The new Mac Mini has a familiar face but upgraded innards. But is it better value for money than its pricey predecessors?
Sadly, there was no Apple Tablet in this year’s Autumn Apple harvest. Still, we’ve got plenty to keep us occupied: the new four-core iMac is a five star winner, and the unassuming but popular Mac Mini has been given a seasonal spruce up.
It certainly plays a far more significant role in Apple's line-up than it did a few years ago. There's no reasonably priced consumer version of the desktop tower, now known as the Mac Pro, any more. So unless you want an all-in-one, it's the only 'proper' OSX-based computer for the home. That's a big load to carry on its small frame.
Imagine you're a graphic artist who already owns a good monitor that wants to bring work back from the office. You want a Mac to work on and it's a Mini or bust.
The good news is that the Mini certainly hasn't been harmed by the refresh. It still looks stunning, is barely audible in use and is environmentally aware enough to host its own summit. Processing power starts at 2.26GHz, and the GeForce 9400M graphics will help it tear through HD video and many common desktop apps.
Our second tier review unit – cost £649 – also came with 4GB of RAM, a massive improvement on the 1GB sold as standard earlier in the year.
The problem is really that the entry-level price is still the same, as it was in the last update to the line, at £500. For a case full of laptop parts, that's not particularly good value for money.
Asus' EeeBox 1501 may only have an Atom processor, but if you want a small second PC to use as a media box, it's less than two-thirds the cost.
The EeeBox comes with a bigger hard drive, and this is really the Mini's biggest failing. It's hard to think of many situations where the 160GB hard drive fitted to the basic Mini would be enough.
Boosting it to 500GB will cost an extra £160 and, as with all Macs other than the Pro, once you've bought it you can't open it up and improve it yourself.
It's hard not to love the Mac Mini. Its looks are still as covetable as they were five years ago, and no other PC combines the same amount of power in the same tiny size. Cramped and expensive storage, though, make it an expensive and limited option as your main computer.
Apple Mac Mini 2009 review
More powerful than before, but we'd rather have had a price drop