03 March 2006

Mac mini competition

I came across this review of the primary competitor (rip-off) to the Mac mini over at Anandtech. As usual, it's a well-researched, well-written piece. But the timing was a bit unfortunate as it was published close to the announcement of the Intel Mac mini which is already shipping.

I say unfortunate, but in fact what is interesting is that the OLD Mac mini in fact comes out way ahead over the AOpen mini tested (although just about all PC's do too). And the old Mac mini was considerably less expensive than the AOpen (and so is the new one too).

It seems strange that it has taken so long to get something out similar to this (though did it really have to be so similar?). I did cover something similar with an Evesham model in a posting in December. Apple has now raised the bar substantially already. It also strikes me that the designers of the AOpen haven't got it right yet - the particular unit on test failed within a couple of days due to a fan problem (and indeed is noisier than the Mac).

Whatever the gripes of the mac faithful about the new mini, it just goes to show that Apple is way ahead in the design/packaging stakes at least for this sort of form factor.

And just some comment on the criticisms of the mini (primarily around the use of Intel integrated graphics and the increase in cost):

The original machine used a very tired old chip a mid-range G4 - at best equivalent to a low-end Celeron, but used a separate (but pretty low-grade) GPU to dress it up. Mutton dressed as lamb perhaps. The new one uses state-of-the-art Intel chips as well as adding lots of other new benefits. Sure, perhaps the integrated graphics is a bit disappointing, but for it's intended purpose (general computing, media, tv etc) it seems actually quite a good choice. It certainly seems to have cracked the problem of HD H.264 playback on reviews I've seen. If anyone's buying one, though I'd say make sure you get AT LEAST 1GB, and perhaps even go for the full complement of 2GB. And with a Core Duo too, you'll have a machine that will be useful for many years.

1 comment:

macfishnchips said...

My new Duo Mini only has 512MB RAM (off the shelf from the Apple Store) and that is plenty for media centre duties (including 720p/1080p HD playback). I guess once EyeTV is Universal, I may need more capacity... I can't find a good selection of 512MB/1GB PC2-5300 SODIMMSs yet - hopefully they'll start appearing over the next few months!