Pricing and basic spec
The Mac mini that we looked at - with a 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo processor - can be had from Apple's online store for £529, including VAT and free delivery.
That's £70 less than when Intel-powered minis first arrived in March but still doesn't get you a keyboard, mouse or monitor - though the saving could make a decent dent in the amount you'd have to pay if you didn't already have suitable peripherals.
Apple did supply us with a keyboard, along with its inappropriately named "Mighty Mouse". These two are sold as a bundle that would increase the total by £54 - about £20-£25 more than we'd want or expect to pay for a wired keyboard and mouse, especially since, as we'll discuss, we were less than impressed by the form-over-function design of the Apple mouse.
However, the keyboard felt just fine and looks smart but isn't especially great value. The VAT-inclusive price is £19, but delivery brings that to £24.29 if you don't buy it at the same time as the mini.
Our review mini also had a RAM boost. Instead of the standard 512MB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM, it contained 1GB - in two 512MB sticks - and that would add an extra £70.01 if installed by Apple. It's possible to save about £15 by shopping around online but we reckon that most buyers who wanted the extra RAM (and, really, the standard 512MB isn't enough) would let Apple do the job.
They'd likely find the hassle of having to bust open Fort Mini rather daunting, even though doing that might be seen as an irresistible challenge by many HEXUS readers (though not this particular HEXUS writer, you may be disappointed to learn!).
There are plenty of guides on how to safely break open the mini - without voiding Apple's guarantee - something you might want to do to upgrade the hard disk or even the CPU, not just the RAM. These include Macworld's guide and Russell Beattie's. James Duncan Davidson even has a small (2.9MB) but very useful guide movie you can download.
The all-up price from Apple for the machine we looked at - with RAM boost, keyboard and mouse - would have been £653.01. This outlay buys you a computer that also has:
* Graphics - Intel GMA950 chipset sharing 64MB of system RAM
* A laptop-format (2.5in) 80GB/5,400rpm Serial ATA hard drive
* A double-layer, slot-loading DVD burner, model UJ-846 (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW). Apple calls all its DVD burners SuperDrives but, as you'd expect, they're made by other companies, in this case Matsushita
* Four USB 2.0 sockets
* A single six-pin FireWire port (IEEE 1394, aka FireWire 400)
* Gigabit Ethernet, plus built-in 54G wireless networking (AirPort Extreme, Apple calls it) and Bluetooth 2.0
* A disposable-lighter-sized IR remote for controlling Front Row - OS X's media-player front-end
* Mac OS X 10.4.6 plus a bunch of useful software that we'll detail further on
The spec and supplied software are much the same on a cheaper but slower mini that Apple also sells. This, as standard, goes out for £398.99 all up - £50 less than at launch time. There are some key differences, though. As well as using a slower, single-core, CPU (1.5GHz Intel Core Solo), it has a smaller-capacity SATA hard disc (60GB) and a combi CD-burner/ DVD reader instead of a "SuperDrive".
If you want a seriously in-depth look at the mini's specs, then dive over to pages xxx and xx+1 where you'll find a whole bunch of screenshots of the mini's hardware and software setup, courtesy of Apple's System Profiler tool. For everyone else, though, we'd strongly recommend going straight over to page 3 for a good look around the mini.