So, the delightful little Mac mini has gone to Intel processors, with the following changes:

  • It’s a whole lot less anemic and should actually be able to encode video overnight, rather than over-the-weekend. I still haven’t seen good benchmarks for MPEG4 compression performance with the Core Solo/Duo processors, however; my G4s absolutely thrash my AMD box for this.
  • Gigabit ethernet is long, long overdue – finally you can move video on and off it at sensible speeds. Albeit with a slow hard drive
  • Wirelessy stuff is no longer optional. Hurrah!
  • The video chipset is integrated (boo!), but supposedly pretty good at hardware video scaling and H264 decoding (yay!).
  • Stuffing it to the gills with RAM now means 2Gb, not 1. This is a Good Thing.
  • It’s more expensive to start with.

See, it’s that last point that’s rather the fly in the ointment. By the time you add a keyboard and mouse, you’ve not got a huge chunk of change sloshing around for a monitor before you might as well buy an iMac. Which is significantly quicker, if only in hard drive and video performance. Don’t get me wrong, I think the mini is now a cracking little box (whereas previously it always struck me as a bit marginal, performance-wise), but it’s mildly surprising to see just how much more Apple must be paying for the Intel processors over the G4.

However, if anyone’s really pessimistic about Apple, just go back and read Thread 500 – fanboys’ initial reaction to the iPod, all those years ago. The mini is still a decent little box… but the old stripped-out base model was really really cheap.