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Mac mini Core Solo: The good stuff and a peek inside

Despite my previous two posts on the topic, there are things to like about the Mac mini, and so I've decided not to return the machine. I still think it is overpriced and I also maintain that the Front Row performance over Bonjour is shoddy at best. However, if you keep all your media on the Mac mini, it works nicely as a little media server offering the local media up to my TV. My only complaint about that is that Front Row doesn't recognize my iPod and the content on it when it is mounted on the Mac mini, even though I can navigate and play all that content via iTunes itself.

I also discovered that the 512MB chip that I ripped out of my iMac when I upgraded it to 2GBs of RAM fits quite nicely and works well inside my Mac mini, which is now running 768MBs of RAM after an easy bit of tinkering (Photos of said tinkering after the jump). The added RAM has doubled the frame rate at which I can run World of Warcraft on my 32-inch HDTV. It's still a bit sluggish at 16-20fps in crowded areas, but it is playable and overall a cool experience while lounging on my couch with wireless bluetooth keyboard in lap and mouse to my side. Additionally, using this wonderful little program called iRecord, I can hook up my digital cable box to the mini via a FireWire cable and record shows in HDTV. Unfortunately, playing back these HDTV shows with their large 7.35GB size footprint (for an hour of video) via VLC seems a little beyond the capabilities of the mini as the video shows up as an animated series of stills during fast-moving sections. However, I can easily bring these large files over to my iMac where I can watch them and compress them to a smaller, more mini friendly format. Also, as a dev box, I am liking the mini. I can jump into it easily enough using Chicken of the VNC on my iMac and OSXvnc on the mini. I can also ssh in via the command line. Compiling code, while not blazingly fast, isn't snail-crawl slow either. So, I'm enjoying the box for what I bought it for, I just wish it had a Core Duo, came with more RAM, Bonjour video worked better, and it hadn't cost so much.
I used a palette knife to pop the lid off of the Mac mini.


I had to remove the Airport Antenna to get to one of the 4 corner screws holding the hard drive and combo drive onto the base.


This little nasty plug was tightly shoved into the board, but I had to remove it so I could get access to the memory sticks. Very tiny too, so it was a pain to plug back in. Had to use tweezers to position.


Here's the bottom layer of the beast. More memory. Yum! Later on I may upgrade the hard drive and processor. ;-)

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