As a company, most of the attention for Apple’s devices falls toward two markets: mobile and laptops. These obviously remain popular for the manufacturer. Even though Apple’s Mac mini comparatively operates under the radar, the small form factor PC has lasted as long as it has for good reason. With the latest revision of the mini’s specifications and design, the versatile multimedia computer earns the Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award.
Despite its diminutive size, the OS X-powered Mac mini is designed to be comparable to a standard desktop or laptop computer. Internally, it has the specifications to match these performance goals.
The base configuration of the mini is built with a 1.4GHz Intel Core i5-4260U processor and Intel integrated graphics card. While the computer’s integrated graphics card covers little besides video streaming and barebones gaming, the fast Intel Core processor has excellent processing overhead. For enthusiast users, it competently handles tasks like media streaming and transcoding without significant issues. Alternative mini configurations provide additional processing overhead with Intel models up to the 3.0GHz Intel Core i7-4578U.
In practice, the Mac mini has few performance bottlenecks for multimedia applications. While it’s not explicitly intended for multimedia PC usage, the Macs at each pricing tier are effective Swiss Army knives, sporting a solid foundation of components capable of handling tasks including basic web browsing, video streaming and active media server usage.
With their desktop- and laptop-caliber specifications, the minis also excel in other areas. The stock mini comes with a 500GB hard-disk drive and 4GB of memory. Each provides enough overhead for multimedia storage and allows the operating system to run smoothly. The case’s locked down, upgrade-unfriendly design is a minor inconvenience but additional memory and hard drive storage can be added during the checkout configuration process. A rear SDXC card slot lets you supplement the mini’s existing storage and easily pull files like photos from a camera to display onscreen.
Keeping in line with its standard computer roots, the mini doesn’t necessarily have a specific multimedia computer connectivity slate, but it capably covers the needed basics. Available ports include multiple USB ports, an HDMI output and a standard 1/8-inch audio output port on its backside.
Memory & Storage
In a nice added touch, the front of the Mac includes an IR receiver for the optional Apple remote, which can be added during the checkout process. This works alongside standard Bluetooth support for peripherals like wireless devices. Both help the mini smoothly integrate itself into a home theater environment ??? OS X doesn’t necessarily have a TV-native friendly interface, so you have to rely on wireless devices to control the Mac on the TV from your couch or seating area.
Physically, the mini benefits from an impressively compact design. With its dimensions of 7.7 x 7.7 x 1.4 inches and weight of 2.6 pounds, the Mac is built in line with comparable small form factor PCs but still manages to offer desktop-level specifications. It can also easily fit in to a shelf or cabinet in a home theater shelving unit with minimal hassle.
By default, Apple offers a one-year warranty on the Mac mini. The manufacturer also offers support through a handful of channels, including live chat, phone and an online troubleshooting section. In their annual hands-on customer service evaluations, our colleagues at Laptop Mag gave Apple strong marks thanks to strengths like the company’s short call times and robust user support community.
Apple’s Mac mini excels because of its emphasis on fundamentals. Thanks to its equally stellar specifications and design, the mini possesses a performance ceiling that makes it a valuable multitasker for multimedia content.
Help & Support