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At a time when Apple seems to think bigger is better, it’s a surprise to see the Mac Mini not only still here but with a whole new updated look inside and out. That’s right! The Mac Mini is back and it shockingly packs some serious punch. But with great power comes great responsibility or in this case a much higher price tag. So have Apple missed the mark here, or is this the Apple Mac we’ve all been waiting for?

 

Have Your Cake And Eat It Too

Like the iPad Mini, the Mac Mini has somewhat been neglected. It’s been four years since the Mac Mini has seen an update and many thought it was likely on the way out. That said, up until the annual Apple product unveil this year the Mac Mini (2014) was still going strong. Starting at around £429 it was (and still is) the one of the cheapest Mac desktops available, making it perfect for those who want to take advantage of the Apple iOS (and its apps), without having to invest the big bucks. It appealed to students, schools and businesses who were not only on a budget, but needed something small, compact, portable and versatile, and that’s exactly what it did. It also offered a solution to coders and web developers who needed access to a variety of platforms.

The 2018 Mac Mini however is no longer an inexpensive option. At the entry level it’s still the cheapest Mac you can buy, but at nearly double the cost of the 2014 Mac Mini it no longer appeals to its core audience (those on a budget), especially when you factor in all the extras and upgrade possibilities.

 

Same Streamlined Design

Design-wise the Mac Mini (2018) hasn’t changed much. The colour is different (it’s now available in a rather attractive Space Grey), but the shape is still the same classic streamlined rectangle Apple fans will remember. The casing itself has been made out of recycled aluminium (just like the Apple Macbook Air 2018) which is part of Apple’s efforts to better the environment. Thankfully Apple have also added a bigger fan (which is mostly silent) and expanded the vents to encourage airflow and ensure all that added power works efficiently.

 

Ports, Ports and More Ports

One thing the Mac Mini has over the Apple products is the number of ports. In addition to making everything bigger, Apple are getting a bit of a rep for removing ports. So, it’s refreshing to see that they’ve there’s not one, but 4 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) as well as 2 x USB 3 ports. There’s also a full-sized HDMI 2.0 which means you can have up to 3 monitors. The Mac Mini is also one of two Mac Desktops that can handle a 5K display which is nice albeit a little unnecessary given the limited graphics.

 

Workhorse

Despite the built-in Intel UHD Graphics 630 card (which is still a 60% improvement compared the 2014 model), you shouldn’t under estimate the Mac Mini. This is one of the first Mac Mini’s which is configurable. Not only can you choose the storage (up to 2TB SSD), you can also increase the 8GB RAM (up to 64GB) and the processors (to the 3.2GHz 6-core Intel Core i7). It’s certainly a lot faster than the earlier Mac Minis which in all honesty used to feel like torture when compared to my Windows Laptop at the time. Technically you can also improve the graphics by purchasing a good eGPU (e.g. Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650 eGPU chassis), but then your desk will start to look a little cluttered which kind of defeats the purpose.

If you choose to upgrade the Mac Mini however, you end up with a machine that is rather powerful albeit with a higher price tag.

 

Overall

While the Apple Mac Mini may be a little less budget than its predecessors, it’s still the cheapest way to get your hands on the full Mac iOS experience – which is something it holds over the iPad Pro range. On the outside it may look like the same minimalist cube we’ve all come to love and appreciate, but under the hood there’s a lot more power than you’d expect. The number of ports are the real winner however, especially when compared to the Macbook range currently available. You’ll need these of course, as the Mac Mini requires a more traditional mouse, keyboard and monitor set-up which is actually what makes it so appealing.

The ports together with the increased speed and power make the Mac Mini (2018) a truly versatile machine which will appeal to those who are after something more than a bargain. Of course there are some downsides to being Mini. For instance upgrading your Mini after purchasing it will be a challenge due to the size of the casing, it’s not impossible either (there’s always service centres to help). Whether this is the Mac for you, well that depends on what you’re using it for. If you do decide to get the Mac Mini however, you’ll find yourself with a great all-rounder and a clutter free desk.

What’s in the Box

  • Apple Mac Mini Computer (2018)
  • Power Cord

Apple Mac Mini (2018)
Design90%
Performance83%
Connectivity96%
Features72%
Noisiness92%
87%Overall Score
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