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In an hours time I will be buying a second hand Mac Mini for a bargain price. The person I am collecting it from says he has no screen for me to check that it works, and my prehistoric 19" CRT is too big to take on the tube. I already bluffed him by saying I would bring a small screen to test it which he was quite happy about, but I would still like confirmation that it works before handing over any cash.

So my question is this: Given a Mac Mini, a keyboard, and a power cable, how can I test that said Mac is operational? Obviously the one thing I can't test is monitor output.

I'm thinking something like MP3 player connection, keyboard shortcuts to volume control... Give me your ideas!!!

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2 Answers 2

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Turn on the computer, give it enough time to boot up, then use the following keyboard shortcut:

Control-Option-Command-Eject

That should cause the Mac Mini to shut itself down again. If it shuts down of its own accord, it probably at least managed to boot OS X successfully; if it doesn't, then it's probably stuck somewhere.

Another option (if you have some way of hearing the sound output) is to simply use the volume controls built in to the F-keys, and listen for the "popping" sound used to indicate the new volume.

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That's a great suggestion, as the mini has a built in speaker. –  MJeffryes Aug 1 '09 at 9:20
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And, of course, the boot should generate that beautiful "boing..." very early on. –  dmckee Aug 2 '09 at 3:14
    
If you hear a breaking glass sound when you boot it up, turn around and go home. –  rob Oct 12 '09 at 18:34

I'd be sure to take a monitor along. Lugging 40-50 lbs. a couple of times is worth it if it saves you from wasting your money on a broken computer.

You should also run something very CPU-intensive for a good 15 minutes or so, in case the computer has a heat-related issue.

If you really want to show you're 1337, boot the machine off a Linux CD, then use your NetBook or iPhone to ssh into it and run your diagnostics over the network.

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