With all of the iPhone 4 news going on, you’d be forgiven for not knowing that the Mac Mini has also seen an overhaul. Unlike previous updates, the new Mac Mini (mid 2010 model) has seen not only a bump in specs, but also a complete redesign.
The new Mini’s exterior is comprised of a unibody aluminium shell, similar in focus to the unibody Macbook Pro. The new design gives the Mini a whole new feel, with the aluminium exterior certainly placing it in the same league as Apple’s more high end aluminium products, such as the iMac and Macbook Pro.
Around the back of the Mini, you’ll find all the ports you ever dreamed of… There are 4 USB 2.0 ports (no USB 3.0 unfortunately, we may have to wait until 2011 until we see Apple incorporate the new standard into their machines) and a Firewire 800 port for peripherals. Also, there’s now an SD card slot at the back, allowing for easy transferring of photos and other SD card content.
A great improvement over the previous model Mini may seem somewhat trivial, in that the power brick is now unnecessary, with all the power circuitry inside the case. If you’ve owned a Mac Mini before, you’ll know that the power brick certainly makes the machine a lot less appealing for those wanting a minimalist setup. For me, the absence of the brick is almost worth the upgrade in itself.
The other big surprise you’ll find at the back of the case is the inclusion of a HDMI port, allowing you to hook the Mini up to your TV, utilising it as a media centre more than a desktop computer. Apple also ship a HDMI – DVI adaptor with the computer, so if you don’t want to use the HDMI port, you can simply use it for a DVI port instead. Naturally, there’s also an Apple Mini Display Port for those of you with an Apple monitor.
However, there is an issue there. The one thing that Apple TV has that the Mini doesn’t is an abundance of audio ports. I use a SPDIF connection for my media centre, to provide full surround sound when watching movies and TV shows. Unless Apple offer this as an add-on to the Mini, I’d find myself reluctant to use it as my media centre.
Of course, design isn’t everything, and with this update, the $499 price tag revealed by Steve Jobs upon the release of the original Mini is long gone. The new update costs $699 in the States, and a ridiculous £649 in the UK (at the time of writing, $699 = £473.05). Until Apple get their international pricing right, there’s no way I’d spend £175 extra for a new computer just because I live in the UK.
The new generation Apple Mac Mini specifications have seen an upgrade, but unfortunately only the Core 2 Duo processors are available here, no Core i3 or i5. 2GB RAM comes as standard, and can be upgraded to 8GB via the easily accessible opening at the bottom of the new case. For those looking to play games on the Mini, the NVIDIA 320M GPU makes an appearance, also as standard.
If you have no need for an optical drive, you can choose the Mini Server, priced at £929. This gives you two HDD’s instead of the one, and bumps the RAM up to 4GB for good measure.