The Good Apple's industry-leading design.
The Bad Poor performance for its price; not as living-room-friendly as its Windows-based competition.
The Bottom Line With strong competition among small PCs on the Windows side of the aisle, the latest Mac Mini faces a greater challenge than older models. If you demand a small, relatively affordable Mac, we suppose the Mac Mini is your only option. Otherwise, you can find Windows-based small form factor desktops that offer more interesting features with better value.
Apple Mac Mini (2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
Apple's newest iMacs, especially the 27-inch model, offer strong value thanks to their fast performance, good looks, and large, attractive displays. The new Mac Mini is not quite as compelling. We're looking at only the $799 2.53GHz model in this review, and with its particular combination of size and features, it competes in a strange middle ground. It's mostly fast enough to stand side by side with Windows-based PCs in its price range, but despite its size it doesn't offer the same flexibility as other small desktops. The $799 Mac Mini retains the appeal Mac Minis have always had for those who want a small not-quite-budget Mac for day-to-day productivity. For any other purpose, you'd be much better off with a system from one of the Mac Mini's Windows-based competitors.
The new Mac Mini, introduced by Apple back in October, received no changes to its physical design or external features compared with the last revision this past March. The case is still made from a combination of aluminum and plastic, and the size remains a svelte 2 inches high, by 6 inches wide and deep. Ports appear on the back of the Mac Mini only, and include five USB 2.0 ports, analog audio jacks, a Gigabit Ethernet output, a FireWire 800 port, and both Mini DVI and Mini DisplayPort outputs for video. Unlike the new 27-inch iMac, the Mini DisplayPort on the new Mac Mini does not double as a video input. A Mini DVI-to-DVI adapter comes in the box. You'll need to pay extra for adapters in other formats.
The changes to the new $799 Mac Mini include a 2.0GHz to 2.53GHz clock speed bump to the Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and 4GB of RAM, up from 2GB last time. With more system memory, the Mac Mini can also allocate more RAM to the GeForce 9400M video chip, which goes from 128MB to 256MB. While it still has a standard-definition DVD burner, the Mac Mini is capable enough to play 1080p HD video files with no noticeable stutter.
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