Maybe it’s just where I work, but it seems like I’ve been hearing a lot about the Mac mini lately. From upgrading the mini Servers, to adding one to your home theater system, to fixing the one in my Dad’s office—and that’s just what I’ve written about—it’s been quite a while since I’ve gone more than a day or two without hearing about Apple’s little headless wonder.
The popularity is not surprising. Its relative silence and small form factor make it great for integrating into all sorts of projects or layouts. The price point is nice for those who already have their own peripherals (or who have friends/family members they can “borrow” them from) and don’t want to drop more cash on an iMac with a built-in display. However, it’s powerful enough for most people’s usage; unless you’re a hardcore gamer or work in Photoshop or Final Cut, it should be able to handle most of what you can throw at it.
What a lot of people tend to overlook, though, is that the mini can also help keep your energy bill down.
According to Apple’s info, a new mini consumes less than 14 watts of energy when idle. I would suspect, however, that a large chunk of this low score is likely due to the fact that there is no monitor attached. Having a dedicated display would likely pump up the kilowatt-hours over time. But when you consider the things that you can use a Mac mini for without a dedicated display (file server, HTPC, etc.), this savings due to no display can be a benefit.
One guy started running a Mac mini as opposed to an HP Pavilion. He used each as a torrent server (no display needed) and for watching videos on his TV (TV is the display, which would be in use anyway for a HTPC) and found the mini lessened his power bill about $12 a month. He didn’t quite say how much that translated into actual electricity used, but $12 a month is still $12 a month.
Would I ever ditch my MacBook Pro or my work Mac Pro for a mini? As my primary computer, no; I do too much graphic and video work. Would I recommend one to my mother or my sister, who don’t have nearly as high-end computer needs? Most assuredly.
That extra $12 a month they save could add up to a nicer birthday present for me next year…