Lab Report: Huge speed gains for new Mac mini

22.07.2011
Based on Macworld Lab's benchmark results, the new Mac mini models provide a great leap in processor performance over the previous generation. The , and Macworld Lab has been testing the new machines that come with Lion and Core i5 processors.

The new Mac mini is available in two standard configurations: a $599 model with a 2.3GHz Core i5 processor, 2GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and an integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor; and a $799 model with a 2.5GHz Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and discrete AMD Radeon HD 6630 graphics. These two models replace a single $699 ( Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice ) model that had a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive, and Nvidia GeForce 320M integrated graphics.

We're busy putting together a new version of our Mac system performance suite, Speedmark, but its not quite ready yet. The current version, , was created using Snow Leopard and uses older versions of applications. New Macs ship with Lion, so instead of downgrading the new Macs to try and run Snow Leopard (if that's even possible), we have updated 10 of our tests to run on Lion using the latest versions of the applications that make up Speedmark.

It should come as no surprise that the new Core i5 Mac minis beat the pants off the 2010 Core 2 Duo Mac mini in processor tests. With and in the Core i5, the new 2.5GHz Core i5 Mac mini was more than twice as fast the 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo Mac mini in our Cinebench CPU test and HandBrake MP4 encode. The new 2.3GHz Core i5 Mac mini was 46 percent faster than the older 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo Mac mini on our Cinebench CPU and 45 percent faster in our HandBrake encode test.

Our iTunes AAC to MP3 encode test also showed significant improvements, with the 2.5GHz Core i5 Mac mini 37 percent faster and the 2.3GHz Core i5 Mac mini 30 percent faster than the 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo Mac mini. When exporting an iMovie project using the iTunes Mobile presets, the 2.5GHz Core i5 Mac mini was 47 percent faster than the 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo Mac mini; the 2.3GHz Core i5 Mac mini was 30 percent faster.

Importing a large Word document into Pages was also much faster on the new Mac minis, with the new high- and low-end models besting the older Mac mini by 43 and 31 percent, respectively.Compressing a 4GB folder was 32 percent faster on the high-end model and about 30 percent faster on the low-end model.

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