Apple Mac Mini (2009)

The new Mac Mini from Apple retains its small form factor but gets an updated CPU and beefier graphics.

Apple Mac Mini (2009)
  • Apple Mac Mini (2009)
  • Apple Mac Mini (2009)
  • Apple Mac Mini (2009)
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • Decently priced, reasonably powerful, small and attractive design, DisplayPort connection

Cons

  • No HDMI, 5400rpm hard drive

Bottom Line

With the latest upgrade, the price gap between the Mac Mini and other Apple computers has widened. For the price, you get decent power and a small case that will fit into the tightest of spaces.

Would you buy this?

It has been a year and a half since Apple updated its budget desktop line of Macs, but a new Mac Mini has finally been released. That may excite those looking for a cheap computer or powerful alternative to the AppleTV. The hardware has been improved, but the design is similar to the previous model. The lack of an HDMI connection remains the biggest deterrent to those looking for an elegant home theatre PC.

It's the Mac Mini’s internals that have undergone the biggest changes. Both configurations come standard with a 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and an NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor; a significant step up from integrated Intel GMA 950 graphics used in the previous model. The $999 Mac Mini offers 1GB of DDR3 memory and a 5400rpm, 120GB hard drive. For $300 more you can grab 2GB of DDR3 memory and a 5400rpm, 320GB hard drive.

Wireless connectivity includes 802.11a/b/g and draft-n over 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio frequencies, as well as integrated Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR.

Testing the 2.0GHz Mac Mini with 2GB of DDR3 RAM, we encoded an album’s worth of uncompressed WAV audio files to 192Kbps MP3 audio in 1min 33sec; this is the same result as the similarly configured (but Windows-based) Dell Studio Hybrid. The Mac Mini is capable of accomplishing most office productivity, Web browsing and basic creative tasks; however, it did struggle to complete iTunes' gapless playback process on a large music library without freezing.

The Mac Mini lacks a keyboard and mouse but it is comparatively well-priced for an Apple computer. Optional upgrades aren’t expensive either, at $270 for a 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and $180 for an extra 2GB of DDR3 RAM (for a total of 4GB of memory).

The Mac Mini's exterior design has gone unchanged. It still has the brushed aluminium sides, the white top with familiar logo, and a tiny white LED power indicator on the front. The back panel features a power connector, Gigabit Ethernet and five USB ports (up from four on the previous model). FireWire 400 has vanished; it's replaced by a FireWire 800 port (you can attach FireWire 400 devices if you purchase an adapter).

Both of its display ports use proprietary Apple connections: mini-DVI and mini-DisplayPort. Unless you have the Apple LED Cinema Display, using either port will require an adapter; a mini-DVI to DVI adapter is bundled, but otherwise you are looking at shelling out more cash. The Mac Mini also lacks an HDMI connection, and there is currently no way to throughput audio and video over the same connection from the Mac Mini to conventional home theatre components.

The Mac Mini's closest competitor in size is the Dell Studio Hybrid, and with its beefier graphics the Apple comes out on top.

The Mac Mini remains cool and quiet during use, dissipating heat through recessed vents on the underside and a vent on the back.

The computer's small stature can be attributed in part to the use of an external power supply. Rated at 110W, the brick is significantly larger than a power adapter of the Apple Macbook Pro but is still small enough to tuck away behind a desk. According to Apple, it also makes the Mac Mini the world’s most energy-efficient desktop computer. Though it is hard to substantiate this claim, the Mac Mini definitely didn't consume much power during our tests, drawing 12W in standby mode and reaching brief peaks of 49W during intensive tasks.

MacOS X 10.5.6 is preinstalled, as is Apple’s creative suite, iLife 09, with access to software including GarageBand, iPhoto and iMovie. iWork 09, however, isn’t included, leaving the Mac Mini devoid of any competent productivity applications.

Apple's cheapest desktop computer works well as both a low-end, small-form-factor PC. It provides reasonable power in a small and competitively priced package. Unfortunately, the lack of an HDMI connection makes the Mac Mini unsuitable for your home theatre system.

Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?