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What are the differences between the "Mid-2010" Aluminum "Unibody" Mac mini "Core 2 Duo" models?
Please note that the "Mid-2010" Mac mini models have been discontinued and were replaced by the "Mid-2011" Mac mini models on July 20, 2011. For more recent comparison Q&As, please refer to the main Aluminum Mac mini Q&A page.
The "Mid-2010" Aluminum "Unibody" Mac mini models -- the stock configurations of which are the Mac mini "Core 2 Duo" 2.4 (Mid-2010) and 2.66 Server (Mid-2010), to be more precise -- are both milled from a single piece of aluminum and have a great deal in common.
However, they also have notable differences in hardware and software as well as intended use that are well worth evaluating.
External & Connectivity Differences
Both use tiny "cuboid" aluminum cases -- just 7.7 inches across and deep and a miniscule 1.4 inches tall -- that have a "spin off" black plastic base on the bottom that can be removed quickly to access the RAM slots, but one major hardware difference is immediately apparent with even a quick glance at the two systems.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (Server Configuration on Right)
The "regular" Mac mini configuration (left), equipped by default with a 2.4 GHz "Core 2 Duo" (P8600) processor, has a slot-loading 8X double-layer "SuperDrive" and a single 320 GB 3 Gb/s Serial ATA hard drive whereas the server configuration (right) has dual 500 GB 3 Gb/s Serial ATA hard drives, no optical drive, and a "slotless" case design.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc.
Both systems have identical connectivity. Connectivity includes both an HDMI and a Mini DisplayPort -- capable of passing an audio signal as well as video -- for simultaneous support of dual displays, a Firewire "800" port, four USB 2.0 ports, combined "audio line in (digital/analog)" and combined "audio line out/headphone (digital/analog)" minijacks, a 10/100/1000Base-T Gigabit Ethernet port, built-in AirPort Extreme (802.11a/b/g/n), and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, in addition to an SD card slot. Although Apple does not formally mention it, the SD card slot is SDXC capable.
Externally, the "Mid-2010" Mac mini models share its single A1347 Model Number with later Aluminum Mac mini lines, and as a result, it is not convenient to use for identification. However, these configurations do share a unique 2364 EMC Number -- visible upon removing the bottom "spin off" panel (on the righthand side with the ports facing you) -- and EveryMac.com has meticulously documented this detail accordingly.
Internally, with the exception of the aforementioned optical drive and second hard drive differences -- as well as default processor speed and default RAM -- these models are identical as well. Both have Intel "Core 2 Duo" processors with a 3 MB on-chip level 2 cache, a 1066 MHz frontside bus, support for a maximum of 8 GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM (PC3-8500), and a NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics processor that shares 256 MB of memory with the system for graphics use.
In addition to dual hard drives, the server configuration also shipped with a pre-installed copy of Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" Server rather than the standard version of Mac OS X.
The precise differences in processor speed, pre-installed memory, hard drive, optical drive, and price for the "Mid-2010" Mac mini models are summarized below:
|"Mid-2010" Mac mini||
|Processor Speed:||2.4 GHz||2.66 GHz|
|Std. RAM:||2 GB||4 GB|
|Std. Hard Drive:||320 GB||500 GB x2|
|Std. Optical Drive:||8X DL||None|
|Default OS:||Mac OS X 10.6||Mac OS X 10.6 Server|
|Apple Order No:||MC270LL/A||MC438LL/A|
Ultimately, the largest difference is perhaps intended use rather than technical specs. If one needs a relatively inexpensive desktop Mac -- particularly for television connectivity via the HDMI port -- the standard Mac mini is a great choice. If one needs a compact, low priced Mac OS X server, the server configuration makes life easy.
Please refer to EveryMac.com's Ultimate Mac Comparison feature to dynamically compare any Mac mini model to any other G3 or later Mac.