PC Mag: Apple Mac mini still a triumph of compact design, but it’s lost its edge a bit

Apple Store“The Apple Mac mini ($874 direct) is still a triumph of compact design and a cool alternative to the tower PC. Other mini PCs, however, are encroaching upon what was once the Mac mini’s sole domain and have worn down its edge a bit over the past year,” Joel Santo Domingo reports for PC Magazine as part of a “Vista Desktops Under $1,000” article. (Yup, that made us throw up in our mouths a little bit, too.)

“The Mac mini (Core Duo) targets the entry-level and mainstream computer user. The 1.66-GHz version with a combo drive starts at $599. The 1.83-GHz SuperDrive-equipped version I review here runs $799. (Apple added $75 for the tested 1GB configuration.) Both configurations are powered by mobile versions of Intel’s Core Duo processor. The rest of the dual-core, single-processor Mac line—the iMac, MacBook and MacBook Pro—uses the newer Core 2 Duo processors. In a ‘low-end’ desktop, this shouldn’t be an issue, but it’s nonetheless a nit,” Santo Domingo reports.

Santo Domingo reports, “With this iteration of the Apple Mac mini, you’re still buying a Mac, with all the benefits and drawbacks. It will have less security problems than a Windows machine, and probably run better. But you also have to learn the quirks of Mac OS X, and it’s less compatible with some programs and peripherals unless you install Boot Camp and Windows. Though the Mac mini still is a compelling choice, Windows systems in this price range are finally comparably compact, and they offer more or better features such as media card readers, larger hard drives, and faster processors. Steve Jobs better have something amazing in his pocket for the next announcement. The competition has caught up to the Mac mini.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Corinne” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: Clearly, the Mac mini’s processor is an issue. Does Apple even care about this model anymore? We think it’s around $100 too much across the board and agree with Santo Domingo that a keyboard and mouse should be included. Still, we take exception with two of Santo Domingo’s conclusions:
You have to learn the quirks of Mac OS X… What a Windows-only sufferer might regard as “quirky,” others understand that reaction is due to being trained only on a Microsoft OS. Having to unlearn Windows’ bad or nonexistent UI conventions does not make for “quirks” in Mac OS X.
It’s less compatible with some programs and peripherals unless you install Boot Camp and Windows… In which case, of course, it’s the most compatible personal computer available on the planet. What was your point again, Joel?

Related articles:
QuickerTek debuts 802.11n wireless card upgrade for Mac mini – March 26, 2007
Apple ups Mac mini speeds, all models now feature Core Duo processors, prices unchanged – September 06, 2006

48 Comments

  1. “looking a bit old”

    WTF! I’ve been waiting for nearly 6 months for Apple to update the Mini to a Core 2 Duo CPU.

    Hello! Apple! It should be a simple matter of changing the CPU!

    I’m sitting on that cash, it could be in your coffers!

    Git-er-done!!!

  2. I would also add that the Mini comes with OS X and all its ‘best-of-breed’ software. What do the other boxes come with?

    PC Mag, by just comparing the hardware you are doing a huge disservice to your readers and not being fully truthful.

  3. I love my 1.5Ghz Core Solo Mac mini!

    But I agree, I’m sure that the mini going to get a refresh soon. I don’t think the move to Core 2 Duo is all that important (ask me again after I see how 64 bit in Leopard changes things), but a bump in CPU speed/HD and $50-100 off the price would be a step in the right direction.

  4. What I like is how some fscking idiot who writes for a magazine – or even MDN, for that matter – pontificate about a subject without even the faintest knowledge of the limitations of technology, physics or any other number of subjects.

    Go look at any of the Mac Mini’s WinDell-based competitors, like Fujitsu-Siemens’ Esprimo Q series or the products of Hush Technologies for example, and note how they haven’t progressed beyond the Core Duo and some of them haven’t even gone to the same clock speed as the Mini.

    Maybe the reason that the Mac Mini hasn’t been upgraded to a C2D is that – like sticking a G5 in laptop – the fscking thing will either warp or melt. Maybe Apple has to wait until Intel delivers Penryn – with all its 45nm goodness – until it can throw a 64-bit processor in a Mini. Then again, maybe the C2D needs a little more room to accommodate its 64-bitness.

    Who knows? But I suspect armchair engineers should go and have a think about some of the issues and look at some of the competition before commenting on the three product lines from a single manufacturer when there are still Windows OEMs selling systems based NetBurst processors.

    So there!!

  5. Actually, MDN, the line: “Windows’ bad or nonexistent UI conventions” is problematic… Apple doesn’t have good UI conventions at all. The keyboard shortcuts are really confusing, and I think many are not intuitive.

    Something nice about Windows: You can navigate the entire OS without ever touching a mouse. Everything! Need anything in a menu? You don’t even need to know the shortcut for the item; just hit “Alt” and the letter that’s underlined and *boom* you’re up and navigating. You can get to any window, open any program, and do anything without having to memorize crazy shortcuts (hit these four keys simultaneously to do one thing? Very Apple).

    So perhaps Apple should take a cue here from Windows and make their OS a lot more keyboard friendly.

  6. After seeing what the TV has to offer, I must say, a Mac mini is MUCH more compelling. I could just swap around my external FireWire hard drive… yeah, Fire Wire, what the damn TV SHOULD have had!

    OR I could jet get one of those Ethernet hard drives, plug it into my router and be done with it!

    Hell, if I want remote, I could even control it with Timbuktu from anywhere in my apartment.

  7. > Though the Mac mini still is a compelling choice, Windows systems in this price range are finally comparably compact…

    Except for one crucial detail. The rest all run Windows. And not just Windows, but Windows Vista. No thanks and no sale; I’d rather have an older Mac mini with a G4.

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