I’ve recently done some work for a friend’s company and rather than pay me with money he has offered to buy me something (his company is a new start so there’s a good chance they’ll be audited by Revenue and he wants to avoid any difficult questions). I’ve about €850 (probably around $1200) to spend so I was toying with the idea of getting him to buy me a 2.0Ghz Mac Mini.
I’ve played around with one, setting it up for a client. It is what it is. The incredibly small form factor means no modifications or upgrades but if all you want is a Mac that is the size of an alarm clock radio, go for it. I was actually quite impressed with it and my client is pleased as well.
You could get a MacBook for around $1200 and not need to fuss with a KVM switch or any of that palarva. They’re a terrific notebook if all you need to do is word processing, surf and email. Mine runs After Effects but it gives the machine an ice cream headache 8l)
I really like the Mac Mini, it’s probably my favorite computer right now. You can hook it up to your HDTV, or your monitor and make a “dual-use” monitor (analog out looks fine on the Mini) by switching the input source. It is extremely limited in what games you can play on it. It’s also sufficient for a dual-boot Vista or XP system.
But it does have a couple of big drawbacks. Imo, much of the functionality of it’s size is lost unless you use a wireless keyboard and mouse; and tacking on the Apple brand stuff is another 100$. The system is almost silent doing PIM stuff, but playing a 3d game causes the fan to ramp up to a pretty high level (relative to the silence before); it’s still much quieter than your game computer, but it does suck that you lose the Silent PC form factor trying to do 3d (and i mean ANY 3d, like Dominions3 background animation 3d). An iMac is a much quieter computer by comparion. And the 5400rpm drive sucks.
The best thing, though, about the Mini is that unlike an iMac you can always turn it into a Linux or Windows server when you’re done with it (and it would be a pretty decent one); the iMac is pretty much too bulky for closet use and it’s destined to be sold or given away. OTOH, another big problem with the Mini is that you won’t be able to upgrade it’s CPU beyond 2.4; and now, that proc line is EOL, and prices are rising dramatically (the 2.4 is around 480$ at newegg). So what you get is about the top of the line for that mb.
I got a basic Macbook for €899 earlier this month: I guess Lower VAT + educational use discount did the trick. Funnily enough it shipped from the Netherlands where it’s pricier. Seems to be a tad over €1000 throughout Europe.
It’s a neat machine, I’m using it at work as a sorta “smart display” besides my dual head pc using synergy (keyboard/mouse/clipboard sharing over the network). I find myself doing more and more on it and leaving the PC for checking email or displaying reference material.
I’ve thought about setting up a Mac Mini as my HTPC. In the end it’s probably a bad idea for me since I’d want to reuse the storage I have, still need backups, have trouble with wireless reliability, etc. Problems which are solvable, but doing so runs up the cost significantly for a fairly small gain.
If I were building my HTPC from scratch for the first time though, I’d be all over one.
I would recommend a Macbook as well. I use mine as my primary computer at home, and love it. With 2 gigs of memory, it runs all of my non-gaming stuff like a champ (Office, iLife programs, web-surfing, etc). My Windows box is now only used for games.
I’ve toyed with getting one for fun and to finally try out OSX but meh. I saw a sff HP box in Office depot the other day that wasn’t too big, seemed fairly quiet and was 699 with better stats than the mini. Any mini I’d consider worth it always seems to price out at $750-900.
At the time the Mini came out, I was looking for a small form-factor (SFF) low-Watt PC, and the original PPC Mini at $499 was roughly $250-$300 less than any other SFF PC’s, and smaller, too. Not only that, but it included OSX, Firewire, and a CD-RW/DVD, and those on anything else were either additional costs or just plain unavailable.
They’re not as good of a deal now, but still worth it if it’s the kind of box you’re looking for. They’re gorgeous and very very quiet.
As it turns out, since my friend will be purchasing this through his company, I need to price ex. VAT (companies can claim the VAT back). So it looks like I can afford a Macbook. Yay! Just need to run it by him and see if he’s OK with that first though…