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The Mac Mini Revamped!
If you are looking for an out of the box and easy to use PC for your desk, the new Mac mini is IT. Also, with the new aluminium unibody and additional features, this mini PC is truly irresistible, but can we say the same for its performance? Let’s find out.
The aesthetic is exactly where this little PC caught our attention. It borrows the aluminium unibody design from the MacBook Pros, except that the base opens up to allow users to upgrade the RAM. Just rotate the circular plastic panel a notch, underneath the unit, to expose the guts. Really, it doesn’t get any simpler than that. The entire body is aluminum, of course, the back panel is plastic and has all the ports. Standing merely 1.4-inches tall, this unit looks really elegant and even more so, because Apple has done away with the power brick, which is now built into the unit.
So you can now have a neater desk without the cable clutter. All you need is, to connect the bundled power cord, keyboard, mouse and monitor, and the unit is ready to use. All-in all, though the Mac mini has traditionally been an out of the box and easy to use device for a SOHO or home environment, the new and improved design adds style and finesse to a desk.
In terms of features, the two most notable upgrades from the previous version are; the presence of an HDMI port and an SD card slot, in addition to transformed appearance of course. So photographers, multimedia and movie buffs have a good reason to rave over this machine, especially considering its capability to playback HD movies seamlessly. To top that off, you now have the option to connect this baby to a large HDTV and enjoy your flicks in your home or office.
The default model (our test unit) is priced at Rs 44,900, it is built around an Nvidia GeForce 320M chipset, and is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 processor. Clocked at 2.4 GHz and with 3 MB L2 cache, this dual–core CPU is rather older when compared to those in current desktop PCs. Nonetheless, it’s much better than the ones used in nettops, which usually use Intel Atom CPUs. With 2 GB RAM, a 320 GB hard drive and Nvidia’s GeForce 320M GPU, this machine, though not a powerful rig, should suffice for daily computing chores. You might not get the best price-performance ratio from this baby, which is important, but not the most crucial aspect especially with lifestyle products.
Back to features, while the long overdue features, like HDMI and SD card slot, have been included, the older ones at the back panel include 4 USB ports, audio jacks, FireWire, an AC power jack. Connectivity options are Wi-Fi N, Gigabit Ethernet and Blueooth. In front, is the DVD-writer, which is absent in the server edition of the machine. Speaking of which, users can opt for the server edition where you can choose another 500 GB hard drive, instead of an optical drive, get a slightly faster CPU (2.66 GHz), 4 GB RAM as opposed to just 2 GB, and the Snow Leopard Server Edition OS. This machine would cost around Rs 64,900.
In terms of design and form factor, PCs that come closest to this one are nettops, but the same cannot be said about performance. Be it for video editing, audio encoding, processing images using design suites, or for casual multimedia, the performance of this machine is way much better than nettops. Looking at the price of this machine, you might think of machines like the Acer Aspire Revo, the Asus EeeBox PCs or any other nettop that’s capable of playing HD movies. Yes they are comparable, but mostly due to their multimedia (HD-movie playback) capabilities, not their CPU performance (which is weaker on nettops).
Now it’s true that, in this price you can get a full fledged Core i5 PC like the Dell Inspiron 580, which is much more powerful. For that matter, even a Core i3 machine (at a lesser price) will trounce this one, because the latest Core CPUs are hyper-threaded and optimized applications would comparatively sail smoother on them, than on this machine.
However, it is the form factor, classy design, and largely, a matter of personal choice that makes these machines so different. For a PC this size, we’d say it’s an above average performer. It’s a tiny HTPC which plays HD movies, handles office chores effortlessly, has an optical drive, and more than anything else, it looks fantastic.
- Dimensions (WxHxD): 7.7 x 7.7 x 1.4 inches
- Weight: 1.37 Kg
- Chipset: Nvidia GeForce 320M
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo P8600, 2.4 GHz
- RAM: 2 GB DDR2
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 320M
- Hard drive: 320 GB
- Optical drive: Slot loading DVD-writer
- Price: 44,900
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