Mac mini (Early 2009)

After over a year and a half without a change, Apple finally updated the Mac mini in March 2009. As widely anticipated, the new Mac mini adopts Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics, the same GPU found in the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro – and it finally gets 802.11n WiFi as well (and 802.11a for good measure).

Mac miniThere are three pleasant surprises on the back of the 2009 Mac mini: five USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire port (FireWire 800, not 400), and two monitor ports – Mini-DVI and Mini DisplayPort (both can be used, making this the first Mac mini with dual display support). FireWire 400 devices can be used with a FireWire 800-to-400 cable or adapter.

back of 2009 Mac miniBoth standard configurations run at 2.0 GHz, just like the top-end Mac mini they replace, but with a newer, more efficient version of the Core 2 Duo CPU that’s soldered in place (a first for the Mac mini) and thus cannot be upgraded; there is a $150 build-to-order option of a 2.26 GHz CPU.

For the first time, there is no Mini with a Combo drive – even the entry-level $599 model has an 8x dual-layer SuperDrive. The top-end model does have more RAM, a bigger hard drive, and uses twice as much RAM for graphics.

There are two memory sockets: in the 1 GB model, one is occupied with a 1 GB module, and in the 2 GB model, both slots are filled, so to upgrade RAM on that model, you have to remove one or both modules. The computer is designed to use 128 MB of RAM for graphics when 1 GB of RAM is installed, 256 MB when configured with 2 GB or more.

The Intel-based Mac mini looks like previous models from the front, but the rear is different. The new mini has five USB 2.0 ports (up from 4 on earlier Intel minis), two monitor ports, and FireWire 800.

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 for the first time, it’s a SATA SuperDrive) and a power light. On the rear, just enough ports to do everything important.

The Mac mini 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 includes support for remapping the Windows alt and option keys to option and cmd respectively.

Intel-based Macs use a partitioning scheme known as GPT. Only Macintel models can boot from GPT hard drives. Both PowerPC and Intel Macs can boot from APM (Apple’s old partitioning scheme) hard drives, which is the format you must use to create a universal boot drive in Leopard. PowerPC Macs running any version of the Mac OS prior to 10.4.2 cannot mount GPT volumes. PowerPC Macs won’t let you install OS X to a USB drive or choose it as your startup volume, although there is a work around for that.


  • introduced 2009.03.03 at US$599 (1 GB RAM/120 GB hard drive) and US$799 (2 GB RAM/320 GB hard drive), 2.26 GHz build-to-order option adds $150; replaced by faster Late 2009 model on 2010.06.15.
  • Part no.: MB463 (1 GB/120), MB464 (2 GB/320)
  • Model Identifier: Macmini3,1

Mac OS

Core System

  • CPU: 2.0 GHz Penryn Core 2 Duo P7350
  • L2 cache: 3 MB on CPU
  • Bus: 1066 MHz
  • RAM: 1/2 GB, expandable to 8 GB using two 1066MHz DDR3 SO-DIMMs. 128 or 256 MB of RAM set aside as video memory. (Requires Mac mini EFI Firmware Update 1.2 to go past 4 GB.)
  • performance
    • Geekbench 2: 3567 (2.26 GHz); 3799 (2.53 GHz)
    • Speedmark (with 2 GB RAM), 189 (120 GB hard drive) and 202 (320 GB). Previous top-end Mac mini scored 167.


  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce 9400M with resolution to 1920 x 1080 (VGA) and 1920 x 1200 (DVI).
  • VRAM: 128/256 MB DDR3 SDRAM (shared with main memory)
  • Video out: Mini-DVI and Mini DisplayPort, Mini-DIV-to-DVI adapter included, VGA with optional adapter


  • drive bus: 3 Gbps SATA Rev. 2
  • Hard drive: 2.5″ 120/320 GB 5400 rpm SATA standard; 250 GB and 320 GB available for base model on build-to-order basis
  • SuperDrive DL: SATA, writes DVD±R discs at up to 8x speed, DL at 6x; DVD±RW at 8x; reads DVDs at up to 8x; writes CD-R and CD-RW discs at up to 24x, reads CDs at up to 24x


  • USB 2.0: 5 ports
  • FireWire 400 ports: 0
  • FireWire 800 ports: 1
  • Ethernet: 10/100/gigabit
  • WiFi: 802.11n AirPort Extreme built in
  • Bluetooth 2.1+EDR: standard
  • IR receiver: supports Apple Remote (optional)
  • no internal modem; external USB modem available
  • 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: 110W external power supply
  • PRAM battery: 3V CR2032 lithium


  • CPU can probably be replaced with a faster one.

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