Apple Mac Mini 2009

Apple’s newest Mac mini is not only a great stand-alone computer, but also an impressive media center rig. The new Nvidia 9400M graphics chip is optimized for x264 playback… which in regular English means the mini can play back gorgeous 1080p movies and not skip a beat doing it (unlike older minis).

Upgrading a mini ain’t easy (you need a #0 Philips screwdriver, a putty knife, and a combination of patience and confidence), so if you want the easy route pick up the $799 model which comes ready with 2GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive.

If you’re not intimidated by upgrading the mini, score the $599 model then add two 2GB DIMMs from Crucial (via NewEgg) for about $60 shipped. This will take you to 4GB of RAM for a fraction of what Apple charges ($150).

While you’ve got the Mac mini open, take out that stock 120GB 5400RPM drive and replace it with a 320GB 7200RPM model. Not only do you get almost three times the storage, you also get a 20% faster drive. We like the HITACHI Travelstar 7K320 for $67.89 from ZipZoomFly. Or buy the same drive from NewEgg for $59.99 if you want to purchase all your upgrades from one place. (Apple charges $175 for the 320GB upgrade, and it’s a slower 5400RPM drive.)

As for the Mac mini itself, there’s not any deals to be had so keep things easy and order from Amazon. You won’t pay for tax or shipping and you save a few dollars over Apple’s prices.

Buy 2GHz/1GB/120GB model for $594
Buy 2GHz/2GB/320GB model for $790

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