At a Glance
- Significantly improved graphics performance compared to older models
- FireWire 800
- Dual video outputs with support for extended Desktop mode and 30-inch displays
- Tiny size
- Five USB ports
- Difficult to upgrade
- $200 premium over $599 model doesn’t get you many improvements
- Slow hard drive
The first Mac mini upgrade since 2007 replaces the integrated Intel graphics with an Nvidia GeForce 9400M card. Graphics still share memory with the system RAM, but there’s more to share and its the faster DDR3 SDRAM. The new system features more USB 2.0 ports, but ditches FireWire 400 for a single FW 800 port. This system ships with a larger hard drive and more RAM–but also a $799 price tag.
With slightly better CPU performance, considerably improved video capabilities, increased expandability, and better wireless technology, the Mac mini is now truly capable of handling the iLife suite. More than ever, it’s an appealing computer for those who already have a display, keyboard, and mouse, or those looking to build a Mac system on the smallest budget. However, unless you need the extra storage, it’s hard to justify the $200 premium for this model over the $599 mini.