Its now-famous square aluminium unibody sets a standard in build quality and design which is still many strides ahead of all the competition. It’s delightfully minimal, with all connecting ports tucked away around the back. Notable among these are four USB 3.0 ports – which Apple just couldn’t bring itself to colour blue – as well as HDMI and Thunderbolt connections. If you’re hooking the Mac mini up to a display without speakers, fear not, for there’s a basic mono speaker built into the PC itself. See all Mac reviews.
See Macworld UK Apple Mac mini (Late 2012) review without Fusion drive
Our review model was packed with options, including the fastest processor of the group, in the form of the quad-core Intel Core i7-3270QM. Subtract £80 and you can configure it with its standard 2.3GHz quad-core Core i7. Performance-wise, the Mac mini is pretty hard to beat. See also Group test: what's the best PC for under £1,000?
It’s PCMark 7 score of 3286 points was beaten only by Chillblast’s Fusion NUC. However it’s important to note here that the latter is using purely solid-state storage – and there's only 128GB of that included. The Mac mini’s Fusion Drive provides over 1TB of storage space, and when functioning in its native OS X operating system, is able to take advantage of a 128GB SSD to boost performances still further.
Gaming performance is also superior to the Chillblast PC – and nearly all other comers – thanks to its considerably faster integrated processor.
This Mac mini is one of the more power-hungry of the group, with a power draw of 12.5W when doing nothing at the Windows 8 desktop. This increased to 76W under load – well over double that of any other mini PC we’ve tested. This is the price you pay for stuffing such a powerful processor and two drives into a tiny case.
Although the Mac mini features a cooling fan it is, for the most part, blissfully quiet in operation. However, when we hit it with some really hard sums there was plenty of loud whooshing in evidence as the fan worked to keep the temperature down below 100 degrees celsius.