Apple's Sandy Bridge-Based Mac Mini Review

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Mac-Only Tests / Benchmarking

Performance benchmarking: Geekbench

To touch on overall system performance, we chose Geekbench, by Primate Labs. This is a widely used, highly respected Mac benchmarking suite that "provides a comprehensive set of benchmarks engineered to quickly and accurately measure processor and memory performance."

These Geekbench scores say a lot. For $100 less than the other Mac mini listed here (we're talking about launch prices, of course), it nearly doubles the benchmark score. The leap made from the Core 2 Duo to today's Core i5 is monumental in the mini. And the numbers are no fluke; the system feels incredibly snappy in use, takes around 43 seconds to boot and was responsive in everything we did. Loading up Photoshop off of a fresh reboot took around 15 seconds, but that's primarily due to the slow 5400rpm HDD. The CPU, however, is a real powerhouse at this price point and form factor. We have to commend Intel on really making great strides with their Core i line of processors in terms of perf per watt.
Performance benchmarking: XBench

XBench, created by Spiny Software, is another
widely used, highly respected Mac benchmarking suite that touches on nearly every aspect of performance.

It's a similar tale with the XBench scores. The 2011 Mac mini, even the Core i5 base model we had here, handily trumps past Mac systems based on Core 2 Duo chips... that HDD test notwithstanding. The results aren't quite as impressive as with Geekbench, but the deltas are still notable. It's important to remember that this is Apple's entry-level Mac desktop, yet it's still outpacing the high-end Macs that were out at this time last year.

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