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The Mac mini has been a favorite of the minimalist crowd since its inception. For some, the idea of a complete desktop system squeezed into a case no bigger than an external DVD drive makes perfect sense, especially when office or desk space is at a premium. Today Apple announced new Mac minis that are sleeker, faster and more versatile than ever before. You can even get a Mac mini server.
It’s hard to imagine making the Mac mini case any smaller than it already was, but Apple somehow did it. The Mac mini’s newly designed aluminum unibody enclosure measures just 7.7 inches square by 1.4 inches high. And even though the case is smaller than the older one, Apple managed to fit the power supply electronics inside the case, eliminating the need for an external power adapter. It’s easier to add more memory now, too, as a removable panel on the bottom of the case provides access to the memory modules.
An integrated NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics processor provides the new Mac mini with up to twice the graphics performance of older models. The system is also equipped with one HDMI port and one Mini DisplayPort. The HDMI port allows for quick and easy connection to a high-definition TV set, and an HDMI to DVI video adapter is included with the system. An SD card slot is also part of the package, although it’s accessed from the back of the unit, which has the potential to be awkward.
The new Mac mini is no slouch when it comes to processing power. The system is built around a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 2GB of memory, expandable up to 8GB. You also get a 320GB, 5400rpm SATA hard drive and a slot-load 8X SuperDrive DVD burner. Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, four USB 2.0 ports, and one FireWire 800 port round out the package. Even with all that technical goodness stuffed in, the new Mac mini consumes 25 percent less power than its predecessor.
The Mac mini comes with the OS X Snow Leopard operating system, along with iLife, a suite of applications that help you manage photos, make movies and create and play music. The iLife suite includes iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand. The new Mac mini costs $699.
You can do even more with the Mac mini if you get it loaded with Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server. In this case, the system comes with more powerful hardware, including a 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 4GB of memory, expandable to 8GB.
You don’t have to look at the Mac mini Server too carefully to notice that it doesn’t have an optical drive. Snow Leopard Server comes preinstalled, but you’ll have to use an external DVD drive should you need one down the road. Instead of an optical drive, the Mac mini server features two 500GB 7200 rpm hard drives. All other hardware specifications are the same as the base model Mac mini.
With the Mac mini server, there are no per-user licensing fees, so you can add an unlimited number of Mac and PC users. That lets you expand your business with no further investments in the server. The server is ideal for use in retail environments, medical offices, law firms, schools, graphic design studios and so on. It supports e-mail and file sharing on Macs, PCs, iPhones and iPads. The Mac mini with Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server costs $999.