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73 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb, Unique Macintosh and mini!
My primary desktop, iMac, was a few months over four years old. It began to feel a bit slow with the latest operating system, programs, etc. Therefore, I decided it was time for a new Mac. Despite great notebooks, iPhones, and iPads that we all have today, my desktop computer is still what feels most "right," to me. It's my favorite place to discover music, work on...
Published on November 5, 2011 by Steve H

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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lowest Review I've Ever Given to an Apple Product. Hardware Great, but OS X Lion SERVER APP is Awful
I'm not a professional computer administrator, but I am the guy that everyone in my extended family calls with any tech issues. I'm an early adopter and a techie at heart, but haven't been involved in computer programming since I was a teenager in the 80's with an Apple II plus, and Apple IIe.

Purchased the Mac Mini SERVER because some Address Book and iCal...
Published on February 9, 2012 by MJC


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73 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb, Unique Macintosh and mini!, November 5, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Apple Mac Mini MC936LL/A with Lion Server (OLD VERSION) (Personal Computers)
My primary desktop, iMac, was a few months over four years old. It began to feel a bit slow with the latest operating system, programs, etc. Therefore, I decided it was time for a new Mac. Despite great notebooks, iPhones, and iPads that we all have today, my desktop computer is still what feels most "right," to me. It's my favorite place to discover music, work on photographs, maybe do a little video work, write, email, browse the web, etc. A comfortable chair, large screen, and fast desktop just feels "right."

How did my search for a new Mac lead to mini Server and what makes it a good choice?

Naturally, coming from an iMac, I considered a new iMac. However, having purchased the newer iMacs for other uses and family members in the past two years, I regularly saw issues with their displays. Yellow tint to certain parts of the display. Furthermore, besides RAM, iMacs are extremely hard to upgrade. The hard drive is very difficult to get to, which makes upgrade and even repair, once out of warranty difficult. Furthermore, it is hard to take an iMac to an Apple Store, even while under warranty, due to their large size. A mini can easily be taken to an Apple store, or better yet, Apple I believe (if I am not mistaken) offers mail-in service for the mini, if you're in the middle of nowhere. I would still purchase an iMac in the future, but it just felt like a lot of things were adding up against it this time. I might want a SSD at some point too, and it would be "risky," to do that myself on a still warrantied iMac. iMacs don't come stock with two hard drives for RAID options either.

Therefore, I knew the Mac mini might be a good choice and the Server model was especially inviting! Why? For one thing, the mini Server Mid-2011 has a faster processor than the lower entry-level iMacs. Yes, it an i7 Quad Core 2.0 GHZ. While all iMacs are now quad-core, the lower end models have i5s, which get Geekbench scores somewhat lower than this mini Server. The mini-Server had the same CPU as the seventeen-hundred dollar 15-inch MacBook pro from early 2011, though the MacBook Pro did get a slight processor bump in late 2011. Nevertheless, you can see, the mini Server, for its size, gets an extremely impressive processor. Geekbench scores put it right at, or even slightly faster than the entry level mid-2010 Mac Pro desktop, now that is saying something! The speed of a machine which costs 2.5x more money!

Second, two hard drives. 1TB of storage in a mini is nothing to laugh about (2 500 GB drives are included). Furthermore, the key here is that the mini Server gets 7200 RPM hard drives, the same speed found in full-sized desktop computers. The two lower end mini models have only 5400 RPM drives, significantly slower and makes them feel more like "notebooks." Furthermore, by having two hard drives, you have many options. You can use one for time machine, just use both drives for storage, or even put them in RAID 0 or RAID 1 with disk utility when booted into a recovery disk. There are some risks in using RAID, but if you're a pro user, you will know the risks (higher possibility of losing your data in RAID 0), and you lose Apple's new Recovery HD which isn't compatible with RAID. I went ahead and used RAID 0 because this gives me much faster disk reading and writing. More performance, more reason to choose mini Server.

The lack of Apple including any restore disks or USB stick on new Macs is frustrating. I recommend reading some online tutorials on backing up your system, backing up your recovery HD, or even backing up an entire recovery install for easy reinstallation should you ever need it.

Next, memory. The mini Server has 4GB of RAM which is fine for many home users. However, those who do a lot of photography and video work, may want to upgrade it to 8GB. These minis make RAM upgrades simple. A panel rotates on the bottom and allows easy access to the memory, if not access to much else. I upgraded to 8GB, and it is a noticeable improvement. This was less than a fifty dollar upgrade to do myself, and again, offers me more performance and multitasking.

Software: The mini Server has Mac OS X Lion Server included, which is essentially the same consumer version of OS X Lion with the extra "Server," application included. This application can allow you to use the mini Server as a more professional "server." You could serve up iCal calendars to people in your home or office, serve local email, etc. However, unless you know you need these features, you'll likely leave the server functions turned off, or just not open that application. It is there though, should you ever need it, or if you do need it now. You can read more about server at Apple's website. Of course, every copy of Lion allows you to share files with other Macs as well as use iTunes to serve music and videos around your home, this is unrelated to the "server," application which has much more professional and specific uses.

Connectivity: HDMI, Thunderbolt, Firewire 800, 4 USB 2.0 Ports, Ethernet, Audio in, Audio out. Plus Wireless N Networking and Bluetooth! I connect two displays, using both the HDMI and Thunderbolt outputs. Apple includes a HDMI to DVI adapter. You might also pick up a mini display port to DVI adapter, if you have an older display and want to use the thunderbolt port to connect to the mini, as the thunderbolt port supports higher resolution displays than the HDMI port.

Of course, Apple includes the iLIfe Applications, which nearly everyone enjoys for photo editing, video editing, music making, etc. with the applications iPhoto, iMovie, and Garageband. iCal, iTunes, Mail App, DVD player, etc. are always found on a Mac too. However, if you want to use the DVD player you will need to purchase either a third-party USB DVD drive (these can be found cheap on Amazon including Amazon's own branded model), or for the sleekest look, get Apple's Superdrive for MacBook Air USB product. Again, don't forget, no minis have a DVD drive built in now, so this is no longer a server model only drawback.

mini Server uses intel integrated graphics which is a drawback over the mid-range mini which has a discreet Graphics Processing Unit. Apple likely feels a "server" model doesn't need a discreet GPU if it was truly being used as a server. Furthermore, if you do not play games on your computer, like myself and many others, the integrated graphics are fine and offer similar performance to last year's NVIDIA integrated graphics.

Some use mini Server as a home theatre PC, but it is probably overkill for that and you might be better off with the low end or mid range model for such a use. I use a mid-2009 mini as my home theatre PC, and it still works great.

I did receive a couple machines with issues at first, one was completely cosmetic though. Amazon put it right fast!

Overall, the mini Server mid-2011 is truly my best Mac ever and certainly the fastest. I have two displays, Firewire hard drives, USB devices, speakers, etc. all plugged into the mini. It feels like a powerful setup with the oh so fast processor, memory, huge hard drives, etc. mini Server serves an unique niche of the Mac market, and it's a favorite among many Mac enthusiasts. This machine would no doubt last me a long time, but I like it so much, I might upgrade the next time an updated version comes out. There are some great Macs I would only give four stars. However, mini Server is so special and unique that I cannot help but give it five stars. It might not be right for everyone, but if it fits your needs, it is truly five stars! It is that cool! Recommended.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Perfect for running Logic, December 9, 2011
This review is from: Apple Mac Mini MC936LL/A with Lion Server (OLD VERSION) (Personal Computers)
After 10 years running Logic 5.5 on a PC it was finally time to get a mac.

Well my first Mac Mini would not boot. Turned out to be something with the ram. If I removed 1 stick of ram it would boot. I exchanged it for another and was good to go.

This thing is fast and perfect for music. Running a ton of plugins and the cpu meter barely registers.

2.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
4GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Dual 500GB 7200-rpm hard drives
Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor
Mac OS X v10.7 Lion

I upgraded the ram to 8GB for just under $40.00 using the Corsair 8GB 1333mhz PC3-10666 204-pin DDR3 SODIMM Laptop Memory Kit CMSO8GX3M2A1333C9.

Best of all there are no heating problems. I did add some rubber feet to the bottom to play it safe: 1" Sorbothane Hemisphere Rubber Bumper Non-skid Feet with Adhesive 50 Durometer - 8-Pack.

No problems with Lion either as all the plugins I have are supported so far.

I use the main hard drive for the os and programs, 2nd hard drive for time capsule, and a Glyph Technologies GT062E 2TB Dual RAID and Spanning Hard Drive Array with FireWire 800, USB 2.0 and eSATA Interfaces for all the music files.

I added a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI TV Monitor Adapter for Macbook for the 2nd monitor.

I was using a Apogee ONE USB Interface with Microphone and was really disappointed in the sound. I was getting a ton of hiss. More than likely it was a defective unit as I keep reading good things. Plus Apogee recommended to return it. Ended up going with a Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 Professional 20 In/20 Out Firewire Audio Interface with Eight Pre-Amps. Made more sense since I have 5.1 in the studio.

I am just blown away by Logic. I knew things would be different since the last version I had was 5.5 on the pc. They sure make it easy now.

I ended up getting a used version of Logic 8 plus a used upgrade to 9 all for less than $300.00 total on Amazon.

The hardest part for me was the command control and options keys, plus getting used to a new os. I ended up buying a LogicKeyboard Logic 9 Custom Keyboard and has helped out a ton as it has all the shortcuts for Logic shown on the keyboard.

I hope this helps anyone having the same question that I had: Will the new Mac Mini work for music production?

Yes

Finally a Mac owner.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost perfect upgrade, August 8, 2011
By 
Alan N. (Birmingham, AL) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Apple Mac Mini MC936LL/A with Lion Server (OLD VERSION) (Personal Computers)
I purchased this to replace a 2010 model mini (non server version). The first thing I did was to upgrade the ram to 8GB. Next I rebooted into internet recovery mode and configured the disks into a RAID 0 (striped) volume and reinstalled the OS. You should make good backups (Time Machine) if you use RAID 0 in case of a hard drive failure. I have a fast internet connection and the whole process took approximately 40 mins. Note the internet recovery install doesn't install the iLife type applications that came with the factory install but you can install them from the Mac App Store for free after recovery.

The i7 in this unit is a huge jump in performance vs my previous mini with 2.4ghz c2d. Like the previous model, 1080p video content plays perfectly even while running a busy minecraft server in the background. The Intel graphics have given no issues in use as an htpc. The DVD drive in my old mini was used exactly zero times so I don't miss it in the new model.

The only thing I've noticed is that the new model gets warmer than the old. Also I never heard the fans in my old model but occasionally I do hear them in the new one. This might not happen with better air flow, my mini is in an enclosed component stand along with a NAS, cable box, XBOX 360, etc. I wouldn't go so far as to call this an issue or a con, just something you should be aware of if you are accustomed to the old model. It's a reasonable trade off for the increased performance.

UPDATE:

The heat issue on my unit got worse until it caused a complete failure. I took the unit to the Apple store and they repaired it under warranty. However when the time came for me to pick it up, I received a phone call from the store saying that they would have brand new unit waiting for me when I got there. They said the first unit was working and passing all tests but they didn't feel it was operating up to the standard it should be. So as usual Apple customer service went above and beyond and sent me home with a new unit that I've been using for about 7 months now with no further issues.

The temperature readings on this new unit are significantly lower than the first unit but still warmer than the previous generation mini. I still do occasionally hear the fans kick in but only when doing a cpu intensive task that runs longer than approx 30 secs.

A mac mini plus Plex (media server and client application) plus rowmote iphone app makes a great HTPC.
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32 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Built to be a server, July 22, 2011
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Apple Mac Mini MC936LL/A with Lion Server (OLD VERSION) (Personal Computers)
We've installed a good number of machines at Macminicolo, here is what we learned

A quick list:

The Mac mini has kept the same basic shape. You can still twist the bottom cover to upgrade RAM easily.

Apple has eliminated the optical drive across the board with this release.

There are a good number of build-to-order options. You can use SSD, upgrade any machine to 8GB of RAM, upgrade both internal drives for a total of 1.5TB. Amazon only offers the three stock machines.(But you can upgrade the RAM easily on your own.)

The Mac mini has left the Core 2 Duo family and now uses Intel i5 and i7 processors. A significant upgrade. In some cases doubling the performance.

The RAM has changed from PC8500 DDR3 1066MHz to PC10600 DDR3 1333MHz.The Apple avilable limit is 8GB, but we're hoping to test 16GB soon.

The Mac mini gains Thunderbolt. This will be a huge deal eventually as more ThunderBolt Accessories are released.

The mini machine still uses a ridiculously small amount of power and is nearly silent in operation.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lowest Review I've Ever Given to an Apple Product. Hardware Great, but OS X Lion SERVER APP is Awful, February 9, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Apple Mac Mini MC936LL/A with Lion Server (OLD VERSION) (Personal Computers)
I'm not a professional computer administrator, but I am the guy that everyone in my extended family calls with any tech issues. I'm an early adopter and a techie at heart, but haven't been involved in computer programming since I was a teenager in the 80's with an Apple II plus, and Apple IIe.

Purchased the Mac Mini SERVER because some Address Book and iCal sharing that my wife and I did through our DotMac (aka .Me) account will be eliminated by summer of 2012. The Server App dropped dramatically in price, but it seemed like a good idea to get the mac mini that comes bundled and designed for the Server version of OS X Lion.

In sum, the mac mini's hardware is great. The i7 quad core processor on this machine is really impressive, but while the Server software in Lion is easy to setup it is extremely unreliable once setup.

The Good:
This hardware is just great. First, it's small, quiet, and energy efficient, which matters when you intend to leave it running 24/7 as a server. Currently, I've disabled the server software (as much as possible ... see The Bad, below), and this machine is handling a relatively large load without any slow downs or problems. It streams music throughout the house to 6 Sonos music zones, streams movies though out the house to two Apple TV's, receives video streams from six IP cameras and serves the images to any computer in the house, and provides three regular user accounts for checking mail, surfing web and using Word / Excel. That's a lot of work, and the machine never shows more than 50% CPU usage. (Note, I did increase the RAM to 8GB)

The Bad:
OS X Sever is the single worst software I've ever encountered. At first, setup was easy. For about one week, everything was great. We were sharing calendars and address book in a way that was even better than .Mac. For example, my wife could see my work calendar to know when I was busy, but couldn't accidentally erase or alter any of those entries. Other calendars (Home, Kids ...) could have entries created and/or edited by either of us. File sharing, personal website, and the others were great too. After a week, we started seeing odd errors in when opening iCal. Changes were sporadically not registering. Computers were falling out of sync ... then back into sync, but with errors. Then, the users just disappeared from the Server App. Then, the website was inaccessible. I called support. Server support had some very competent people. The Server's main database had become corrupted. We tried to rebuild and got to about 80% capacity, which was good enough under the circumstances. Things went well for about two weeks until I had to reboot the machine. Then everything just fell apart. Several CLEAN reinstalls later and rebuilding the entire server from scratch resulted in the same situation. Lots of wasted time. Lots of lost data. Lots of good tech support that couldn't help me fix this mess. I wish Apple would let me exchange this machine for the non-server version, but I spent so much time trying to make it work that I'm way past the return period. Fair enough. I'm using it as a regular mac, but with the fear that it will "Just Not Work" after a software update one day.

Plus, the Server app breaks lots of apps that otherwise run fine on OS X Lion. For example, Sonos could not longer send iTunes to speakers in the house. Evocam couldn't reach the IP cameras. Other programs stopped working as well. Lots of firewall and permissions issues that will require you to dig very deep into parts of the computer that you didn't know existed.
Essentially, the malfunctioning OS X Lion Server application also stopped other apps from working.

I spent hours and hours on the phone and reading online trying to fix it all. Really, it was a solid effort, but I kept seeing forums filled with people who had the same (or worse) problems, and many of them with real server admin knowledge and experience. This software is a trojan horse.

ADVICE:
Don't buy the SERVER version. "Sever the Server"

Buy the mac mini without OSX Lion server (just regular OS X Lion).
While I've disabled Sever app and regained most functionality, the Sever Machine makes this very difficult. It still seeks the Server software updates, not regular updates and still made me implement some workarounds.

If you want be brave despite my warnings, and you have little or no Sever background, the best tutorial I found online was from this book: Using OS X Lion Server at Home There's are articles dedicated to walking you through the OS X Server setup process for Mail, Calendar, Address Book ... everything. Nicely presented and makes Server even easier to setup. However, it can't prepare you for the inevitable Sever app crashes and bugs (search Apples support site if you want to see all the problems even experienced users are having with this app). I wish you better luck than I had regarding the app's reliability. There has been an update form 10.7.2 to 10.7.3 since I gave up, but based on the problems experienced and read about ... I'm waiting until 10.7.99 before giving it another try.

I now use a combination of iCloud accounts to get the .Mac functionality. You can have a Principal iCloud account on your machine for photo stream and other features, but then put a secondary iClound account on your own and your wife's machine that will let you share calendars and an address book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small Powerhouse, January 18, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Apple Mac Mini MC936LL/A with Lion Server (OLD VERSION) (Personal Computers)
This new mac mini is really a great little machine. I have been an IT consultant for more then 25 years. I now provide IT consulting services to the small business world. This machine really works great in that environment.

It is very powerful. I purchased one of these mini's for one of my small business clients. I first added 16 GB of RAM. (Apple says that max memory is 8 GB... but I assure you, 16 GB works just fine) I am now running a full Windows Server 2008 R2 domain controller with MS Exchange and SQL Server...as a virtual machine on this little mini. It works great. This business only has 12 users...not a large base, obviously...but several users have commented to me that their e-mail, SharePoint, etc. are actually running much faster than when they were using a Dell physical server.

The mini is silent...and does not appear to get hot at all...even with Windows Server "churning" away on it. I am also using Lion Server's native SMB engine to share data with their Windows client users...the new Apple SMB engine (no more SAMBA) did have some quirks...but it now appears to be running well at the current Lion release level.

So...for under $1,000...and with a very small office footprint...this box really packs a punch.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than I thought it would be!, July 31, 2011
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This review is from: Apple Mac Mini MC936LL/A with Lion Server (OLD VERSION) (Personal Computers)
I am using this as my HTPC with 5TBs of attached media storage and my LG SuperMultiBlue. Lion is great, the Server software doesn't matter much (for me) I am not using those features. I wanted the faster chip for use by video encoding programs such as Handbrake, and I did upgrade to 8GB of Kingston memory. It's much faster than my now 5 year old MacBook Pro. I was initially concerned about the hype surrounding the Intel Graphics, but I am not a gamer and the graphics are more than sufficient for my purposes (with the 8GB of RAM, there's 512K of shared memory in use for Graphics).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mac Mini Server Review, January 17, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Apple Mac Mini MC936LL/A with Lion Server (OLD VERSION) (Personal Computers)
I purchased this for my home office. It connects to two other Macs, two windows machines and two televisions throughout the house. As a file server and media server, it is excellent. No lag, no 'hiccups' and rarely makes any audible noise or emits any noticeable heat. Once I set it up, I literally could forget about it. I've installed a PS3 media server program to 'remux' on the fly and share video files with my PS3-connected TV. The HD 3000 graphics chip is easily able to handle 1080p video without any choppiness. I'm very happy with my purchase.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Workhorse Server, August 4, 2012
This review is from: Apple Mac Mini MC936LL/A with Lion Server (OLD VERSION) (Personal Computers)
We are running FileMaker Pro Server 12 and importing photos, this little puppy is wonderful .... We are very pleased!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My first Mac...not the last, May 31, 2012
By 
Z. Nemeth (Sterling, MA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Apple Mac Mini MC936LL/A with Lion Server (OLD VERSION) (Personal Computers)
I got this strong urge to leave Microsoft. After so many generations of Windows and so many broken promises about no crashes, restarts (blah-blah) I gave up on them. I've always known Microsoft has been ripping everyone else off for ideas, but I'd stuck with them - I don't know why. Maybe because I own so many Windows programs? The Mac is like a breath of fresh air I've been waiting for. It's on in a few seconds and doesn't space out like PC-s do. The operating system is smooth, has great features. I wonder what they'll come up with next. I don't upgrade too often anyway (although I could if I wanted to), so this machine is a keeper. The touch pad is nice, although it takes some getting used to. Its features are great. I would recommend this product to any decent human being (the rest should buy PC-s). I will never buy another PC. At work I still use Windows and I'll continue cursing it...
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