back to article Apple Mac Mini (Early 2009)

Someone at Apple must have a soft spot for the Mac Mini. Despite its superb design, the Mini has always been a bit of an under-achiever, and rumours of its poor sales and imminent demise have been going around for a couple of years now. Yet, as the song says, “good times and bum times, I’ve seen them all, and I’m still here”. …


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  1. Stuart Gray

    Two monitors?

    Does that mean you can have different pictures on both, or is it just the same screen duplicated?

  2. Andy
    Thumb Up

    Great upgrade

    I've got a new MacBook – a mini in disguise, essentially – and it's a great piece of kit. The 9400M makes such a difference to all-round performance, especially because of its hardware-accelerated HD h.264 playback. This would be a fantastic media centre computer. Really don't understand why they ship the low end one with only 1GB RAM, either; it means the graphics card is crippled to 128MB instead of the full 256. Insanity.

    We Brits really are getting buggered when it comes to prices, though. Before our currency tanked, we could get a mini for £399 – quite acceptable. Then Apple did a few price adjustments when the exchange rate changed, and suddenly it's £499 and not looking so attractive.

  3. Simon Elliott
    Jobs Halo

    Turn a mini into an iMac

    Interestingly, this ViewSonic monitor has the same panel as the new iMacs:

    So a high end mini, Apple keyboard, mouse, this monitor and VAT will set you back £870.


  4. Alexis Vallance
    Thumb Down


    Great little machine, but £500 is simply too much.

    Not many of these wil be leaving the Apple stores.

  5. Giles Jones Gold badge


    The mini would make more sense if AppleTV was an option for it.

    So there would be a Mini with optional AppleTV as well as usual OSX and Apps.

    Plus just AppleTV standalone.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Definitely 'hmm....'

    I have a last-gen Mini at work for Java development and although it's a very nice little machine, the 1Gb of RAM really isn't enough (and I can't take a hatchet to it until the warranty expires, and I'm buggered if I'm paying Apple's memory prices) and the inability to easily attach a second monitor is a major pain in the arse, at least from my point of view as a developer.

    I've been considering getting a Mini for home use, mainly for use as a media centre-type thing but also because I miss having my own Mac having sold my G4 iBook a couple of years ago when I was made redundant.

    I'm undecided about this one: the ability to run dual DVI monitors, albeit hanging of little piddly adapters, is welcome, but I'm not sure whether the extra outlay is worth it. OTOH, if it'll do 1080p with the aid of a DVI->HDMI cable then I might just be sold and it can sit downstairs with the 360 and PS3 and do media-y things.

    "Stop" because I'm still thinking about it - we definitely need a 'meh' icon.

  7. Kenny Swan

    Damn it, Apple

    I'm really, really starting to go off Apple. First the new Shuffles, now this. It seems like they're trying to shaft customers and making little effort to hide it. The specs are going down and the prices are going up. I think with the worldwide economy the way it is, to make these moves at this time is bat-shit insane. Apple were doing so well. The prices seemed to be respectable and they were getting more mainstream exposure. Now they're trying to take advantage of that and offer overpriced shite again. Apart from the OS, what else do you get by paying this money? An Apple logo? If the OS is what matters, buy a PC for way less money with similar specs and shove OSx86 on there.

    I hope people vote with their wallets and force Apple into a rethink about their strategies, because I, for one, see this as the wrong direction.

  8. Gerard Allwein

    just for the record

    On Apple's site, you can configure the higher model to 4 GB internal.

  9. martinX
    Jobs Halo

    Is that really a graphics update?

    "The main change is the use of a new Nvidia GeForce 9400M integrated graphics processor to replace the feeble Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics used in previous models."

    The new mac mini shows an improvement in the OpenGL scores (~25%), but virtually none in Quartz rendering (~3%). I would have thought that the thrust behind Apple moving to an Nvidia graphics chip would have been to prepare the way for Snow Leopard's ultra-cool graphics that will look dazzling on the lowest hardware made in the 6 months leading up to its arrival.

    If that was the plan it has either failed or Apple will be improving its drivers fantastically sometime between now and Snow Leopard.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Media Centre,

    Was hoping for a blu ray drive, so it could sit in the lounge stream from my main collection of films and movies on the iMac, download HD films and shows and also let you watch blu ray discs to get the best possible hd experience

    oh well

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    > The only problem is that the price of the Mini is still steadily moving upwards, in exactly the same way as the prices of the latest MacBook and iMac models.

    Er, yes... strange that - isn't it? Have you heard of the global financial crisis?

    Clearly you didn't even bother to read the comments of your previous iMac review, where virtually every commenter pointed out the fact that the pound is very weak at the moment, which accounts for the upward direction of prices (in general).

    When the differences in local Sales Tax & VAT is taken into account UK prices are actually on a par, or less than US prices.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    £649 is a mad price, El Reg you have been quite restrained.

    I just paid £765 to Dell for a Dell Studio Core i7 920 PC with 8GB RAM, 2x RAID0 7200rpm hard disks, a 512MB ATI 4850 graphics card, DVD ROM and Blu Ray Player drives. It came with Vista Ultimate 64 bit installed, Bluetooth, a 19-1 media card reader, 802.11n WiFi, 2.1 speakers and no monitor.

    OK, the OS is not as good as on the Apple, the built in apps are rubbish ( Windows Movie Maker is no way near as good as iMovie, there is no Garage Band etc.). The Dell is noisier. It's not small and it uses 300W peak (150W idle).

    However, if you wanted to edit some very high res pictures or video, or run multiple applications concurrently the £125 difference is worth it. If only I could run Apple's OS on this machine - I'd be willing to pay £200 to Apple for that privilege (not that Apple have a Core i7 product).

  13. Matt

    love the macmini, wish apple loved it a little more!

    I've had a MacMini since the day it came out - I love this little machine and wish Apple would show it a little more love too... For a long, long time it was the only desktop box you could get in this kind of form factor that didn't just overheat - and I've always liked it; until recently there was just nothing else out there like it.

    Love the new one but agree that the top-end model is just far too expensive. Why oh why do Apple insist on charging such an outrageously high price for memory upgrades?

  14. Steve
    Thumb Up

    Very quiet!

    The one thing no one talks about when it comes to the Mini.. It's incredibly quiet!

    I tried the Shuttle PC's and even at one point having a PC in a cupboard, but the Mac Mini has won me over, it makes less noise than my laptop.

  15. Dan

    @Turn a mini into an iMac

    That's an interesting idea - 2.26Ghz Core 2 Duo, 4GB DDR3 and a 20" wide TFT for £900 - shame I need a laptop.

    I was on the verge of switching (damn I've so had enough of MS), but the white macbook is rather more expensive that the Windows equivalent. I will want to be able to run virtual machines, and I'm not sure the Macbook is up to that. Thoughts anyone?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo


    > I will want to be able to run virtual machines, and I'm not sure the Macbook is up to that.

    Of course it is. On my old 2.4ghz White MacBook from early 2008 more than happily runs virtual machines of Windows XP, Vista and Linux (at the same time if you want) using Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion.

    The newer MacBook are faster (despite the lower CPU speed).

  17. Matt

    @ Dan RE: Virtual Machines

    > I will want to be able to run virtual machines, and I'm not sure the Macbook is up to that. Thoughts anyone?

    Depends on what you want to do in the VM's I guess. I have a Mac mini Core Duo 1.66 GHz with 2 GB RAM, and that runs WinXP in Sun VirtualBox with no issues whatsoever. I only use it for Outlook, Excel, SAP, IE and (ahem) MS Hearts, but I run all of those in the VM with iTunes, Safari, Camino, Entourage, Adium, Illustrator and a few other things all running on the OS X host. It all runs as smooth as silk, so I'd guess any Macbook would be up to the task.

    Just max the RAM and it'll be sweet.

  18. Rachel Greenham

    Macbooks better value

    Dan, Simon, buy a MacBook. That's much better value for money right now. You can still plug in the same monitor/keyboard/mouse etc. you'd plug into a mini if you want to use it on a desk. Dan, I had the Core 2 Duo black MacBook until recently and ran VMWare Fusion and Windows on it with no trouble whatsoever. The current white MacBooks are a slightly higher spec still, so you'll be fine; though I think it's worth extending your budget to the Unibody MacBook anyway.

  19. Andy


    The new MacBooks are pretty great. Virtualisation is alright if you stuff it full of RAM – but generally, if you like OS X you'll find yourself making excuses not to boot up Windows.

    @martinX: simply put, yes. I don't know why these numbers aren't showing it – although if this machine only had 1GB of RAM, then the GPU is running in crippled-128MB-mode – but I moved from a GMA950 machine to a 9400M, and it feels like it's at least two generations newer. Running games, playing back video... it's just incomparable.

  20. Adam Starkey


    I use a Mac at work because I need to develop software for Windows, Linux, and OSX.

    As such my *last* gen white mac book is running XP and Mandrake as VMs under OSX. 2GB is obviously essential, as a base point. It also goes without saying that having both windows and linux running simultaneously under OSX is asking a bit much of a laptop, but aside from that, the machine is completely up to the job.

  21. Brian Whittle

    1 GB not enough

    Unless you only want to use your mac to browse the internet 1 GB is too low, the base should be 2GB same as Vista

  22. Roger Houghton

    Re. Two monitors?

    "Does that mean you can have different pictures on both, or is it just the same screen duplicated?"

    Different or the same - it'll do either.

  23. Scott Mckenzie


    As many have said above, all Macs will do it fine.. just stuff them full of RAM and they're great!!

  24. token
    Thumb Down

    i admit..

    I'm not an apple fan, I dislike most of their products, but I've always had a soft spot for the mac mini, not as an apple system, but as a really small and forward thinking PC. It's a shame they're suffocating one of the few products of theirs that I liked, but it makes it easier to hate them as a whole when they purposely sabotage their own products to try to push sales to their other products.

  25. John Savard Silver badge


    Since Apple did not make an effort to make the original Macintosh at all affordable, back when the Amiga and the Atari ST were competing with it, it's not surprising that people ended up flocking to PC clones instead, and saw Microsoft, with Windows 3.1, as the heroic champion of the ordinary person.

    Microsoft's image has taken a beating since then, but Apple isn't making much of an effort to pick up the slack. Otherwise, it would be possible to buy a Mac Mini with a Core 2 Quad processor in it, with a modest price difference not much above the price difference of the processors.

    It's a pity, really; the Mac has a visibility and an availability of third-party software that, while it's behind that of Windows, is still far ahead of that of Linux. They could win, if they wanted to play. Instead, Microsoft is being given the time to fix the slowness of Vista with Windows 7, another missed opportunity for Apple.

  26. Christian Berger

    Yes, but why Apple?

    I mean seriously what's the big selling point about Apple computers? It used to be the GUI, then the PowerPC then MacOSX, but now you can get usable Linux distributions which have virtually every kind of software availiable at a touch of a button. Additionally the build quality of Apple hardware had it's weak times with "Logic Board Failures" becomming a common phenomenon.

  27. wanye

    £100 too expensive

    i've paitently waited two months for this hardware refresh after getting my old 1.6c2d mini stolen in the hope i would get a 2ghz unit for the same price as the 1.8ghz. what do they go and do? up the price of the base model by a ton, so effectively, theyve scrapped the base model, stuck new video chips in the top end one, and then charged a load more for an extra 1gb of ram and a bigger hard disk (which *has* to be no more than £40 difference.

    so apple have lost a sale, theres no way i'm paying that much for a small pc that sits under my telly and only gets used for watching videos over ethernet and the odd bit of web browsing.

    instead i'm gonna try out either the popcorn hour or the WD media player which are cheaper, and spend the spare cash on a new netbook so i can browse t'internet whilst sat on the sofa.

    screw apple.

  28. Gordon

    mac mini old to new

    I got my mac mini 1.66ghz cpu, 512mb ram, 60gb hard disk, cdrw/dvd, 802.11g, july 2007 in august they brought out upgraded models, i was a little p*****d, so i upgraded my mac mini from 1.66ghz core duo to a 2.19ghz core 2 duo, and memory from 512mb to 2gb, the hard disk was upgraded from 60gb to 160gb, the cdrw/dvd drive was changed to a superdrive, my wi-fi upgraded to 802.11n , also got external storage os 250gb hard disk and 500gb time port. she runs like a dream but the graphics card is a little under power, the only fault i have with it. I have thought of selling the lot and getting an imac or another mac mini more up to date.

    I hoped the upgrade 2009 would be worth me buying an new mac, but i don't think so not at the price they are.

  29. Heff

    Cant help but think

    they have this ass-backwards, and should be pushing Mac Mini as a glorified typewriter and email checker box, perhaps with a mini-pro variant with a blu-ray drive, improved storage and graphics for the mediabox darlings.

    It wants to steal and convert PC users. the best way of doing this is to shunt hardware out that doesnt do everything a PC does, but do it damned cheap. a 300quid mini right now tempts the PC users in, and then they gradually tire of it not doing games, or complex high-graphics/ram jiggery-pokery, and upgrade to a 'real mac' because they love the interface; god only knows, apple doesnt compete with PC users on a hardware basis, so it prettymuch boils down to "love our tiny box and interface!!!", and the only way they are gonna do that is by selling people a Fkin mac to start with, and to do that, you're gonna need to go _cheap_.

    Honestly think they shouldnt be trying to make it better, just splitting it into electronic-typewriter version and mediabox version would draw the crowds. can you image a blu-ray version of this? I'd buy the fucking thing, I cant find a single bluray player that actually looks _nice_ that isnt made by Crazy swedes for 10 grand.

  30. Edward
    Thumb Up

    I got one

    OK, I admit I got one. My old digital audio G4 (with an upgraded CPU) just wasn't cutting it anymore. I needed a new home media server and this mini can both drive my 1080p HDTV and a monitor for productivity work. I was displeased that there had been no price cuts in the previous gen mini, and I was looking at Windows and Linux alternatives. However, when I looked at the costs of switching from a mac to something else (cost of new software for a windows system, time to properly configure a linux system), it seemed like the Mac mini was a better deal. I did spring for the upgrade to 2GB for the base system. Yeah, the memory is somewhat overpriced, but I figured it was worth it not to void the warranty. Is it the best possible system? No, but it is a versatile little computer that does a great job as a HDTV media server. In this function, I would not want a laptop. I ordered it the day the new models were announced and I've been using it for about 2 weeks and am very happy with it.

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