Apple last updated the Mac mini in October 2012, moving to a 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel i5 CPU and Ivy Bridge chipset on the entry-level model – and a very powerful 2.3 GHz quad-core i7 on the step-up Mini (power hungry users can upgrade that to 2.6 GHz). 4 GB of memory is standard with 16 GB max, the new models use Intel HD Graphics 4000, and the Mini finally got USB 3, which has 10x the bandwidth of USB 2.0.
FireWire 800 remains, as does 802.11n WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0 is a step up from the 2011 Mini. There’s also a Server version that normally ships with two 1 TB hard drives. If you need an optical drive, you can add the external Apple USB SuperDrive for $79.
Brand new on all but the entry-level Mac mini is Fusion Drive, which couples a 128 GB SSD and a 1 TB hard drive to optimize drive performance far beyond what hybrid hard drives can provide.
For our take on the Late 2012 Mac mini, see The Late 2012 Mac mini Value Equation. We anticipate Apple updating the Mini in Early 2014.
The one compelling reason to choose the Mid 2010 Mac mini is that it can run OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard (and thus PowerPC software) and has a built-in SuperDrive. (There are ways to get 10.6 on the 2011 Mini, but it requires cloning Snow Leopard from another Mac.) If you’re not ready for Lion – or are unwilling to go there – it’s the last and best Mac mini option, and its Nvidia graphics may be better for gaming than the Intel HD Graphics in newer Minis.
The Early 2009 and Late 2009 Mac mini are no slackers and have some advantages over the 2010 model – it can run Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard (the 2010 model requires 10.6 Snow Leopard) and has five USB 2.0 ports (vs. four now, but the 2010 and newer models also have a built-in SD Card reader). These are also the oldest Minis compatible with OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and 10.9 Mavericks.
Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard is supported on all Mac mini models through 2009 with at least 512 MB of RAM; we recommend at least 1 GB in G4 Minis and 2 GB in Intel Minis for better performance – and still more memory helps more. Leopard is the last version G4 Minis can run.
OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard is supported on all Intel-powered Macs with at least 1 GB of RAM, and we recommend at least 2 GB for beter performance (we had 1 GB in our 2007 Mac mini – upgrading to 3 GB made a huge difference). See the individual computer profiles (linked below) for a list of supported and unsupported Snow Leopard technologies (for instance, the Mac mini Core Solo cannot run in 64-bit mode, cannot use Grand Central Dispatch, and has no support for OpenCL).
OS X 10.7 Lion, which shipped with the Mid 2011 model, is supported on all 2007 and later models. Earlier models use Intel Core Solo or Core Duo CPUs, which are 32-bit only and cannot run Lion, which is a 64-bit operating system.
OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and 10.9 Mavericks require an Early 2009 or newer Mac mini.
We think the Mac mini is quite the value and use a 2.0 GHz 2007 Mini as one our production Macs at Low End Mac headquarters. Keep in mind that the mini ships with no mouse or keyboard. The Mac mini can be ordered with a Apple’s keyboard and mouse, but that’s a lot to spend for a mouse and keyboard. We’re big fans of some of the better Logitech keyboards and mice, as well as the Macally iKeySlim USB 2.0 keyboard (under $30 from Amazon.com), all of which we also use at Low End Mac headquarters.
Apple recommends that anything going inside the mini be installed by an authorized Apple dealer, although user installation of memory will not void the warranty. Getting inside the Mac mini to add RAM or upgrade the hard drive is a bit tricky with pre-2010 models, and a lot easier with the new design – especially upgrading memory.
For those seeking more power on a budget, the Core Solo or Core Duo CPU in the 2006 models can be replaced by a faster Core Duo or the newer, faster Core 2 Duo. We do not recommend buying the Core Solo Mac mini unless you plan to upgrade the CPU, as it is widely reported as being very sluggish with its single-core CPU. Note that upgrading to a Core 2 CPU does not allow use of more than 2 GB of RAM, nor will it allow these Minis to run Lion.
The 1.42 GHz and 1.5 GHz G4 models shipped with 512 MB of RAM, and the Intel-based models don’t include a modem.
G4 Mac minis
PowerPC Macs aren’t obsolete, but neither are they up-to-date. With used G4 Minis starting as low as $125, there’s never been a better time to pick one up. With 512 MB of RAM, it will run OS X 10.4 Tiger decently, and upgraded to 1 GB (its maximum), OS X 10.5 Leopard.
You really can get by with a 40 GB hard drive, and the Radeon graphics in the G4 Minis are superior to the GMA 950 graphics in early Intel Minis. The Mini has DVI output, and with a DVI-to-video adapter, you can connect the Mac mini to TV via S-video or composite video, making it a fairly inexpensive home media center.
If you have a spare mouse, monitor, and keyboard, it can also make a good student computer.
Best Mac mini Prices
Many of the dealers listed offer free ground shipping on new units. Best deals factor in estimated ground shipping costs. Used Macs usually include a 90 day warranty. Used minis do not include mouse or keyboard.
Best Used Mac mini G4 Prices
- 1.25 GHz G4 Combo, $125, Wegener Media
- 1.42 GHz G4 Combo, $139, PowerMax
- 1.42 GHz SD, $169, PowerMax
- 1.5 GHz G4 Combo, $179, PowerMax
- 1.5 GHz G5 SD, $249, PowerMax
Best Used Intel Mac mini Prices
- 1.83 GHz Core 2 Combo, $240, MegaMacs
- 2.0 GHz Core 2 SD, $374, DV Warehouse
- 2.26 GHz Core 2 SD, $349, Mac of All Trades
- 2.3 GHz i5, $629.77 shipped, Operator Headgap
- 2.66 GHz Core 2 Server, $595, DV Warehouse
Best New Mac mini Prices
- 2.5 GHz dual i5, $540 shipped, B&H
- 2.3 GHz quad i7, $740 shipped, B&H
- 2.6 GHz quad i7, $899 shipped, B&H
- 2.3 GHz quad i7 Server, $949 shipped, B&H
Recent Prices on Memory Upgrades
Prices are per module unless otherwise noted.
- G4 (one slot): 512 MB, $11.49; 1 GB, $19.99
- 2006/07, PC5300: 1 GB, $14.99; 2 GB kit, $26.79
- 2007, PC5300: 3 GB kit, $44.99; 4 GB kit, $59.99 (2007 Mini can only use 3 GB, but matched memory modules improve performance slightly)
- 2009/10, 1066 DDR3: 2 GB, $31.99; 4 GB, $52.79; 8 GB, $103.79 (2010 model only); 4 GB kit, $59.99; 6 GB kit, $79.99; 8 GB kit, $97.5; 16 GB kit, $195 (2010 model only)
- 2011, PC10600: 2 GB, $30.79; 4 GB, $53.97; 4 GB kit, $56.99; 8 GB kit, $99; 12 GB kit, $145; 16 GB kit, $195
- 2012, PC12800: 4 GB, $53.99; 8 GB, $99.97; 8 GB kit, $99; 12 GB kit, $14599; 16 GB kit, $189
Mac OS X and OS X Server Prices
- Best Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger Deals
- Best Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Deals
- Best Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Deals
- OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion is available through the Mac App Store for $20
Unless otherwise noted, there is no surcharge for credit card purchases and shipping is not included. Vendors are listed in alphabetical order.
Factory refurbished items carry an Apple one year warranty and are eligible for AppleCare. Store refurbished items may vary. Prices may be limited to quantity on hand. Not responsible for typos.
Buying through some of these links benefits Low End Mac. Buying at these prices benefits you.
- Early 2005 – 1.25/1.42 GHz: 256 MB RAM (expandable to 1 GB); Radeon 9200 graphics with 32 MB; 4 USB ports; Bluetooth and AirPort may or may not be included; external
- Late 2005 – 1.33/1.5 GHz: 512 MB RAM; Bluetooth, AirPort, and 64 MB video RAM standard on 1.5 GHz model
- Early 2006 – 1.5 GHz/1.66 GHz Core Solo/Duo: 512 MB RAM (expandable to 2 GB); Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics; 5 USB ports; Bluetooth and AirPort standard; cannot run OS X 10.7 Lion
- Late 2006 – 1.66/1.83 GHz Core Duo: faster version of Early 2006 Mini; cannot run OS X 10.7 Lion
- Mid 2007 – 1.83/2.0 GHz Core 2: expandable to 3 GB; supports OS X 10.7 Lion; cannot run OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
- Early 2009 – 2.0 GHz Nvidia: 2.26 GHz build-to-order option; 1-2 GB RAM (expandable to 8 GB); GeForce 9400M graphics; requires OS X 10.5 Leopard or newer
- Late 2009 – 2.26/2.53 GHz Nvidia: faster version of Early 2009 Mini; shipes with OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard but will run 10.5 Leopard
- Mid 2010 – 2.4/2.66 GHz Unibody: requires OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard; new design eliminates external power supply; GeForce 320M graphics; 5 USB ports
- Mid 2011 – 2.3-2.7 GHz: dual-core Intel Core i5/i7; expandable to 16 GB RAM; adds Thunderbolt; Intel HD 3000 graphics on 2.3 GHz, Radeon HD 6630M graphics with 256 MB dedicated video RAM on 2.5 GHz and faster
- Mid 2011 Server: same as faster Mid 2011 but with 2.0 GHz quad-core i7
- Late 2012 – 2.5 GHz i5/2.3-2.6 GHz i7: dual-core Intel Core i5/quad-core i7; expandable to 16 GB RAM; gains USB 3 and Bluetooth 4.0; Intel HD 4000 graphics
- Late 2012 Server: same as faster Mid 2012 but with two hard drives and OS X Server installed
New, Open Box, and Demo
Prices include free ground shipping unless noted “+ sh”.
|2012 Mac mini|
|2.5 GHz i5, 4/500||$579 + sh||$539.99||$569.99||$589||$549.99|
|2.5 GHz i5, 8/500||$699||$688.89|
|2.3 GHz i7, 4/1 TB||$769.99 +sh||$739.99||$759.99||$789|
|2.3 GHz i7, 4/1 TB Fusion||$999||$994||$999|
|2.6 GHz i7, 4/1 TB||$899|
|2.6 GHz i7, 4/1 TB Fusion||$1,099||$1,144||$1,099|
|2.3 GHz Server, 4/2×1 TB||$979||$949||$967.99||$989|
|Apple USB SuperDrive||$79||$74.99||$79||$79 + sh|
- Amazon.com collects sales tax on orders shipped to KS, KY, ND, NY, and WA.
- MacMall collects sales tax on orders shipped to CA, IL, MN, TN, and WI.
Used Intel Core & Core 2 Minis
Used Macs are covered by a store warranty only.
Shipping may add $18 or more. OS X 10.6.8 installed.
- used 1.5 GHz Core Solo, 512 MB/60, $249
- used 1.83 GHz Core 2, 1/80/Combo, $295
- used 2.0 GHz Core 2, 1/120/SD, $374
- used 2.66 GHz Server, 4/250, OS X 10.6 Server, $595
Ground shipping may add $19 or more. ExperCom collects sales tax on orders shipped within UT.
- used 2.66 GHz Core 2, 4/2×500, OS X 10.6, $499
Ground shipping may add $20 or more. Mac of All Trades collects sales tax on orders shipped within FL. It has the highest product turnover of any used Mac dealer we track.
- used 2.26 GHz Core 2, 2/120, OS X 10.6, $349
30 day warranty. OS X 10.7 installed. Ground shipping may add $15 or more.
- used 1.83 GHz Core 2, 2 GB/80/Combo, $239.99
- used 1.83 GHz Core 2, 2 GB/80/Combo, keyboard and mouse, $249.99
Operator Headgap thoroughly refurbishes and tests every Mac they sell. When buying, please let them know you heard about them on Low End Mac when entering your shipping information. Thanks!
- used 2.0 GHz Core 2, 1 GB/120/SD, keyboard, mouse, $499.77 shipped
- used 2.3 GHz i5, 2/500, OS X 10.8, $629.77 shipped
Ground shipping may adde $20 or more. Keyboard and mouse not included.
- used 1.5 GHz Core Solo, 512 MB/60/Combo, $329
- used 1.66 GHz Core Duo, 512 MB/60/Combo, $359
- used 1.66 GHz Core Duo, 512 MB/60/SD, $379
- used 1.83 GHz Core Duo, 512 MB/80/SD, $389
- used 1.83 GHz Core 2, 1 GB/80/Combo, $409
- used 2.0 GHz Core 2, 1 GB/120/SD, $459
- many other configurations listed
Used G4 Minis
Used Macs are covered by a store warranty only.
Shipping may add $18 or more.
- used 1.25 GHz G4, 512 MB/40/Combo, $168
- used 1.42 GHz G4, 51 MB/60/Combo, $189
- used 1.5 GHz G4, 51 MB/60/Combo, $218
Ground shipping may add $20 or more. Keyboard and mouse not included.
- used 1.25 GHz G4 Combo, 256/40, $129
- used 1.42 GHz G4 Combo, 256/80, $139
- used 1.42 GHz G4 SD, 512/80, $169
- used 1.5 GHz G4 Combo, 512/80, $179
- used 1.5 GHz G4 SD, 512/80, $219
- many other configurations listed
Ground shipping may add $12.50 or more.
- used 1.25 GHz G4 Combo, 512/40, $124.79
Short link: http://goo.gl/qDBCMA