The original Mac mini was introduced in January 2005 at 1.25 GHz and 1.42 GHz. In July, Apple bumped base RAM from 256 MB to 512 MB. The Late 2005 model boosts CPU speeds to 1.33 GHz and 1.5 GHz. The SuperDrive is bumped from 4x to 8x, can now burn dual-layer discs, and also works with DVD-RAM media.
The Late 2005 Mac mini has 64 MB of VRAM in the 1.5 GHz model, twice as much as other Minis. It uses the same Radeon 9200 graphics processor. 5400 rpm hard drives are now standard, replacing 4400 rpm drives found in earlier Minis.
Apple didn’t initially acknowledge the existence of these faster models, even though many people had received them instead of the older, slightly slower models they had ordered. When you bought a Mac mini, Apple only promised you’d get “at least” 1.25 GHz or 1.42 GHz. There is no difference in packaging, so the only way to know which version you had was to plug it in and turn it on.
The tiny Mac mini (6.5″ square, 2″ high, 2.9 lb.) has a minimalist design. On the front, there’s just a slot-loading optical drive and a power light. On the rear, almost enough ports to do everything important. (More than two USB ports would have been nice.)
The Mac mini is Apple’s only desktop model that doesn’t include a keyboard or mouse. Apple says buyers can plug in their favorite USB keyboard and mouse – or buy Apple’s offerings. Mac OS X 10.4 and later include support for remapping the Windows alt and option keys to option and cmd.
The Mac mini is expandable. Memory can be expanded to 1 GB (there’s only one memory slot, so if you upgrade, you have to remove what’s installed), and Apple doesn’t recommend that users upgrade RAM (although this will not void your warranty). There’s room inside for Bluetooth and AirPort Extreme (to be installed by Apple or an authorized dealer, not by the user).
With USB 2.0 and FireWire, it’s easy to add all sorts of peripherals.
Apple cut costs by including just one memory slot and by leaving out the keyboard and mouse, but some choices actually raise the cost of the Mac mini, particularly the slot-loading optical drive and the use of 2.5″ laptop hard drives that are smaller, more energy efficient, and more expensive than the 3.5″ drives found in most desktop computers.
Due to poor cooling, the ATI Radeon 9200 graphics processor can overheat during intensive gaming, producing what one reader calls “swirling flying triangles”. Letting the mini cool solves the problem. To minimize overheating, be sure to allow plenty of air flow around the Mac mini, don’t stack it with a hot hard drive, and consider running it vertically or with a set of feet to raise it above your work surface, which allows air to reach the bottom, the mini’s primary heat radiating surface.
Apple offered several Build To Order options, such as an 80 GB hard drive (add $50), a 4x SuperDrive ($100), Bluetooth ($50), AirPort Extreme ($79) – or both Bluetooth and AirPort Extreme for $99 – Mighty Mouse and a keyboard ($78), or a wireless mouse and keyboard ($99, requires Bluetooth). And with a $19 DVI to Video Adapter, you can connect the Mac mini to most modern TVs using S-video or composite video.
If you have a lot of peripherals, you might want to look into a FireWire/USB 2.0 hub. Prices range from $29-49.
At the time, Apple’s least costly display was the 20″ Cinema Display ($799), although the Apple Store also offers flat screen CRT monitor for a lot less. The big question is which flat-panel monitors look and work best with the Mac mini. For best results, look for one with digital DVI input instead of or in addition to analog VGA.
- introduced 2005.09.28 at US$499 (1.33 GHz Combo), US$599 (1.5 GHz Combo), and US$699 (1.5 GHz SuperDrive). 1.5 GHz models include AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth 2.0. Replaced by Core Duo Mac mini on 2006.02.28
- Part no.: M9687LL/A (1.33 GHz), M9687LL/A (1.5 GHz)
- Model Identifier: PowerMac10,2
- CPU: 1.33/1.5 GHz G4 (7457B)
- L2 cache: 512 KB on CPU
- Bus: 167 MHz
- RAM: 512 MB, expandable to 1 GB using PC2700 (333 MHz) DDR SDRAM.
- Geekbench 2 (Leopard): 782 (1.5 GHz), 720 (1.33 GHz)
- Geekbench 2 (Tiger): 806 (1.5 GHz)
- GPU: ATI Radeon 9200 with AGP 4x support
- VRAM: 32/64 MB DDR SDRAM
- Video out: DVI, VGA with included adapter, S-video with optional adapter
- drive bus: ATA/100
- Hard drive: 2.5″ 40/80 GB 5400 rpm ATA/100
- Combo Drive: reads DVDs at up to 8x speed, writes CD-R discs at up to 32x, writes CD-RW discs at up to 16x, reads CDs at up to 32x
- SuperDrive: writes DVD±R discs at up to 8x speed; DVD±RW at 4x; DVD-RAM at 5x; reads DVDs at up to 8x; writes CD-R discs at up to 24x, writes CD-RW discs at up to 8x, reads CDs at up to 24x
- USB: 2 USB 2.0 ports
- FireWire 400: 1 port
- FireWire 400: none
- Ethernet: 10/100Base-T
- WiFi: 802.11g AirPort Extreme optional on 1.33 GHz model; standard on 1.5 GHz model
- Bluetooth: optional on 1.33 GHz model; standard on 1.5 GHz model
- integrated 56 kbps modem supports v.92 standard, optional on 1.5 GHz models
- Microphone: none
- size: 2.0 x 6.5 x 6.5 in/5.1 x 16.5 x 16.5 cm
- Weight: 2.9 lb./1.3 kg
- Power supply: 85W external power supply
- PRAM battery: 3V CR2032 lithium
- none at present
- What’s the Best Version of OS X for My Mac?, Ian R Campbell, The Sensible Mac, 2008.02.28. Which version of Mac OS X is best for your hardware depends on several factors.
- Know Your Mac’s Upgrade Options, Phil Herlihy, The Usefulness Equation, 2008.08.26. Any Mac can be upgraded, but it’s a question of what can be upgraded – RAM, hard drive, video, CPU – and how far it can be upgraded.
- The Future of Up-to-Date Browsers for PowerPC Macs, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2009.08.31. With Intel-only “Snow Leopard” shipping, software support for PPC Macs will continue its decline. Also, a look at SeaMonkey 2 and Camino 1.6.9.
- Optimized Software Builds Bring Out the Best in Your Mac, Dan Knight, Low End Mac’s Online Tech Journal, 2009.06.30. Applications compiled for your Mac’s CPU can load more quickly and run faster than ones compiled for universal use.
- Tips for Installing or Reinstalling Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2009.06.10. Mac OS X 10.4 uses less memory than Leopard, supports Classic Mode on PowerPC Macs, and, unlike Leopard, is supported on G3 Macs.
- Is Leopard Slower than Tiger on G4 Macs?, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2009.04.17. Truth be told, when you have 1 GB of RAM, Leopard benchmarks an insigificant 4% slower than Tiger.
- Is It Worth Maxing the RAM in Old G3 and G4 Macs?, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2009.04.15. Increasing memory can make your old Mac faster and make you more productive, but it probably won’t improve resale value by the amount you spend.
- PowerPC Architecture Was Not a Failure, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2009.02.16. CNET’s Brooke Crothers calls PowerPC a failed architecture, but 12 years of PowerPC Macs, IBM’s blade servers, and three game consoles tell a different story.
- Do G4 Macs Have What It Takes to Remain Useful in a Multicore World?, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2009.01.15. With dual-core Intel CPUs running beyond 2 GHz, is any G4 Mac a practical choice?
- The ‘Better Safe Than Sorry’ Guide to Installing Mac OS X Updates, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.12.16. Most users encounter no problems using Software Update, but some preflight work and using the Combo updater means far less chance of trouble.
- Why You Should Partition Your Mac’s Hard Drive, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2008.12.11. “At the very least, it makes sense to have a second partition with a bootable version of the Mac OS, so if you have problems with your work partition, you can boot from the ’emergency’ partition to run Disk Utility and other diagnostics.”
- Will Snow Leopard Support Some PowerPC Macs?, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2008.11.26. It just doesn’t make sense that Apple would ship a new OS that won’t support Macs sold less than three years ago.
- Virtualization shootout: VMWare Fusion 2 vs. Parallels Desktop 4, Kev Kitchens, Kitchens Sync, 2008.11.20. Both programs do the same thing, but one runs Windows XP smoothly alongside Mac apps, while the other bogs down everything but Windows.
- The future of PowerPC Macs and software as ‘Snow Leopard’ approaches, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2008.11.13. Apple phased out Classic Mode and G3 support with ‘Leopard’ last year, and next year’s OS X 10.6 won’t support any PowerPC Macs. Will other developers abandon PowerPC as well?
- How to clone Mac OS X to a new hard drive, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2008.10.07. Whether you want to put a bigger, faster drive in your Mac or clone OS X for use in another Mac, here’s the simple process.
- 9 browsers for G3 and older G4 Macs compared, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2008.09.26. The latest versions of Opera, Safari, Shiira, iCab, Radon, Firefox, Demeter, Sunrise, and Camino that run on Mac OS X 10.4 “Tiger”.
- Tiger vs. Leopard: Which is best for you?, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2008.09.22. Two great versions of Mac OS X, but unless your Mac is well above the minimum spec for Leopard and has lots of RAM, stick with Tiger.
- Overclocking a Mac mini got me hooked on souping up Macs, Adam Geller, My First Mac, 2008.09.04. Stories of hot rodding iBooks, G3 iMacs, and PCI Power Macs on the cheap.
- Does running OS X system maintenance routines really do any good?, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.08.26. Mac OS X is designed to run certain maintenance routines daily, weekly, and monthly – but can’t if your Mac is off or asleep.
- Turn your old Mac into a web server with Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP, Jason Packer, Macs in the Enterprise, 2008.07.09. Step-by-step instructions for installing and configuring Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP on an older Mac.
- 1 display with 2 Macs, flash memory for file transfer, Quicksilver or TigerLaunch?, and more, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.05.21. Also running a PowerBook 1400 from Compact Flash, format=flowed for email, and OS 9 nice for browsing without Flash.
- SheepShaver brings Classic Mac OS to Intel Macs and Leopard, Alan Zisman, Mac2Windows, 2008.05.20. Mac OS X 10.5 doesn’t support Classic Mode. Neither does Leopard. But SheepShaver lets you emulate a PowerPC Mac and run the Classic Mac OS.
- OS X for PCs, Mac mini with HDTV, 802.11n options, upgrading from Mac OS 9, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.04.22. Also reviving a dead PowerBook 5300, Lucida Grande, external FireWire SuperDrive advice, OS X and the DeskWriter, and royalties.
- Mac mini with HDTV, Lucida Grande on Low End Mac, the Open Computer, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.04.17. Also using a computer display with HDTV and cleaning your keyboard in the dishwasher.
- Restore stability to a troubled Mac with a clean system install, Keith Winston, Linux to Mac, 2008.01.15. If your Mac is misbehaving, the best fix just might be a fresh reinstallation of Mac OS X – don’t forget to backup first.
- Overheating Mac minis, ‘Road Apple’ label reconsidered, eMac repair extension, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2007.11.16. Also why the Mac mini is a wonderful computer, more Leopard on unsupported Macs, and contextual ads on Low End Mac.
- G4 Mac mini not a Road Apple, big drive support in Leopard?, leaking capacitors, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2007.11.15. Why the original Mac mini shouldn’t be considered a Road Apple, maximum Power Mac RAM, a dual 933 MHz G4 upgrade, and more.
- G4 Mac mini, a Limited Mac, Dan Knight, 2007.11.14. The smallest, cheapest Mac ever could have been faster and even cheaper if Steve Jobs hadn’t insisted it had to be so small.
- Road Apple nominations, OS X 10.5 on MDD Power Macs, UMPCs and Apple, and a broken power button, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2007.10.12. Whether some additional Macs merit the ‘Road Apple’ label, Leopard on Mirrored Drive Doors Power Macs, the usefulness of ultrasmall computers, and dealing with an iMac with a broken power button.
- External $100 Sony DVD burner likes Macs, Brian Gray, Fruitful Editing, 2007.10.10. The box and manual say nothing about Mac compatibility, but this 18x USB 2.0 DVD burner is plug-and-play (at least with Tiger).
- I love the Mac mini, no iPhone in court, no region-free DVDs on MacBooks, and more, Andrew J Fishkin, Best Tools for the Job, 2007.07.31. Also 15 years of ThinkPads, reliability and all-in-one devices, and thoughts on upgrading operating systems.
- The Mac mini is dead: Why it missed the target, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2007.07.26. The Mac mini is compact, elegant, and affordable (for a Mac). What the market wanted was expandable and affordable compared with a Windows PC.
- Code doesn’t rust, Core Image and G4 Macs, and a fallback plan for losing G3 support, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2007.05.17. Old versions of the Mac OS are just fine, Core Image requirements, alternatives to Apple’s discontinued AirPort Card, G4 Mac mini GPU doesn’t support Core Image, and more.
- 11 No Cost Tips for Optimizing Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger Performance, Ed Eubanks Jr, The Efficient Mac User, 2007.03.12. If your Mac is getting sluggish, here are 11 tips that can help restore its original performance.
- One year with my ‘free’ Mac mini, Hardy Menagh, Empowered, 2006.11.20. “For something the size of a fruitcake, the mini is a powerful little computer.”
- Mac market up 34.6%, Core 2 minis?, red mice and iPods, a $30 Bluetooth 2.0 dongle, and more, Mac News Review, 2006.11.10. Also Apple’s blue motherboards, Other Red helps orphans in Africa, Bluetooth for G4 minis, SoundTech’s XLR-to-USB microphone cable, and more.
- Region Free DVD Viewing Options for Intel and PowerPC Macs, Andrew J Fishkin, The Mobile Mac, 2006.09.12. Several hardware and software options that will let your view ‘wrong region’ DVDs on your PowerPC or Intel Mac.
- Macs take away Microsoft pain, Macs revive James Bond, iMac king of all media, iWoofer, and more, Mac News Review, 2006.06.16. Also Windows users guide to switching to the Mac, Bluetooth firmware update for PPC Macs, universal USB 2.0 drive adapter, waterproof case for video iPod, and more.
- Drive matters, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2006.06.14. There’s more to picking the right hard drive than size, spindle speed, buffer size, and price. But how can a 5400 rpm drive ever outperform a 7200 rpm drive?
- The sun has set on the G4, Ted Hodges, Vintage Mac Living, 2006.05.23. After seven years with the G4, Apple has discontinued the last model to use it, but that doesn’t make these machines obsolete.
- NewerTech miniStack: A great drive even if you don’t own a Mac mini, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Reviews, 2006.02.08. Although it’s designed to match the Mac mini, the miniStack hard drive can add USB 2.0 and FireWire ports to any Mac while keeping your fast external hard drive cool.
- Matias OS X and USB 2.0 Keyboards reviewed, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2006.01.03. Two very good, nicely priced keyboards for the Mac – one even has a USB 2.0 port for the iPod shuffle and other devices.
- A scrounger’s guide to equipping the Mac mini: Choices for the budget conscious, Hardy Menagh, Empowered, 2005.12.22. How to add a monitor, mouse, keyboard, and stereo sound to your Mac mini for little or no money.
- Yes, you can get a ‘free’ Mac mini – but is it worth the hassles?, Hardy Menagh, Empowered, 2005.12.15. You’ve seen the offers for free iPods, Palms, gift cards, and Mac minis. What’s the catch?
- Mac mini vs G4/800 dual, completely washable mice, PatchBurn enables unsupported burners, and more, Charles W Moore, Mac News Review, 2005.12.09. The 1.5 GHz Mac mini is even faster.
- Performance increase in replacing a mini’s hard drive, Jamie Dresser, Other World Computing, 2005.01.27. Alternate hard drives can boost disk performance by 25% to nearly 50% compared to Apple’s stock hard drive.
- Apple Specs for Mac mini