Mac mini 2.0GHz: 320GB 2009 edition review

When we reviewed the previous Mac mini iteration, we lamented the 11 months it took Apple to release that update - a period so lengthy that many people wondered if Apple would discontinue the line. So you can imagine the speculation that’s occurred in the 19 months since.

Apple finally gave the company’s least-expensive computer another refresh, and that update brought the Mac mini line its most significant upgrades yet.

Not-so-mini improvements

On the outside, the newest Mac mini models look all but identical to their predecessors, using the exact same aluminum-and-white, 6.5- by 6.5- by 2-inch enclosure. As with previous minis, the computer’s tiny shipping container hints at the lack of included peripherals: you provide the keyboard, mouse, and display.

The only items in the box other than the Mac mini itself are the power adapter and cable, a mini-DVI-to-DVI video adapter, software DVDs (for Mac OS X and iLife ‘09), and documentation. Missing this time around is an Apple Remote, now a £15 option.

Apple's Mac mini has a 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo processor, and is available with a 120GB hard drive and 1GB of RAM, or with a 320GB hard drive and 2GB of RAM.

But a quick glance at the back of the new Mac mini makes it clear this is an updated machine. Instead of the FireWire 400 and four USB ports of the 2007 mini, the new model sports five USB 2.0 ports and replaces the FireWire 400 port with a faster FireWire 800 connection. (FireWire 800 is backwards compatible with FireWire 400 peripherals).

Also gone is the previous model’s DVI video port, replaced by two video ports: a mini-DVI port (identical to the one found on older iMacs and Mac laptops) that uses an included adapter to connect to standard DVI displays, and a Mini DisplayPort connector like those found on the current MacBooks.

The latter port works directly with Mini DisplayPort-equipped displays such as Apple’s current 24-inch LED Cinema Display; it also works with DVI displays via Apple’s £20 Mini Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter. Both video outputs include High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP), allowing you to output HDCP-protected content to other HDCP-enabled devices.

NEXT: Mac mini outputs


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