M1 Mac Mini (2020) Quick Review: Pros and Cons

M1 Mac Mini (2020) Quick Review: Pros and Cons

The fifth-generation Mac Mini or the M1 Mac Mini is a small desktop computer introduced by Apple in November 2020 that features the Apple M1 system-on-a-chip and runs the newer version of the macOS based on the ARM architecture and RISC architecture. It is also the most affordable device within the entire line of Mac computers.

Pros of the M1 Mac Mini: Reasons Why You Should Buy

Of course, as its name suggests, the biggest selling point and one of the advantages of the M1 Mac Mini is the Apple M1 chip, as well as the fact that the entire system is now based on the ARM and RIC architectures.

Note that this Apple-designed system-on-a-chip or SoC is found in a range of Apple devices including the fifth-generation 13-inch MacBook Pro, the iMac M1, the 2020 MacBook Air, the third-generation 11-inch iPad Pro and the fifth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the fifth-generation iPad Air, and the sixth-generation iPad Mini.

The aforesaid devices have received critical acclaim and rave reviews from professional tech reviewers and users due to the processing capabilities of the M1 chip that outperforms most of its counterparts. The same is true for the M1 Mac Mini.

Below are the specific advantages and reasons why you should buy this desktop Mac computer from Apple:

• Powerful Apple M1 Chip: Remember that the M1 chip is one of the main pros of the M1 Mac Mini. This system-on-a-chip has its specific advantages that can rival equivalent Intel processors and other chips from other manufacturers.

For starters, an SoC has notable advantages over standalone CPUs or limited chipsets. The M1 has several hardware components packed in a single silicon die to include an 8-core CPU with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores, an 8-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine, and an 8GB to 16GB of unified memory.

It also has support for wireless communication technologies such as Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0, and wired connectivity using Ethernet, Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 Gen 2 and USB 4, HDMI, and DisplayPort.

The M1 has demonstrated capabilities to run resource-intensive applications and tasks such as photo and video editing, as well as music production and running desktop game titles without generating too much heat and consuming too much power. Its performance is comparable even to higher-end Intel-based Mac computers.

• Small and Compact Form Factor: This is the smallest Mac device among the entire line of Mac computers. It is not only small but also compact and lightweight measuring 1.4 x 7.7 x 7.7 inches and weighing 2.6 pounds or 1.2 kilograms.

It is also a gorgeous-looking desktop computer with its aluminum encasing that blends well on a minimalist workstation and when paired with Apple-branded accessories such as the Magic Keyboard and the Magic Mouse, as well as the Studio Display. The M1 Mac Mini looks refreshing when compared to obstructive tower PC cases.

The compact form factor does not fall short of featuring all relevant ports. It has an ethernet LAN, two Thunderbolt ports, HDMI, two USB, and a headphone jack. The M1 chip allows it to connect to up to two monitors via Thunderbolt and HDMI.

• Most Affordable Mac Computer: When compared to other Mac devices such as the high-end Mac Studio and the Mac Pro, as well as the 24-inch iMac and even the 13-inch MacBook Pro and 13-inch MacBook Air, another notable advantage of the M1 Mac Mini is its affordable price tag that starts at USD 699.00.

Note that the USD 699.00 base model features the same Apple M1 chip with 8GB of unified memory and 256GB of storage based on a solid-state drive. There is also a model with 512GB of storage that retails at USD 899.00.

Consumers are free to configure this device in selected retail stores or through the Apple website. The highest configuration has a USD 1799.00 price tag and features 16GB of unified memory, 1TB of SSD storage, and a 10-gigabit Ethernet port.

Note that the aforesaid maximum configuration is ideal for use cases that involve working with high-performance network storage or handling large-capacity data loads. However, for average to above-average usages such as office productivity and photo and video editing, the base model will suffice.

Cons of the M1 Mac Mini: Reasons Why You Should Not Buy

The M1 Mac Mini is an almost perfect desktop Mac computer. It has even become popular across several consumer categories ranging from residential users and corporate professionals to creative professionals and enthusiasts.

However, when compared to its more expensive siblings such as the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the Mac Studio, it has several notable shortcomings that might limit the full potential of the Apple M1 chip or affect the overall workflow of heavy users.

Below are the specific disadvantages and reasons why you should not buy this desktop Mac computer from Apple:

• No After-Sales Upgradability: One of the most significant disadvantages or cons of the M1 Mac Mini is that it is not upgradeable. The same absence of aftermarket upgradability is rampant across all Mac devices and even other Apple devices.

The RAM cannot be upgraded because it is part of the M1 system-on-a-chip component. The device does not have a motherboard with dedicated slots for RAM expansion. The storage is not readily upgradable as well. Users are fundamentally left without a choice but to live with the chosen model or configuration of this device.

Furthermore, note that the previous Intel-based Mac Mini allows connecting with an external graphics card or external discrete graphics processor. Users of the newer M1 units are stuck with the integrated GPU found in the M1.

• Still Considerable Expansive: Remember that it is the most affordable Mac device from Apple. However, when compared to other personal computers from other manufacturers and based on other operating systems, it is still one of the most expansive.

Note that the based model which retails at USD 699.00 includes the device itself and a power cord. It is not a full-blown desktop computer. First-time users would need to buy a keyboard, mouse or a trackpad, and a monitor, as well as speakers and a webcam. Apple sells some of these accessories but these products are also expensive.

A complete Mac desktop computer setup using this device and Apple-branded peripherals will cost a user more than USD 2500.00. This is more expensive than the M1 13-inch MacBook Pro and the M1 Pro 14-inch MacBook Pro or as expensive as the mid-level configuration of the M1 Pro 14-inch MacBook Pro.

Verdict: The Good and Bad About the M1 Mac Mini

The Apple M1 chip undeniably provides the best reasons why one should buy the M1 Mac Mini. Remember that this device is the most affordable Mac computer among the entire line of Mac computers. The M1 equips this device with processing capabilities and overall efficiency that outclasses desktop computers running on Intel Core i3 and Core i5 processors.

Another notable selling point of this device is the macOS. This proprietary desktop operating system from Apple remains one of the major reasons why individuals and even organizations are choosing Mac computers over Windows-based computer systems.

The newer versions of the macOS have been redeveloped and optimized to take advantage of all the benefits that come from the M-series of chips and the ARM and RISC architectures. The result is a smoother hardware-software integration that is similar to the fluidity of iOS and iPadOS devices or iPhones and iPads.

But the absence of aftermarket upgradability options means that one of the problems with the M1 Mac Mini is that it is not as versatile as the previous Intel-based Mac Mini and not as adaptable as tower personal computers running on Windows.

The need to purchase peripherals and accessories such as a keyboard, mouse or another input device, monitor, and speaker defeats its supposed affordability. Considering the total cost of a complete Mac desktop setup, there is no clear benefit to choosing the M1 Mac Mini if one can afford an M1-based 13-inch MacBook Air or 13-inch MacBook Pro.

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