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Budget PCs Reviews
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Apple Mac mini (Mid 2010) review

£649 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Apple

Our Rating: We rate this 4.5 out of 5

Apple has given the case of its entry-level Mac the full unibody makeover, making the new Apple Mac mini (Mid 2010) the most significant update in the product's history. And revisions to its graphics card and a new HDMI port will make it even more attractive as the foundation of an efficient media-centre PC.

In the lab, this new nVidia GeForce 320M graphics procesor let the new Apple Mac mini (Mid 2010) play our FEAR game benchmark at 29fps (Maximum detail settings), over twice the framerate of last year’s model (14fps) in this graphics test.

Other running changes include a loss of one USB 2.0 port, down from five to four, and the addition of an SD Card slot. Also able to accept SDHC and SDXC cards (the latter curently available in sizes as large as 64GB), this slot is sited on the rear panel, in order not to upset the clean lines of the unit’s front face.

So up front is just a single thin aperture for the slot-load DVD±RW dual-layer optical drive, which additionally hides an IR sensor for use with the optional dinky-sized remote control.

Video connectivity has changed, HDMI replacing the mini-DVI port. An adaptor is included in the box to easily allow this port to be used with regular DVI cables. But that single switch to HDMI ought to be enough to overcome some people’s lingering inertia in considering the Mac mini as a drop-in media centre PC, now it can be so easily connected to a large flat-panel television. And don't forget that HDMI can also carry multichannel digital audio alongside high-definition video.

Apple Mac mini (Mid 2010)

Rear panel of the Apple Mac mini (Mid-2010). Note HDMI port [fourth from left], and SD Card slot to the right

We gave the new Apple Mac mini (Mid 2010) a full real-world speed test with WorldBench 6. It finished with a score of 93 points, just two points below the 95-point score of last year’s top model with 2.53GHz processor.

Note that for this 2010 generation of Mac mini, there is only one ‘standard’ configuration offered, although you can specify a faster processor as a build-to-order option direct from the online Apple Store. The 2.66GHz processor option does add £123 to the price though.

Not only is the mini a very quick and very compact computer even in standard trim, it’s also incredibly power efficient. In fact, it’s the most economical PC we’ve ever seen, consuming just seven watts (7W) in our tests when idle. This is an incredibly low power-consumption figure, underlining some clever industrial engineering in the Apple Mac mini (Mid 2010)'s design.

Following the last refresh from late last year, the Apple Mac mini (2010) is also available in a server edition, which sees the optical drive inside replaced with a second 500GB 2.5in hard disk. This model comes with Snow Leopard Server Edition pre-installed.

With two hard drives on tap, you could use one as boot drive and one for additional storage; or elect to set up the mini with a RAID 0 or RAID 1 array, for respectively increased performance and capacity, or for maximum data security.

NEXT PAGE: Original Macworld US first-look review >>

The PC Advisor Verdict >>

Read more PC Advisor reviews of Apple Mac computers

Apple Mac mini (Mid 2010) Expert Verdict »
Apple Mac Mini MC270B/A Scores 9.3 out of 10 based on 22 reviews
2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600
1066MHz FSB
3MB L2 cache
Mac OS X 10.6.4 Snow Leopard
320GB 5400rpm 2.5in SATA HDD
2GB (2x1GB) DDR3-1066 RAM
nVidia GeForce 320M graphics with 256MB shared system RAM
1 x HDMI, 1 x mini DisplayPort
slot-load 8x DVD±RW DL drive
gigabit ethernet
4 x USB 2.0
FireWire 800
SD/SDHC card slot
3.5mm audio input with Toslink S/PDIF
3.5mm audio output/headphones with Toslink S/PDIF
mono speaker
802.11a/b/g/n (2.4GHz and 5GHz)
Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
iLife ’09 (iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iWeb, GarageBand)
197 x 197 x 36mm
1.37kg
  • Build Quality: We give this item 10 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 6 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 9 of 10 overall

Only the price stands in the way of making this a no-brain recommendation for purchase. At £649, Apple has raised the budget Mac mini to a level where more justification is required for the expense. It doesn’t help that we’re being asked to pay conspicuously more than the $699 in the US. Even after VAT, that’s still around £535 State-side, meaning UK customers are being asked to pay over 20% more. Nevertheless, this remains the cheapest Mac you’ll find, and the condensation of performance components into a space-age case has wrought a step-up in quality and style for the already upmarket Mac mini. The UK price is inflated but there’s no escaping that Mac mini 2010 is a sublimely designed PC, quietly oozing style and with performance to spare.

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