Why the "Most Efficient" Part of the New Mac Mini Doesn't Mean Squat


Photo by valderama via Flickr CC

The internet is abuzz with the announcement of the new Apple iMac and Mac Mini. And green blogs are spreading the word about the efficiency of the Mini, which Apple says is the world's most efficient PC, drawing just 13 watts when idle.

And yet, we have to ask, "so what?"Ok, for the Apple fans, yes, we absolutely applaud the company for earning EPEAT Gold, meeting Energy Star requirements, the easy recyclability (though not recycled materials), the small packaging...All these things line up with Apple's drive to be green, and they're doing a decent job of it. Also, the Mini has already made our list of best green desktops.

And yes, we are containing some excitement because power-sipping computers are a favorite topic around these parts. But there are a couple big things to bring up that make us sigh with disappointment that, no, we don't have a silver bullet for computer energy consumption yet. And while the Mini is neat, it's also, "feh."

Three points.

1 - Users hook up other stuff to the Mini that might not be efficient, such as big, beautiful monitors and other peripherals. Kinda takes the bang out of the whole energy efficiency thing.

2 - The Mini doesn't draw 13 watts when running with normal use. That's for idling. There is no indication in any of the literature that it is the "most energy-efficient desktop in the world" when running games, video software, and all the other intensive programs that are often used with Macs.

3 - Individual users aren't the market where energy efficient computers are most important - comptuer-heavy businesses are. And they're not going to be switching to Mac Minis any time soon. Rather, they're using older PCs with, hopefully, power management programs. So the 13-watts-when-idle might save you a few pennies at home, but it won't be changing the world in the near future.

Bonus point:
The energy savings of the Mac Mini on idle can be matched or topped by your current computer. Simply set your power settings for maximum save (such as shutting down the screen and hard drives after a few minutes of inactivity), and turn it OFF when you're not using it.

So while we're definitely excited about the new Mac Mini and think going for efficient and green is absolutely important, we're not going to go along with calling it the world's most efficient desktop.

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Tags: Apple Inc | Electronics | Energy Efficiency

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