drive. For the first time, Apple has eliminated the optical drive from its Mac Mini lineup here. So, that makes this really sort of a dedicated digital download system or of course you can use the USB ports for right keys and external drives, that kind of thing. But, it's interesting that for a system that actually works well as a living room PC, Apple is pretty much decided it's no longer gonna accept the optical media. So, let's say if you have a large DVD collection; this is not the system for you. So, what we need is a quick overview of the outside of Mac Mini. It got pretty much the same design as we saw before, seen in front here, again no optical drive but otherwise its got the nice clean Apple looking feel. You have the ports in the back here. There's power input, Ethernet, FireWire 800, HDMI which we're glad to see Apple left on, Thunderbolt, as well as four USB 2.0 jacks. Down in here, we've got a couple of audio ports as well as the SDXC SD card input. As before, you can also get inside the bottom of the Mac Mini. This disc spins off which we're gonna show you really quick. So, once you've twist this around, it falls right off and you can see here is the memory and you can actually get in there and replace that yourself. So, when I've test it, we found the Mac Mini with its dual-core-- Core i5 CPU. It's actually a pretty competitive system. It competes well with Windows PCs in its price range particularly the Slimline from HP. Now, the problem though is the way that Slimline cost roughly the same as this system. It has a Blu-ray drive, TV Tuner, a one tuner by 8 hard drive, as well as from to expand. Now, you might not see a lot of value in the Blu-ray driver, a TV Tuner, but you can argue that the HP is not a better deal. Now, the Thunderbolt port maybe one of the key advantages for the Mac Mini but we're not exactly sure how that benefits consumer sales yet. You know, we may have some criticisms for the Mac Mini in terms of how it compares with Windows PCs but on a narrower OS X environment, this is actually a reasonable deal. So, if you are a Mac loyalist and you had visioned using the Mac Mini with other Apple devices, this system does represent a big performance leap over the previous Mac Mini and it has some nice new features. So, I'm Rich Brown and this is Apple's new 2.5GHz Mac Mini.

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