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2011 Mac Mini review, performance great – SSD price ridiculous

Yesterday, we did our part in reviewing the 2011 MacBook Air, and were happy with it’s overall performance. It shined above the previous MacBook Air models, but now we are turning our attention to the 2011 Mac Mini, and in general, it is not as great as it could have been. Read on to find out why.

In terms of design it’s cosmetics are pretty much the same as the previous model. And although the Mac Mini is a rather curious piece of machinery, it still falls short of what is to be expected. For one, you still have to get yourself a mouse, keyboard and a monitor to even make it functional.

Certain qualms aside, the Mac Mini is still beautiful to look at. It’s sure to catch the eye of any unsuspecting techno-geek, who will ask the question “exactly, what is it?” When you tell them it’s a mini PC, they will wonder exactly how everything can be so compacted into such a small 7.7 x 7.7 x 1.4″ box.

Being so small, it is also hard to fathom how they managed to fit an Ethernet, FireWire 800, a full-sized HDMI, Thunderbolt, SDXC, audio input and headphone port into the back. Then on top of that we get four USB 2.0 sockets, but why they are not USB 3.0, we just do not know. If you plan on using a monitor which only has a DVI input don’t worry Apple decided to include a HDMI-to-DVI adapter, if money is no concern for you check out the 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt LED display t.

On opening the bottom lid, you can see some of the components that the Mac Mini houses. The only thing to note is the two SODIMM 1GB memory modules, which even the most un-savvy PC fiddler could replace, preferably with bigger ones.

Another hindrance here is that Apple are still keeping the HDD away from prying eyes and hands, which means that you are stuck with a rather sluggish 500GB (5,400RPM) hard drive. After some vigorous testing by Engadget, they say that boot times were rather snappy (45 secs), and other mundane applications such as Office were pretty quick. It’s when some of the heavier applications such as Photoshop, Word, Firefox, Chrome, TweetDeck and Lightroom were open for a few hours that they really noticed heavy slowdowns in performance. Oh, and did we mention the lack of an optical drive too?

Yeah, it’s getting rather silly now right? Apple surely are pointing this towards the media market, but with no optical drive and no choice to even have a built-to-order Blu-Ray installed, you could almost say it is laughable. Ok, we can pay another $600 on top of the $599 you pay for the Mini itself just to replace the sluggish HDD with a 256GB SSD, but this still does not allow you to play audio CD’s, DVD’s, Blu-Ray, or install any media-bound software, is this a mistake? We think so…

Engadget have the full-review that you can take a look at, but be aware that they only marked it as a 6/10, citing good points as it’s gorgeous design, the inclusion of the Thuderbolt port, and it’s snappy performance, but the bad is pretty much explained above.

Have you had a chance to play with this years Mac Mini? Are the faults listed here just as bad as we think they are, or are you happy with what Apple have done with the 2011 release?

*Identifying Monetised Links - outgoing links that we monetise are marked with an '*' symbol, or (AD). Also, prices and information correct at publish time and date.

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