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Author Topic: Apple's most affordable Mac  (Read 559 times)

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snadge

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Apple's most affordable Mac
« on: 15 February 2015, 21:38:28 »
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The Good The Mac Mini is the least expensive OS X computer, and its performance is on par with Macs that cost twice as much.

The Bad Upgrades are expensive, and aftermarket upgrades are nearly impossible. Configuration options are not as extensive as previous versions of the Mac Mini, and a keyboard and mouse are not included.

The Bottom Line While its sealed-case limitations will turn off power users, Apple's least expensive Mac delivers a solid OS X experience in a compact box with similar performance to the entry-level MacBook Air and iMac models.

There are only two ways to get a computer running OS X, but without a permanently attached display. One is Apple's most-expensive computer, the $2,999-and-up Mac Pro, the other is its least-expensive, the $499 Mac Mini. Other than those two bookends, Macs are all either MacBook laptops with clamshell designs, or all-in-one iMacs, with large screens on pivoting arms.

To get access to the features of OS X for same price as a standard iPad, you'll need to bring your own display, keyboard and mouse or trackpad. If you already have some or all of those, great; if not, the total cost can add up quickly, especially if you stick to Apple-branded accessories.

There are many Windows PCs that cost around the same, but nearly all are budget-minded, low-power plastic boxes that lack anything close to a premium feel. The entry level Mac Mini, while not especially powerful, has a unibody aluminum design and works about as well as a MacBook Air laptop (the components are very similar), which is one of our favorite computers.

But, underneath the matte aluminum chassis, there are a few areas where the current iteration of the Mac Mini may not work for you. The processor in the $499 model (399 in the UK and AU$619 in Australia) is a dual-core, low-voltage fourth-generation Intel Core i5. Two more-expensive base configurations include faster Core i5 CPUs, with a dual-core Core i7 as a extra-cost add-on on top of that. But if you go back to the last major Mac Mini update from 2012, you'll find quad-core Core i7 chips, a more powerful option now missing.

The late 2014 update adds dual Thunderbolt ports and faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi (as found on the rest of the current Mac line), but the RAM, which was previously user-accessible, is now permanently soldered to the motherboard. In other words: no more post-purchase upgrades. Instead, you need to plan your upgrades at the time of purchase. And they're not cheap: a simple jump from the base 4GB to 8GB is an extra $100, and adding a 1TB Fusion drive (with both SSD and HDD hardware) costs $250 over the slower 5400rpm 500GB hard drive in the least-expensive configuration.

Price as reviewed   $499, 399, AU$619
PC CPU   1.4GHz Intel Core i5 4260U
PC Memory   4GB 1,600MHZ DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics   1536MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 5000
Storage   500GB 5,400rpm HDD
Optical drive   None
Networking   802.11a/c wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
Operating system   OSX 10.10.2 Yosemite

http://www.cnet.com/products/apple-mac-mini-2014/

 

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