Nilay Patel reviews Apple’s new Mac mini: ‘solid performance in a stunning case; unmatched in the industry’

“The Mac mini has long been the lovably lost scamp of the the Mac family, produced and sold with as seemingly little fanfare as possible,” Nilay Patel writes for This is my next. “No matter: we’ve seen minis used as everything from high-load-bearing servers to HTPCs to just plain old desktop machines. People love the damn thing — it’s one of the smallest and most power-efficient compact PCs available. The only problem was that the mini has traditionally offered fairly poor performance for the money.”

“Well, thank heavens for processor bumps, because that’s all gone away: the new base Mini features a 2.3GHz dual-core Core i5 and a newly-lowered $599 base price,” Patel writes. “There’s also a $799 model that bumps the processor up to a 2.5GHz Core i5 and adds in a discrete AMD Radeon HD 6630M GPU, and a new server configuration with dual 500GB drives and a 2GHz quad-core Core i7 for $999.”

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Patel also notes, “I’m convinced Apple will start shipping the Magic Trackpad as the default pack-in with the iMac sometime soon, and if you’re buying a mini you might want to splurge on one to try out Lion’s new features.”

Patel writes, “It’s a tiny desktop PC that can go anywhere and hook up to nearly anything, and if that’s what you’re looking for you’ll leave extremely happy: the mini offers solid performance in a stunning case that’s unmatched in the industry. Just make sure you spring for a Magic Trackpad — and maybe a standalone Blu-ray player while you’re at it.”

Much more in the full review here.

Related article:
Apple updates Mac mini with Intel Core i5 & i7 processors, Thunderbolt I/O, discrete graphics, and more – July 20, 2011

13 Comments

    1. Yeah at first i was like WTF did they do that for…

      But i am thinking of buying one.
      I don’t think i have ever used my PowerMac’s Optical drive outside the upgrade to Leopard. (it’s the media/storage server the Mini would replace)

      My iMac and my Gaming PC i use the Optical drive all the time. Ripping etc.. But i just send the files over to the PowerMac.

      I don’t think i’d miss an optical drive there. Granted, it would not my only Mac.. If it were my only Mac… I may need the drive.

      1. Just a recommendation that works well for me:

        I went ahead and bought a USB DVD drive for $30. Now, I’ll never have buy another optical drive; I’ll just use that one.

        1. I have an old external DVD DL drive. It’s bigger than the mini…
          I’d just use that if i really needed one.

          I get tired of CD/DVD thats why i Rip everything. So at first it was a knee jerk reaction to not seeing an optical drive. but that quickly went away.

          Probably the same reaction people had with the very first MBA.

    1. I actually think it was a response to the fireball generated in comments when they (deservedly) gave the Air a 9/10.

      Alas, my Engadget comment of “OMFG YOU GAVE THE ANDROID POWERBOT XTREME 3 AN 8/10. ENGADGET APPLE BIAS FFUUUUUUUUUU…” got deleted. 🙁

  1. It’s what my next computer’s going to be, as a replacement for my ’03 PowerBook. I might look into having a build with a 250Gb SSD in the optical drive space, and a USB external optical drive, for ripping the CD’s that I still buy rather than download. Why? Because I go to gigs where I can often ask the artist to sign them.
    A Mini plugged into my 40″ HD Bravia with a BT keyboard and Touchpad looks just the ticket

  2. Killing the optical drive stinks. Now, most people have to factor in the cost of adding one. For example, for those folks stuck with capped Internet (e.g., satellite), downloading large software or video files is a nonstarter.

    1. No, it is not: It was mostly useless and the price of the mini dropped $100; enough to buy you a $99 Super Drive that matches your mini, whiny people.

      1. So the optical drive wasn’t killed, it was made optional. Seems smart to me. Get rid of the weight, power and volume consumption, except when you need it. Kind of like the USB floppy drive I have had on the shelf for years. You only need one to support every Mac you have.

  3. I bought the old generation a couple weeks ago and Apple let me swap it for the new one, just the other day. I just have the entry level one at $599, but trust me it’s super fast. The old mac Mini had to be rebooted when left idle, that is, if you wanted it to open programs.

    This new Mac Mini is a true standalone file server with serious computing power. The new RAM runs at 1333 MHZ but I added 8 gigabytes of 1033 MHZ RAM (that I bought for the old one I swapped), and it’s super smooth and fast.

  4. Mine is coming this week, got the i7, 8GB ram, and 750GB 7200 rpm drive. For those in need of an optical drive, you can get a portable DVD burner for around 35, if you don’t want to spring for the SuperDrive. Or just use drive sharing if you have another Mac or PC..

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