Summary: With a suggested price of USD 600, the Mac mini is not a cheap computer, but it is one of the cheapest ways to get into the Mac world, even if you have to purchase a keyboard, mouse, and monitor. With the upgraded processor and new internal components, it performs well and is noticeably faster than previous versions. It is well-designed and well-made. Combined with the new OS X Lion, it makes an excellent computer.
Excerpt: The new Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server must be taking tips from one of those VW Beetles with all the clowns in the back. That’s the only way to explain how Apple crammed all that hardware and performance into such a small form factor. A tiny little aluminum box like its predecessors, the mini Server comes without monitor, keyboard, or even mouse. While it can be administered remotely, it’s a good idea to connect it to a monitor and keyboard for initial setup.
Conclusion: The role of the Mac mini has changed dramatically over the past five years. What once was a way for Apple to tempt users into trying OS X is now a fairly expensive, niche Mac. As an HTPC the new Mac mini is great. It works just as well as any of the ION boxes we've reviewed while using less power and offering better performance. The only problem, outside of lacking Blu-ray support, is that it is a very expensive HTPC without offering the higher end HTPC features (e.g.
Excerpt: Apple’s been pouring its design magic into handhelds lately, but now the lowly Mac mini joins the ranks of unibody hotness, complete with a glossy, almost liquid-looking black Apple logo on top. The smooth aluminum brick has zero screws or visible seams, just a round black hatch on the bottom that pops off with a twist, letting you upgrade the included 2GB of DDR3 memory to a maximum of 8GB.
Excerpt: If you’re a PC user with a spare monitor, looking to dip your toe into Mac waters, the Mini is a nice introduction to Apple computers. All others, though, should weigh this tiny PC's value versus an iMac.
Pros: Very compact, Decent performance, Great connectivity for a tiny chassis
Cons: Keyboard, mouse, monitor not included, Not upgradable, Costly for what you get
Excerpt: Apple's Mac mini hadn't seen a substantial update for about a year, but with Intel's second generation Core processor family arriving in 2011, it was only a matter of time before one of those chips found favor with Apple's tiniest desktop. The Mac mini design really hasn't changed in the year or so it took the folks in Cupertino to swap out the Core 2 Duo for Intel's new Core i line of processors.
Pros: Great overall performance, Gorgeous design, Ships with OS X Lion, Included Thunderbolt port, Cool and quiet, Robust iLife apps included
Cons: Pricey, HDD is sluggish, No optical drive, Must purchase adapter cable for Thunderbolt / DisplayPort, No USB 3.0 ports
Conclusion: The Apple Mac mini makes an attractive entry point for the Windows-to-Mac switcher, the Mac user who needs an upgrade from a pre-1-GHz Mac, or the user on a budget who wants a small, silent desktop with a really cool design.
Pros: Sleek design. Tiny chassis. Most affordable Mac yet. Built-in Bluetooth and 802.11g wireless available. Quiet, single-fan system.
Cons: Base price ($499) does not include keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, or wireless; RAM and hard drive space are barely adequate. No audio input. Limited internal expansion.