Like the previous models of the Apple Mac Mini, this is an incredibly small computer. Everything is built into a tiny 7.7 inch square box that is just 1.4 inches high, making it not much bigger than a large book. It no longer needs a separate and external power supply, as its power adapter is contained within the tiny box. Despite its small size it continues to run quietly and puts out very little heat, and the size is the only small thing about it. It is a fast and powerful computer.
Connectivity to external devices is great. A Thunderbolt port is provided for super fast data connectivity both into and out of the mac mini. It is supposed to run at up to twenty times the speed of USB 2.0 but most devices currently would be far slower than this. It supports a wide range of different type of protocols including monitors, audio, and external hard drives. Compatible devices can be daisy chained, which allows you to connect one device to another into a chain of up to six different devices, which can be of hugely different types, and even older devices that run at USB or Firewire speeds can be added to the chain with the use of the right adapter.
The daisy chain idea takes some getting used to. Previous connections required that a series of devices be connected via a hub, to their own specific ports. With Thunderbolt, all of the different devices can be run through the one port.
It is important to note that if one of the devices in your daisy chain is only running at USB 2.0 or Firewire speeds, then it should be connected at the end of the chain, after any faster devices. Otherwise it will slow all of the devices that follow it to its own speed, rather than allowing them to run at theirs. Four normal USB ports are also provided to allow you to instantly run older devices, eliminating the need to daisy chain them for the most part.
On the down side for this device, the graphics card isn’t an improvement over the last but isn’t really worse either. The hard drive is still only running at 5400rpm, where as the server version runs at 7200rpm, but this is fast enough for the majority of users. There is also no optical drive built into the mini which obviously helps to allow it to be made as small as possible, but means that software installations need to be managed from an external drive instead.
The installed memory is a little on the small side as well at only 2GB, but this is more than reasonable for the price tag. Upgrading the memory was easy, thanks to Apple including an easy access hatch. Once opened it is simply a case of plugging in a new memory stick, and this model will support an impressive amount of memory in total-up to 8GB.
The price tag for this device remains low just like on the previous models of the Mac Mini, bringing a lot of Apple computer home for not that much. It’s an all round very impressive personal computer with no serious weaknesses, but a lot of strengths.