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.
Conclusion: The Apple Mac mini (HDMI) is an all-around improvement with a new unibody aluminum chassis to match the rest of the Macintosh line. The mini is the mainstream, compact PC you've been searching for, and it defines its category.
Pros: Super compact design. Aluminum unibody construction. SD slot supports new SDXC cards. Included HDMI-to-DVI adapter and HDMI port. Extremely low power usage. GreenTech Approved. Internal power supply. Accessible memory slots. More 3D power than anything in its class.
Cons: Still no Blu-ray. Hard drive is hard to upgrade. No eSATA port.
Conclusion: One of the most aesthetically beautiful business servers we've ever seen, this tiny, peppy machine makes for a quiet desktop server that's perfect for light-duty home and SMB server tasks.
Pros: Setup in as little as 10 steps. Faster processor and more memory than the Mac mini client. Lots of storage for SMBs or a home network. New features add to the ultra-easy Mac experience. Powerful command-line option for advanced tasks and management.
Cons: Tricky Active Directory integration. Not for heavy-work-load environments.
Conclusion: In addition to being as powerful as a tower PC, the Apple Mac mini (Thunderbolt) innovates and sounds the death knell for the optical disc.
Pros: Super compact design. Aluminum unibody construction. SD slot supports SDXC cards. Included HDMI-to-DVI adapter and HDMI port. Internal power supply. Thunderbolt interface. Second generation Core i5 processor. 3D performance rivals a tower PC.
Cons: Hard drive is hard to upgrade. Thunderbolt peripherals are scarce. No optical complicates some installs.
Excerpt: The Intel-based Mac Mini is a sub-compact (smaller than Small Form Factor) desktop computer worthy of the Apple name and completely devoid of the sub-compact stigma. No other computer manufacturer could have brought such a tiny powerhouse to the world with as much style and appeal as Apple did. The Mac Mini is a marvel. From the outside, it looks small, unassuming, minimalist and possibly even austere.
Pros: Small size; attractive design; powerful; low power consumption
Cons: Mono speaker: cost is higher than expected; video output could be better
Summary: This model -- added when Apple doubled the installed memory on Mac minis to 512MB in July 2005 -- is essentially a 1.42GHz Mac mini G4 with a SuperDrive instead of a Combo drive. All other specs are the same, including the standard AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth wireless technologies.
Pros: Very good value, AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth 1.0 now standard, Adequate memory, Large hard drive, SuperDrive DVD burner, Fast enough for basic tasks, Excellent design, Small and light, Good video-out options
Cons: Modem not included (optional), No audio-in port
Conclusion: Note that our review machine’s configuration, with the added Fusion Drive, isn’t the cheapest Mac mini available by far at £879. Without the Fusion tech on board, and just a vanilla 1TB hard drive, the Core i7 Mac mini is £679 – and the base model, with a Core i5 dual-core CPU and a plain 500GB hard disk, is cheaper still at £499.
Pros: Intel Ivy Bridge processor, Large and responsive 1TB Fusion Drive, Considerably faster than its predecessor, Has USB 3.0, HDMI, and Thunderbolt ports, Smart aluminum unibody design
Excerpt: As such, the Mac mini with Lion Server does not have redundant power supplies, hot-swappable components, and other features found in enterprise servers . (Then again, for the same price as Apple's discontinued Xserve enterprise server with the proper specifications, you can buy several Mac mini servers to get redundancy. Apple does offer a Mac Pro with Lion Server if you want the heavy-duty hardware.