Mac mini Core Duo 1.66GHz with 512MB RAM vs 1GB RAM

“The Mac mini Core Duo is still targeted at the entry-level and general computer user, especially those who already have a display, keyboard and mouse that they want to continue using. The Mac mini Core Duo and Solo have gone upscale in price relative to the Mac mini G4 by $100 but with much more capability and speed,” Bill Fox writes for Macs Only!

Macs Only! pitted a Mac mini Core Duo 1.66GHz with 512MB RAM versus the same unit with 1GB RAM. “Subjectively, all of the applications seemed to work fine with 512MB of RAM and seemed to work no better with 1GB. However, at 256MB the slow-down was very clear and basically the Mac mini Core Duo was unusable–applications took forever to launch and switch between and startup took 62 seconds as opposed just 25 seconds at 512MB and 1GB,” Fox reports. “It is also clear to us that the benefit, if any, of 1GB of RAM over the standard 512MB is small. Most people can save $100 and stick with the Mac mini Core Duos base 512MB of RAM. Those who are likely to occasionally work with very large images on a Mac mini, like us, may benefit from the upgrade and may wish to consider it.”

Full article with benchmark results here.

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Related article:
Increasing RAM improves Mac OS X’s ‘Rosetta’ performance? – January 25, 2006


  1. Too vague. I want to know the real benefit of 2GB RAM (which is the mini’s new maximum) on RAM-hungry applications like GarageBand, iDVD and iMovie. Why test on 1GB when 2GB is the max?

  2. I own an iMac G5 17″ and the move from 512 to 1gig was a great thing. More apps at a time and faster switching. I think this would be the same for any cpu 2 cores or 1. It all depends on what apps you are using and how hard u push them.

  3. Mac Mini Core Duo.

    512 MB RAM is fine.

    What is not fine is the hard drive. SLOW. Unless you like waiting for things to happen. Especially if you have a lot of photos and plan on using Front Row etc.

    Invest in a Firewire 7200RPM hard drive, format for Intel booting (>disk utility OPTION<), install OS on firewire drive.

  4. Hello, how are you?
    I’m fine.

    Fine is equivalent to “okay”. It’s not superb, it’s not excellent, it’s now improved. I don’t own a mac mini, but my 30 years of computer use has made evident that more RAM always takes a computer beyond “fine”. If reading email and surfing most of the net is all you expect from a mac mini, than 512MB may be excellent. But I doubt that if one wants to work in many of the iLife apps, or wants more that one or two apps concurrently processing, they will find 512 MB of RAM is “fine”. Anyone wanting a pleasant experience with any computer will add an amount of RAM that allows for an experience beyond “fine”. Give yourself some headroom and let your computer be “all that it can be”.

  5. I can testify that the jump from 512MB to 1GB makes all the difference in the world if you’re still running some apps in Rosetta. If you’re running all native apps only, 512MB might be OK, but if you use Photoshop, M$ Office, etc, you definitely need to upgrade to 1GB.

  6. FINE: Fine for a lower-end consumer level machine. Light content creation, media browsing

    Not FINE: Watching spinning beach ball waiting for System Preferences and every other program to run. Clicking the Menu button on remote and waiting for 30 seconds + for Front Row to appear.

    I wouldn’t stop anyone from upgrading the Mini all the way to 2GB. In fact, I will eventually. It is just not mandatory. As the article states.

  7. Funny that this reviews haven’t mentioned the utterly bunged up airport and bluetooth in these critters, such that Apple is now asking that machines brought in with the problem be sent back to Apple. (See networking discussion in mac mini support on Apple’s site.)

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