Product Notes: Apple Mac mini

October 23, 2012

On October 23, 2012, Apple announced significant updates to the Mac mini line. While the outward appearance has not changed much from the 2011 version, the internals have changed significantly, with upgraded processor, upgraded memory speed and size, and USB 3 ports.

Design and Changes

This latest Mac mini keeps the same dimensions as its predecessor. It is 1.4 inches tall, 7.7 inches long and wide, and weighs 2.7 pounds. The aluminum block now has a built in power supply so there is no external power brick, only the cord.

Internally, the new Mac mini upgrades to a 3rd generation Intel Core processor with Intel HD Graphics 4000. The base RAM capacity increases to 4 GB from 2 GB, with an upper limit of 16 GB. The USB ports have also been upgraded to 3.0 from 2.0.

The Mac mini is available with 3rd generation Core i5 ($600) and Core i7 ($800) processors. Information Systems & Computing (ISC) believes that the 2.5GHz Core i5 is sufficient for most users.

The new Fusion drive, also available in the most recent iMac is a storage option for the new Mac mini, creating a single volume from flash and hard drive storage that learns the user’s preferences and arranges files between the two parts of the drive for increased speed. The Fusion drive storage option offers 128 GB of flash storage and 1 TB of hard drive space.

Holdovers from the previous Mac Mini model are the Thunderbolt and HDMI ports, the SDXC card slot, Firewire 800, and Ethernet port.

The new Mac mini is Energy Star 5.2-certified and EPEAT Gold-verified.

Configuration and Ordering Notes

Hard drive options are a 500 GB/5400 RPM hard drive, a 1 TB/5400 RPM hard drive, a 256 GB solid-state drive, or a 1 TB Fusion drive. Note that the last three options are only available with the Core i7 processor.

See ISC's Value Desktop Purchasing Guide for more configuration hints. As of October 2012, a Mac mini can be configured to the Value Desktop specification for approximately $900. The Mac mini remains the best choice for a OS X-based Value Desktop. The University's Computer Connection has multiple configurations available to order.

Analysis

ISC sees the updated Mac mini as being a solid update from the previous model. The new Mac mini costs about the same price as the older models, so it is not a hard choice to make between buying the older version or the newer one.

-- Myles Adams, Michael McLaughlin, John Mulhern III, and Vern Yoneyama, ISC Technology Support Services

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Date Posted: October 23, 2012 Tags: Product Notes, Apple, Mac mini

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