Pros Cheap, 2.3GHz quad core i7 (3rd gen), 4x USB 3.0, 1TB drive, HDMI, FireWire, compact design. Mountain Lion runs well with 4GB@1600MHz RAM.
Cons No design-matching optical drive, keyboard/mouse or monitor included. Not enough USB ports. Doesn't feel much faster than a 2 year old core 2 duo Mac book Pro. Mac is gonna go same way as PC.
Summary This Apple-refurbished ($620+tax) 2012 mini was an upgrade to the 2007 iMac 2GHz Core 2 Duo 20" (4GB@667MHz). The 5-year old iMac became sluggish after a Snow Leppard to Mountain Lion upgrade and it's 250GB HDD replacement is very difficult.
I considered upgrading to a 27" iMac, but $1500+ price tag was over the budget. I wanted quad-core speed, large storage, USB 3.0, Firewire, direct HDMI connection to LG2380 HDTV (w/sound), but didn't care for discrete graphics.
1TB drive is great and USB 3.0 external drives are fast (bought two $7 2.5" enclosures), Firewire is nice but no longer necessary. A lack of optical drive was pulpable when wife wanted to burn music CDs (remote burn isn't supported). I'll need to get a USB optical drive, but don't have any spare USB ports.
Direct HDMI to LG2380 produces bad image and awful jagged fonts. DP++ to HDMI has the same problem and only a DP++ to VGA seems to work. Can I blame TV for poor support? I think not. I have to run a separate audio TV cable for sound.
Last, comparing speed to 2010 MB Pro Core 2 duo 2.4GHz with Intel 330 SSD 180GB, the mini with quad Core i7 (3rd gen) feels slower with daily use. I find this inexcusable and don't care if its the HDD, Intel 4000 GPU or whatever.
Should I have upgraded? Probably not, and I probably won't buy any Mac (or PC) for a long time. An iPad can do most of the desktop/laptop tasks, and maybe even safer for online banking.
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