Apple Mac Mini Mid 2010 review
Since it was first introduced in 2005, the compact Mac Mini has been Apple's smallest and cheapest desktop computer. However, while the previous Mini was available for £500, the new model costs almost £150 more; thankfully though, it has been substantially improved.
The new Mini sheds the previous white plastic and aluminium case in favour of a sleek and robust all-aluminium design. It’s noticeably easier to upgrade than the older version too. Previously, simple upgrades required disassembling the entire computer using a variety of tools. Now, a simple, twist-to-remove bottom plate gives easy access to the RAM slots. Disappointingly, reaching the hard disk still requires significant disassembly. Although one could add an external USB or FireWire 800 disk instead, it’s not nearly as neat.
Although the Mini is a bit slimmer than its predecessor, it’s a few centimetres wider and deeper. This is actually quite impressive, though, as Apple has now managed to squeeze the previous model’s brick-sized power supply inside the aluminium case. Despite this, and the small cooling vent, the Mini never became worryingly warm during our demanding Windows benchmarks.
The Mini is Apple's first computer to have a HDMI port - a long overdue addition as it’s now standard on TVs and common on new monitors. A HDMI-to-DVI adapter is included in the box, so connecting non-HDMI monitors is simple. There's also a Mini DisplayPort connector, but if you want to collect a second monitor you‘ll probably need the DisplayPort to DVI adaptor, which costs around £20.
There's a SD memory card slot, the first we've seen on any computer to support the latest SDXC cards. There are four USB2 ports - down from five on the previous model. Annoyingly, all of the ports are located on the rear where they could be hard to reach – a front-mounted USB port and memory card slot would have been far more convenient.
The Mini comes equipped with a Core 2 Duo P8600 processor and Nvidia GeForce 320M integrated graphics. We suspect Apple chose not to opt for a newer Core i3 or i5 processor so it can continue to use Nvidia's integrated graphics chips instead of the slower Intel alternatives (a dispute between the two companies means there are no Nvidia Core i3/i5-compatible chipsets). Although the P8600 is fast enough for most tasks, scoring 70 overall in our benchmarks, it's starting to show its age compared to the newer Core i3 and i5 chips. The Nvidia graphics chip isn't powerful enough for playing the latest 3D games, but it can easily handle HD video and assists with certain applications, such as Photoshop.
Less forgiveable is the measly 2GB of RAM and 320GB hard disk – we'd expect more at this price. It doesn't even include its remote control which would be useful for customers who want to use the Mini as a media centre computer. As expected, there’s no option for a Blu-ray drive, since Apple would rather sell HD movies through its iTunes Store.
We're quite taken with the Mac Mini's sleek and elegant design. However, the stingy specification is hard to swallow, especially as it now costs nearly as much as some all-in-one Windows PCs. It's still the cheapest way to get a Mac, but if you’re happy with Windows there are better value compact computers available.
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