Apple’s online store went down earlier this morning, which was not entirely unexpected – after all, the upcoming iPhone 4 release necessitated a new entry, new artwork and a pre-order setup. What WASN’T expected, quite, was the new Mac Mini. Giving consumers the first significant design change since the product’s inception, the new Mac Minis are slimmer, sleeker and sexier than ever.
The new Mac Minis are thinner than ever – only 1.4 inches, compared to the original design’s just a bit over two – but it does have a larger footprint. Apple’s previous Mac Mini desktops measured 6.5 inches on a side, which adds up to 42.25 inches. The new Minis measure 7.7 inches on a side, which works out to 59.29 inches.
Despite the new and thinner redesign, Apple still makes the Mini available with an optical drive. It’s no surprise, however, that the only optical drive available is an 8x slot-loading SuperDrive (DVD+/-RW, CD-R) – so no Blu-ray watching or burning here. Obviously Apple wants to push their iTunes ecosystem as a means for getting video onto their computers (especially if the rumors regarding a possible new AppleTV pan out).
It’s still hard to understand, however, when Apple caved to pressure enough such that they added an HDMI port native to the unit. Now users with an HDMI port on their televisions or monitors won’t need to use a mini DisplayPort dongle just to convert the output to HDMI. The new Minis still have a mini DisplayPort output on board, as well as Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800, audio in and out, four USB 2.0 (no 3.0 available) ports and an SD card slot. The SD card slot is undoubtedly a welcome addition to the new desktops, but it comes at a cost – the old Mac Minis offered five USB 2.0 ports.
Additionally, for users looking to maximize their storage space, Apple is making the new Minis available with dual-hard drives instead. There’s also still an option to get the dual-HDD Minis available with Apple OS X Server preinstalled.
Part of the new design includes a sleek new bottom for the small Apple desktop. While it was possible to gain access to the Mac Mini’s internals before, it came at the risk of causing cosmetic damage or even voiding Apple’s warranty on the device. Now, the new units have a removable plastic/rubber base that gives consumers access to the memory slots inside of the desktop. That’s nice to see, since it means users can take advantage of memory sales and upgrade more cheaply at a future date.
In addition to the updated specs and design, Apple also updated the price: the new Mac Minis are available with one base configuration and one base price. At $699, the new desktops are a hundred dollars more expensive than the most affordable model in the previous generation.
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.4GHz (specific model unlisted)
- Memory: 2GB DDR3 SDRAM @ 1066MHz
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 320M (integrated)
- Hard drive: 320GB SATA @ 5400RPM
- Optical drive: Slot-loading 8x SuperMulti DVD+/-RW
- Networking: Gigabit Ethernet
- Wireless networking: 802.11a/b/g/n
- Keyboard and mouse: none
- Operating system: Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or Mac OS X Server
- Warranty: One year limited hardware (parts and labor) + 90 days phone support
Apple is claiming that the NVIDIA GeForce 320M integrated graphics found inside the new Mac Minis is twice as fast as the integrated NVIDIA graphics found in the last generation. For users looking to pack a little extra punch into the 1.4-inch chassis, Apple offers a limited amount of customization: upgrading to a 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo costs $150, 4GB of DDR3 RAM is $100, 8GB of RAM is $500, a 500GB hard drive is $100, an Apple Mouse is $49, an Apple Magic Mouse is $69, a wired Apple Keyboard is $49 and an Apple Wireless Keyboard is $69.