Apple has not updated the Mac mini since 2014, but at their October special event, the tech giant revealed that the mini is back. Now that reviewers have had a chance to take it through its paces, they seem to agree.
Macworld’s review notes “Impressive multi-core performance from Apple’s most affordable Mac.”
“Because Apple has changed the marketing message with the new Mac mini, its multi-core performance will draw more attention than before. The $799 Mac mini has four processing cores, two more than in the previous models. So the newer CPU and extra processing cores combine to make the $799 Mac mini a mighty machine for apps that can use multiple cores (pro-level video and image editors, as well as developer tools, for example).”
When the mini was first introduced, it was a way for PC switchers to dip a toe in the Mac pond and get a look and feel for what it was like. Today, PC switchers are far more likely to pick up a MacBook Air, or even an iPad. The new mission for the mini is to be a real Mac for real Mac enthusiasts.
AppleInsider called the new Mac mini “impressively powerful.” Jason Snell at Six Colors described the computer as being “exactly what it needs to be.” TechCrunch says it is the “best-priced gateway into a desktop Mac ecosystem,” and notes that the meaning of entry-level has shifted.
The praise for the mini is universal. But there are a handful of negatives. Everyone also made note of the price hike since the previous model. The days of picking up a perfectly serviceable desktop Mac for $599 are well behind us. That said, the new minis are as capable as the current iMacs at a higher price.
These minis are no longer for casual hobbyists, but for serious users who have work to do. No one is talking about these systems in terms of light web browsing, a little word processing, and casual video consumption. Instead, these computers are expected to create content with applications such as Photoshop, Logic Pro X, Final Cut, and the like.
These new machines take a step backward in user serviceability. You can add more RAM aftermarket. But you can’t do the installation yourself. It is the domain of certified Apple technicians. Doing it yourself is very difficult and will void your warranty.
Overall, the Mac mini has mostly the same case, but a completely new identity. You will pay more than you did four years ago. But you will get what you pay for.