Free Mac mini

The Mac Mini was introduced at Apple's Macworld Conference in January 2005, being described by Apple's Steve Jobs as the 'most affordable Mac ever'. It is a fully featured desktop computer, similar in concept to Mini-ITX personal computers, and measures just 16.5 cm square by 5.1 cm high and weighs in at 1.31 kg. The mini has seen regular updates since its release, notably to processor speed, memory size, hard drive capacities and graphics chipsets.

Mac mini specification

The most recent update of the Mac mini specification sees the unit gain faster Intel Core 2 Duo processors and nVidia GeForce 9400M graphics chipsets providing the mini with far more graphics processing power than before. Although from the outside the updated mini looks almost identical to its predecessor, the update introduces the Mini DisplayPort and the latest Apple keyboard, both of which are now standard on all current Macintosh computers. The new Mac mini also sees the wireless networking upgraded to 802.11n, the inclusion of 5 USB ports and the replacement of the FireWire 400 port with a FireWire 800 port.

Mac mini versions

There are two versions of the Mac mini currently sold by Apple. The lowest in the range has a 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 1GB of RAM and a 120GB 2.5" hard drive, whilst the more expensive model gets a 2.26 GHz processor, 2GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive. All models get the same peripherals, connections and an 8x speed DVD drive.

Mac mini media center

The Mac mini is well suited for use as a media center or home theater computer (commonly abbreviated as HTPC or HCPC). Thanks to its small footprint, CD/DVD drive, multi-format video output, digital audio output, remote control and the powerful Intel Core 2 Duo processors, the Mac mini is easily incorporated into a home entertainment system.

Thanks to the DisplayPort connection the Mac mini can output HDMI, DVI, VGA and component signals straight to an appropriate TV. Note that starting with the 2009 model, the mini's no longer support S-Video or composite outputs.

One major downside of using the Mac mini as a media computer is the lack of space inside the machine for add-on cards, most notably digital TV or DTV tuner cards. Despite this, external USB solutions do exist from companies such as Elgato and Pinnacle.

Mac mini vs Apple TV

Thanks to its similar size, remote control and media browser interface, some see the Mac mini as a viable alternative to the Apple TV device. Both have iTunes and a simple to use interface using the Front Row software. In addition to these similarities the mini is also able to play video formats such as Divx, Xvid and Mkv containers (Apple TV is limited to MP4 video). Even the slowest mini sports a faster processor than the AppleTV device which allows it to display a resolution of 1080p compared to the Apple TV's maximum resolution of 720p. Being a computer the Mac mini also gives much more freedom in terms of installing third party software and utilities.

When you take into consideration the relatively small price different between the devices, the Apple TV vs Mac mini argument really does swing towards the Mac mini. You might have to put in a little more set up time, but you'll be rewarded with better performance and a much wider range of abilities than you would get with the Apple TV.

Step 1

Click your free Apple Mac product from the selection above. You will be taken to the sign up page where you need to enter your email address and choose a password Ė please donít worry, your details are safe. Please note you can only choose one item.

Step 3

Get a few of your friend to also sign up and complete an offer using your referral link (provided when you sign up in step one). If you need some tips on how to get people to sign up or have any other questions about your free Mac please see our FAQ.

Step 2

Choose and complete one of the available offers. Some are free (such as Lovefilm), whilst others such as Coral and Gala Bingo cost just £5. Make sure you complete your chosen offer as described on the offer page, otherwise it wonít count.