Mac Mini: An easy choice for Windows migrants

Mac mini is a small format desktop computer. It’s like a big Apple TV. The same compact puck idea is at work here. Important ports are stuck in the back, and that’s a real screw up for anyone with hands. Within the package you get the elegant aluminum square unit along with a power cable and nothing else. The idea is that you hook it up to your existing monitor and use existing accessories. The new Apple Mac Mini is updated with Intel’s third-generation Core CPUs and a new Fusion hybrid hard-drive option. It brings improved value and welcome speediness to the most affordable Mac. The Core i7 chip and 1TB standard hard drive are both useful upgrades over the previous-generation Mac Mini. There are three versions of the current edition: $599 Mac Mini: 2.5GHz Core i5 CPU; 4GB RAM; 500GB, 5,400 rpm hard drive; $799 Mac Mini: 2.3GHz Core i7 CPU; 4GB RAM; 1TB 5,400 rpm hard drive and $999 Mac Mini with OS X Server: 2.3GHz Core i7 CPU; 4GB RAM; two 1TB 5,400 rpm hard drives, OS X Server and OS X Mountain Lion installed. The aluminum box measures 197mm square and is 36mm tall. The rear panel locates all the connections and ports; the aim is that you have this minimalist box on show and the wiring out of sight to the back.

Earlier you could access the internals of the Mac mini so that you could perform some upgrades yourself – namely storage and RAM. This carried the advantage that you could buy in cheaper and then bump up the amount of RAM at that time you felt things were starting to slow down. At the same time you could expand the storage, perhaps switching over to an SSD for the welcome speed/noise/energy gains that come with that over conventional HDD. Earlier Mac minis also offered a spare SATA port, so you could add an additional drive if you wanted to. Unfortunately in 2014 those options are gone. There’s no option to upgrade the RAM as it’s soldered to the board, as revealed in an I Fixit Teardown. That’s a matter to worry for the budget conscious, meaning you’ll have to look for enough RAM to see your Mac mini through the entirety of its expected life. You can’t look for the basic model and then add more RAM or an SSD later when you have more cash. Mac Mini has moved to USB 3.0 across all four USB inputs. Its HDMI-out is no longer all that exotic, but that along with the discrete digital audio output continues to make this an enticing living-room PC. Photo and video enthusiasts will appreciate the Mac Mini’s SDXC card slot as usual.

There are a few flaws in graphics. You are only blessed with an integrated chipset, which precludes hardcore gaming with titles from the last several years. But the best part is its performance. If you’re not planning on heavy gaming or video editing, there’s little reason to buy an iMac over this. If you’re OK with a Mac which has less spectacular features than top of the line, and don’t want the design grace of an all-in-one iMac, the answer is absolutely yes. This is a small, fast, affordable thing.