In all instances but one, the unit remained relatively cool to the touch and surprisingly quiet. The only time we ever heard a peep from it was when we added Steam and Blizzard game downloads to the active processes load. Even then, the sound of the whirring fan barely registered above a whisper. On the gaming front, it should go without saying that Macs aren't necessarily the go-to platform for the latest and greatest studio efforts. Indeed, we've noticed incompatibility with most newer titles thanks to Apple's choice of graphics chip, but for the sake of this review we fired up Diablo III to get a sense of how the Intel HD GPU fares.
With every quality option set to high Texture, Physics, Shadow, etc. Note, we didn't have the time to engage clusters of baddies about 50 to 60 onscreen at a time to truly tap out the system, but with more than a dozen characters onscreen, we observed a frame rate that peaked around 42 fps. Benchmark testing backed up our anecdotal assessment: As you can see in the table above, it yielded average overall Xbench scores of , with an average CPU score of and an average thread score of 1, In Geekbench, meanwhile, it delivered a result of 10, Don't call it an HTPC.
Not because we disagree with that moniker, but because Apple vehemently denies its applicability here. And, because it still lacks an optical drive and you know how we feel about that. Yet, regardless of what Apple says, we can't shake the feeling that this little box will inevitably make its way into users' living rooms at some point in its life cycle -- it was born this way, people. In fact, this editor couldn't resist the urge to take the mini chez lui and hook it up to a palm-sized 3M projector. Using the easily accessible HDMI port, we had no trouble connecting the device to the projector, and mirroring the contents of our external Thunderbolt display.
Review: New Mac mini offers an attractive bang for the buck
We did, however, encounter Bluetooth audio sync issues with our Jambox, forcing us to depend on the mini's able, but far-from-powerful internal speaker. Of course, you can always go the more traditional route and attach it to your HDTV, but if you're aching to make use of that vast DVD library sorry, Blu-ray owners , then prepare to spring for a SuperDrive.
At that point, though, you may as well just enter the MacBook fray. Apple's quite pleased with the mini's newest feature, the FusionDrive, even though hybrid storage solutions have been in use for quite some time now. So, what is it exactly? It works like this: But as time progresses and your storage begins to spill past the SSD's GB limit, the FusionDrive kicks in, analyzing user-level actions based on algorithms to determine commonly used files and then allocating them accordingly.
Say, for example, you're a photo editor who makes heavy use of Aperture, but rarely bothers with iPhoto. Well, over time, the system will acknowledge this usage pattern and relegate iPhoto to the hard disk's slower volume, so Aperture will continue to launch and run quickly from flash. What's more, all of this is done behind-the-scenes when the mini is idle, so users won't notice any changes taking place.
In fact, there's no real way to monitor or edit how the system arranges the storage -- it's made to appear as one unified volume. It's fair to say the Mac mini occupies a special place on the consumer spectrum. Consider it a 3 on our appropriated Kinsey scale of tech-to-consumer affiliations.
Apple's Mac mini now inexcusably getting trounced by cheap Intel hardware
It's the perfect bridge to all things Apple. Designed, initially, to help make Windows users feel at home within the Mac ecosystem, the mini was offered up as an elegant solution -- a compact desktop that would play nice with people's existing peripherals. But as time wore on, this "appliance Mac" as one rep put it took on other uses in enterprise and among power users. Eventually, it wormed its way into all manner of server-based applications: Whether you really need the added boost of the 1.
In fact, that latter option might be more than enough for most. So, where's the rub? Well, that's just it.
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If you fit the sort of user profile we've been describing, we aren't quite sure there is one. At the end of the day, the mini is destined to sit outside of Apple's public limelight like all the models that have come before it. It's the company's jack-of-all-trades, but a shining star for those in the know. All products recommended by Engadget were selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company, Verizon Media. If you buy something through one of our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. The Buyer's Guide. US Edition. Log in. Sign up. Show More Results.
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You can also get a decent, overclocked gaming PC for the same price as the Mac Mini. We've introduced a new test in this review, a version of our multimedia multitasking test MMT borrowed from our colleagues at CNET Australia that incorporates both iTunes and Handbrake. Eventually we will phase out the QuickTime version, and we've only been using the Handbrake version long enough to gather results for two of the systems in this review.
As you can see, though, the new Mac Mini does well in all of our benchmarks. It wins on the Apple app tests as I expected it would, but it also competes well enough with the Asus and the Velocity Micro systems, which is impressive given that the Mac Mini uses a laptop Core i7, and the other two are full-blown desktop CPUs, the Velocity Micro's overclocked. I don't want to speculate too much on the performance without the Fusion Drive.
Beyond its core components, the appeal of the Mac Mini also comes from its tidy array of ports on the rear panel.
Apple's Mac mini now inexcusably getting trounced by cheap Intel hardware
This is not unexpected given the third-gen Core chips' native support for USB 3. The Mac Mini's HDMI-out is no longer all that exotic, but that along with the discrete digital audio output continues to make this an enticing living-room PC. Final notes: The new Mac Mini has the same underside-accessible memory access as the previous models. Simply spin off the large plastic disc and you get access. Because it hosts the operating system, Fusion's impact extends across the Mac Mini's day-to-day functions.
It also dramatically speeds up on-system file transfers, and should improve file load times, depending on the application. I wish Apple also gave you manual control of the file locations. Apple critics will chime in now with the usual overcharging accusations. They have a point. On balance, Fusion doesn't dramatically improve the Mac Mini experience so much that that it breaks out of luxury feature territory for casual Mac users.
It would, however, make a useful upgrade for professionals or enthusiasts with serious data access demands.
Yes, it would lose some of its pep without the Fusion drive, but this is still the most competitively configured Mac Mini that Apple has ever sold. I will continue to press the company for one, because I'm eager to see its performance. Even without that data, I would recommend it on the strength of its strong core components and versatile connectivity options.
Benchmark testing conducted by Joseph Kaminski. Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Apple Mac Mini 2. New components under the hood make for a faster iMac. Looks run in the family now, but the edition of the Envy Curved All-in-One 34 has With 10 speakers and a terrific display, this all-in-one offers a lot to appeal to the With super-premium parts, this is both the fastest, and most expensive, VR-ready PC we've