What Is A Mac Mini Good For

The best configuration of a late 2018 Mac Mini for photographers is 3.2GHz 6‑core 8th‑generation Intel Core i7, with 16GB of memory, and 512GB of SSD storage at a cost of about $2,100. With the 2018 refresh of the Mac Mini Apple has a solid lineup of computers that are great for photo editing. With up to 6-core processors and faster 2666MHz memory, Mac mini is ideal for batching out massive Xcode builds or rendering and encoding video. Up to six CPU cores and superfast I/O make Mac mini the perfect Xcode companion to build your apps at top speed. Though Mac mini still has some use as a Mac server, or as a gateway Mac drug for PC switchers, when it comes to more intensive work you’ll inevitably choose a higher-end Mac or an iOS device.

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In the last few years, Apple has released and updated lots of Macs. We can now choose from a gorgeous iMac Pro, a powerful Mac Pro, a lightweight MacBook Air with True Tone display, and a brand new 16-inch MacBook Pro, to mention just a few.

But what more and more people realize is just how expensive most of Apple’s computers have become. The new MacBook Pro will set you back at least $2,400. Then it’s $5,000 for the basic iMac Pro and $6,000 for the Mac Pro, which doesn’t even include a monitor (add $5,000 on top for Apple’s Pro Display XDR).

Considering all this, you might wonder if there’s an affordable solution available at all: one that would also be capable of working on tasks heavier than simply browsing the web. And there is! It’s called Apple Mac mini.

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What Is A Mac mini?

Mac mini is literally a mini Mac — a tiny desktop device — that has been around for quite a while. It’s been normally positioned by Apple as a computer for casual users up until the 2014 model. However, the new Mac mini updated in 2018 has made a solid jump towards a more professional audience.

For those who’ve never seen a Mac mini before, it’s essentially a small square box, measuring 7.7 x 7.7 x 1.4 inches (similar in shape but slightly larger than Apple TV), that now only comes in Space Gray color (same color as in MacBooks or iMac Pro). It’s got a variety of ports to connect any external devices (e.g. a monitor, a keyboard) and can be used anywhere, from being your everyday computer to a part of a solid server infrastructure.

Still, some questions remain: What’s the Mac mini price? Are there any Mac mini deals? What about Mac mini ports? And should you buy a Mac mini 2020 if it becomes available? Let’s take this step by step.

When was the latest Mac mini released?

Unfortunately, Mac mini updates are not nearly as consistent as the ones for MacBook Pros or iPhones. The new Mac mini came out in late 2018, over a year ago. And a version before that was released in 2014.

So is there hope for Mac mini 2020? MacRumors, a website that tracks all Apple updates scheduled, estimates that on average new Mac minis come out every 588 days. Given that we’re getting close to 500 days since late 2018, it’s highly probable that we’ll see a new Mac mini released during Apple’s WWDC conference this June.

How much does the new Mac mini cost?

Right now, Apple offers Mac minis in two base models:

  • 3.6 GHz Quad-Core Intel i3 with 128 GB of storage for $799

  • 3.0 GHz 6-Core Intel i5 with 256 GB storage for $1,099

The latter model also offers a Turbo Boost of up to 4.1 GHz.

However, if you’re not satisfied with this stack, there are lots of upgrades you can buy, from increasing RAM to 64 GB to getting a 2 TB SSD, to levelling up to an Intel i7 chip, to installing a 10 Gigabit Ethernet. The most expensive setup you can build right now will cost you $3,200, most of it coming from RAM and SSD upgrades.

Some people might be wondering if Mac mini is DIY upgradeable. And generally it is, but since you have to take it apart, Apple wants you to only do that at a licensed dealer, using licensed Apple parts. Upgrades at home are then certainly not advised.

Are there any Mac mini design improvements?

Given that Apple had four full years to redesign the product, you might think there would be radical design improvements. Nope. The new Mac mini looks exactly like the old Mac mini, save for the new color alignment (Space Gray) with the rest of the Mac lineup. The old silver color is no longer available.

To sum up the new Mac mini appearance, it’s 7.7 x 7.7 x 1.4-inch Space Gray box that weighs 2.9 lbs, and has just a single light indicator in the front to show if the machine is on or not.

What did change considerably, though, are the internal components, which underwent a complete overhaul.

What are the internal Mac mini updates?

The most impressive change in the new Mac mini and, possibly, in the upcoming Mac mini 2020 is the power output.

Mac mini now boasts brand new eighth-generation Intel processors and speedy 2666 MHz DDR4 memory, which results in up to five times faster system performance.

As more power means more heat, Apple has also redesigned Mac mini’s thermal architecture for double the airflow and up to 70% more maximum sustained power.

In line with all the other Macs, Apple has added a T2 security chip to the new Mac mini as well, which ensures that all hard drive data is safely encrypted at all times.

What Is A Mac Mini Good For Kids

For ports, Mac mini might surprise you with its versatility, especially when compared side-by-side with the latest laptops (which are often pretty bare). It features an HDMI, two USB-As, four USB-Cs, Ethernet, and a standard headphone jack. So no USB adapters or docks immediately required.

Ways to make your Mac mini better

Overall, Mac mini might seem like a good deal. It’s powerful, affordable, and expandable. You can use any monitor you like, any keyboard, and any mouse. You might even stack up a few of them and create a formidable server. Its versatility is nearly limitless.

What could make your Apple Mac mini even better is having a few powerful optimization apps to make the most out of its configuration.

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Alternatively, you can navigate to Maintenance, select the improvements you’re looking for (e.g. Free Up RAM, Flush DNS Cache), and click Run. If you think your Mac might be infected, just go to Malware Removal, click Scan, and then Remove.

Keep an eye on your Mac’s performance

Get a health check tool for your computer. iStat Menus helps you monitor active processes on Mac, preventing any misbehavior.

iStat Menus is another essential utility that should become your Mac’s primary control center. Living quietly in your menu bar, iStat Menus tracks all possible Mac indicators, from your CPU load to internal temperature, to network activity. There’s simply no better way to identify a potential problem and search for a solution, before any damage has been done.

Endurance is every MacBook owner’s dream — a small utility proven to extend your battery life for up to 20%. But there’s no battery on Mac mini, you might say. True, but consider this: Endurance gives you much more control over your Mac. So you can, for example, turn off your Turbo Boost when not needed to save your Mac from overheating. You can also snooze inactive apps to give more power to the work at hand. There are literally dozens of new possibilities with no downside!

In the end, if you’re looking for a versatile desktop Mac, but iMac Pro and Mac Pro seem out of reach, the Mac mini latest model is a no-brainer. Should you buy it now or wait till Apple’s WWDC for a potential new model? If you can wait, wait. Otherwise, go ahead and look for some refurbished Mac mini deals — you certainly won’t regret it.

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The Mac mini is a tiny computer with enormous capabilities. Measuring just 7.7 inches (19.7 centimeters) square and 1.4 inches (3.6 centimeters) high, this small machine can be connected to almost any large display screen and numerous peripheral devices. Introduced by Apple in 2005, the Mac mini was marketed towards people switching over from PCs to Macs. The upgraded 2011 model, priced at $599 for the most basic version, is the perfect computer for a budget-conscious computer buyer who wants to move on from PCs but who also doesn't want to splurge on an iMac [source: Apple].

Because the targeted audience is former PC users, the Mac mini is sold without a mouse, keyboard or screen. PC users can use all of their old accessories with their new Mac mini while enjoying a new easy-to-use software package. Because of its small size and multiple ports, many Mac mini customers use the system as the hub of their home media center. It's nearly silent when running, stores easily and is less susceptible to viruses than a PC.



The 2011 Mac mini includes a new innovation, Thunderbolt. This upgraded display port supports both video and data connections and is capable of transferring data at 10 gigabits per second [source: Apple].

One possible downside to the Mac mini is its lack of an optical drive, a cut that might be a deal- breaker for people who frequently use their computers to read CDs or DVDs. Although this move cuts down on Apple's costs in production, and CDs and DVDs might soon become the next floppy disk (replaced by streaming data), the lack of a CD drive may isolate customers who primarily want to use the Mac mini as a part of a media center. On the upside, you can use the DVD or CD sharing feature of the Mac mini's operating system to wirelessly borrow the optical drive of a nearby Mac or PC. In other words, you can install applications from CDs or DVDs without having an optical drive in the Mac mini.

Read on to learn more about Mac mini specs.



The Mac mini is available in three versions, and these specs are for the most basic computer. The Mac mini is 1.4 inches (3.6 centimeters) in height, 7.7 inches (19.7 centimeters) wide, 7.7 inches (19.7 centimeters) deep and weighs 2.7 pounds (1.22 kilograms). It is equipped with a 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 with 3MB on-chip shared L3 cache processor and has 2GB of memory and a dual 500GB hard drive [source: Apple].

In terms of available storage space, the Mac mini is configurable to dual 750GB hard drives, single or dual 256GB solid-state drives or 256GB solid-state drive and 750GB hard drive. It features Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor with 288MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory [source: Apple].



What sets the latest Mac minis apart from other home computing options is the addition of Thunderbolt port, which Apple says is 12 times faster than the previous FireWire 800, can handle several peripherals at the same time and allow 10 Gbps of throughput in both directions. There is also an HDMI port to connect your big screen HDTV, an HDMI to DVI adapter, and support for dual display and video mirroring [source: Apple].

The Mac mini also has a FireWire 800 port (up to 800 Mbps), four USB 2.0 ports (up to 480 Mbps), a SDXC card slot, a gigabit Ethernet port and audio in/out connections [source: Apple].

On the next page, we'll discuss Mac mini software.


The Mac mini comes equipped with all of the software included in the OS X Lion bundle, Apple's newest operating system released in July 2011. We'll take a look at just a few of the highlights.

If you're already familiar with Macs, you'll recognize many of the features of OS X Lion and catch some new additions to Apple's newest operating system. The OS X Lion software bundle includes all of your favorite Apple applications. You can access your iTunes library, talk with friends on iChat, make video calls on FaceTime, take pictures in Photo Booth, play GarageBand, make an iMovie and view a QuickTime video [source: Apple].



The package also includes all of your communication and organizational applications such as Mail, iCal and Address Book. The Mac mini comes equipped with Time Machine, an app that allows you to back up all of your data. You can access the Mac App Store to purchase and download additional apps for your Mac mini. You also can surf the internet through the Safari web browser. All of your apps are stored on your Launchpad start screen, giving you quick and easy access to them. Some new features and upgrades to the Mac mini include AirDrop, a Lion-to-Lion sharing feature that uses a WiFi connection, vertical text displays to support East Asian languages and multiuser screen sharing [source: Apple].

Even though the variety of apps might seem overwhelming, OS X Lion is user-friendly and intuitive. Its simple design and interface should make the switch from a PC to a Mac mini pretty effortless. In general, reviews for the operating system are very positive: MacWorld gave the system a 4.5 out of 5 rating [source: Snell].


What Is The New Mac Mini Good For

Although the Mac mini is significantly less expensive than an iMac, you have to provide all peripherals and accessories. If you don't already have a screen, keyboard or mouse, you'll have to buy them to operate your Mac mini, and you might end up spending more than you would if you bought an iMac. The 2011 iMac comes with a camera, more powerful processor and hard drive, speakers, keyboard and other accessories for $1,199 [source:Apple] .

Depending on how and where you plan to use your Mac mini, you might need a mounting kit. For instance, if your Mac mini is going to be mainly used as part of a home media center, you could mount the computer on a wall or ceiling. You could also choose from a variety of Mac mini table mounts. These mounting systems will securely affix your Mac mini to the surface that you choose so that you can easily access your device and not worry about it falling and breaking. When choosing a mounting system, keep in mind that you won't want the mount to cover important ports that you frequently use.



Although the Mac mini comes with four USB ports, an extra USB hub might come in handy if you're connecting multiple devices to the computer. Once you plug in your mouse and keyboard, you've used up two ports already and you haven't added your printer or other peripherals yet, so this could be useful.

Finally, since the Mac mini does not come with an optical drive, a good accessory to have on hand is the MacBook Air SuperDrive [source: Frakes]. Although it's designed to be used with a MacBook, it's compatible to the Mac mini and is a good option if you plan to play CDs or DVDs on your computer.

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