The new Mac Mini is a fantastic desktop

….for the price and will meet just about everyone’s needs.

I provide services to a lot of traditional computer users.  Most of you are like me.  You couldn’t just give up your computer in favor of an iPad or comparable mobile device.    A lot of you depend on a traditional desktop or use your laptop primarily like a desktop.

If you are in the mood for a computer that will stay on your desk, you should consider the new Mac Mini.  Apple updated this system in late 2014.     Apple offers three models for your computing pleasure but I think the first two will  get the job done for the typical home or small business user that I serve.   Mac Mini model 1 and model 2, for the sake of discussion, are priced at $499 and $699 respectively.

What is a Mac Mini?  Released in 2005, the Mac Mini has always been positioned as Apple’s “entry level” desktop.  Please don’t confuse the Mini with the entry level Honda Civic that was (and maybe still is) sold without an air conditioner.   The Mac Mini is sold with a minimalist approach.  You get a Mini tower (about the size of a cigar box) and a power cord.  The rest is up to you.   You can attach whatever monitor, mouse and keyboard that fits your fancy.  You certainly to not have to buy Apple’s (overpriced) $999 monitor.   A Dell monitor or monitor from the local electronics store would be fine (often far less than $200).  A monitor with an HDMI port is preferred but you can always get a $30 adapter that will give the Mini permission to use just about any flat panel screen.

I like to think of the Mini as Apple’s most flexible computer.  It embodies the spirit of Apple’s earliest days.  It is Apple’s only computer that can be easily modified.  With the exception of Apple’s 27 inch iMac (which  has user replaceable RAM), the Mac Mini is the only current Mac that has meaningful parts (hard drive) that can be replaced without bringing it to the Apple Store and dropping it off for Steve knows how long (true Apple fans will get the joke at the end).  Given that a hard drive is much more likely to fail that RAM, the user  or non-Apple Store technician replaceable hard drive on the Mini makes it a very practical choice.

So which Mini should you get?  The $499 is good for everyday needs.  It comes with a 4 GB of RAM and a $500 GB hard drive.  It features the same low power, energy efficient processor as the Mac Book Air.   The $699 Mac Mini offers a significantly faster processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 1 TB (1000 GB) hard drive.  If you need to keep SEVERAL applications open at once, import a lot of video or audio, or have a need for speed, choose this one.   Both Mac Minis sport plenty of hard drive space, so if you needed to run Windows in addition to the Mac OS, this could easily be accomplished.    Many computer users don’t know this, but Macs have been able to run Windows (as if it were any other Windows computer) since 2006.  Business users who must run a couple of work apps but prefer the safety of the Mac OS for most tasks truly appreciate this option.

If you want a great desktop that gives you the flexibility of choosing your own (inexpensive) monitor, keyboard and mouse, with the security the Mac operating system, the Mac Mini is hard to beat.  There is no “Apple Tax” on this model.  It it is a perfect marriage of performance and price.