Apple Mac Mini review
Apple’s updated box of tricks is faster, cheaper and more tempting than before
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.
|Warranty||1yr collect and return|
|Total hard disk capacity||500GB|
|CPU family||Intel Core i5|
|CPU nominal frequency||2.50GHz|
|CPU overclocked frequency||3.20GHz|
|Conventional PCI slots total||0|
|PCI-E x16 slots total||0|
|PCI-E x8 slots total||0|
|PCI-E x4 slots total||0|
|PCI-E x1 slots total||0|
|Internal SATA connectors||0|
|Internal SAS connectors||0|
|Internal PATA connectors||0|
|Internal floppy connectors||0|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|Memory sockets free||0|
|Memory sockets total||2|
|Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards?||no|
|3D performance setting||Low|
|Graphics chipset||Intel HD Graphics 3000|
|Graphics card RAM||256MB|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||0|
|Hard disk||Toshiba 5065GSXF|
|Hard disk usable capacity||465GB|
|Internal disk interface||SATA 3Gb/s|
|Monitor make and model||N/A|
|Case format||Small form factor|
|Dimensions||197 x 197 x 36mm (WDH)|
|Power supply rating||85W|
Free drive bays
|Free front panel 5.25in bays||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||4|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||1|
|3.5mm audio jacks||2|
|Front panel memory card reader||no|
Mouse & Keyboard
|Mouse and keyboard||none|
Operating system and software
|OS family||Mac OS X|
|Recovery method||Recovery partiion|
Noise and power
|Idle power consumption||29W|
|Peak power consumption||63W|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||69fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.72|