Apple Mac Mini 2010 review

Portable and Apple-chic, but overpriced for the specs

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Is this a new dawn for Apple's much-neglected small form factor Mac?

The Mac mini 2010 switches to a brushed aluminium unibody casing. It’s slightly wider than its white polycarbonate predecessor (the Mac Mini 2009), but is substantially thinner, making for a 20 per cent reduction in overall volume.

The transformer is now housed inside the case itself, so there’s no power brick to lug around. Memory is user-accessible via a removeable panel on the base, but replacing the hard drive still requires a trip to the Apple Store. As always, the Mac mini is sold without a keyboard or mouse.

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Connectivity conundrums

Around the back, the HDMI port makes a long-overdue appearance. Given how many Mac enthusiasts use minis as media machines, it’s surprising it took this long. A HDMI-to-DVI adapter is included, so you can use your Mac mini with most computer monitors as well as a high-defenition TV. We’ve also gained an SD card reader, but USB 2.0 ports are down from five to four. FireWire 800 and Gigabit Ethernet are retained, as is the Mini DisplayPort.

The biggest under-the-hood change is the new integrated graphics chipset. The NVIDIA GeForce 320M is more powerful and energy efficient than the previously-used GeForce 9400M. Unfortunately, the processor didn’t get a similar boost. The sole off-the-shelf release of the mid-2010 Mac mini is powered by a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo. Considering the previous generation offered two models running at 2.26GHz and 2.53GHz, this is unimpressive, especially as the new Mac mini is barely cheaper than the last generation’s high-end model.

Testing times

In our Xbench and Cinebench tests the new Mac mini was on a par with the 2.53GHz version from late 2009, but its superior graphics chipset gave it a significant boost when running Doom 3, increasing its frame rate by around 50%. It runs surprisingly quietly too, even when playing a DVD; welcome news to those who use it as a media machine.

The new Mac mini is ideal for those who want to carry their computer between home and work, especially given its trim new size and lack of a power brick. It’s great to see Apple pay attention to its entertainment capabilities, though it still lacks a Blu-ray drive and Apple’s Front Row media centre software is looking very long in the tooth. It’s not the full-on media centre Mac we were hoping for.

But is it worth the money? To be honest, we think it’s a little overpriced. If it was £100 cheaper or offered Blu-ray and a more powerful CPU it would be excellent value for money. As it stands, it’s a great machine, but not a must-buy.

Read more on the new Mac Mini at Apple.com/uk.

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OS: OSX 10.6 – Snow Leopard
Screen (size and res): N/A
Processor (inc speed): 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 320M
Memory: 2GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM, expandible to 8GB Storage (inc DVD): 320GB SATA HDD, 8x slot loading SuperDrive
Battery tested: N/A
Battery claimed: N/A
Connections: 4xUSB 2.0, 1xFW800, SD card, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, Mini DisplayPort
Dimensions: 3.6x19.7x19.7cm
Weight: 1.37kg


Benchmark results:
Xbench (CPU and HDD) – 85.89
Cinebench (3D rendering) – Single core, 2731; multicore, 5049
iTunes CD encoding – 6 minutes, 44 seconds
Quicktime movie encoding – 5 minutes, 22 seconds
Doom 3, Ultra Quality, 1024x768 – 62.2fps

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