Apple Mac Mini Core 2 Duo

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Apple Mac Mini Core 2 Duo
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Intel Core 2 Duo processor, size and price, it has a DVD burner

Cons

  • The Mac mini operates at the slower speed and shorter range of the 802.11g when compared to the iMac and MacBooks, it doesn't come with a mouse, keyboard and monitor

Bottom Line

The latest Mac mini models have made some impressive gains in terms of performance, without gaining bulk or higher price tags. Still a great bargain, especially for those who already own a mouse, keyboard and display, the Mac mini's size and price allow it to fit into spaces and budgets that other Macs cannot. With its faster performance and DVD-burning capabilities, the 2GHz Mac mini is worth it, but if DVD burning isn't something you need, the 1.83GHz Mac mini still gives a lot of bang for the buck. If space is not an issue and you don't have a spare keyboard, mouse, and display hanging around, you may be better off with an iMac, whose superior graphics and hard disk performance may be worth the extra money.

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The Mac mini also includes an Apple Remote for use with Apple's Front Row program, as well as built-in Bluetooth and 802.11g networking. Curiously, the MacBooks, MacBook Pros and iMacs all ship with the faster, and wider-range, 802.11n capability. And although the 802.11n standard is backward compatible with g devices, the Mac mini will still operate at the slower speeds and shorter range of the 802.11g standard.

Internally, the Mac mini mixes the new with the old. The biggest change is the inclusion of Intel's Core 2 Duo processors. Running at clock speeds of either 1.83GHz or 2GHz, this second generation of Intel's Core Duo processor supports twice the amount of L2 cache and RAM, although only the higher-end 2GHz model includes the maximum 4MB of cache memory.

The 1.83GHz Mac mini ships with 2MB of L2 cache, the same amount found in the last generation mini. Both models now ship with 1GB of RAM, upgradeable to 2GB. And that's good news, because both models still use Intel's GMA 950 integrated graphics processor, which shares 64MB of the system's main memory, instead of the dedicated video RAM found in most Macs. The Mac minis have two memory slots, which ship filled with two 512MB DDR2-667MHz SO-DIMMs. If you want the full 2GB of RAM, Apple will install two 1GB modules for an additional cost. You can find the RAM cheaper through a third-party online store, but be forewarned that installing the RAM requires the use of a putty knife and a little bit of nerve.

The Core 2 Duo chipset also contains a 128-bit SSE3 vector engine; this can process twice the amount of data per cycle than the Core Duo processor, which can handle only 64 bits at a time. The new Mac minis offer 5400rpm hard drives with a higher capacity than those in the last batch, too, with an 80GB drive in the 1.83GHz Mac mini and a 120GB drive in the 2GHz model; both can also be upgraded to 160GB. The low-end Mac mini ships with a CD-burning and DVD-reading optical Combo drive. The high-end Mac mini has a DVD-burning SuperDrive that can burn dual-layer DVDs at eight-speed.

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