The Bottom Line
The 2010 Mac mini is easily the best of the mini series. It offers user upgradable RAM, a first in the mini, as well as improved graphics, an HDMI port, and an SD card slot. Apple has also kicked up the processor speeds, making this Mac a mini power dynamo.
There are a few quirks, such as the SD card slot being located on the back of the mini. I also wish Apple had made the hard drive user replaceable. But all in all, this is a Mac mini I wouldn't mind having as part of a home entertainment system or a small office server.
- New aluminum unibody chassis.
- Removable bottom cover provides access for memory upgrades.
- Built-in power supply; no external power brick.
- New HDMI port supports multichannel audio out.
- New SD card slot.
- Hard drive still isn't user replaceable.
- SD card slot is on the back of the Mac mini.
- No eSATA port.
- No Blu-ray player.
- Price increase.
- 2.4 GHz or 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor
- 1066 MHz front side bus
- 2 GB RAM, user expandable to 8 GB
- 320 GB or 500 GB hard drive
- 8x SuperDrive
- NVIDIA GeForce 320M
- 1 FireWire 800 port
- 4 USB 2.0 ports
- 1 SD card slot
- AirPort Extreme, Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet
Guide Review - Review of the 2010 Mac mini: New Mac mini Adds HDMI Port and SD Card Slot
The Mac mini continues to evolve. It was once a closed box targeted at individuals who wanted an inexpensive way to switch to the Mac. The latest incarnation is geared towards individuals who want to use the Mac mini in a home entertainment system. The server version will work well as a small business or workgroup server, and comes complete with Snow Leopard server OS installed.
User Upgradable RAM
The Mac mini has finally opened up, so end users can easily upgrade the RAM. This change of heart is a reflection of the new unibody construction of the Mac mini chassis. The rigid frame allowed Apple to add a very large removable circular hatch that, when spun off the Mac mini, reveals the two RAM slots. Just like all the other Mac models, you can now perform your own memory upgrades and bypass the expensive memory options from Apple. Apple did, however, draw the line at giving end users the option to perform hard drive upgrades. That's a pity, because in my experience, the hard drive tends to fail before any other component.
On the home entertainment front, the new Mac mini not only provides a separate HDMI output in conjunction with the existing mini DisplayPort, it also adds support for multichannel audio out over the HDMI connection. That means all you need is a single HDMI cable from your Mac mini to your HDTV for a fully immersive home theater experience. All that's missing is support for Blu-ray, which Apple still stubbornly refuses to provide. That's right; the Mac mini is still saddled with an 8x slot-loading SuperDrive, which is far from super nowadays.
Luckily, there are plenty of expansion ports on the Mac mini for adding a Blu-ray drive, an external hard drive, or just about anything else. Besides the expected FireWire and USB ports, Apple added an SD card slot, a great way to transfer images and videos from your camera to your Mac mini. But for the life of me, I don't understand why Apple chose to put the SD card slot on the rear of the new Mac mini. This will make actively using the SD card slot, well, a pain in the rear.
Other key improvements include new graphics in the form of the NVIDIA GeForce 320M, the same graphics processor used in the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Matter of fact, it's tempting to say the new Mac mini is essentially a 13-inch MacBook Pro stuffed into a small desktop case. That's not a bad thing, as the overall processor spec, the ability to install up to 8 GB of RAM, and the new NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics engine should insure this is one snappy Mac mini.
The Mac mini is available in two basic configurations, the model we review here, and the server configuration, which replaces the optical drive with a second hard drive. The server version also comes with an unlimited user license for Snow Leopard Server.