Mac Mini: Are You Right for It?

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Apple desktop computers – from the iMac to the Mac Pro, are desirable products.  With their unique mix of looks and performance that is hard for any other desktop manufacturer to match. The ‘i’ brand that Apple has cultivated so successfully over the years gives everything Apple produces, whether it is phones, tablets or computers, an air of quality and prestige. 

For a long time after its 2005 introduction, the Mac Mini had a reputation as the lower rung when it came to Apple’s desktops. It was something that came into consideration when other models seemed too expensive. 

Consider the Mac Mini

The Mac Mini has a raft of features that make it a real alternative to larger, more expensive desktops.

Compact and Transportable 

Many laptop computers, even in this age of streamlined, lightweight designs, are still large enough and heavy enough to provide real problems when on the move. 

No matter how light or thin a laptop, it is still a sizeable and noticeable piece of equipment to move around a lot of the time. The Mac Mini, which measures 7.7 inches by 7.7 inches, with a depth of just 1.4 inches, offers a desktop computer with all the functionality of a laptop or PC, yet only weighs 1.22 kg. 

For anyone working a job that has to move between offices or visit off-site clients, and needs a transportable, powerful computer, the Mac Mini is ideal. 

For those working in a BYOD (bring Your Own Device) environment, the Mac Mini could provide the perfect solution. The Mac Mini, being a standalone computer, requires a monitor, keyboard and mouse. The BYOD worker could have a monitor, keyboard and mouse setup at the office and home, simply plugging in at the office and unplugging when it is time to go home. That means no lugging around a laptop from the office to the home and back again – just a lightweight, robust solution in the form of the Mac Mini. 

  • Significantly smaller and lighter than a laptop
  • A Mac Mini is only 7.7inches by 7.7inches, with a depth of 1.4 inches
  • The Mac Mini only weight 1.22 kg
  • Those working in a BYOD environment benefit greatly from the power and small size of the Mac Mini

Inbuilt Software

Just because the Mac Mini is smaller and cheaper than its bigger brothers, that does not mean that Apple leaves the cupboard bare in terms of software – far from it.

Every Mac Mini comes with Apple’s latest operating system – OS X Mavericks. This is a powerful and, as Apple’s operating systems usually are, very intuitive and easy to use. There are a number of core features in OS X Mavericks that act to reduce energy and resource wastage, which act to ensure that the Mac Mini is always operating at optimum speed. 

For example, App Nap is an application management feature that always ensures power consumption and CPU usage remain as low as possible. App Nap works by monitoring all running applications and, when an app is open but not in use, will slow the app down. This reduces power consumption and keeps performance at a high level. 

Compressed Memory – another inbuilt feature, quietly manages the Mac Mini’s memory. This feature acts when the Mac Mini’s memory begins to fill up. When this happens, Compressed Memory seeks out the least recently used files and compresses the, freeing up space for other files and processes. When it comes time to use them again, they are uncompressed in an instant.

Aside from regulatory features, there are also inbuilt features to make sharing and streaming quick and easy. For example, AirDrop allows for the wireless sharing of content between iOS 7 Apple devices, whilst AirPlay enables the streaming of video content from the Mac Mini to a HDTV.

Aside from these resource management and streaming features, the Mac Mini also comes as standard with Apps like Keynote, iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, iTunes, Safari, and many others beside. 

  • Mac Mini comes loaded with features and apps – just because it is smaller and cheaper does not man Apple scrimps on this front
  • App Nap regulates unused apps to save battery life and keep performance levels high
  • Streaming content from device to device or from the Mac Mini to a HDTV is easy with AirDrop and AirPlay.
  • Many useful apps – Keynote, iTunes, Numbers, Pages, Maps, come installed as standard

Performance and Connectivity

The standard Mac Mini, which comes in at £499, can provide performance in most areas that rivals other laptops or even Apple Macs, but in a much smaller package. 

The 2.5GHz Mac Mini comes with 500GB of hard drive space and 4GB of memory. This provides a great, powerful platform for productivity and creativity, whether that is creating professional- level presentations for the office, or editing photos and videos. 

The third-generation Intel HD Graphics 4000, whilst offering great visuals and performance, is not going to support demanding, processor-heavy games. This is virtually the only area where a Mac Mini falls short of other Apple products that far outstrip it in terms of price. 

In addition to the hardware inside the Mac Mini, the device also comes with a number of outputs, allowing for great connectivity. The lack of an optical drive for reading discs, which Apple removed from the Mac Mini in 2011, has led to the Thunderbolt Port. In addition, there is a FireWire 800 port, four USB 3.0 ports, and an HDMI port. 

  • 500GB Hard Drive and 4GB of Memory
  • Third-generation Intel HD Graphics 4000 
  • The Mac Mini will not perform well running big, resource-draining games
  • Thunderbolt, FireWire 800, four USB 3.0 and HDMI ports 

For anyone looking for a lightweight computer that punches well above its weight and price, the Mac Mini is a great choice.

The lack of an optical drive could repel some, but the great connectivity of the Mac Mini makes this mostly a non-issue. 

Compared to its much more expensive big brothers and other laptops on the market, the Mac Mini delivers great performance, reliability and flexibility.