Apple Mac Mini 2011

Style over substance?

Optic nerve

Apple's view is "these days, you don’t need one" and the blurb goes on to say “...removing the optical drive gave us room to do one more thing with Mac mini: lower its price.” Considering the previous models housed chips that were a couple of generations old, they were just too darned expensive anyway. So I guess this is one way of maintaining the margins.

Apple Mac Mini Core i5

According to Apple you don't need an optical drive

Incidentally, you’ll need an optical drive if you want to use Apple’s own Boot Camp software to run Windows on the Mac Mini, as Boot Camp requires you to download various Windows drivers and burn them onto DVD. It’s safe to say that I’m not yet convinced of the imminent obsolescence of the DVD burner.

Thankfully, this year’s models do still include an HDMI interface for your TV, along with an HDMI-to-DVI adaptor in the box, so that you can hook it up to a conventional monitor. They also gain Apple’s new Thunderbolt interface, although given the paucity of compatible gear out there, in the short term at least, I doubt that’ll have much appeal for the home users that are the Mac Mini’s primary audience

Verdict

I’ve always liked the compact design of the Mac Mini – which is still streets ahead of most of its PC rivals – and the much stronger performance of this year’s i5 models is a welcome improvement. However, cost-cutting decisions such as the removal of the optical drive mean that the Mac Mini still seems overpriced for what is, after all, meant to be a low-cost ‘affordable’ Mac. That said, if an optical drive and gaming graphics performance are not your concerns, then the entry-level model looks a much better deal. ®

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Apple Mac Mini Core i5

Apple Mac Mini 2011

Compact desktop Mac with long-awaited CPU upgrades.
Price: £529 (2.3GHz), £699 (2.5GHz + AMD GPU) RRP