Apple Mac Mini (Early 2009)

Is this modest upgrade enough to save the Mini?


Review Someone at Apple must have a soft spot for the Mac Mini. Despite its superb design, the Mini has always been a bit of an under-achiever, and rumours of its poor sales and imminent demise have been going around for a couple of years now. Yet, as the song says, “good times and bum times, I’ve seen them all, and I’m still here”.

Apple Mac Mini

Apple's Mac Mini: never out of the iMac's shadow?

The good times followed its original launch in 2005. The Mini’s ultra-compact design makes most so-called 'small form-factor' PCs look like the Incredible Hulk, and is ideal for home users who don’t have much room to spare, or business users that just want a cheap machine for wordprocessing and spreadsheet work.

And with that original model starting at just £339 – albeit minus monitor, mouse and keyboard - it was far and away the cheapest Mac that Apple had ever come up with. It seemed ideally suited to its role as a tempting piece of bait for PC ‘switchers’ who were thinking about buying a Mac for the first time.

It also makes a darn fine media centre system. In fact, we currently have the last-generation Mini hooked up to a Samsung HD TV at home where it does sterling service as an all-in-one music system, DVD player and video recorder - with a little help from Elgato’s EyeTV tuner.

Yet the Mac Mini had an evil arch-nemesis – and, lo, its name was ‘iMac’. Apple doesn’t do ‘cheap’ – never has, never will. It would far rather get you to buy an expensive iMac than ten low-cost Minis, so to prevent the Mac Mini from cannibalising iMac sales it has quite deliberately neglected the poor little thing over the course of its four-year lifespan.

Apple Mac Mini

Makes for a rather nice media centre

The bum times arrived the following year, when Apple abandoned IBM’s PowerPC processors and made its own ‘switch’ to Intel’s processors. To prevent the Mini from treading on the iMac’s toes, Apple saddled the little machine with the underpowered Core Solo CPU – and, at the same time, began to nudge the price upwards to the point where the all-in-one iMac actually seemed like better value for money.

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Workers win vote to form first-ever US Apple Store union
    Results set to be ratified by labor board by end of the week

    Workers at an Apple Store in Towson, Maryland have voted to form a union, making them the first of the iGiant's retail staff to do so in the United States.

    Out of 110 eligible voters, 65 employees voted in support of unionization versus 33 who voted against it. The organizing committee, known as the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (CORE), has now filed to certify the results with America's National Labor Relations Board. Members joining this first-ever US Apple Store union will be represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).

    "I applaud the courage displayed by CORE members at the Apple store in Towson for achieving this historic victory," IAM's international president Robert Martinez Jr said in a statement on Saturday. "They made a huge sacrifice for thousands of Apple employees across the nation who had all eyes on this election."

    Continue reading
  • Apple’s M2 chip isn’t a slam dunk, but it does point to the future
    The chip’s GPU and neural engine could overshadow Apple’s concession on CPU performance

    Analysis For all the pomp and circumstance surrounding Apple's move to homegrown silicon for Macs, the tech giant has admitted that the new M2 chip isn't quite the slam dunk that its predecessor was when compared to the latest from Apple's former CPU supplier, Intel.

    During its WWDC 2022 keynote Monday, Apple focused its high-level sales pitch for the M2 on claims that the chip is much more power efficient than Intel's latest laptop CPUs. But while doing so, the iPhone maker admitted that Intel has it beat, at least for now, when it comes to CPU performance.

    Apple laid this out clearly during the presentation when Johny Srouji, Apple's senior vice president of hardware technologies, said the M2's eight-core CPU will provide 87 percent of the peak performance of Intel's 12-core Core i7-1260P while using just a quarter of the rival chip's power.

    Continue reading
  • Apple dev roundup: Weather data meets privacy, and other good stuff
    No AR/VR glasses but at least RoomPlan will let you make rapid 3D room maps

    WWDC Apple this week at its Worldwide Developer Conference delivered software development kits (SDKs) for beta versions of its iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS 13, tvOS 16, and watchOS 9 platforms.

    For developers sold on seeking permission from Apple to distribute their software and paying a portion of revenue for the privilege, it's a time to celebrate and harken to the message from the mothership.

    While the consumer-facing features in the company's various operating systems consist largely of incremental improvements like aesthetic and workflow enhancements, the developer APIs in the underlying code should prove more significant because they will allow programmers to build apps and functions that weren't previously possible. Many of the new capabilities are touched on in Apple's Platforms State of the Union presentation.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022