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Reader Review: Mac mini (Early 2009)

Special collaboration by Thiago Pereira.

Last Sunday I acquired a Mac mini and decided to write this review to answer some questions about it, which seems to be the main responsible for the entry of former PC users in the Apple world.

Mac mini Early 2009

This latest model was launched in March, after almost two years without a significant upgrade. When everyone thought he was dead, Apple took a look at his little notable, which has great advances. I will try to break it down in the next paragraphs for a better understanding.

Mac mini Early 2009

Note: the model used in this review was the Mac mini Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz, with 1GB of DDR3 1,066Mhz RAM and NVIDIA GeForce 9400M with 128MB of VRAM. This is the Mac mini (Early 2009), model MB463PO / A. When I refer to the old Mac mini, I mean the model with 667MHz RAM and 64MB of shared video memory.

Packing

The first thing you think about when you see the Mac mini case: is that it ?! It is slightly smaller than two stacked mini Macs. Made entirely of recyclable paper, this is a good thing for plant ecologists. According to Apple, this new model consumes up to 45% less energy in standby than its predecessor.

Mac mini Early 2009

Inside, we can see the cute little box this time with manuals, installation DVDs for Mac OS X 10.5.6 and the iLife 09 package.

Mac mini Early 2009

Just below it, we see the Mac mini with a plastic cover. Slightly lighter than its predecessor (1.31kg, versus 1.32kg), it has the same dimensions (50.8 × 165.1 × 165.1 centimeters) and aluminum finish. The case itself is exactly the same.

Accessories

Below the Mac mini we have the previous identical source and a Mini DVI DVI adapter. This model has only one Mini DVI port and now a Mini DisplayPort. There is no large DVI output as in the previous one, and the one that starts the problems.

Mac mini Early 2009

Well, if you didn't have a monitor with DVI input, what would you do? Simple! I would use a DVI VGA adapter and everything would be resolved, right? Wrong! Apple once again made things difficult with the lack of standardization on its video connectors and launched an adapter with a DVI output different from the standard _which it used_ on the old Mac mini. The Apple DVI VGA adapter distributed with the previous one does not fit the current adapter.

Check out the difference below:

Old Mac mini connectorOld Mac mini connector

New Mac mini connectorNew Mac mini connector

The problem is that the old male adapter has, around the right tongue, four pins that do not enter the new adapter. This language on the new adapter is also thinner, that is, if you are brave enough to pull out the four pins, you still cannot plug the cable.

That was not a big problem for me, because this Mac mini serves as media center, mainly for internet and old games. So I already had a DVI HDMI adapter at home that I used sometimes connected to a PC. Incidentally, this adapter followed the same pattern adopted in this new connector.

An important note for those who also want to use the new Mac mini as media center: it no longer accompanies the Apple Remote. However, as with all other Macs, it remains compatible with the same. And by the way, do you already know Plex Media Center? I highly recommend it.

Doors / Entrances

Looking at the back of the Mac mini, we see some significant differences: we continue with a Gigabit Ethernet port; the FireWire port now 800 (the FireWire 400 is gone); as for the two video inputs already mentioned, they give the possibility to connect two monitors simultaneously, both as a mirror and an extended desktop; we have five USB 2.0 ports (against four before); and the sound outputs, which have not changed at all, a digital input and output.

Mac mini Early 2009

Connectivity

The Mac mini comes with an AirPort 802.11n draft wireless network and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR. That is, it is able to connect with the highest possible speed, wherever you go.

Interior

this is where the Mac mini shows the biggest difference compared to its predecessors. The amount of memory installed in both versions is the same (1GB or 2GB), and now the memories are 1.066MHz DDR3 and with the possibility of expansion to up to 4GB. In both versions, a memory slot is free for expansion, as opposed to the previous versions: in an eventual expansion, the two memory sticks were lost.

Mac mini Early 2009

The processor is the Intel Core 2 Duo 2Ghz (model P7350), which guarantees a good performance in multiple tasks and with less energy expenditure.

The DVD / CD recording drive (SuperDrive) has been updated and now burns DVDs up to 8x and CDs up to 24x. He was quieter, too, in my opinion.

Video

Talking about video deserves a part chapter. One of the biggest complaints from previous mini Mac users was the 64MB shared video card, the Intel 965G. Apple solved this problem with NVIDIA's 9400M chipset, which promises (and delivers) to be up to five times faster.

In the most basic version, it comes with 128MB of VRAM shared with the system; with an upgrade to 2GB, allocates an additional 128MB for the video card, reaching 256MB. Unfortunately it is not possible to reach 512MB, not even with 4GB of RAM.

Playing movies

This new chipset can reproduce videos in 1080p using a monitor with a resolution of 1920 × 1080 pixels without fail and with hardware acceleration, which greatly reduces the use of the processor. The tests I performed were with Plex himself, which I mentioned above.

Games

As mentioned earlier, I will also use Mac mini to play old games. In time, it serves very well the most current players and thirsty for news.

In the first test, I tried to run SimCity 4 to have a base of frames per second before, it was impossible for the game to run because of the constant bottlenecks. Such was my surprise that the darned man ran very well at a resolution of 1280 × 1024 pixels (32 bits) and with all options enabled, without any problem that compromised the gameplay!

The second test was with Star Wars Battlefront, a relatively old game, but it did a great job for the previous Mac mini. As this game has a timer fps, I separated the data for you:

Mac mini old gameMac mini new game
Star Wars Battlefront 9fps 32fps
Quake 4 5.6fps 39.1fps
Unreal Tournament 21fps 63fps
Call of Duty 4 AT 35fps

The above figures are average, of course. COD4 sometimes reached 8fps in parts with a lot of graphic detail or more ?intense? shootings, for example.

Performance

Overall system performance has improved due to memory, but nothing surprising. The loading of the programs still depends, in the majority, of the HD that still of the 120GB to 5,400 RPM. He is no champion in speed, but keeps the internal temperature and power consumption intended by Apple low. In the top-of-the-line model, with 320GB, the HD consists of two 160GB disks together, which slightly increases its performance.

Some programs have noticeably had many benefits with the new graphics chipset, such as the case of iPhoto ?09 and iMovie ?09, which run smoother even with a large number of photos in the album or high-resolution videos.

Interestingly, I was able to run Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Final Cut Express relatively easily, but due to the small amount of RAM, opening a few more programs can slow the entire system. A memory upgrade for those interested in working with these programs is interesting.

Conclusion: is it worth it?

If you already have a relatively recent Intel Mac mini and do not need many applications that require graphics processing, my answer * is not * mainly for the prices practiced by Apple in Brazil: R $ 2,650 in the basic version and R $ 3,500 in the 2GB RAM and 320GB HD.

Mac mini Early 2009

However, if you own a mini PowerPC or another Apple computer not so recent, this little machine will not let you down. For those who want to work with small image / video editing services, I recommend only a memory upgrade to at least 2GB. Of course, remembering that Apple does not have the nomenclature "Pro" in its products for nothing! If you really work hard with computers, the Mac mini is not for you.

I hope I have helped mainly PC users who want to venture into the Mac world, in addition to, of course, the already followers of Apple, who are always looking for news.