Summary: 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.
Cons: Poor performance for its price; not as living-room-friendly as its Windows-based competition.
Summary: The lower-cost Mac Mini offers respectable budget performance and Apple's usual compelling design, but a puny hard drive and a lack of HDMI hurt this system's value and overall potential. It's actually more versatile next to its budget-priced Windows competition than the higher-end Mac Mini, but this entry-level Mac is still best left to Apple loyalists.
Cons: 160GB hard drive too small at this price; no HDMI port.
Summary: Apple's new Mac Mini includes an elegant new design and some long asked-for features, including HDMI output and user-accessible memory. The system still faces a value challenge for its given specs, but Apple has done enough to improve the Mac Mini's appeal for Apple loyalists and design fans looking for a living room computer.
Cons: Puny storage capacity for its price; no Blu-ray hurts in a pricier living room system like this.
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.
Summary: The Mac mini offers fairly decent power in a very small and attractive body. If you're after a desktop computer for a small space or to use as a home theater PC, the mini could be a good choice.
Cons: No optical drive; No USB 3.0 ports; Keyboard and mouse are optional extras; Lack of Front Row in OS X Lion is annoying.
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: 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
Summary: The Mac mini continues to be a great option for those new to the Mac who already have a display, keyboard, and mouse. However, the performance of this model is only slightly better than the less expensive Mac mini, making that $599 configuration a better value. The Mac mini continues to be a great option for those new to the Mac who already have a display, keyboard, and mouse.
Pros: Impressive set of features, No longer a very poor value compared to the $599 model, Tiny size, All the dramatic improvements of the Early 2009 model plus better performance, Impressive set of features, Tiny size, All the dramatic improvements of the Early 2009 model plus better performance
Cons: Performance increase over $599 model still not dramatic, Difficult to upgrade, Slow hard drive, Difficult to upgrade, Slow hard drive