Last month I made the leap back to using a Mac. Since July 09, I’ve worked solely as a freelancer and my trusty Dell laptop has served me remarkably well, but the time came for me to upgrade to something more capable. Budget-wise I was aiming to spend as little as possible. That left me with only a a few choices:

  1. Get another PC. I toyed with the idea of getting a desktop simply because it’d be more upgradeable down the road. I love my laptop, though. Being tied to a desk isn’t ideal when you have to meet with clients or want to work someplace else from time to time. For $500-$1000 you can get some good laptops and/or desktops.
  2. Get a Mac. I was torn between getting a 13″ MacBook Pro, 24″ iMac or a Mac mini.
    1. A 13″ MacBook Pro would be a very capable machine, able to run CS5 without issues. It could be hooked to an external monitor when needed. It’s super portable. The only downside is that it’s a little on the small size. Working on it for extended amounts of time, without an external monitor would probably be a pain in the ass. Starting at $1199, the base model isn’t bad, but not quite what I was after.
    2. The 24″ iMac is fast, has a nice sized screen. Lots of great options. I loved that I’d be able to hook an external screen to it to double screen space. At $1199, the entry-level model is a great deal and I was seriously considering it.
    3. The Mac mini is compact and decently powered for its size. While it’s not portable like a MBP might be, it’s easy to transport. With its ability to connect to multiple screens sporting HDMI, VGA or DVI (via display adapters), I was sold. The price helped as well. I bought the entry-level Mac mini for $579 retail with free shipping and no tax.

Getting used to Snow Leopard versus several years in Vista and XP has been a bit of a challenge, but not much. The Mac mini is quick, is able to do a lot with it’s seemingly unimpressive hardware specs. All in all, I’m happy with the decision to get it. Given the limited budget, it was most definitely the right choice for me to make, but I could see myself going for either a MBP or an iMac the next time I need to upgrade.


The Setup

It handles two monitors flawlessly. It runs all of my applications without a problem, even Creative Suite 5. I’m extremely happy with my Mac mini and I can’t wait to build and create some awesome stuff with it.