Mac Mini Updated and Priced to Sell iMacs, that is

GearDiary Mac Mini Updated and Priced to Sell iMacs, that is
Image courtesy of GeekyGadgets

By now you have likely heard that Apple did a refresh on the Mac Mini, greatly overhauling the internal and external hardware and enhancing the overall specifications … and the price. The basics are as expected – more or less a copy of the 13″ Macbook Pro with more desktop-like set of connectors. The big new features include the addition of a HDMI port, upgrade of the graphics chip, and the sleek new look.

Here are some details:

Most notable is the new aluminum unibody enclosure, which stands just 1.4″ tall and features an easy-to-access memory panel. Other new features include an HDMI output, NVIDIA GeForce 320M on-board graphics, and Secure Digital card slot.

The base Apple Mac mini costs $699 and features an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz dual-core processor, 2GB RAM, 320GB hard drive, SuperDrive, AirPort Extreme (802.11a/n wireless), Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, Gigabit Ethernet, and OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

I loved the look and basic feature set, and since my 2008 15″ Macbook Pro is pretty much stationary these days I thought about grabbing one of these and passing along the MBP.

Then I started looking at the price! It felt like car shopping – I started out at $600 but by the time my configuration was done I had topped $2000!

OK, just for comparison sake I tried the same thing with a 13″ Macbook Pro and an iMac 27″. So let me break down how I compared:

Base 13″ Macbook Pro

  • 13.3″ screen
  • 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo
  • 4GB RAM
  • 320GB Hard Disk
  • Integrated nVidia 320 graphics with 256MB shared memory
  • Slot-loading 8x Superdrive
  • Integrated mouse and keyboard
  • No other options
  • Price: $1249

Base 21.5″ iMac

  • 21.5″ screen
  • 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo
  • 4GB RAM
  • 500GB Hard Disk
  • Integrated nVidia 9400M graphics with 256MB shared memory
  • Slot-loading 8x Superdrive
  • Included Magic Mouse and wireless keyboard
  • No other options
  • Price: $1199

Base 27″ iMac

  • 27″ screen
  • 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo
  • 4GB RAM
  • 1TB (1000GB) Hard Disk
  • ATI Radeon HD 4670 graphics with 256MB of GDDR3 memory
  • Slot-loading 8x Superdrive
  • Included Magic Mouse and wireless keyboard
  • No other options
  • Price: $1699

Base Mac Mini

  • No screen *
  • 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo
  • 4GB RAM
  • 320GB Hard Disk
  • Integrated nVidia 320 graphics with 256MB shared memory
  • Slot-loading 8x Superdrive
  • Added Magic Mouse and wireless keyboard
  • No other options
  • Price: $937

* Adding the cheapest Apple monitor raises the price of the Mac Mini to almost $1850!

So for $150 less than a Mac mini with a 24″ monitor you can get a 27″ iMac with more storage, a more powerful processor and a MUCH better graphics solution. Perhaps the better comparison is with the 13″ Macbook Pro, since you are getting nearly the same computer, and could add a 3rd party 22″ widescreen monitor – even one with HDMI – for less than the $300 price difference. And if you already have Bluetooth peripherals then you save even more – removing them from the above configuration drops it to $799.

Still I have to ask – am I alone in thinking that the Mac Mini, the system Apple seems to be pushing as a budget system, is even more of a ’boutique PC’ than their other offerings? Was I misguided thinking there was a solid value proposition choosing the Mac Mini over a Macbook Pro?

What do you think? Do you have a Mac Mini or plan to get one? How do you feel the value compares to other Apple offerings?


About the Author

Michael Anderson
I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!