The Apple Mac mini, launched on Monday, is aimed at homes and small businesses. It adds an HDMI digital media port for TV use at home, and there's a 1TB version with Snow Leopard Server for organisations. Both models now come in a smart aluminium unibody, and an optical drive slot sits at the front for non-server versions, which start at £649 including VAT. The server version — available from £929 including VAT — drops the optical drive to make room for two 500GB hard disks. As the power supply is now internal, the retail packaging is a lot smaller.
You get a power lead and an HDMI-to-DVI adapter in the box, and that's all. The Mac mini remains compatible with the Apple remote control, but this is now extra. The brushed aluminium finish elicited strong positive responses from Apple enthusiasts in the office: it will also help to cool the unit — especially useful given the internal power supply.
The Mac mini's power and HDMI-to-DVI cables in place.
From the left: power switch, mains input, Gigabit Ethernet port, 800Mbps FireWire, HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, four USB 2 sockets, audio in/out and an SDXC slot capable of supporting up to 64GB cards. The slot along the bottom is for cooling.
Aside from the case itself, the biggest change to the outside of the new Mac mini is a large round cover that can be removed by hand from the base. Although it has finger holes and a couple of alignment guides, it's a little fiddly to remove and replace — but that's an operation you'll perform at most a couple of times during the unit's lifetime, so this matters little.
With the base cover removed, its purpose is revealed: user-upgradeable DDR3 memory modules. You get 2GB, and up to 8GB can be fitted. The black circle on the grid to the top is the wireless antenna, which relies on the plastic base to avoid being shielded by the metal case. Beneath that is the fan responsible for removing the heat from the 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, the NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics processor and the internal power supply. The whole lot takes less than ten watts in idle mode: we'll report back on how much it takes when running at full tilt.