Three Guys and a Podcast: Apple News & Analysis
The MacMini is Apple's entry level Macintosh. It debuted in 2005 and has gone through many revisions over the years. The current model uses an Intel Sandy Bridge i5 or i7 processor with up to 8GB DDR3 memory.
The Mac Mini comes in three different models ranging in price from $599 to over $2000 for a maxed out server version. The base and server models come with only with an integrated processor Intel HD Graphics 3000, but the mid level version comes with a discreet AMD Radeon HD 6630M graphics processor. For those looking at the Mac Mini, the question is which is the best model to purchase.
The following chart shows the GeekBench scores for each of the 4 possible processors available on a Mac Mini. It also shows the previous Mac Mini and the current model iMac.
As the chart shows, the Intel Sandy Bridge i7 quad core processor wins due to its four processors, yet the mid level Mac Mini with an upgraded processor is not far behind. Some applications (professional CPU intensive applications) can make use of all four cores, but other software (consumers software) may not. The chart still does not tell the whole story because the GeekBench tests do not test graphics processors. Notebookcheck.net and barefeets.com have tested both (AMD6630, HD3000)of these graphics processors using the 3DMark tests and the chart below shows these scores.
For those that don't use processor intensive applications like professional video editing and 3D graphics software, the base model Mac Mini is the best choice. It has plenty of performance for 90% of today's applications and impressive performance gains over the previous models. For those who need more power, the mid range version has 12% performance improvement over the base model and 27% more with an upgraded i7 processor. If the user will be needing the graphics processor(gaming), the mid range version becomes the better choice with its better graphics card. Another option would be to upgrade the base model with a 256GB solid state drive, which would greatly improve day to day tasks and speed up the user interface. The server version should only be looked at for server applications. Either way one looks at it, Apple is still committed to the Mac Mini and the performance upgrade proves it.
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