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Apple Mac mini (Mid 2010)

Jayesh Shinde 2010-07-27
83 Very Good
Price: Rs 44,900

Full Review

Released last month, Apple’s new Mac mini (mid 2010) just got a makeover. Not only is it slimmer than previous Mac minis but it sports a new unibody enclosure and has improved internal hardware.

Design
The new Apple Mac mini is quite tiny -- it measures 7.7-inch on the side and is 1.4-inch thick -- the slimmest it has gone since its debut back in 2005. The Mac mini also ditches its white plastic exterior of the past, adopting the all-aluminum unibody design like the Apple MacBook Pro laptop. The new Mac mini sports rounded edges and feels strongly built.

Don’t forget the Apple Mac mini has always been about size and value than performance.


The new Apple Mac mini’s smooth aluminum surface at front is interrupted only by its 8x SuperDrive slot. The new mini weighs 1.37-kg -- heavier than the previous models, but mostly because of the aluminum unibody exterior. Connectivity ports are placed on the Mac mini’s rear panel, while its bottom black plastic panel can be removed to access the Mac mini’s RAM and hard drive.

Hardware Features

The Apple Mac mini comes with a good hardware configuration: an Intel Core 2 Duo (P8600) 2.4-GHz processor, 2GB DDR3 RAM, 320GB hard drive, and an Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics processor -- almost exactly the same as the entry level 13-inch Apple MacBook. We would’ve preferred an Intel Core i3 or i5 processor, but good basic hardware building blocks on the Apple Mac mini nonetheless. If you want, you can bump up its RAM up to 8GB and hard drive up to 500GB. Apple claims the Mac mini (mid 2010) to be the “world’s most energy efficient desktop computer.”

Apple Mac Mini (Mid 2010) - Rear Panel Ports

On the back panel, the Mac mini comes with an abundance of connectivity features: four USB ports, SD card reader, FireWire 800, Gigabit Ethernet, mini DisplayPort, audio in and out jacks. The Mac mini also bundles in Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR wireless connectivity. Apple has dropped the mini-DVI port in favor of an HDMI port on the new Mac mini, and it also bundles an HDMI-to-DVI connector to connect an LCD monitor. You can also opt for an optional wireless remote controller -- the same one that comes with the Apple iMac 27-inch all-in-one desktop -- if you want to use the Mac mini as a home theater with your LCD TV. Apple also bundles in Mac OS X 10.6.3 operating system, but you can install Windows 7 through Boot Camp if you want.

Upgrading the Mac mini’s RAM has never been this easy. With a simple twist and lift of the Mac mini’s bottom panel, you can access the mini’s RAM -- the easiest compared to older minis. Accessing the hard drive is slightly more difficult.

Apple_Mac_Mini_June_2010_RAM_upgrade

Performance
The new Apple Mac mini performed much like the 13-inch Apple MacBook -- its WorldBench 6 score of 91 is very good. You will have no problem doing routine tasks like Web browsing, word processing, listening to music, and working with Apple’s iLife suite on the new Mac mini. If you keep many of these applications running simultaneously, the Apple mini’s 2GB RAM will be a limitation -- we recommend at least 4GB of RAM.

The Apple Mac mini’s Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics adapter is good at best -- Far Cry 2 at High settings (1280x720) was barely playable. The Apple Mac mini isn’t a gaming rig by any means, but casual gamers willing to game at low settings (with low expectations) won’t be disappointed. Don’t forget the Apple Mac mini has always been about size and value than performance -- even the performance jump over the 2009 Mac mini model isn’t too great. Watching HD content -- both 720p and 1080p -- went well on the Apple Mac mini, though. The Mac mini didn't heat uncomfortably, throughout our testing.

Connecting the new Mac mini to an HDTV or LCD monitor is very easy with the included HDMI port. While the HDMI port is capable of supporting up to 1920x1200 pixels display, the mini DisplayPort supports even higher screen resolution displays -- like the Dell UltraSharp U2711. If not a compact nettop, the Mac mini can be used as a media center device for the living room. As always, you will need an audio setup to connect to the Mac mini -- but the onboard HDMI port can output audio as well as video.

Bottom Line

The new Apple Mac mini (mid 2010) sells for a price of Rs. 44,900 -- priced higher than previous entry level Mac mini model. It packs in better, improved internal hardware compared to the older Mac minis and sports a slimmer unibody aluminum shell. It’s a glorified nettop and makes very good sense for a tiny, compact, portable computer for your home -- provided you have an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse to connect it with. It also offers good home entertainment value.

If you want to experience the Mac side of personal computing, the Apple Mac mini offers the most inexpensive entry point. Users who bought the 2009 Mac mini shouldn’t be interested -- unless you desire the unibody aluminum shell --  but those stuck with an aging Mac should consider buying the Mac mini. Visit Apple India’s website for more info on the Mac mini.

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