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Apple Mac Mini review

Apple Mac Mini

Verdict

A beautiful, fast and future-proof system, but one that comes with a hefty price tag

Review Date: 5 Mar 2012

Reviewed By: George Cole

Price when reviewed: £548 (£658 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

As you’d expect from Apple, the Mac mini is a sleek, stylish product, with a brushed aluminium case, which looks more like a designer object than a computer. It’s compact enough to pack in away in a small bag, so we suspect that many schools would want to ensure that this highly desirable piece of kit was securely tied down in the classroom.

The Mac mini’s front panel is very minimal – just a long, thin slit for the optical drive slot and a tiny power light. All the ports are around the back, including Ethernet and Firewire 800 ports, HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, four USB 2.0 ports and an SD card reader plus a headphone jack and audio-in jack. It also has 802.11n WiFi built-in, meaning it’s equipped out of the box for a WiFi network.

Apple describes the Mac mini as the world’s most energy efficient desktop computer, with an idle mode power rating of less than 10 watts. It’s also one of the quietest computers we tested. A neat touch is the provision of an internal power supply unit, so there’s no bulky power cable to contend with.

Apple Mac Mini

There’s also a good selection of education-friendly software, including iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand. If your school has been using PC equipment until now, you’ll be pleased to note that you can use a standard USB keyboard and mouse with the Mac mini, which is just as well, as it comes without any peripherals. The cheapest Apple mouse and keyboard will cost you £40 each.

In terms of performance, there’s a lot to like about the Mac Mini, thanks to its 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor - which scored 0.72 in the PC Pro benchmarks - Nvidia Geforce 320M graphics processor and Intel high definition audio chipset. It has the power to run even the most demanding creative applications, HD video isn’t a challenge, and sound quality is crisp and clear through headphones, though unsurprisingly tinny through the unit‘s built-in speaker.

All in all then, the Mac Mini is excellent piece of kit, but there are a couple of issues. The first is to do with ergonomics. Putting all the connecting ports at the back certainly makes for a clean and uncluttered front panel, but it does mean turning around the Mac mini every time you want to connect a device, insert an SD card or use headphones. What’s more, if you use the USB port nearest to the SD card slot, it’s even more awkward to insert a card, and the headphone socket is tucked away in a bottom corner.

Its £479 (educational) price tag and a disappointing one-year, return-to-base warranty, also makes you aware that you’re paying a premium. The Mac Mini looks great and offers very good performance, but, in these challenging times, other mini desktop computers may seem more attractive.

Author: George Cole

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User comments

Schools x 3

This is the third review this lunchtime that is talking about schools.

Please stop, or else my subscription will.

By fussy_joe on 6 Mar 2012

@ fussy_joe

From my reply to another comment of yours, where you say

"Please see my earlier post...please stop this school stuff...

Look at the verdit...who does this reviewer think the readers of pc pro are ?

we dont buy equipment for schools."

These reviews, which all came out at around the same time, are obviously from a review round-up from the print mag, on mini PCs for a school environment.

Look, here's even a link to the article the reviews come from:

http://www.pcpro.co.uk/features/373315/buyers-guid
e-to-mini-desktop-pcs

And I used to work in a school for 6 years - we and many of my colleagues in surrounding schools used PC Pro as a valuable research resource.

But thank you for dismissing us as unworthy of reading PC Pro - I mean, we're (were) only IT Professionals in the public sector. It's not like we had proper degrees, or experience, or needs or anything...

By bioreit on 24 Mar 2012

Optical Drive?

Since when have you been able to get the latest style. Mac mini with an optical drive? It's the main reason I wouldn't get one of these puppies.

By BigRick on 17 May 2012

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