Review: Apple Mac Mini ’09 Update
Last week Apple decided to finally release some long awaited updates to its Mac desktops: the Mac Mini, the iMac, and the Mac Pro.
These updates were more for the specs of the systems than anything else; bigger hard drives, more memory (aka RAM- something you need to make your computer run fast, the more the better both on Windows and Mac), and, in cases like the Mac Mini, an additional USB port.
Today, we got our hands on the Mac Mini (special thanks to my younger bro Josh, who just so happened to need a new computer now after his old one died) and we decided to put it through its paces and see if it is worth the money. In short, this thing is awesome and great even for someone who never owned a Mac before, and only briefly used one (like me).
- Runs Mac OS X– Listen, I know that pretty much everyone says it, but it’s worth repeating here: Apple’s Mac OS X is a better OS than Windows, particularly Vista. Now whether you personally find it better is your opinion, but lemme just tell you, Macs are just so fun and easy to use. Yup, that’s right, fun and easy. And this is coming from someone who has been only on Windows (this is my family’s first Mac, and every other computer we own runs Windows XP or Vista). It’s fast (starts up and loads programs in under 1 min), fun (all of iLife, be it making quality movies in iMovie, making or mixing music in GarageBand, and editing photos in iPhoto — all are simple and extremely easy to use), and it also is loaded with cool programs — Widgets, Spaces, iChat are just a few examples — that are better than anything I’ve seen preloaded on a Windows PC (no, the Windows Sidebar in Vista doesn’t even come close to being as cool as the original Apple Widgets which were out way before Vista).
- Small and sleek— Yup, this thing actually looks good too: it’s a small aluminum box a little bigger than a CD case, with nothing but a DVD slot and little power light on the front, with all the ports neatly located in the back.
The front of the Mac Mini
- Very Quiet— My bro’s older PC was a 6 year-old Dell (in my family we try to use our computers out till they completely die 😉 ), and while a good PC, it was awfully loud- like so loud that you couldn’t study or do work with it on loud. This Mac is a completely different ballgame, and is EXTREMELY quiet. Even I can’t believe how quiet this is, as even my Dell laptop from late ’07 makes some noise. This MAKES PRETTY MUCH NO NOISE AT ALL!
- Built in Speakers— These aren’t great speakers, but they get the job done. Though for the heavy music listener, I would definitely recommend going down to your local CVS, Best Buy, WalMart or wherever and getting some decent external speakers for about $10-$20.
- Very Fast— I know I already said this in the Mac OS X part, but it is really worth repeating– this isn’t even as highly spec’d as my laptop running Vista– and it is is still much faster.
Now before we move on to the Bad, lemme just give you the specs on this Mac Mini.
Model: $799.99– worth it, especially if you got a lot of music, movies or photos. Or if your like me, and want your computer to last a good few years without needing to make major upgrades or buy a new machine whenever something new comes out, you’ll want to get something with the more RAM (tip: as mentioned above, whether your getting a new Mac or Windows PC, you should always try to get as much RAM as possible. I find 2 GB to be good for Vista and even Windows 7– the next version of Windows expected to come this year which I was able to get a test copy, or beta, of– it’s much better than Vista, but that’s a review for another time 😉 The more RAM you have the better suited you are to upgrade to a new OS in the future). This Mac Mini I gave it the full 4 GB of RAM and I definitely think it helps make OS X run so smoothly. I also am running a 2.0 GHZ Intel Core 2 Duo processor (also helps makes the PC run fast) and have the 320 GB hard drive (the highest you can add to the Mac Mini and standard on the $799 model).
Now let’s focus on the bad of the Mac, and yes, there are bad things.
- Very Expensive— In today’s economy, every dollar matters, and Mac’s are unfortunately very expensive. This Mac cost my family bout $1,000 once we threw in the Apple Care 3 year warranty (a pretty much must, as you don’t want to pay $600– the starting price for a Mac Mini– and then have to go and get a new one because something broke, the Apple Care makes it much simpler as all you do is take it to an Apple store and they’ll fix it for up to 3 years from the day you got it). You can actually get better spec’d Windows PC’s for that price, but I guess this is the premium you pay for an Apple product, and while I really am loving the Mac Mini, I would love it even more if it was $100-$200 cheaper.
- Not everything you need is in the box— The Mac Mini, unlike it’s big brother the iMac, ships with only one thing– the Mac Mini. Yup, you will need to supply your own keyboard, mouse and screen, and for older screens (i.e. those made before about mid 2008) you would need to go out and buy and $29 adapter to connect to the older screens (something called a VGA to Mini DVI adapter, Apple sells it from it’s site– Apple does though include a Mini DVI to DVI adapter in the box, but that really only comes to help with the more recently made screens). You also don’t get a web cam like on the iMac, so you’d need to buy that extra as well. Oh, and like I said before, your gonna wanna go and buy some better speakers if your big into music, as the Mac Mini’s really aren’t that great.
At the end of the day, if you don’t already have the screen or keyboard, mouse or good speakers from an older computer (all of which I fortunately had), you’d be better off going for the iMac for an extra $200- $300 which has all that and more included.
- Not the easiest transition from Windows to Mac— This requires a bit of a learning curve, as some things are really different on a Mac (where things are, etc.). It also isn’t easier when your using a keyboard designed for a Windows PC, but I will say, that learning curve isn’t a big one, and within a day or so of using a Mac you should be pretty comfortable (and happy) using it– I sure am 😉
This is a great machine, that is a sign of how good Apple is at what they do: making quality computers. Every part of it is done well, from the box, to the computer, to the software. I actually believe that the biggest competition the Mac Mini will get is from the iMac, as if your gonna end up having to buy a new screen, mouse and keyboard anyway, why not have it all in the same package?
My biggest complaint with the Mac Mini is it’s high price tag, and if it was just $100 to $200 cheaper I would give it a perfect 5 out of 5 rating, everything else you would need in a computer is already here! I would definitely recommend the Mac Mini, especially for those who are looking for a new machine and have already have the screen and keyboard.
I’m gonna give the Mac Mini a rating of a very good 4 out of 5.
What are your thoughts– you a Mac or a PC? You ever see yourself getting a Mac Mini or regular Mac? Have questions on the Mac Mini or wanna add your own thoughts and opinions to our review? Say ’em in the comments!