Apple Mac Mini review

Apple’s updated box of tricks is faster, cheaper and more tempting than before

Darien Graham-Smith
11 Aug 2011
4
Price when reviewed 
699

Page 1 of 2 Apple Mac Mini review

The Mac Mini may lack the glamour of the iMac or the stunning new MacBook Air models, but it’s maturing into a very capable little machine.

Like last year’s models, the 2011 Minis come in base and premium consumer models, plus a beefed-up server model. The stylish unibody aluminium design remains, but the optical drive slots have gone: Apple argues an optical drive is no longer essential for everyday computing, and it has a point.

You can, of course, attach an external drive, or share an optical drive from another Mac or PC over the network. If you want to install Windows, the Boot Camp Assistant can create a bootable USB drive from an ISO image of the Windows DVD.

Round the back, the mini-DisplayPort socket has become a Thunderbolt port, but otherwise external connections are unchanged. You still get HDMI, four USB 2 ports (there’s no USB 3 in Apple-land, alas) plus FireWire 800, Gigabit Ethernet and an SDXC slot.

There’s dual-band 802.11n and Bluetooth 4 wireless connectivity too. As usual, what you don’t get is a keyboard and mouse, but you can use existing PC peripherals so long as you don’t mind a few keys being in the wrong places.

Internally, the big news is a switch from ancient Core 2 Duo CPUs to powerful Sandy Bridge processors. The basic Mini now uses a 2.3GHz Core i5-2410M, while the premium one comes with the choice of a 2.5GHz i5-2520M or a 2.7GHz i5-2620M and the server uses a quad-core 2GHz Core i7-2635QM.

These are mobile parts, so power consumption remains low – our review unit idled at around 30W, rising only to 65W under heavy load – but desktop performance is boosted by around 50% over last year’s models. In our benchmarks the 2.5GHz model achieved an overall score of 0.72, pointing to a score of around 0.66 for the base model. That’s enough power to keep everyday computing tasks snappy and responsive.

Page 1 of 2 Apple Mac Mini review

Warranty

Warranty1yr collect and return

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity500GB
RAM capacity16.00GB

Processor

CPU familyIntel Core i5
CPU nominal frequency2.50GHz
CPU overclocked frequency3.20GHz
Processor socketN/A

Motherboard

MotherboardApple proprietary
Conventional PCI slots total0
PCI-E x16 slots total0
PCI-E x8 slots total0
PCI-E x4 slots total0
PCI-E x1 slots total0
Internal SATA connectors0
Internal SAS connectors0
Internal PATA connectors0
Internal floppy connectors0
Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory typeDDR3
Memory sockets free0
Memory sockets total2

Graphics card

Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards?no
3D performance settingLow
Graphics chipsetIntel HD Graphics 3000
Graphics card RAM256MB
DVI-I outputs0
HDMI outputs1
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
DisplayPort outputs1

Hard disk

Hard diskToshiba 5065GSXF
Capacity500GB
Hard disk usable capacity465GB
Internal disk interfaceSATA 3Gb/s
Spindle speed5,400RPM
Cache size8MB

Drives

Optical drivenone

Monitor

Monitor make and modelN/A

Additional Peripherals

SpeakersInternal

Case

Case formatSmall form factor
Dimensions197 x 197 x 36mm (WDH)

Power supply

Power supply rating85W

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays0

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream)4
FireWire ports1
PS/2 mouse portno
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports1
Modemno
3.5mm audio jacks2

Front ports

Front panel memory card readerno

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboardnone

Operating system and software

OS familyMac OS X
Recovery methodRecovery partiion

Noise and power

Idle power consumption29W
Peak power consumption63W

Performance tests

3D performance (crysis) low settings69fps
3D performance settingLow
Overall Real World Benchmark score0.72
Responsiveness score0.86
Media score0.71
Multitasking score0.58

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