Although not specifically designed as a Media Center PC, the tiny Mac Mini’s low power consumption, excellent performance, elegant design, and diminutive proportions all up to a formidable piece of hardware for the living room.
Based on works designed for laptops, the Mac Mini is remarkably small and depicts a tiny amount of power. It measures only 10W when idling at the desktop – which is around a one third of the juice required to maintain any of the competition.
The combined £896 review system was fitted with a 2.53GHz of Intel Core i5-2520M processor – sufficiently fast enough to form a responsive and quick multi-media machine. This version of the Mac Mini also comes with a discreet graphics card of AMD Radeon HD 6630 delivering advanced gaming performance.
Tested under Window, WorldBench 6 comes again an achievement of 123 points, which is more sluggish than much of the opposition but more than essential for our purposes. Gaming feat was brilliant too. In the Windows test of video transcode, however, Apple Boot Camp drivers don’t allow accelerated density, so a period of eight minutes 33 seconds is lower than the systems that allow full hardware transcoding.
Ever since the end of Front Row software of Apple, there is no Media Center environment shipped as standard with the Mac Mini. However, there are plenty of options available such as Boxee or XBMC which have versions that run just fine on the Mac Mini and sustain the Apple remote control.
Alternatively, it’ easy enough to navigate to your apps and media within the standard OS X interface. When showing on a large monitor across the area, just put resolution downwards to a altitude that allows you to read icons and texts – for example, 1024 by 640 works well on 30 inch screen viewed from six feet away.
They added Apple’s compact Bluetooth keyboard (£57), along with the Magic Trackpad (£59) – a great way to control from the sofa or desk, with full multi-touch gesture control not available anywhere else. You can also control film playback and music with the simple Apple Remote (£15).
Missing from the Mac Mini nowadays is an ocular drive, so to play DVDs or CDs you’ll need to hook up an exterior model like the SuperDrive of MacBook Air which was included in the price. Blu-ray is not as much of straightforward. There’s no native Blu-ray support within OS X, but you can use third-party apps like Mac Blu-ray Player. Or tear the disc primarily, removing disruptive encryption, next play movies directly by video applications like VLC. You can also install Windows simply enough on a Mac Mini, though you would mislay all the benefits of OS X, such as a virus-free environment, multi-touch interface, and stable UNIX-based operation.