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Apple Mac mini server 2.66GHz review

Apple's bijou desktop, packed with everything a small business needs from a server

Our Verdict

Product features

  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Easy to deploy and manage
  • Quiet and energy efficient
  • Unlimited client licence

Against

  • No DVD reader

The new Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server has surely been taking tips from Doctor Who's TARDIS – despite being cut from a single block of aluminium, it must somehow be bigger on the inside – how else could one shoehorn that amount of hardware into such a small form-factor?

Like its predecessors, it comes without monitor, keyboard, or indeed mouse. (While it can be set up remotely, it's a good idea to connect it up to a monitor and keyboard for initial setup.) An optical drive is sacrificed for a second 500GB drive for a total of 1TB storage, while the external power brick is notable only by its absence – that's tucked inside too.

Its most cunning design element is a twist-off base, which makes upgrading the supplied 4GB memory to 8GB a snap.

It's quiet in use, consuming just 11W when idle, and it seems determined not to heat up, however much you thrash it.

The 10.6 Server software comes pre-installed, ready for setup. If you need to reinstall, you have to attach an external drive or share a drive, á la Macbook Air. Setup is straightforward, and if you use the same login name and password, local Mac clients are offered Calendar and Address Book sharing the first time they log in.

Server 10.6 includes Mail, Address Book, Wiki Server 2, Time Machine, and web server tools, both to logged-in clients and via a web portal. It supports Podcast Producer too. For design and software functionality, it's clearly value for money.

The competition – Windows Small Business Server with its perclient licensing – is more expensive. Server 10.6 provides more functionality than a generic network attached storage (NAS) box. If you are worried about support because of its bundled nature, an extra Apple Care cost of £130 includes three years' hardware and software support.

Small offices might consider cloud services such as Google Docs or Dropbox an alternative, but with the Mac mini you know exactly where your files are.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeServer
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeNo
Number of Processors Supported1
Number of Processors Installed1
Total Hard Drive Capacity1 TB
Product FamilyMac mini
Operating SystemMac OS X Server 10.7 Lion
Brand NameApple
Form FactorUltra Small
Processor Speed2.66 GHz
Processor TypeCore 2 Duo
Maximum Memory8 GB
Standard Memory4 GB
64-bit ProcessingYes
Graphics Controller ManufacturerNVIDIA
Graphics Controller ModelGeForce 320M
BluetoothYes
Number of Total Memory Slots2
Graphics Memory CapacityUp to 256 MB
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11n
Ethernet TechnologyGigabit Ethernet
FireWire/i.LINKYes
HDMIYes
Total Number of USB Ports4
Memory StandardDDR3-1066/PC3-8500
Height35.6 mm
Width195.6 mm
Depth195.6 mm
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
ManufacturerApple, Inc
Product ModelMC438LL/A
Product NameMac mini MC438LL/A Server
Product LineMac mini
Controller TypeSerial ATA
Manufacturer Part NumberMC438LLA
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.apple.com/uk
Marketing Information

The tiny server with huge capabilities. Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server is easy to set up. Easy to run. And with more storage and more memory options, and better energy efficiency than any other desktop server, it's easy to choose.

Bus Speed1066 MHz