For audio, the HDMI and Mini DisplayPorts both support uncompressed eight-channel audio, similar to the most recent MacBooks. We confirmed that the HDMI also supports Dolby Digital 5.1 audio by passing it through a receiver. You also get standard analog/digital in and out jacks.
Data ports on the back of the Mac Mini include the traditional assortment of four USB 2.0 jacks and a single FireWire 800 input. Apple still hasn't adopted eSATA, nor will you find USB 3.0, although you could rightfully consider both of those niche standards, at least for now. We're happy to see that Apple extended its SD card magnanimity from the iMac to the Mac Mini, by way of an SDXC slot on the back of the system. While the back edge is perhaps not the most convenient place for an SD card slot, we'd rather have it there than not at all.
If you flip the system over you'll see a round piece of plastic that looks not unlike a turntable. Two thumb holes and an indicator dot provide a hint as to what to do next. Insert thumbs, twist to line up the dots, and the plastic cap comes off to reveal the Mac Mini's internal memory slots, a Wi-Fi antenna, and the CPU fan. A determined user can take out a Torx wrench and remove a small metal grill to expose the hard drive. No previous Mac Mini made DIY RAM upgrades so easy. Upgrading the RAM isn't the most common task, but it's also simply enough that it shouldn't require the downtime involved with having to drop the system off at a Genius Bar or an Apple-certified repair shop. We're glad Apple finally provided a solution, and in its characteristic elegant style.
|Apple Mac Mini (2.4GHz, spring 2010)||Average watts per hour|
|Off (60 percent)||0|
|Sleep (10 percent)||1.2|
|Idle (25 percent)||7.01|
|Load (5 percent)||33.16|
|Annual energy cost||$4.15|
Apple boasted improved power efficiency for its new Mac Mini, a bold claim given its faster 3D chip and the older model's already-conservative power draw. We suspect Apple is telling the truth, as this Mac Mini is the first desktop we've tested to register zero watts on our off test. It's likely that our meter just isn't sensitive enough (and we bought it specifically for its low-wattage sensitivity) to pick up the off-draw, because we don't believe it's possible for any device plugged into the wall to pull down no energy, but even if that number is really 0.5 watt, the new Mac Mini would still be the most efficient desktop we've ever tested, by a factor of two.
We've been testing desktop power consumption for over a year now, and we've seen Apple consistently outperform the rest of the PC market in efficiency. We've heard that most consumers don't care about these sorts of tests, but that doesn't make Apple's efforts any less impressive or worthwhile.
Apple remains an outlier in the PC industry for its support policies. You get 90 days of toll-free support and a year-long warranty by default. After that, you can either refer to Apple's Web site, a Genius Bar, or an Apple-authorized service provider, or pony up $149 for three years of phone service via AppleCare ($20 less than the iMac extension), which also extends your warranty to three years. We have a feeling that Apple considers tying the warranty upsell to what other vendors would consider standard phone support a savvy business move. For the inconvenience this policy causes its customers who simply want to pick up the phone, we respectfully disagree.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Apple Mac Mini (2.4GHz, spring 2010)
Mac OS X 10.6.3; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; 2GB 1,067MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 320M; 320GB, 5,400rpm hard drive
Mac OS X 10.6.2; 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8700; 4GB 1,067MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 9400M; 320GB, 7,200rpm Fujitsu hard drive