Apple has had some pretty big news this week. New MacBook Airs, New Mac OS in the form of Mac OSX Lion, and finally the cheapest Mac you can buy today in the form of the Apple Mac Mini computer:
2011 Apple Mac Mini Memory
One of the first things I tend to ask when any new model of Apple computer is introduced is what kind of RAM does the Mac Mini require? And, as I had guessed with the speed bump in a processor to Intel Core i5 processors also comes a speed bump in ram speed as well and with the release of this small and cheap computer from Apple the ram speed required is increased from 1066Mhz sodimms to 1333Mhz sodimms. The maximum RAM on the Mac Minis is 8GB by installing two 4GB DDR3 1333MHz sodimms, as per Apple although you can buy 16GB Mac Mini RAM it’s not something I suggest at this time mostly due to price: You could have an entire lineup of Mac Minis for what a 16GB Mac Mini memory upgrade kit will cost you today.
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The only currently shipping Mac that requires different memory is the Apple Mac Pro as it uses DDR3 SDRAM DIMMS as opposed to DDR3 SDRAM sodimms usually designed for notebook compouters. If you have more than one current 2011 Apple computer at your home or place of work, it’s quite possible for you to swap out the RAM from both or either the Apple iMac or MacBook Pro because with the release of the Mac Mini, three out of four Macs all use the exact same memory.
When the Mac Minis were first introduced you really were not supposed to upgrade the RAM on this small desktop as the RAM was hard to get to and would or could void your warranty.
But with the release of the 2011 Apple Mac Mini, that’s all changed (the 2010 Apple Mac Minis were the same too) and ease of memory installation on these cheap desktops is now encouraged and even promoted as a selling feature on the Mac Mini page at Apple. How times have changed.
A word about Mac Mini RAM Upgrades
If you buy memory from Apple for your Apple Mac Mini, you will very likely have no problems with your Mac Mini RAM, not to mention the fact that this makes buying a Mac Mini even easier as you can buy both the memory and computer from the same online store. (not to mention the keyboard, mouse and display too).
What Apple doesn’t tell you is that compared to other name brand memory manufacturers the ram the sell for all Apple products is very expensive. You could argue that of course generic RAM for Mac Mini is going to be the cheaper RAM, but this applies to the brand name memory too. In fact, if you want the cheapest RAM for Mac Mini, regardless of brand I have found it to be from Corsair which is a reputable brand name for Mac Mini RAM. If you have another $300 to spend buy the Apple RAM but if you want to save money on RAM for the Mac Mini you have better choices that will cost you considerably less.
2.3GHz Apple Mac Mini
This is the Mac Mini I’m going to buy in the near future. If you’re like me you already have picked up an external monitor and have an extra keyboard or mouse kicking around so paying extra for all the, um, extras might not make a whole lot of sense and this Mac Mini will do just fine for a lot of us looking to use the Mac Mini as a file server, or even replacement for a new desktop computer.
Newer Faster Processors This is a long time coming this new Mac Mini refresh and even though the 2010 Mac Mini was fast, the second generation Intel i5 and i7 processors change the game and now these small desktops offer the same computing power as some other desktop computers costing more and not offering the advantages of the Apple operating system including the newly released OSX Lion – Apple’s latest and newest operating system that’s included free of charge when you buy the 2.3GHz Mac Mini.
Connect with Thunderbolt Technology and more
I saw this coming. First available with the Apple MacBook Pros it makes complete sense for Apple to include this new technology in the Mac Minis, but for some reason I can’t see or get excited about the thunderbolt port. But I’m not connecting a whole whack of peripherals at one time, and I think for most of us who want to just buy the cheapest Mac they can, this feature could be lost. What’s more important when it comes to ports on the back of the Mac Mini is the 4 USB ports and HDMI port that offers a one cable solution for connecting the Mac Mini to your HDTV. The option of being able to connect two displays to the Mac Mini at the same time makes for a nice touch though and the fact that you can use whatever peripheral you’ve got kicking around and use it with these new Macs offers more value than the thunderbolt stuff at this time.
More, for less.
I could be wrong, but if I recall the MSRP on the 2010 Mac Mini was higher at about $699 so the new Mac Mini’s don’t just offer more speed they also offer a cheaper overall price. The 2.3GHz Mac Mini is the best price you can get on a new Mac today and unless you need portability or need to buy all the apple peripherals, where the savings when you add the 2.3 GHz to the cost of the keyboard, display and mouse might mean a better deal would be to buy the cheap iMac instead as the iMac ships with all the peripherals included right out of the box.
This is important if you’re gaming, editing movies or simply for video playback at home you want to be sure that your graphics card is up to the task when called upon and the fastest computer won’t do you any good if there’s a bottleneck when it comes time to display. According to Apple this won’t be the case thanks to the much faster graphics card on the 2.3GHz Mac Mini as the AMD Radeon HD graphics processor with 256MB of GDDR5 memory packs more punch than ever before with some applications offering twice as fast graphics than the 2010 Mac Mini this computer replaces.
Bluetooth and Wifi are pretty standard fare in 2011 so I don’t think I need to spend too much time with these topics and suffice it to say that the 2011 Mac Mini offers both these technologies
2.5 GHz Apple Mac Mini
Apple offers an even faster Mac Mini for $799, and save for the extra $200 and faster processor: Intel Core i5 2.3GHz vs Intel Core i5 2.5Ghz, more memory (2GB vs 4GB) and a faster video card as the main differences between the two Mac Mini models, there’s not much else to write about the more expensive Mac Mini and if it were my money, I’d save it and buy more RAM and save the difference for your next Mac Mini or future Mac from Apple.
Save Money on the 2011 Apple Mac Mini
It’s not much, but if you buy a Mac Mini at Amazon you can save over the full MSRP of what Apple charges with current savings on new Mac Minis only being $5 or so as these are new machines from Apple, it’s still a savings and worth a mention.
Also, check out MacMall for Mac Mini Bargains, especially if you can live with a 2010 Mac Mini as now is the time to buy a discontinued Mac Mini for even more savings as the discontinued models get liquidated to make room for the faster 2011 Mac Mini models.