Apple Mac Mini Reviews

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Latest Reviews

★★★★★

“Worth the price tag”

Written on: 15/07/2016 by RalphAlmeida429 (1 review written)

Very pleased with new Apple product, and being an IOS user for years, I found this to be the fastest incarnation of mac I have used. Very satisfied.

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★★★★☆

“Great machine, but too pricy”

Written on: 05/01/2015 by Badershan (2 reviews written)

I was looking for a media center hub to use with my TV. This device is awesome: well designed, beautiful and quiet, but it is a little pricy. I found some other machines with better hardware for half the price, but they don't run OS X. Thinking of getting into Hackintosh, though.

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★★★★☆

“2012 Spec Apple Mac Mini”

Written on: 28/03/2013 by diablo944 (25 reviews written)

I have been a PC user since the days when windows 98 was still new. The move to a Mac was always something I had avoided, mostly due to cost and software limitations (as in not a lot of it around for Macs). Recently I ran into an issue with my PC and a new GoPro camera. It just wouldnt play the video back from the camera without converting it first. Lots of hair pulling and forum reading finally made me look at a Mac as an option. The budget wouldn't stretch to the higher priced power macs, so a Mac mini was the only one I was willing to consider. There are words of warning here. year by year the Mac mini has changed specifications so just saying its a Mac mini is not enough, Hence the description here of the spec I am using. This review is based on the Highest spec processor available (a 2.6Ghz quad core i7) in a brand new 2013 (2012 spec being the latest as this is written but bought in 2013) mac mini supplied by Apple and the machine is fitted with 16Gb of ram now as opposed to the 4Gb it came with. A base level model of a Mac mini may struggle to handle large video editing tasks. It can be done, but it could prove painfully slow. None of the current range of MiniMacs have a dedicated graphics card, instead opting for the Intel 4000 shared graphics card across the range. It is capable enough for my purposes, but it is worth noting that fitting bigger memory gives the Shared graphics more ram to play with making for a slight increase to its performance. The lack of dedicated graphics card means the main CPU is doing all the work, so for me I needed the fastest processor. Bear in mind that although it is a quad core processor, not all the programs on the Mac will utilise all 4 cores. It can get very complicated very quickly if you are trying to work out which specification is best for you. In terms of expense? again it is a dangerous area full of pitfalls. Apple advertise the Mini as starting at 499.00 but that is for the absolute base level model. it comes with a 2.5Ghz Dual core i5 and only a 500Gb hard drive. Upping the spec to the 2.3Ghz quad core i7 adds a whopping 179 pounds to the cost but does bring a 1Tb drive to the setup. Going the whole way to the fastest processor adds another 80 pounds over and above the cost of the 2.3 quad core (and a two week delivery instead of next day as it seems they are made to order rather than sitting on a shelf ready to go). For another 200 pounds you could specify a fusion drive (a 1Tb HDD combined with 128gb Flash memory). The combo fusion drive uses the flash ram for the most used programs and over time transfers the programs and files you use most to the flash memory to decrease loading times. I couldn't justify another 200 pounds so the Fusion drive was an option I didn't take up. All the 2012/13 Mac Minis come fitted with a 5200rpm hard drive and all are fitted with 4Gb of ram as standard. Options exist during ordering to upgrade the memory. Beware the Apple memory costs, they are not cheap and 16Gb will hit you for another 200 pounds. You can buy the same Sodimm memory online for around 70 pounds and unlike older versions of the mini, opening the case is a simple twist of the base to expose the memory slots and allow you to pop the memory out and easily replace it with the new sodimms. It is a replacement, there are only 2 slots so you need two 8gb sticks and the 2 original 2gb sticks become redundant. Replacing memory is the ONLY internal replaceable component that can be done by a non tech savvy user. The mini comes with nothing else but a HDMI adapter cable and a power cable. Mine is used with a full HD television and initially I used a USB PC keyboard and a Microsoft Bluetooth mouse to control it. It was an ok arrangement but was massively improved once I bought the magic trackpad (silly name, good piece of kit). Like everything else Apple, it wasn't cheap. I bought a keyboard from ebay soon after and that and haven't regretted it. The silver slim keyboard and the trackpad were both begging for the addition of a twelvesouth magic wand though, so that was bought soon after ( a simple and elegant way to fix the 2 together, nothing more and nothing less). In use the machine itself has proved more than capable of what I am asking of it. Slowly but surely it is beginning to tempt me away from the PC. I still haven't committed fully to the Apple mac mini and still use my PC for some things as they are still my first port of call. But in many ways the Mac is catching up. Importing an hours worth of video from the GoPro takes around 20-30 minutes. Exporting that same footage as a complete film once edited (from iMovie as an example) takes around 15 minutes. Fast enough for me. Plus the Mac mini plays the footage flawlessly where my PC just ground to a halt so I cannot complain really. Anyone considering their first mac would do well to consider a Mini, it isnt cheap by any stretch, and I am sure you could get a better spec windows PC for considerably less, but the Mini (at least in the spec I chose) is an admirable little unit. It runs near silent, the Only time I have heard the fan is when I was doing a lot of video editing the other night, but that was the first time I have heard it since I bought it some months back. I was obviously working it hard that night. There are things I dont like, but these are things to do with the Apple operating system (Mountain lion by the way, or OSX). The X in OSX is a ten by the way, so dont go calling it OS Ecks or Apple fanboys will rib you for it. Losing right click cut and paste is odd for a windows user. The options are still there, but they need to involve shortcuts to work. Slowly they become second nature, but it is definitely hard to adjust to the differences between windows and the Apple way of doing things. I wish there were more USB ports, the 4 USB3 ports on the back are soon used up. There is no DVD rom drive on the Mini. I had an old PC external for a netbook and it works fine, but it does use 2 USB ports, one for power and one for data. Located on the back and next to the ports is an SD card reader slot. It isn't the best place for a card reader and again exposes Apple form over function philosophy. It would be better on the front but it would ruin the looks of the case. XBMC works fine on the Mac mini, and pairing a bluetooth remote with the mini is simple and quick making the unit into a more than capable media centre with a miniscule footprint. One other area that PC owners NEED to know if they are buying a mini is that Mac OSX can read an NTFS format drive but writing is another issue altogether. Out of the box OSX cannot write to an NTFS drive. I did spot an app on the machine this week that relates to NTFS but havent played with it yet. For those buying an external hard drive though, you need to get one that you are willing to let OSX format for you if you intend using Apples Time machine software. Look into it BEFORE you buy an external drive. I bought a 3Tb network drive shortly after buying the mini and had nothing but trouble with it. despite the drive saying 'for mac and PC' on the box, it turned out all the main features were for the PC while the Mac side was rudimentary at best. transferring files over 2 Gb to the drive took an eternity, one 2.5 gb file took 50 minutes to transfer. Hitting the seagate forums soon confirmed it wasnt something I was doing wrong, it was a limitation of the network drive. be careful with external HDD choices. In general use the Mac mini is turning out to be a joy to work with. Yes it has less software available than a windows pc, but in my case it is doing exactly what i want of it and it is doing it well. If you already have Apple products like iphone and ipads in your house, the connectivity side is fantastic. The mini comes with iWorks as part of its software suite, so there are a number of useful things built in to cater for the video and image handling side of things. I can see why people who bought a Mac as their first computer would hate windows Pcs, while a PC owner changing to a Mac may find things frustrating until they get used to the operating system. I for one am finding that the Mac mini is an admirable performer. I am still suffering mental breakdown type thoughts at how much it has cost, but in a strange way I am not regretting it. I am glad I bought the fastest processor though. I rarely see the spinning circle (like the old hourglass of windows) and when I do it is only for a brief moment, but every time I do see it I am thankful for the fast processor as it reminds me why I spent the extra money. If I am seeing it with the fastest CPU and 16Gb of ram, I hate to think what the slower processor and 4gb of ram would mean in terms of time spent watching the spinning wheel and waiting for something to load. In terms of giving a rating (which this review page is waiting for when I finish typing this) A new user with no computer knowledge would find a mac easy to use. while someone from a windows background might struggle a little for a while. Setting it up is simplicity itself, but in terms of value for money? I personally feel tat anything Apple is overpriced. Often gorgeous to look at and functional to use, but still expensive. The Apple KINKIE (Keep It Neat Keep It Expensive) approach makes for a hard justification when it comes to value for money. For that reason I will only give it a 3 out of 5.

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★★★★☆

“New mac user”

Written on: 26/05/2011 by samspade79 (9 reviews written)

A mac purchase was required to do iPhone development for my current company. Being a staunch PC lover I was not looking forward to using one (having had the displeasure of using a mac before). However I have been pleasantly surprised so far. The mac was easy to setup (literally just plug it in). It's fast to load, fast to use, and the OS looks beautiful. The downside is that nothing works quite the way you expect. Buttons in different places, the concept that a program never actually quits (just lingers around in the background), and things like that mean that someone who is not very tech savvy and is used to a PC would have a steep learning curve to get as efficient as they are on a PC. The other downside is that they are very expensive. 25 pounds for a cable to connect my monitor after buying the computer for 650 pounds. Certainly one can see why Apple make so much profit! Overall, I'd say if you are a mac lover, then the mac mini is a nice bit of kit. If you're trying to decide what to buy, just get a Dell for half the price.

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★★★★☆

“New mac user”

Written on: 26/05/2011 by samspade79 (9 reviews written)

A mac purchase was required to do iPhone development for my current company. Being a staunch PC lover I was not looking forward to using one (having had the displeasure of using a mac before). However I have been pleasantly surprised so far. The mac was easy to setup (literally just plug it in). It's fast to load, fast to use, and the OS looks beautiful. The downside is that nothing works quite the way you expect. Buttons in different places, the concept that a program never actually quits (just lingers around in the background), and things like that mean that someone who is not very tech savvy and is used to a PC would have a steep learning curve to get as efficient as they are on a PC. The other downside is that they are very expensive. 25 pounds for a cable to connect my monitor after buying the computer for 650 pounds. Certainly one can see why Apple make so much profit! Overall, I'd say if you are a mac lover, then the mac mini is a nice bit of kit. If you're trying to decide what to buy, just get a Dell for half the price.

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★★★★★

“I got a mac mini thinking that it would make a great...”

Written on: 29/10/2008 by austinbarry (3 reviews written)

I got a mac mini thinking that it would make a great heart of a home entertainment system. The size is certainly right for this. Installation and migration (from another mac) was a piece of cake. In fact all I did was connect my vintage macbook and 30 minutes later all my programs (yes!), settings, etc were copied. At home, I am mostly doing email, web browsing, managing my photo collection, and managing my ever increasing audio collection, tasks which the mac is well suited. Any application can print to a PDF, and word documents can be opened (sort of) without MS Word (I have MS word, but rarely use it). There is not as much freeware/shareware as there is for Windows, but what's out there seems to be of slightly higher quality (and most malware simply doesn't work). Also, a lot of Unix software works (though Xwindows based software is a little awkward). I have not attempted to dual-boot XP, but it's possible.

Now the bad points (minor)..
The first thing I did was hook it up to my stereo. Sound was not natural sounding. When I hooked up an external USB audio adaptor (buy carefully - some don't work with a Mac), things got much better, but it sometimes reverts back to the internal speaker after a reboot. 1gb memory is simply not enough. I brought a third-party memory card, and opening up the case involved using a putty knife (the memory vendor had a detailed video on this). Max memory in my box is 2gb, but I think newer ones can take more. Another thing I brought was a USB adaptor - I suggest buying one (or two).

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★★★☆☆

“I'm a computer science student - so i am fairly handy...”

Written on: 11/11/2007 by kjs82 (1 review written)

I'm a computer science student - so i am fairly handy with software etc.

The mac mini is great as a standalone system, but when connected to peripherals you get very basic options (if they work at all), and many websites and other applications fail to interact properly with mac based browsers and other software.

If you have powerPC software - some of it runs fine on Intel - others crash or fail to respond.

If you use Skype, then your microphone won't work in the line-in socket without a preamplifier (£25 ish from Maplin)- so i had to buy a Logitech USB microphone instead

You need (absolutely) a standard mac mouse (one-button) and keyboard - to use in case anything goes wrong (e.g. ejecting a stuck CD). The first thing the support line tells you to do is plug in standard mouse/keyboard. So much for bring your own peripherals! A Kingston mouse bought with the system will not work in such situations (although it's great when the system is working fine). The mini does however work fine with all the screen i have tried.

Boot Camp will load only a small sample of retail Windows XP editions - so i gave up on it. You may need to ring the helpline to get OSX to boot if anything goes wrong with booting windows during boot camp based installation - so be warned.

The killer application is VM Ware fusion - it runs XP and W2000 properly, with all the applications i have tried working fine - all my favourite web sites now work fine inside XP, and Fusion/XP interacts with via Windows drivers with USB devices! So al my peripherals work properly inside XP. I have it running all the time.
Wonderful - but it costs extra - and then the price of windows XP on top.
And doesn't this mean that i would have been better buying a PC?

The support line takes at least 15 minutes to answer (0870 number answered in Ireland/India/Italy/USA) - and are good with standard problems, but need to refer to the States for anything significant. Set aside an hour for each call.
It's impossible to find an email address for support.
I have had my system for 3 weeks, and I'm still trying to get them to register my system with Apple Care bought on the web at the same time as the machine. They say it should have been automatically registered by the purchasing system - and i am still waiting for someone in the States to override the mistake. So be careful about buying online - perhaps go to one of their retail shops eg. in Manchester instead.

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★★★★★

“I generally love my Mac Mini, it's simple to use and...”

Written on: 11/05/2007 by sandmansam (12 reviews written)

I generally love my Mac Mini, it's simple to use and does everything you would expect from a full size PC, in a box the fraction of the size, it is also much faster then you would expect for such a small machine.

The software that comes with the mini is generally excellent but I must admit I added MS Office to my one, well worth the extra cost.

Like all Mac Computers it has an excellent built in firewall and net filtering software, enough security for most home users, you can however add more protection if you want.

This is my fist Mac, 6 months or so on from purchase I am a total convert to Mac, they are just so easy to use and require little attention to keep them happy, apart from the old software update, that happens automatically every now and then.

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★★★★★

“I've got an Apple Mac Mini and i wonder why people are...”

Written on: 27/02/2007 by rhysharrison (1 review written)

I've got an Apple Mac Mini and i wonder why people are still buying pcs, it cant all be because of the software compatibility, can it?
Macs are far superior to pcs and they have no viruses. I would recommend Mac. mini 100%brilliant machine

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★★★★★

“I've owned my Mac Mini for over a year and I wonder...”

Written on: 16/01/2007 by spellacy29 (5 reviews written)

I've owned my Mac Mini for over a year and I wonder why I ever bothered with a PC. It performs beautifully, very rarely freezes, isn't bothered by viruses nearly as much as a PC and produces excellent work. Quality, style and exclusivity are built in and once you get used to them, they're a joy to use.

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★★★★★

“The Apple Mac Mini works straight out of the box, turn...”

Written on: 12/04/2006 by joeburton (9 reviews written)

The Apple Mac Mini works straight out of the box, turn it on complete the few steps and away you go. Connected straight into my wireless, remote is great for playing music and watching dvds. The Apple O/S is so easy to use and looks great. I had a pc in my room it made so much noise the Apple is very quite and looks fantastic.

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★★★★★

“Apple Mac Mini - I support computers, so I need both...”

Written on: 03/06/2005 by gerrards (4 reviews written)

Apple Mac Mini - I support computers, so I need both PC's and a Mac. Unable to afford a standalone G4 I've had a cumbersome eMac taking up far too much desk space. Until the Mac Mini, that is. It was an impulse buy the weekend it came out and I haven't regretted one moment of it. With its footprint only a little bigger than a CD case I've been able to use my Windows keyboard, mouse and TFT screen via a KVM switch, and so have reclaimed a continent of desk space.

The Mac Mini is simplicity itself to set up and runs straight out of the box without the irksome software validation of Windows XP. There is one proviso here: if 256Mb RAM is too small (and I assure you it is - the whole machine is much more responsive with a minimum of 512Mb), you must either say so on purchase or go through a delicate process which Apple unsurprisingly do not advertise. This involves preferably two more hands than you possess to dismantle the machine and probably void the warranty. The same goes for changing a DVD ROM/CD-RW option to a Superdrive (DVD Writer). And you can forget about internal disks above 80Gb for the moment. The reason is that this is really a laptop without a screen or battery (or keyboard or mouse for that matter), so the disk is a limited capacity 2.5 inch one. Apple also say an Airport wireless card cannot be added after purchase - I can't say if this is strictly true or not. Though I am using a Windows keyboard for compatibility I would generally advise against it. It will work (USB only) but some keys will be wrong. There are programs on the internet to put this right, though swapping @ and " is not an easy process.

Once you have accepted the Mac Mini for what it is, however, there is a lot to praise and not that much to fault. The supplied software is comprehensive, and includes Internet browsing and email, Appleworks (much more grown up than Microsoft Works), a game or two and the brilliant iLife multimedia package. One fly in the ointment is the way the DVD software in iLife resolutely refuses to recognise most external burners, which implies to me Apple trying to ensure its revenue streams, or am I being cynical? Another example of this Apple trait is the hideous cost of upgrades. The machine now ships with OS X Tiger but if you bought the first examples which "only" had Panther, I shouldn't worry. In reality, whatever enthsiasts say, unless you really need one of the changes in Tiger, the upgrade is nearly all cosmetic and only worth the asking price if you have to be seen to be cool.

One myth born of half baked incarnations of Windows before 2000, is that Macs don't crash and Windows machines do. They both do, but these days neither do it often. iTunes, for example, finds it hard to cope with bad data while importing music from CD's. The Mac does have the advantage of less viral attention for the moment, but it is still unwise to be unprotected and I have not so far found any free and effective antivirus software for the Mac such as AVG (personal use only) for Windows. Please correct me someone if I'm wrong.

Physically, the front of the Mac Mini is simply a slot in the brushed aluminium for DVD's / CD's and a tiny white power LED. In typical minimalist (obtuse?) Apple fashion there is no DVD/CD eject button, so if you are using a non-Mac keyboard without an eject key you may have some unwanted fun here. The gaps in the ergonomic armour continue with the power button mounted where you can't see it on the BACK of the machine. Idiocies like this have commonly marred Apple's otherwise brilliant designs - by comparison with the eMac this power button is well located! There is a price to pay when good looks are everything.

More than one price. The back panel crams in 2 USB2 ports, 1 Firewire port, 1 Monitor port (standard VGA adaptor included), modem and Ethernet connectors, a headphone socket and a security slot. Great. But though more USB ports in particular would be desirable, things are already too cramped at the back for some devices (like many memory sticks), so a USB2 hub is an almost essential extra. Once again Apple style wins over substance - extra front mounted or even side mounted USB and other ports would have made the machine much more capable and certainly easier to use (for example, for plugging and unplugging digital cameras) but the designers obviously couldn't bear to spoil the lines of their (admittedly gorgeous) baby with something so useful. This is the main reason for my marking down the ease of use to only 7.

Incidentally, forget Apple's beautifully shaped but ultimately dinosaur-like single button mouse. Get a modern two button scroll mouse which OS X supports. Right clicking options are not as well supported as in Windows but they are still useful.

Where Apple wins hands down over comparatively priced Windows machines is in the supplied software. Everything you get is at least good, and mostly superb. Windows machines are much better supported with vast quantities of auxiliary software, often much cheaper than the scarce Apple equivalents. However in real life most people do not need much auxiliary software beyond virus protection, and if you really must have a favoured Windows application (like a genealogy program), then unless it's high performance software such as multimedia you can probably run it on your Mac - just buy Virtual PC software from Amazon for under £200 including a licensed copy of Windows XP.

I began by saying that I bought the Mac Mini for computer support. What has happened is that for all its minor annoyances I've fallen in love with it. iTunes (a great program) already contains half of my 600 CD collection. My photos are in iLife. I've added a LaCie dual layer Mac/Windows DVD writer. I'm using Safari for general surfing. In other words I'm actually USING it in preference to my Windows machines for an awful lot of purposes. More and more I'm running my business from PC's and the digital bit of the rest of my life from the Mac Mini. The main reasons? The Mac Mini is eerily silent and the sound wonderful so it's ideal for home use, particularly music, and this from a baroque specialist singer with an easily offended ear. And it just works, with a minimum of fuss and without having to think too much. I'm even considering buying the cheapest option and networking it in the lounge simply as a kind of jukebox, though there might be better options here.

In summary, a gem of a machine which even with its flaws is cheap to buy and a joy to use right out of the box. I wouldn't recommended it for critical business applications because of its insubstantial laptop-like components, but for personal use it's near perfect so long as it's kept fully backed up. Just make sure you get the specification right from the start, but otherwise if you feel an impulse buy coming on, don't resist.

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