After reading some of the threads here with people being very happy with their minis, I decided to head down to the Apple store and give it a go. I used each of the computers (a Mac mini, Mac Pro, and iMac) for about 10 minutes (which seems like forever when you are in a crowded retail store) doing things I would normally be doing at home. The iMac was fine, as expected. It handled just about everything with satisfactory speed, even thought it was the base 24" model with no fancy processors or graphics. Video The Mac Mini though was quite disappointing. To render a 1 minute video in iMovie it took around 4 minutes. The Mac Pro did the job on the same exact movie (sample file found on every display computer) in about 45 seconds. Another big difference was apparent, while the movies were rendering, the Mac Pro was completely responsive and I was able to load iPhoto, Pages, Numbers, Safari, and iTunes. Each opened up within seconds, and each interface was running smoothly as if nothing was happening in the background (granted for a short period as the movie finished rendering quickly). On the Mac Mini, the computer was choking while even launching one or two additional programs. There was also significant lag moving the mouse around and clicking on stuff. Definitely not much of an issue if one is going to render a 1 minute clip every once in a while, but imagine rendering a 45 minute vacation video or other video project. On the Mac Pro, it would probably take around half an hour to 45 minutes, during which you could keep using your computer just fine, while on the Mac Mini that would take 3 hours during which your computer is useless (even for small things like surfing the net and iTunes). I didn't get a chance to run the same test on the iMac, but I imagine it would be somewhere in between. I will probably return to the Apple store soon and check it out. Other Tasks In other tasks, the iMac and Mac Pro seemed identical. Having Photoshop CS4, Pages, Numbers, Safari, Keynote, and Mail open at the same time had no effect on the smooth experience. Both were able to switch between programs quickly, and each program was very responsive. On Photoshop, filters applied to large files took about as long on each computer as well. Loading times and comparative performance in pro apps like Logic and Final Cut were also pretty similar. I have no doubt that rendering and hardcore processing tasks would have gone to the Mac Pro, but I didn't test those at this point, just how smoothly I was able to get around programs and perform minor quick tasks with them. On the Mac Mini, the computer seemed to choke again once several programs were open (heck, even when just ONE or TWO programs were open like GarageBand and iPhoto, for example). The most notable thing was the Dock magnification pausing for a bit and then not animating smoothly (not sure if I am explaining it right). The display computer didn't even have Photoshop CS4 installed, nor Logic or any other pro apps. Obviously the mini is not a pro computer, but my guess is they didn't load it up on it so that people can't see how horribly it performs on them. The mini did have Photoshop Elements, which performed like crap. I don't know if its just the program though since I remember during my Windows days Photoshop Elements running like crap compared to the regular Photoshop. Conclusion In any case, I am thinking about upgrading or changing out my Apple hardware by the end of the year or early next year and this experience has definitely eliminated the Mac Mini as a possibility for me. I am sure if I upgraded the HD and RAM it would give it somewhat of a boost, but I'd rather put more money and the time/effort into upgrading a brand new machine that is already good into something even better than upgrade a brand new machine that is unusable into something barely adequate. It's a shame too because I was semi-hoping to put my money on a 30" ACD and using a mini until I made enough money to buy a Mac Pro a year or so later. As it looks now, once I sell off my current computers I will probably look to upgrade to the 24" iMac, which will make getting a 30" ACD and Mac Pro impossible for at least a few years after that since I don't want more than one system at a time. *sigh* If only they made a 30" iMac (even at $2,999)... Suggestions If they revise the Mac Mini in less than a couple of years like last time and put in more decent processing power, more memory, and a better performing HD as standard (for the same price) then I would consider looking at it again. I'd say 2.4Ghz should be the BASE processor and either a 7200 rpm (like a 320GB or 500GB) or SSD hard drive (256GB minimum) should be standard. Obviously SSD prices won't allow that in the next year or two, but there's no excuse for the lack of 7200 rpm in a desktop which I feel would help performance plenty (while making the SSD upgrade price slightly more reasonably close to market prices). Selling a unit with 1 to 2 GB of RAM as standard is also shameful. The low end mini should come with at least 2GB standard, and in one chip too so that you aren't forced to lose memory while upgrading, while the high end should come with 4GB. For Those Who Are Considering Buying I would say stay away unless all you will be running is surfing the web, checking e-mail, typing basic documents, and playing movies (and not all of the above at the same time). If you are going to put movies together in iMovie or going to use ANY pro apps, I would recommend staying away and either saving up for a pro or getting an iMac. I would further recommend anyone in the vicinity of an Apple store or another store that carries the mini and has it on display to go play with it for a bit. Not for a minute or two, but really open up all the programs you see yourself using and get a real feel for how it would be. This will either convince you that it's the computer for you or save you from being disappointed later.