Apple Mac mini - Mac mini

By Benny Har-Even


  • Recommended by TR
Apple Mac mini


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Perhaps of more significance to Mac OS X is iLife05, which may be one of the reasons people want to buy a Mac in the first place. While there are apps that do similar things on the Windows platform, none can offer the ease of use, the features and the tight integration of this suite of apps. You can edit widescreen footage in iMovie using music from iTunes as your soundtrack, and pull in images from iPhoto and then send it all to iDVD, an app for which there is no real equivalent on the PC. However therein lies a problem – the standard mini only offers a combo drive, so you’ll have to add another £70 to the price for a DVD Burner, which Apple refers to as a 'SuperDrive'. And if you’re serious about making DVDs you’ll have to go for more RAM, and possibly an external hard disk drive for storage. And you can then add a USB hub so you’ve got enough ports to plug it all in.

If you want to enjoy Apple’s wireless mouse and keyboard you’ll also need to include Bluetooth at time of purchase, and the integrated Wi-Fi isn’t standard either. And we haven’t even mentioned speakers, nor the fact that you still need to provide a keyboard, mouse and display.

As you can see it all mounts up, revealing the £339 price to be no more than a headline to get you into the shop, with the hope that your wallet will loosen once the mini’s sheer ‘wantabilty’ has got you hooked.

In fact, once things start to add up the cost of the mini starts to creep dangerously close to an entry level iMac, which of course gives you a screen and a more powerful G5 processor.

However, if you specifically want a PC without a display, say as a quiet media server, the mini is perfect. Alternatively, for those looking for basic tasks such as web browsing and email, the mini fits the bill perfectly, especially as it’s free of the vulnerabilities that afflict Windows PCs.

If you’ve ever seriously considered entering the world of Macs, this is the computer that will make you cross over the edge. Forget the bargain basement entry level price – you need more RAM and a DVD Burner to make the most of this machine and you also need to BYOKM (Bring Your Own Keyboard and Mouse).


If you’re cool on Macs, the mini will start to warm you to them, but for those already tempted, we heartily recommend it. If the PC user is a Neanderthal and the Mac user the evolved sophisticate, the Switcher Man, hovering between them, is the missing link – and the Mac mini will be his weapon of choice.


Many thanks to MR Systems, your friendly, neighbourhood Mac reseller, for loaning us a Mac mini for review. If you want to buy a Mac, MR Systems can offer you a bespoke personalised service, which has got to be preferable to buying from a crowded Apple store. Contact Len Borg directly on 020 7697 2214.

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June 24, 2010, 3:08 pm

10 for design - have you seen any mini PC this nice!

7 for features - no Blu Ray and 2GB RAM with no core i processor at this price for something designed as an under the TV PC (HTPC) IMO.

Tim Sutton

June 24, 2010, 3:36 pm


Design isn't just the external looks :-)

Which are just beautiful, apart from the Apple logo. If it wasn't made by Apple, had a Blu-ray drive, a modern HDD and Windows 7 I'd buy one of these for each TV in my house. As a computer though, no thanks.


June 24, 2010, 3:45 pm

Where's the dual freeview HD receiver/recorder? Pretty huge omission for an under the TV PC.


June 24, 2010, 4:14 pm

If Apple delay Blu-Ray any longer, they'll pass it by once and for all, not because it was a failed format like they imply today, but just because the standard 10-15 year clock on takeover technologies will have expired. There are no pro-consumer excuses to continue with this omission. It's all about trapping people in the extortionate inflexible iTunes Store model, and I would submit you can still find better deals in HMV and Play. In fact - I'm not even sure I've came across an HD movie in the UK store yet. There's some TV episodes but that's it.


June 24, 2010, 4:42 pm

@Andy - Since you're done with the mini, can I have it?

I really like this refresh of the mini, however the increase in price and the frustrating Apple Tax between the USA and UK ($699 vs £649) prices me out of the market unfortunatly. Hopefully ill be able to find a previous generation 2nd hand for a reasonable price!


June 24, 2010, 5:21 pm

I quite like it. I've got the old 9400M mini under my TV, running EyeTV and a Miglia TVduo and have been really happy with it. XBMC is fantastic for everything else too. Mac OS actually makes a great HTPC base. The new mini looks better, but £650 is pushing it a bit, even though there's no real alternatives for a silent, compact, relatively powerful under TV PC. It should cost £500, and have 4GB as standard. Not sure why Apple are so anti-BluRay - a reader should definitely be available as an upgrade option.


June 24, 2010, 5:29 pm

"Not sure why Apple are so anti-BluRay..."

@ Matt, ever hear of iTunes? :)

Brian ONeill

June 24, 2010, 5:29 pm

I just discovered that you can get blue ray players that link to the internet and play content from iplayer, lovefilm etc, best of all they start from only £120:

TR can you do an article on these players? Why bother spending £600 quid on a HTPC if they players give you most of the features you want at a fraction of the price.


June 24, 2010, 5:31 pm


It's always possible that if you're willing to hang around a bit longer you'll see the current Mini pop up in the discounted refurb store. I remember when I picked up a baseline 13" Pro for the folks. It was going for £150 less, was good as new, and was the same spec as the full priced model.

Geoff Richards

June 24, 2010, 5:41 pm

@Brian ONeill: I can certainly suggest them to our Home Cinema guru, Danny Philips, but from reading the recent "User Reviews" on that Amazon link, the BBC iPlayer and LoveFilm features don't work and are awaiting some sort of software update.


June 24, 2010, 6:13 pm

Great design indeed if you don't mind risking unloosening your cables every times you need to plug in a flash drive or a memory card.

With Project Canvas and the next generation of TV tuners including those from 3View this and a lot of other home theater PC's are becoming more and more redundant.


June 24, 2010, 6:47 pm

In a nutshell, it's a stunning product with a horrible price tag.


June 24, 2010, 7:11 pm


Thanks, im keeping an eye on the apple website to see if one pops up (or even the lat gen with 9400 graphics for even less), but after looking into what I want from a HTPC (and deciding id like a mac mini with eyetv due to the ease of use and the ipod touch interaction) I cant.....hold on......much longer...... :-)


June 24, 2010, 8:15 pm

..."Moreover, should your hard drive one day fail, getting it replaced will require a trip to Apple or a warranty voiding DIY job."

From what I've read, Apple said opening the case to replace components on the old Mac mini didn't void the warranty as long as nothing else was broken doing it, so I would think the same applies to this new one.

I know the article reviewed the base config mini, but there is a 2.66GHz option as well.

Also, the reason the mini, MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Pro still have Core 2 Duo processors is because of the lawsuit between Nvidia and Intel. The Nvidia 320M graphics' performance exceeds Intel's integrated graphics, which is why Apple didn't go with the Core i3 in this mini and its other integrated graphics models.

Brian ONeill

June 24, 2010, 9:03 pm

@Geoff Richards

All the more reason why TR should cover it. I read the reviews too but TR has the clout to ring up sumsung and ask them what the story it. You got the power to get answers :-)

To me it looks like they plan on releasing iplayer support via a firmwire update soon.


June 24, 2010, 11:38 pm

Yes, the design is stunning.

After admiring it for a few seconds, the lack of features will last several years.

I know there are better alternatives out there.


June 25, 2010, 1:07 am


That's clearly Apple's intention, I just think it's a bit pointless. At this stage all they're really doing is inconveniencing their customers. If you want a Blu-Ray player, you can get a good, networked one for less than £150, so if you would rather buy physical media you will anyway. I wouldn't pay extra for the BR drive option (I have a PS3), but I think a premium, cutting edge piece of kit should have the best media options for those that want them.

Still, it's Apple all over really. Their quest for simplicity is what gives their products such a design clarity, but like their 1 button mice or (until recently) refusal to add SD card readers, it can be bloody minded and impractical.


June 25, 2010, 2:23 am

Design stunning? It's a box.


June 25, 2010, 12:29 pm

Why does Apple baseline the Mac mini spec to the 13" MacBook and not the 15"? I could understand that they decided to continue with the Core 2 Duo in the 13" because the motherboard simply doesn't have space for 3 chips. The Mac mini on the other hand has absolutely no excuse not to have a Core i5 (especially in the server edition) as it plenty of space for a third chip on it's board according to iFixit's teardown.

Most of all though, while the 'normal' Mac mini with a DVD drive is probably fine, the server version I think is now clearly lacking without a Quad core chip and only 8GB of RAM available to it. Sort it out Apple!


June 25, 2010, 3:46 pm

Not sure about anyone else but i keep my HTPC hidden away so i am not that bothered about how good it looks. If it was priced at around £500 then maybe worth a purchase but way too expensive at the moment.


June 29, 2010, 8:13 pm

I don,t usually like MAC designs but this is very nice indeed. It's quite possibly the nicest PC I've ever seen!!! But get real with the price...a fool and his money....!!!!


November 18, 2010, 11:50 pm

It has now dropped to £600

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