A compact home computer aimed at first-time Mac users.
We’ll admit up front that we have liked the Mac Mini for some time. It’s not the most powerful computer in the world, or even the cheapest, but it’s neatly designed and it works extremely well.
This latest version of the Mini looks identical to all its predecessors. It measures about 15cm square and just 5cm high, so it really doesn’t take up much space.
The only real change for this model is that Apple has replaced the former's Intel Core Duo processor with the newer Core 2 Duo. The £499 version of the Mini reviewed here runs at 2.0GHz, and has 1GB of RAM, a 120GB hard disk and a DVD burner. It also offers wireless networking, and a Firewire interface that will allow connection of a camcorder for video-editing.
To help out with such tasks such as video editing, the Mini also includes Apple’s excellent iLife software, which includes iMovie for video, iDVD for creating DVDs, Garageband music software and iPhoto for managing digital photos. The iLife suite is powerful but very easy to use, making the Mini a good choice for people that want a versatile multimedia computer that can handle all your digital photos and video work.
The 2.0GHz processor is powerful enough to handle most tasks from simple web browsing to video-editing. The computer's only real weakness is that it uses a rather cheap Intel GMA 950 graphics chip that isn’t very good for handling games. Still, for the non-gamers the Mac Mini is powerful enough to cope with most other tasks.
There’s also a £399 version of the same computer, with a 1.83Ghz Core 2 Duo processor. That’s still powerful enough for most home users, but this model also lacks the DVD burner and only has a relatively small 80GB hard disk, so it offers poorer value than this one.
The other thing to remember about the Mac Mini is that it does not include a monitor, or even a keyboard and mouse. Apple’s intention with the Mini is that people buy it as a cheap upgrade from an older computer, so they can continue to use the same monitor, keyboard and mouse. New buyers will have to supply their own, or fork out for Apple's branded versions.
If you’re on a really tight budget, then there are cheaper PCs available. However, the £499 version of the Mac Mini is an attractive and versatile upgrade for people who might want to replace an ageing PC and try out a Mac for the first time.
Vista compatible: No
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Good points Attractive and compact design Good software bundle Bad points Poor 3D performance for games No monitor, keyboard or mouse Overall A little pricey, but the software bundle and attractive design will appeal to many home users.
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