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The new Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server must be taking tips from one of those VW Beetles with all the clowns in the back. That’s the only way to explain how Apple crammed all that hardware and performance into such a small form factor. A tiny little aluminum box like its predecessors, the mini Server comes without monitor, keyboard, or even mouse. While it can be administered remotely, it’s a good idea to connect it to a monitor and keyboard for initial setup. In keeping with its role as a server, the optical drive is sacrificed to make room for a second 500GB drive for a total of 1TB storage. Also notable by its absence is the external power brick. That’s now tucked inside the mini too.
We're not sure how everything fits inside either.
But the most cunning design element is a twist-off base, which makes upgrading the supplied 4GB of 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 the Core 2 Duo processor.
Mac OS 10.6 Server comes preinstalled, ready for setup when you boot the mini the first time. If you need to reinstall, you’ll have to attach an external optical drive, or you can share another Mac’s drive á là 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. Snow Leopard Server includes Mail, Address Book, wiki file, Time Machine, and web server tools, both to logged-in clients and via a web portal. Also included is Podcast Producer 2, Apple’s solution for recording, publishing, and distributing audio files.
For design and software functionality, the Mac mini Server clearly offers great value for the money. The competition--Windows Small Business Server with its per-client licensing--is more expensive. Server 10.6 provides more functionality than a generic network attached storage (NAS) box too. Small offices might consider cloud services such as Google Docs or Dropbox as an alternative for dealing with a few files, but with the Mac mini chugging along on your network, your options are much wider, and you know exactly where your files are.
The latest regeneration of Apple's tiny server powerhouse is a steal.
2.66GHz Core 2 Duo Mac Mini with Snow Leopard Server
REQUIREMENTS: 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM, 3MB shared L2 cache, two 500GB 7200-rpm SATA hard drives, Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics with 256MB shared GDDR3 memory, four USB 2.0 ports, FireWire 800 port, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI port, 802.11n AirPort Extreme, 10/100/1000BASE-T Ethernet, digital/analog audio in/out, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
Easy to deploy and manage. Quiet and energy efficient. Unlimited client license.
No optical drive for inevitable software installs.