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Mini vs Pro: consumer Macs grow up


For a cool two thousand bucks (more or less, actually slightly less), you can buy a new Mac system with a terabyte of on-board storage including a generous SSD boot drive, 8 GB RAM, Quad-core Intel Core i7 processors, and Thunderbolt support.

And it's not a Mac Pro. It's a Mac mini.

Okay, let's be fair here. The lowest end Mac Pro in it's lowest-end configuration can wipe the floor with the highest end mini in a basic chip-off but when you add the other features in as well, it's not that much of a difference: 2.8 GHz Quad Core 3 GB/1 TB vs the punier 2.0 GHz Quad Core 8 GB/1.5 TB.

It's as if minis are now big enough, old enough, and strong enough to tag along with the big boys when they go out to play ball. Maybe the mini can carry the Gatorade, or even man the outfield.

Admittedly, if you do some serious video editing or 3D modeling, the latest Mac minis will probably melt on your desk into an ooey-gooey mess of components. But seriously, who does that stuff on a regular basis expecting graphics performance from a mini? My two-generations-out-of-date current Mac mini ably handles Photoshop, Office, Xcode, and a other more serious desktop work and does it with an aging 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 4GB RAM. The latest minis would certainly give my desktop a nice power boost.

The highest end minis bring some pretty decent hardware to the table and do so with a lot of consumer-friendly features like HDMI out and an SDXC card slot. Sure, the graphics are puny compared to Pro graphics, differences are getting smaller and smaller.

And may I point out that the latest top-end $3,700 iMac, with its 3.4 GHz Quad-Core i7, 16 GB RAM (not to mention it's lovely 27" display) makes many of the entry-point Mac Pros (no, I'm not talking about the $16,900 fully loaded 64 GB double-6 core Westmere version) look like little girls. Oh, and the mini has Thunderbolt, which the Pro hasn't added yet.

One last point. About that whole "does not ship with Superdrive" built-in thing? As I've said before, disc is dead.

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