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Lunch » Tags » Computer & Accessories » Reviews » Apple Mac mini MC238LL/A Desktop » User review

An incredible little machine

  • Mar 8, 2010
  • by
Rating:
+5
I've been eyeing this low-end Mac computer for a while, and about a month ago I finally took the plunge and bought it. And in the subsequent time that I've owned it, I could not have been happier with my decision.

I am primarily a Windows user, but have had on and off access to Macs over the years, mostly at work. I am also a big fan of all Apple products, but did not think that I could justify the high price of their computers when I could obtain a supposedly "similar" Windows system for almost half the price. Well, after years of suffering through many, many Windows annoyances that were seriously impeding my attempts to get any work done I decided to finally give Mac a full chance. As I mentioned earlier, so far I have been duly impressed.

The specs for Mac mini are comparable to a low-end MacBook computer. Given that you still need to bring your own keyboard, mouse and monitor, it is unlikely that you will be saving more than $100 - $200 for the whole system. This is still nothing to sneeze at, but if portability is something that you would need then buying a MacBook may be a better overall deal.

Over the years I've accumulated more computer keyboards and mouses than I know what to do with. I tried connecting this Mac Mini to a Dell USB mouse and keyboard, Logitech wireless mouse, and two different Microsoft wireless desktops. Each time I was able to connect and install those devices without a single hitch, and it only took a few seconds for those devices to be recognized and for them to start working properly. In fact, the Microsoft wireless desktops paired up faster with this Mac than they did with my Windows machines.

I also had an old LCD monitor lying around, so I did not need to invest into a new monitor. Be warned though: most older monitors have a VGA input, while Mac Mini has only MiniDisplay and DVI connector cables. In order to attach this computer to a VGA monitor you'll have to separately purchase a Apple Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter MB572Z/A. As with most Apple cables and adapters, this one is somewhat expensive - it costs about $30. In my estimate this is about three times as much as such a cable is really worth, but unfortunately you don't seem to have much choice if you want to connect this computer to a VGA monitor. I really think that Apple should have made this cable a standard addition to the Mac Mini. After all, if you are going to pay a high price of Apple's own monitors for instance, you might as well buy an iMac.

One of the things that impress me the most with Mac Mini is the incredibly short boot up time. Things have gotten so ridiculous with my three year old Windows Vista laptop that my morning routine would consist of me turning it on, going to have breakfast, and then coming back to it to finally use it. The first time I had a completely "clean" boot up of my Mac Mini (i.e. without having to go thorough all the first-time use setup procedures) I was so shocked with how quickly it happened that I literally thought that it was more or less instantaneous. The next time I actually clocked it, and I found out that the complete boot up doesn't take more than forty seconds. This is incredible. I find myself leaving my Windows computer turned on much more than I actually need to use it, because having to go through the whole boot up process (even from the hibernation mode) takes so long that my productivity necessarily suffers. Needless to say, that wastes too much energy. I can finally save some money on my electricity bills by shutting down my computer when I am not using it. This very short boot-up time is especially impressive considering that Mac Mini still uses a regular mechanical hard drive. I shudder to think how fast it would boot if it had a solid-state hard drive.

This machine is incredibly quiet. There is no noticeable fan cooling noise whatsoever. The most noise it ever produces is when a CD or DVD is being inserted or ejected. Other than that it just sits quietly on your desk.

The size of this machine is also incredible. It really is very, very small and the Mini moniker is well deserved. Even on an incredibly cluttered working desk like mine, it still finds enough room to sit.

Home networking was also a breeze to set up with this computer. Most of the computers that I have on my network are Windows machines, but Mac Mini had no trouble detecting them or being detected by them. I was particularly pleased that connecting to my Acer Aspire AH340-UA230N Home Server. In fact, other than not having the access to the administrator console on WHS (which, granted, is a big thing) Mac seemed to be interconnecting with it much smoother than Windows computers. Redmond should probably take a not of this.

Working with various software packages has been extremely smooth as well. This computer seems to have enough power to handle even larger Photoshop or movie editing projects without any major noticeable slow-downs. For most casual users I think the specs of this system ought to be more than adequate.

As many reviewers have pointed out, this Mac Mini would make a great addition to the home entertainment center. Currently I use a cheap Windows Vista PC for that purpose, but that entails dealing with all the bugs and inconveniences of Windows. When you are just trying to watch a movie or listen to some music, you don't want to be dealing with system messages and virus protection issues, and you certainly don't want to have to deal with the rebooting of your computer. Furthermore, Mac Mini is much more versatile that Apple's own Mac TV, and it is not likely that it will become obsolete any time soon, so you'll be able to access all of your media collection for the foreseeable future. The only thing, however, is that I wish Mac Mini had more robust support for various video and audio output cables. An HDMI support in particular would be really nice. Also, Apple still does not support Blue Ray, which may be an issue if you want your Mac to be all-in-one media device.

So whether you want a computer that will do all of your usual everyday tasks, or an addition to your entertainment center, this Mac Mini would certainly be the right computing solution for almost all of those needs. I could not recommend it strongly enough.

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Bojan Tunguz ()
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I am a benevolent rascal. I love lounging in bed on a Sunday morning. Rainy days make me melancholy, but in a good kind of way. I am an incorrigible chocoholic. I hate Mondays, but I get over it by Wednesday. … more
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Wiki

Upgraded with a faster 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, Apple's innovative Mac mini desktop is a great choice for home computing tasks and creating a digital media hub. It fits everything that makes a Mac a Mac inside an elegant 2-inch-tall, 6.5-inch square--just add your own keyboard, mouse, and display. The Mac mini also includes excellent video processing power from the integrated NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics chip, an ultra-fast FireWire 800 port, and dual video outputs--a Mini DisplayPort and a Mini-DVI port.



Inside its 2-inch-tall, 6.5-inch-square anodized aluminum enclosure, the Mac mini houses the fast Intel Core 2 Duo processor. Officially, Mac mini is a desktop computer. But because it can go places no other desktop can go, it's been used everywhere from boats to server rooms, as the heart of an entertainment center--and even to power robots. Small, elegant, and unassuming, it has a sleek, anodized aluminum case and clean, white surface.

Continuing Apple's commitment to the environment, the Mac mini exceeds current Energy Star 5.0 requirements by consuming less than 14 watts when idle 45 percent less power than the previous generation. It's also made from highly recyclable aluminum, uses PVC-free internal components and cables, contains no brominated flame retardants, and even features smaller packaging.

It comes pre-loaded with Apple's Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard operating system--an operating system custom-designed for the advanced technology inside--and it ...

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