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Apple Mac Mini (Early 2009)

Is this modest upgrade enough to save the Mini?

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. As we’ve seen from its use in the new MacBook, it provides much better 3D performance than the GMA950. The improved graphics are welcome, but given that the 9400M grabs 128MB of system memory, this model really should have 2GB of Ram as standard – rather than as a £40 upgrade option.

Apple Mac Mini

Three generations of Mac Mini
Photo courtesy iFixit.com

There’s also a second model – which is the one we tested – that costs £649. The processor rather disappointingly stays at 2.0GHz, but the hard disk is increased to 320GB and the Ram to 2GB, which also allows the 9400M to use 256MB of system memory for graphics processing.

There’s obviously no major change in processor performance, although our benchmarking tests do show that the DDR 3 memory produces a substantial improvement in memory performance. However, the 9400M graphics processor is the stand-out feature here, boosting the Mini’s performance when running Doom 3 to 63f/s, compared to the mere 9f/s its predecessor could manage.

Apple Mac Mini

Accessing the innards
Photo courtesy iFixit.com

Apple also allows you to upgrade the processor to 2.26GHz for an extra £120, which would give you a pretty nice little desktop machine.

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