Journal: News & Comment

Wednesday, January 12, 2005
# 8:39:00 AM:

Mac mini corrections

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Never mind my gripes below and in the comments. According to MacInTouch:

  1. Apple "does not recommend" that users upgrade the memory [in the Mac mini] themselves—you're supposed to have a service provider do it if you want to add more after purchase—but doing it yourself does not void the warranty unless you damage something. A booth person told me the memory slot is easily accessible once you get the case open.
  2. The hard drives are 2.5-inch (notebook drives)—that's why Apple isn't offering higher capacities (80 GB is about the largest available, at least in volume, in the 2.5-inch format). The booth person said she thought the Apple drives spin at 5,400 rpm, but she wasn't sure, and I haven't found any confirmation. The drive isn't readily accessible, so even when larger capacities become available, upgrading won't be easy.
  3. You can add AirPort Express for $79 and/or Bluetooth for $50 if you're ordering the Mini from the Apple Store, but if you want to add wireless later, your only choice will be a kit that includes both AirPort Express and Bluetooth for about $129 ($112 to dealers). This stuff also is not user-installable, supposedly because it involves adding antennas as well as cards.

That makes more sense, and also explains why no larger hard drives are available. No doubt big FireWire drives that fit neatly under the mini (like the ones for the original classic Macintoshes) will soon be on the market anyway. So I would recommend that anyone buying a Mac mini as a main computer upgrade the base model to a 80 GB disk, with Airport and Bluetooth, but put in your own third-party RAM to bring it to 1 GB.

That turns a $630 Cdn computer into an $860 purchase (a faster processor costs you another $60 more), plus whatever you can get the memory for, but it will give you a decent performance and storage boost. When buying it as a second computer, or for a school or office, the mini could probably get by with the stock 40 GB drive and some off-the-shelf RAM, keeping the price low.


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