Overview of the Features in Apple’s Mac Mini - dummies

Overview of the Features in Apple’s Mac Mini

By Arnold Reinhold

The mini is Apple’s least-expensive Macintosh model. Aimed in part at PC users who are considering switching to a Mac, it doesn’t come with a keyboard, mouse, or video display. It can work with almost any video monitor. You can also use your USB keyboard and mouse, if you like, or order new ones from Apple.

The mini’s small size (7.7 inches square by 1.4 inches high) and unobtrusive package fit almost anywhere and make it ideal for living-room home entertainment centers. It makes almost no noise and uses very little power when it’s idle. Apple has adopted the mini’s quiet styling for other products, including the AirPort Extreme base station and Apple TV.

[Credit: Photo courtesy of Apple, Inc.]
Credit: Photo courtesy of Apple, Inc.

The mini has an Intel Core 2 Duo processor with up to 8GB of memory and an integrated graphics processor with the ability to drive two high-resolution displays. The low-price version has a 500GB hard drive. You can special-order one with a 256GB solid-state drive or a 256GB solid-state drive and a 750GB hard drive. Both models include AirPort Wi-Fi networking, Bluetooth, and an SD Card slot.

The mini’s power button and all cable connections are on the back. These connections include:

[Credit: Photo courtesy of Apple, Inc.]
Credit: Photo courtesy of Apple, Inc.
  • Power connector for cable from separate power adapter

  • Gigabit Ethernet

  • FireWire 800 Mbps port

  • HDMI external video

  • Mini DisplayPort external video

  • Four USB 2.0 ports

  • Combined optical digital audio input/audio line in — 3.5mm minijack

  • Combined optical digital audio output/headphone out — 3.5mm minijack

  • Kensington cable lock slot for physical security

The lowest-priced mini comes with 2GB of RAM. You’ll probably want more. You can order it with more memory, have a computer store add memory for you, or install more memory yourself — there’s a pop-up cover on the bottom with the memory modules readily accessible.

Apple also offers the mini configured as a computer server, with the internal CD-DVD drive replaced by a second hard drive. The mini server is aimed more at small offices than at the large server farms that run the Internet. It includes a license for Mac OS X Server software, with no limit on the number of clients. Several companies, including Macessity and Sonnet, offer rack mount kits for the mini.