Pros Huge bump in processor speed, option for multiple HDD or SSD, choice of dedicated GPU, great connectivity options (USB, FW800, HDMI, Thunderbolt), great form factor and even easier to upgrade components yourself
Cons No option to upgrade GPU on high end Server model. Price a bit high but still in line with previous years pricing.
Summary First, let's get this out of the way--I can see how the absence of an optical disk drive can be an obstacle for some people but some of the reviews I'm reading are speaking like it's the end of the world. People said the same think over a decade ago when Apple was the first to ditch the floppy drive and look how much longer it stuck around. Get over it people, physical media for computing is going the way of the Dodo. It isn't needed to install software any longer and isn't even needed to recover a crashed system using Lion. If you are getting the Mini to serve as a HTPC so that you can watch DVDS, you are wasting a whole lot of money. The point of a HTPC (and/or media server) is to house your media digitally and get rid of those damn disks. And to those of you forsaking the Mini because you'd have to buy and external (a whole $50, maybe less if you go third party route), your loss.
This new Mini is a huge leap forward from previous generations. If now has processing power comparable to Apple's other products and now even has the option for a nice dedicated graphics card. Benchmarks of the Mac Mini Server done using Geekbench have it over 9400--nearing the performance of higher end iMacs and Macbook Pros
Nothing else on the market compares--small footprint, solid aluminum case, beautifully simple.
Great connectivity options--USB, FW800, SDXC card slot, HDMI, and Thunderbolt. I'm aware that there aren't many available peripherals at the moment but most of us own a computer for more than a few months so I'm guessing it'll get some use over the next few years. And it's based on DisplayPort tech so it's backwards compatible and there are tons of DisplayPort compatible peripherals available. And unlike USB, you can daisy-chain with it.
Yes, the price if higher than similar spec'd PC models but so are all Apple products. Apple computers are premium products--terrific design using high end materials and exceptional build quality--so yes, they do command a premium price. Most importantly though, you get access to what many consider to be the primary reason for buying/using a Mac--OS X. That alone is worth the price for me.
Pros Improved graphics, selectable processor upgrades, some of the features of Lion sound useful (Autosave and Verisions).
Cons Ships only with the new operating system, Lion and downgrading to Snow Leopard is not recommended. Lion does not support Java natively (it must be downloaded as an add on and does not work with all plugins). I don't have enough time or energy to list al
Summary I had been greatly anticipating the release of the new Mac mini. I have an older model that is just a bit limited due to processor speed and graphics. However, this little machine can be used for more than an entertainment device. I use mine for data analysis (OS X is UNIX based), design layout, and publishing. I was so looking forward to the rumored i5 processor, and low and behold, I can even get the i7. The lack of an integrated SuperDrive is an easy work around, but indicates to me where Apple is heading - forcing everything to be bought online - preferably (by them) from the App Store. The top three out of four features on Apple's Lion site involve App management. Thus, the feeling I get from Apple's latest offering is a unit designed to function as a shopping channel, social media kiosk, or entertainment toy.
Pros Slim design, powerhouse
Cons No optical drive, $700 and no keyboard or mouse
Summary I loved the Mac Mini and was attempting to talk my father into getting one. He currently has a windows PC and I'm sick of having to constantly repair his computer because he's clicked on the wrong thing or something. As a current MBP user, I saw the benefit of being able to lock him out of things on the computer much easier than I could on his PC. We were talking about getting the Mac Mini, however there is NO WAY I will be able to sell him on this without at least a DVD drive. For me, I could easily carry on without one, however, for him, he will see it as value taken away that there is no DVD drive and the computer is expensive. It may be a cheaper Mac, but it's still an expensive computer. I know you can spend $80 on their optical drive (or buy a cheaper one), however, after spending $800 on a computer with no keyboard or mouse, why would I want to buy something additional. I was ok with the keyboard and mouse extra and had talked him through that...now one more critical thing. Apple should at least give an option for an optical drive. On their website they say they removed it to use the space for faster processors and all that jazz, however, there is 1/8 of an inch internal for a second hard drive...which means the space an optical drive could fit in has nothing to do with what they have improved on. Huge mistake on Mac's part. This computer isn't for power users, the aim is at simple users who will be alienated by the lack of an optical drive. Argh!
Pros Still an amazing little computer.
Cons Less = more? I think not!
Summary Here we go again. His Majesty Steve Jobs with the God complex is deciding for the rest of us that we don't need to have the CURRENT TECHNOLOGY which every other computer offers. First it was Flash, not its the DVD drive? C'mon!
Pros Sound via HDMI, improved graphics, better CPU/Chipset, SD Slot
Cons For HTPC users, the missing DVD drive is a deal breaker. Sure you can get an external one, but that kind of ruins the simplicity of a small unit meant for theater use. SD Slot in rear, should be in the front for ease of use, regardless of your Mini's pu
SummaryI currently have the late 2009 model, and my neighbor just got the new Summer 2011. Helped him setup up Boxee, VLC, Chrome, and etc. It works great for his needs, but he is extremely disappointed that it has no optical drive. I had a spare Asus USB DVD drive, and it works, but more peripherals that take USB, the less there is for later. Overall, we were both impressed, but honestly, we both like the previous generations.
Updated on Jul 22, 2011
I understand the world is turning towards Cloud computing, and its services, but its still a bit to early for Apple to abandon the optical drive.