I’ve been a huge fan of the Mac mini since I purchased one a few years ago to use as a media server. That little box does everything — ripping DVDs and converting to them MPEG-4, recording over-the-air television with an Elgato EyeTV, sharing media to all of my Apple TVs and macs, storing all of my photos and media library, the list goes on and on.
I think the biggest new feature for the updated Mac mini is the lower price point. The introductory price of the mini had been $599 for the past few years, but Apple has finally dropped it back down to a more reasonable price point of $499.
There are some drawback with this update, though. The Mac mini server version is no longer available, the RAM is no longer user-upgradable, and replacing the hard drive now voids your warranty. I don’t think the lack of “server” options will be a big deal at all, it wasn’t very popular, but limiting your ability to upgrade the RAM and hard drive is a bit of a let down.
It’ll be important that you purchase a Mac mini with the RAM and hard drive you need when you make the initial purchase. I’ve done a few RAM and hard drive upgrades to macs in the past and it was a great way to get some extra longevity out of a machine. Now, I wouldn’t suggest it unless you really know what you’re doing.
Overall I think this is a great update, though. Faster processors and graphics, an extra Thunderbolt port, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and a lower introductory price makes for a compelling upgrade from the previous model. I think if you’re looking for a mac to use as a home server or looking to convince a friend or family member to switch from Windows, this is a great machine for the job.