The Mac mini is the only Apple desktop that costs less than $1,000. Although reviewers had mixed opinions about previous versions, most say that the new mini has made serious improvements. Apple switched the design from white plastic to sleek aluminum, which looks better, according to reviews. Experts also say that performance has improved over previous minis, especially when it comes to light gaming or HD video. The mini will never be a powerhouse desktop, but it provides ample performance for mainstream tasks.
The Mac mini now includes an HDMI output, and you can stream content to an HDTV, which makes the desktop a good addition to a home theater. Even with these improvements, some critics question the mini's overall value, especially considering that you can find small-scale PCs for less. The fact that you have to buy a keyboard, mouse and display separately doesn't help the value proposition. Some experts would also like to see a Blu-ray Disc drive in place of the included DVD burner. If you prefer a PC, reviewers also like the Gateway SX2311-03 (Discontinued), which has plenty of computing power for mainstream tasks, media viewing and even light-duty gaming.
Numerous reviewers have tested and evaluated the latest Mac mini. AnandTech.com, PCMag.com, Macworld, ComputerShopper.com and CNET have the most detailed reviews. Shorter reviews at sites like MacLife, Engadget.com and TechRadar.com are also useful.
Site founder Anand Lal Shimpi reviews the Apple Mac mini at AnandTech.com. Although the mini isn't rated, he says the computer performs well in a home theater environment -- although you can find better deals on the PC side.
Review: Apple Mac mini Review (Mid 2010), Anand Lal Shimpi, Aug. 9, 2010
The Mac mini receives an Editors' Choice award from PCMag.com. Joel Santo Domingo says the Mac mini has made serious improvements and is a good choice for those who need a second computer.
Review: Apple Mac mini (HDMI), Joel Santo Domingo, June 16, 2010
The new Mac mini also earns a favorable review from Macworld. Dan Frakes appreciates the aluminum redesign and says the RAM is easy to upgrade. However, he still questions the overall value, especially because the mini costs more than last year's model.
Review: Apple Mac mini (Mid 2010), Dan Frakes, June 23, 2010
4. Computer Shopper
ComputerShopper.com recommends the Mac mini if you have your own monitor and keyboard. The user-replaceable memory and HDMI port are seen as welcome improvements, although Jonathan Rougeot still questions the value.
Review: Apple Mac mini (2010 Version), Jonathan Rougeot, June 2010
Rich Brown at CNET is another reviewer who questions the Mac mini's value, and he gives it a 3.5-star rating (out of 5). However, the mini does have excellent multimedia performance and it finally includes an HDMI port, he says.
Review: Apple Mac mini (Spring 2010), Rich Brown, June 15, 2010
The Mac mini earns a 4-star rating (out of 5) from MacLife. "The new Mac mini's strong consumer-level performance, beautiful design and good value make it a tempting choice," Susie Ochs writes. However, she says she wishes the hard drive could be upgraded as easily as the RAM.
Review: Apple 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo Mac mini Review, Susie Ochs, July 23, 2010
Nilay Patel at Engadget.com says the Mac mini is an excellent small-form computer, especially for media centers or home theaters. It runs cool and quiet, which is another plus, Patel says.
Review: Mac mini (Mid 2010) Review, Nilay Patel, June 18, 2010
Ian Osborne at Britain's TechRadar.com gives the Mac mini a 3.5-star rating (out of 5). Although he likes improvements such as an HDMI port and new stylish design, he says he thinks it should ring up at a lower price.
Review: Apple Mac mini review, Ian Osborne, June 30, 2010
SlashGear.com doesn't rate the Mac mini, but Vincent Nguyen gives it a positive review. He says he especially likes the mini as a media computer now that it finally includes an HDMI output.
Review: Mac mini 2010 Review, Vincent Nguyen, June 18, 2010