AnandTech reviews Apple’s Mac mini: ‘tempting Windows users everywhere’

“The Mac mini removes the biggest barrier to Mac OS X adoption – price.  It’s not the cheapest computer that you can buy, it’s not the best performance that you can get for the money, but it is the cheapest ticket to OS X out there, and we’re here to see if it’s worth it,” Anand Lal Shimpi writes for AnandTech.

“Apple has effectively made their computer into something that doesn’t seem like one at all, perfect for those who are intimidated by computers, but definitely leaves those of us who aren’t feeling somewhat strange – not in a bad way, and not in a good way, but just in a different way.  If every other computer manufacturer in the world made their computers and boxes look like the mini’s, then I’m sure that the feeling wouldn’t be so strange; but the fact of the matter is, they don’t, and the Mac mini is different – and you know that before you even hit the power button,” Lal Shimpi writes. “You have your handful of users guides, warranty information and the usual paperwork that comes with any computer, but with the mini, it all seems a lot “cooler” for some reason.  Everything is well made, well put together, and well, mini.  Once again, I wasn’t reminded of a computer; I was reminded of buying something from Bose or Mercedes.”

“The Mac mini appears to be just as solid as Apple’s other desktops, running non-stop without any performance or stability degradation, thanks to careful selection of hardware, extremely controlled driver updates, and the very robust Mac OS X.  Right now, one of the most attractive elements that the mini can offer to beginning computer users is safety and protection from viruses, spyware and pretty much all other forms of malware,” Lal Shimpi writes.

“Apple did a very good job with the mini. They effectively completed the transition of the entry-level computer into a commodity.  To the average joe, the Mac mini isn’t a computer – it’s another iPod or DVD player, just a lot better and a lot more feature-filled.  It’s a DVD player that can edit and create DVDs, and it’s an iPod that can make and play music, and it’s a box that you can retrieve your email,” Lal Shimpi writes. “To the rest of us, it’s a small, quiet, stylish looking box that finally breaks down the price barrier to Mac OS X.  As a second system for any PC user, the Mac mini can’t be beat.”

There’s much, much more in the full article here.

18 Comments

  1. Beautiful, balanced, very in-depth article.

    It’s great that PC-centric sites like AnandTech and ArsTechnic are starting to cover the Mac. I hope this is a trend that only continues because it can only mean good things. For one thing, it increases the legitimacy of the Mac in the eyes of a lot of PC-only people when people like Anand himself can write so positively about the Mac.

    Secondly, let’s face it, the Mac rags and websites pale in comparison to the kind of in-depth hardware reviews that sites like AnandTech churn out. BareFeats is great for what it is, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the kind of rigorous testing that is taken for granted on sites like AnandTech and TomsHardware. And once you have that kind of environment, that in turn will generate the interest and the kind of demand that will nudge game developers and CAD companies to embrace the Mac!

  2. Nice article. Too good to miss. Very in-depth and insightful. Do yourself a favor and click the link and read the entire article. The summary above is nice, but can’t do it justice.

  3. Wow. He caught every wince that my PC friends have ever expressed. many of which I had dismissed as simple bias or ‘not what I am used to’. Then he presented it in a way that made me cheer on his progress. You can sense his growing appreciation almost paragraph by paragraph. This is very encouraging to have a die-hard PC user stick with it and come to love OSX. He seems to be seduced by the out of box experience of the mini – lots of pictures of this where he didn’t mention this for the dual cpu G4 and the 15 PB. Good stuff!

  4. AnandTech’s review hit upon the main reason I am in no hurry to replace AppleWorks with iWork:

    “Despite the lack of a spreadsheet application, Pages does have rudimentary support for charts – including a small spreadsheet-like tool that lets you input data for your charts.  The charts themselves look great and the default color schemes are worlds better than those produced in Excel, but if Apple expects iWork to succeed, they need a fully functional spreadsheet application out soon.”

    My secret word was “lost”, as in “I’d be lost without my AW spreadsheets. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  5. Joe McConnell said it best…”This sort of writeup is huuuuuuuuge.” AnandTech is a well respected tech site.

    Start to finish, the articles are excellent and, I have to say, extremely fair. The truly are a non-biased view. It is “A Die-Hard PC User’s Perspective” ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” /> But the fact that he comes away with such an overall positive experience (“You can sense his growing appreciation almost paragraph by paragraph” – no kidding!) bodes well for continuing coverage on the site. Honestly, when is the last time you saw a Mac stripped down and documented like that – on a PC site!!!

    Apple is gonna sell a million of dem thangs!

    This message brought to you by the Beatles ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />
    “And I love “her” “

  6. Just read the whole article AND his articles on trying out a Powermac G5 and a Powerbook G4 and getting to know OS X. It sounds like he is slowly getting addicted to the kool aid. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” /> The more he uses OS X the more he realizes that he is fighting his computer less and getting more productive.

    He also hit the nail on the head with his review of the Mac mini. Major points are that you HAVE to have 512mb, should get an Apple keyboard to have all the keys be labeled correctly and get an eject key ( and I believe I heard they have made them much cheaper now – they should have a keyboard only option on the Mac mini purchase page), and should have a two button mouse (altho for someone getting their first computer a one button mouse may be easier – I think my Mom is probably better off on a one button mouse).

    Also I thought it was cool that he made the point that for his techie audience it might be a good idea to recommend the mini since they will probably have to provide less technical support later. I am sure this is an issue at times for these guys. I of course really like helping people out on doing stuff on a Mac but I have drunk GALLONS of the kool aid. Plus I think that supporting someone on a Mac is much more about teaching them how to do things and supporting someone on a windoze machine is much more about fighting the system trying to get it to work right.

  7. Can someone please define what the PCZealot’s ‘Real Computer’ is?

    As in:

    “Why don’t you get yourself a real computer?”

    I guess they refer to pure processor mhz, and nothing else.

  8. Yes, impressively objective, thoughtful, even well-written. After getting used to Thurrott and Enderle as PC reviewers of the Mac, this is quite a pleasant change of pace.
    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  9. I’ve always respected Anand and his website (this is going back to the ’90s when it was hardly known). Even back in my PC days before “drinking the kool-aid” as others have stated, I would use his website as the undisputed hardware review site and so would all of my other PC repair friends.

    Cheers to Anand for offering up such a wonderful article and reaching all those hard headed techies who are starting to look at Apple as more than a company that makes “pretty boxes”.

  10. Good review and good to see Anand getting into it. But, Anand is a super geek and only other super geeks read his stuff/site. His review is meaningless for the average Windows user that is really going to make the Mac mini a success. And they will. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  11. His first review was a little lite on OSX, and he missed a lot of what makes a Mac a Mac and OSX, OSX. He didn’t really “get it”. With each new review he’s starting to get into and understand the “real” reason one should be choosing a Mac. It’s not the tech specs on the harware, it’s the total system and experience.

  12. The man is right. 256 MB is ridiculous. At the very least, the 1.42 GHz miniMac should sport 512 MB.
    As with his other recent reviews on the the G5 and the Powerbook, I have the feeling Anand is hooked on OS X. He is also smart enough to realise that it’s really the combination of hardware and OS that counts.
    If you look at the feedback, though, there’s a lot of PC heads who gripe about the “flood of Mac-related articles” (3-4) in that PC forum. They simply don’t want to hear about alternatives. “The sun revolves around the earth, there is but one Operating System, and genesis took place in six days (Mon-Sat).” If we are the Cult of Mac, then these guys are the Holy Redmont Inquisition.

    Magic word “move” as in “move over, Bill”

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