"Great intro MAC desktop if you have peripherals."3.5 starson by trs0722
Pros: Awesome design; easy set up; connectivity options; upgraded processor and graphics; easy to upgrade memory; dead quiet.
Cons: No optical drive or keyboard; expensive for features.
Summary: Since this was my first Mac, I went with the cheaper version and so far, it is working very well for what I need. Several people are giving the more expensive model negative reviews, focusing on things such as Apple's decision making and the value of the product. Yes, they are very valid points for the $799 version but in my opinion, not as salient with the cheaper version. For someone like me who already has all the peripherals, doesn't plan on fully integrating it into my home theater system, and just wanted to try out a Mac without spending $800 for more memory and dedicated graphics card (or $1200 for an iMac), this is a GREAT option. Yes, for the same $, I could have had another Dell with a slightly faster processor and graphics card, more memory, and keyboard, but I guess I needed a change and wanted to see why many of my friends swear by Mac over PC. I love my iPod and iPhone but also like Windows 7.
No optical drive: I think Apple is making a good decision...but probably a bit too early. Like a lot of people, I still use DVDs to back up pictures, documents, and videos but to be honest I'm getting tired of all my extra CD's and DVD's lying around for software, operating systems, Office, etc. Apple is right: most everything one would need is available for download via the Internet and flash storage may be the wave of the future. At some point I will probably upgrade the memory to 4 GB (~$40) and get an optical drive for <$50 or put it on an Xmas wish list.
Games/graphics: I already have a PS3 so I don't have a need for a Blu Ray player or high powered gaming system. However, my Mac Mini played Half Life 2 perfectly at full resolution and I believe specs. I'm not sure if it will handle some of the newer games as easily without changing the resolution, game specs, or upgrading the memory. But I rarely have time to play games anyway. Had this unit not played this game and our HD videos from our camera so well, I would have had to consider the more expensive option, which I really didn't want to do. Wife would definitely have grounds to get peeved!
Other features: I'm really enjoying the built in email feature b/c I've had many problems with MS Outlook. I'm also starting to get into iPhoto. Much better system than using the software that came with my Nikon Coolpix S9100. Pics and HD videos look great. In fact, this was the main reason I needed a new desktop b/c my 2004 Dell (upgraded hard drive, power supply, and memory in 2008) could not play the HD videos properly. Plus, it was slowing down and was just plain old outdated. Fortunately, I live about 15 minutes away from an Apple store so their excellent customer service (from what I've read) is right around the corner.
If you're in the same boat as me, you'll probably enjoy the new Mac mini. Granted, you may have to spend a bit more $ for an optical drive and USB hub if you don't already have one (the 4 get used up quickly!). I also bought the wired Apple keyboard b/c it's really nice and my Logitech was getting old and used a PS2 cable. You could consider a used Mac Mini from last year as I did. It has a CD/DVD drive but from what I've read, the processor was and is now outdated. Good luck!