In case you missed it. Apple unveiled a brand new (revised) Mac Mini at the same time it was launching OS X Lion through the Mac App Store. The best about about this mini, besides the quicker processor, easy internal access and HDMI ports, is the price tag; starting at $599 US and then going upwards to $799 and $999 configuration.
Now comes the bad news; No more optical drive. (Look again, I know I did) So if you used your Mac Mini to watch DVDs you’ll need to buy an external drive. This major design overhaul also makes installing older software on this mac mini a little more difficult, but not impossible. (It has USB ports so if you’re a pirate you’ll be able to still install your stuff) If you own the discs, you’ll have to create external DMGs and then load them through USB.
The new Mini comes pre-loaded with Apple’s latest OS X Lion (v10.7) and even though it has a few USB ports for using standard peripherals, you’ll likely want to buy Apple’s Magic Trackpad so you don’t have messy wires laying around.
Technical specs of the 2011 Mac Mini:
The 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 CPU inside the $599 model we tested helped the system to feel quite snappy in anecdotal testing. And in our CPU-centric Cinebench test, which stresses all of a computer’s processing cores to measure raw CPU performance, the 2011 Mac Mini’s score of 8,741 was a fair bit ahead of last year’s Mini, which came in at 5,072.
Let’s take a look at the backside and see what kinds of connectivity it has.
The standard, power, USBs are all there, but there’s new stuff too. The single HDMI port so you can hook this up to an HDTV and skip out on buying a monitor. A Thunderbolt port which allows you to chain up to 6 peripherals and boasts transfer speeds that are up to 20x faster than USB 2.0. And the card reader slot. For getting stuff off your SD cards.
The size is incredibly small at just 7.7 inches square and 1.7 inches thick. Ease of accessing the internals makes upgrading memory a breeze. The Mac Mini will come with a standard 500 GB hard drive, but you can opt for a bulkier 720 GB hard drive at extra cost. And you’ll either have 2 GB or 4 GB of 1333 MHz DDR3 ram pre-loaded but you can max out at 8 GB, should you need all that.
If you’re into burning CDs/DVDs and need that option you can buy the external USB-based MacBook Air SuperDrive for $79 US.
You can see that it stacks up nicely against the new MacBook Air and the revamped iMac. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly Mac this would be the one you’re after, but keep in mind of the added expense of wireless peripherals to get the most from the new OS X and likely upgrading the RAM so that it doesn’t get bogged down with heavy web browsing.