Would you use a Mac mini as your development machine?

MacMini Image

Apple just released a brand new, gorgeous looking Mac mini. This major upgrade brings us two different models: a desktop one and a server version (priced at $699 and $999, respectively).

Equipped with a HDMI port, the desktop edition of the Mac mini makes for a perfect Home Theater PC. It’s small and stylish, and as such is a great fit in your living room. Most of the reviews I’ve read focus on its use as a highly capable HTPC (despite its lack of a Blu-Ray drive).

However, I see the new Mac Mini in a different light. At $700 it is far too expensive for a HTPC, yet it’s ideal as an entry-level machine for web, Mac, and iOS development (it’s almost as cheap as a Hackintosh, minus the headache).

Mac Minis will do the job and be more than capable thanks to their adequate, albeit not spectacular, hardware specs. If my MacBook Pro were to die today, I would definitely consider purchasing one for development purposes. Would you?

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  1. For development you need iMac or Mac Pro with at least 24″. Mac mini can be used for development in home after work (or on holidays) or as hobby))

  2. Yes. I just don’t carry my Macbook Pro around enough to justify the extra cost. I’d probably add an external firewire drive or two and I’d continue to use VMware VMs to develop in sandboxes. But I agree that the mini would be a terrific little development machine.

  3. Sure I would! In fact I did use one for a short while before I traded it in for a MacBook to have more mobility. Who cares which processor it uses if it does the job well.

    The mini handles development workerfectly well.

  4. Yes. In fact that’s what I bought and used to write an iPhone app last year. I bought a used one on ebay. If you go that route just make sure you buy an intel mini, which is required for iPhone dev.

  5. all the headaches of laptops and no benefit of desktops… I will take a macpro. you realize how bad a laptop is once you worked with a MP for a year

  6. I’ve been working on a Mini for 3 years now – never had a problem. Go for a Mac Pro if you need to edit HD video or if you have to do 3D.

  7. Wow. First off, it’s a Mac, so how can it be a home theater PC? 😉 Second, that might be the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. Good luck using the 5-button remote and a complete lack of operating system support for decent media sharing and playback. Not to mention the insane price tag.

  8. If I were looking to just pick up a machine for development I’d go for last years – it should be cheaper now — I remember a couple of years ago when a Mac Mini upgrade came in and the local Best Buy had a special sale.

    Don’t know about dropping that cash on a new one just for development. I’d rather spend a little more on the white Macbook.

  9. The UK price is a bit excessive – £649, which is $963.52 at the current exchange rate. At that price I really don’t think it’s a worthwhile proposition. Shame, it’s quite a nice machine.

  10. Sure, I would. I think Macs are a bit overpriced as it is – in fact I’ve already got a Mac Mini that I picked up really cheap when the newer model came out.

  11. You don’t need a mac for web development, its just an over priced machine for that, except you will do and not hope to do, but REALLY do iOS development. I wanted a mac previously but now I’ll NEVER get it.

  12. Too expensive. I am looking at building micro- or nano-ATX sized computer from scratch at half the price and better spex.

    Apple needs to get their feet back on the ground.

    • “is there a good way to get at least two decent sized monitors running on this little guy?”

      It supports dual monitors natively! Plug one into the Mini DisplayPort jack and one into the HDMI jack.

      I was actually just about to post that the dual-monitor support was the best reasons to pick one of these over a $999 MacBook.

      I know HDMI–>DVI adapters are just a few dollars; hopefully there are cheap generic Mini DisplayPort adapters. (If you need one)

  13. My desktop machine for development (Ruby, Merb,…) is a Mac Mini, 2Ghz Core2Duo 2GB Snow Leopard. The keyboard is the Wireless Apple keyboard, really excellent.

    Very silent machine, small footprint, beautiful design, fast enough, MacVim with Project and Vimblog plugins, and that’s it.

    Laptop ? Linux, Thinkpad please!

  14. I am thinking about it also… Instead, I am thinking to buy a second hand MAC Mini with the following configuration…

    CPU: Intel 1.66Ghz
    RAM: 2GB DDR2
    HDD: 160GB
    Display: Intel GMA950
    DVD Writer

    As long as they can upgrade to OS 10.6.2 that will not be a big problem, I think… right?

  15. Absolutely. I bought the latest line which supports dual drives. I use a 128 Gig SSD as the primary for the OS & a 700 gig hybrid, which runs at the same speed. With 8 gigs of ram, this machine is comparable to a loaded MacPro from just a few years ago. I’d say that’s plenty of power for development and then some.