Friday, March 03, 2006

Mac Mini 2 - Here come's the Intel one

On Tuesday, Steve Jobs announced the new Mac Mini with the Intel Core processor. This new notebook processor has interestingly enough found it's way to Apple's desktop systems before even being available on Windows notebooks. Slowly more and more non-Apple notebooks are appearing on the market with Core Duo, but Apple has already been shipping it's desktop iMacs with Core Duo for over a month.

Following in the footsteps of the Pentium-M, Intel's new core processor is perfect for a small and quiet computer. Low energy consumption, the ability to run relatively cool, and decent computing muscle to boot. Fabricated using the latest 65nm technology this chip promises even better energy efficiency and eventually lower production costs (there is already talk of price cuts of up to 30% coming in May, but mainly only the higher end chips).

Back to the Mini, besides changing from a slightly under powered, old generation G4 CPU to the Intel Core, the new Mini also brings with it Apple's Front Row (remote control and interface for home media), optical audio in/out, faster DDR2 RAM with double the expansion capacity to 2GB, newer SATA HDD interface, and two additional USB ports.

I really liked my old Mini which is being used as a second computer in the bedroom. As it was the very first model it still has the older OS X Panther and iLife05. I've been wanting to upgrade to Tiger for it's new features like Spotlight and Widgets, but the $130 cost seemed a little too steep, afterall it's only an upgrade. Same for iLife06, some of the minor improvements IMO isn't worth the $80 either. However with the new Mac Mini which includes Tiger and iLife06 plus Front Row, with a brand new Core Mini, this seemed like much better value. That plus Apple's claim "In fact, the new Mac mini is even quieter than the already whisper-quiet previous generation." made it too hard for me to resist. My new Mini2 is on it's way from Apple's warehouse as you read this.

Apple has scrapped the lowest cost model (previously without wifi/bluetooth) and now only offer two models. The Core Solo model at $599 and the Core Duo at $799. The Core Solo is a single core CPU at 1.55 ghz and the Duo is a dual core CPU at 1.66 ghz. Certainly the Duo should be faster especially in processing intensive apps, but being my second (ok third, well actually...) computer I figured the Solo would be "enough" and should also run cooler. That plus the fact a 1.55ghz Pentium-M is no slouch and I would expect the same from the Solo, also it should be a good improvement over the G4. For the Core Duo model, Apple actually claims up to 4x improvement in speed over the G4, but we'll take that with a grain of salt.

I must admit I was very tempted to go for the Duo model, latest technology, "dual-core", fastest Mini, etc. but the price premium Apple loves to add on it's higher end models turned me away in the end. From Intel's price list, the difference between a 1.66 Duo and a 1.66 Solo (they don't list a 1.5, maybe Apple just downclocked the chip to make the distinction extra clear between the two models) is only $32. The only other differences, HDD capacity, DVDRW versus DVD/CDRW adds another $65. So total cost difference for what you get is less than $100, yet Apple is charging you $200!
Also if you want to upgrade from the standard 512MB to 1GB Apple charges you $100, but purchasing a stick of any other big-name brand 512MB DDR2 costs only around $40. Needless to say, I didn't order any upgrades, I expect upgrading the RAM yourself won't be difficult like the original Mini (I have my putty knife ready). That plus upgrades means you have to wait a few extra days for them to custom configure.

Hopefully my Mini2 will be arriving by next week, I don't think the courier service Apple uses here delivers on the weekend...

Next - Mac Mini Core Solo has arrived

Back to Impressions of My G4 Mini


At 3/04/2006 3:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your blog. Crystal-clear reviews & great photos.

Replacing RAM is a bit harder in the Intel Mini than the original Mini. See photos in

Apple claims that the Intel Mini is even quieter than the original. I'm looking forward to your comments about acoustics.

At 3/17/2006 3:16 PM, Blogger mmstac said...

Thanks for your kind comments. Most photos taken with a Panasonic Lumix FX-7, and a few with a Canon EOS350D. My impressions on my Intel Mini have been posted; I also have a few ideas to try for silencing my G4 Mini even further... Do check back for updates.


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