The Mac mini is Apple’s entry-level desktop Mac. It’s slower than Apple’s other desktop computers—the iMac and the Mac Pro—but it remains fast enough for general-purpose use. Apple targets first-time Mac users with the Mac mini, but longtime Mac users like the price and use the Mac mini as a server or an entertainment Mac connected to a TV.
The Mac mini models that Apple currently sells were originally released in October 2014. Three years is a long time to call a computer “new.” (The current Mac mini was released 1,000 days ago on July 12.) Apple has made no mention of its plans for the Mac mini, unlike the company’s other neglected desktop computer, the Mac Pro.
Still, there’s only one other Mac available for under $1,000: the MacBook Air. If you’re still interested in the Mac mini, you can learn more here about its features, specifications, prices, and more.
Apple sells three Mac mini models.
$499: 1.4GHz dual-core Core i5 CPU, 4GB of memory, 5,400-rpm 500GB hard drive, integrated Intel HD Graphics 5000 GPU.
$699: 2.6GHz dual-core Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, 5,400-rpm 1TB hard drive, integrated Intel Iris Graphics.
$999: 2.8GHz dual-core Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, 1TB Fusion Drive, integrated Intel Iris Graphics.
The Mac mini does not include a display, keyboard, or mouse, so you’ll have to provide your own. Or you can customize your order to include these devices as extra-cost options.
Since the Mac mini lacks an optical drive, you need to buy an external USB optical drive if you want to read or burn CDs and DVDs.
The Mac mini has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It also has four USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 2 ports, and an SDXC card slot. It also has a gigabit ethernet port, in case you want to connect to a wired network.
To connect a display, you can use the HDMI port or a Thunderbolt 2 port. You might have to buy an adapter if your display doesn’t have either HDMI or Mini DisplayPort (which connects to the Mac mini’s Thunderbolt port). If you own a display with VGA and/or DVI output, you’ll need either the Mini DisplayPort-to-VGA Adapter ($29 on the Apple Store) or the MiniDisplayPort-to-DVI Adapter ($29 on the Apple Store).
The Mac mini won’t set any speed records. It’s among the slowest Macs in Apple’s lineup. But don’t judge its performance too harshly. For general use (writing, email, Web, social media) and for editing short videos, the Mac mini does just fine.
Macworld’s buying advice
For new Mac users switching from a PC, the Mac mini is an excellent machine, if you don’t mind not having the latest processors. It’s a great choice for shoppers on a budget, or for someone who wants a second computer in the home. It handles everyday usage well. If, however, you want to use a Mac as a production machine for video editing or some other task that requires substantial processing power, consider an iMac.