CNET Labs uses Adobe Photoshop to evaluate a system's performance as an integrated whole--the CPU, the memory, the hard disk, and the graphics card. We run an automated suite of operations that simultaneously stresses a variety of the machine's subsystems and simulates a real-world Web-production work flow. The suite includes launching the application; converting between color spaces and bit depths; applying a variety of filters; working with layers, selection areas, and alpha channels; and resizing and compressing images. We time how long it takes to run the suite on 15 files that range from 1.8MB to 49.2MB and in 8- and 16-bit color.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|(Time in seconds)|
CNET Labs uses Apple iTunes as another indicator of a system's performance. In this test, we time how long it takes to convert a 107MB AIFF audio file to MP3.
Graphics and gaming performance
The Mac Mini produced a playable frame rate on our Quake III benchmark at just over 60fps, but before you get too excited about that fact, we should note that Quake III is an older game, and the test was run at a fairly low resolution of 1,024x768. The Mini's 32MB ATI Radeon 9200 is a step up from an integrated graphics solution that borrows resources from main system memory, but it's still not a card you'd find in a high-end gaming system. Today's games, though not generally available for Macs, will prove too taxing for the Mini. Then again, any gamer shopping for a $500 computer isn't grounded in reality. The Mini can handle running the apps found in iLife '05--for manipulating photos, music, and movies--which should keep most prospective Mini owners pleased and productive.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|(frames per second)|
To measure 3D gaming performance, CNET Labs uses Quake III Arena for OS X. Although Quake III is an older game, it is still widely used as an industry-standard tool.
Mac OS X 10.3.3; 1.25GHz PowerPC G4; 256MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; 32MB ATI Radeon 9200; 80GB 7,200rpm Ultra ATA/100
Apple iMac G5
Mac OS X 10.3.5; 1.8GHz PowerPC G5; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 64MB Nvidia GeForce FX 5200; 80GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
Apple Mac Mini
Mac OS X 10.3.7; 1.25GHz PowerPC G4; 256MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; 32MB ATI Radeon 9200; 40GB 4,200rpm Ultra ATA/100
Apple Power Mac G5 dual 2.5GHz
Mac OS X 10.3.5; Dual 2.5GHz PowerPC G5; 4,096MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB ATI Radeon 9800; 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
The Mini comes with a one-year warranty on parts and labor. For $149, you can purchase the AppleCare Protection Plan, which gets you three years of phone support and a three-year warranty. For a system that costs only $500, we can't see paying 30 percent of that price for an extended warranty.
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