Compared: New Apple Silicon Mac mini versus Intel Mac Mini

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The brand new Apple Silicon-based Mac mini is an entry level into Apple’s new processor ecosystem, however this is how precisely it compares to the outdated Intel-based mannequin.

One of many issues that Apple Silicon must do is to attract builders and customers to the platform, and a technique it could accomplish that’s by providing itself as a cheap computing possibility. For many individuals needing a desktop-based Mac substitute or switching from Home windows-based PCs, that possibility largely boiled right down to the Mac mini.

Now Apple has elevated the efficiency of the Mac mini by remodeling it with an Apple Silicon M1 processor. And it is also lowered the entry-level worth by $100.

Because the smallest Mac Apple sells by way of stature, in addition to in pricing, the Mac mini is a pretty proposition, and one that may simply slot in to a consumer’s present computing surroundings if they’re upgrading from an older mannequin, or from a PC. It is sensible for one in all Apple’s first forays into Apple Silicon to be one which follows an identical path.

Actually, there has already been one Apple Silicon Mac mini in existence. The Developer Transition Equipment Apple equipped to builders after WWDC successfully consisted of a Mac mini with a distinct processor inside, with the internals and rear panel switched out for various variations whereas maintaining the identical enclosure.

On the time, it was warned that the Developer Transition Equipment would give hints for what to anticipate from the full-fat Apple Silicon expertise, however manufacturing {hardware} would most likely change earlier than its launch.

Now, with the announcement of an Apple Silicon model, the primary actual comparisons will be made with the outgoing Intel mannequin. We’ll need to see what outcomes we get from AppleInsider‘s real-world testing, however for now, Apple’s specs inform us an enormous quantity.

Apple Silicon Mac mini versus Intel Mac Mini – Specs

Mac mini (Apple Silicon 2020) Mac mini (Intel 2018)
Beginning worth $699 $799
Dimensions (inches) 1.4 x 7.7 x 7.7 1.4 x 7.7 x 7.7
Weight (kilos) 2.6 2.9
Processor Apple M1 8-core CPU Eighth-generation 3.6GHz 4-core Intel Core i3
Eighth-generation 3.0GHz 6-core Intel Core i5
Eighth-generation 3.2GHz 6-core Intel Core i7
Graphics 8-core GPU Intel UHD Graphics 630
RAM 8GB, 16GB 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
Networking 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 wi-fi networking
IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac compatibleBluetooth 5.0 wi-fi technology10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet
802.11ac Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0
Gigabit Ethernet
Elective 10Gb Ethernet
Storage 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB 256GB (Core i3 and Core i7), 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
Show None None
Ports HMDI 2.0, two Thunderbolt/USB 4, two USB-A, Ethernet, 3.5mm headphone HDMI 2.0
4 USB 3 ports, Ethernet, 3.5mm headphone

Apple Silicon Mac mini versus Intel Mac Mini – Exterior look

The bodily form of the chassis could also be extra essential with the Mac mini than in every other Mac. That is as a result of whereas this units works as an entry-level Mac for very many customers, it is also routinely utilized in arrays the place a whole lot and even 1000’s of Mac mini machines are racked collectively.

Maybe due to that, the Mac mini has largely stored the identical common look over time, and the brand new mannequin retains precisely the identical sq. and comparatively skinny lump of aluminium. It is fractionally lighter, although, at 2.6lbs as an alternative of the 2018 Intel Mac mini’s 2.9lbs.

The low-profile Mac, measuring 7.7 inches sq. and 1.4 inches thick, has rounded corners and bears the Apple brand on the highest. All the ports and connections are routed via the again panel of the Mac mini, leaving a fairly polished and stark presence on the desktop.

This exploded view may be your only chance to see the insides of the new Mac mini as you can no longer open it to upgrade RAM

This exploded view could also be your solely probability to see the insides of the brand new Mac mini as you may now not open it to improve RAM

Apple Silicon Mac mini versus Intel Mac Mini – Processors and reminiscence

The place the 2018 Intel mannequin supplied three completely different processors, the brand new Mac mini with Apple Silicon M1 comes with only a single possibility, no less than on this first launch. It is maybe not stunning that Apple has not come out with a number of variations for its preliminary launch, however there are variations within the M1 processor utilized in different Apple Silicon units.

The MacBook Air with Apple Silicon, for instance, comes with an possibility that features both a 7-core GPU or an 8-core one. The Mac mini provides solely the 8-core GPU, alongside the 8-core CPU, and the 16-core Neural engine.

Apple doesn’t provide a degree by level comparability between processors, preferring solely to state that the CPU within the M1 is as much as 3 times quicker than the earlier technology. For graphics, Apple says the brand new Mac mini is as much as six instances quicker than its predecessor.

When it comes to reminiscence, the brand new Mac mini nonetheless ships with the identical base configuration of 8GB, however that may be upgraded at time of order to 16GB. Apple beforehand used 2,666MHz DDR4 SO-DIMM reminiscence within the Intel Mac mini, and in addition supplied it in 32GB and 64GB configurations.

Now the RAM is what Apple calls unified reminiscence, which it says supplies quicker efficiency. Nonetheless, the RAM within the Mac mini is now not upgradeable after buy, which is a big distinction.

Apple Silicon Mac mini versus Intel Mac Mini – Evaluating processor efficiency

Once more, we’ll solely actually know the way the brand new Mac mini with Apple Silicon M1 performs when it’s launched and examined. One factor to significantly level out is that the standard benchmark scores that can be accessible for the M1 should not the whole story for Apple Silicon.

Apple says that the Apple Silicon M1 chip has a better efficiency per watt than equal Intel processors. That can imply they’ll run quicker than, for example, their cellular counterparts such because the A14 Bionic within the iPad Professional.

Consequently, it’s extremely possible that Apple is appropriate, and that the Apple Silicon model will carry out much better, when correctly benchmarked sooner or later.

The new Mac mini driving a Pro Display XDR

The brand new Mac mini driving a Professional Show XDR

Apple Silicon Mac mini versus Intel Mac Mini – Graphics

The earlier Mac mini relied on Intel UHD Graphics 630, the graphics processing unit built-in into the processors. Given the small measurement of the Mac mini’s enclosure, there is no actual possibility for Apple to incorporate a standard discrete graphics possibility, within the gadget.

So Apple has opted to make use of its personal GPU design and embody it within the M1 processor. In the identical method because the CPU, although, the graphical efficiency will stand to learn from the improved cooling capability accessible from a non-mobile gadget.

Apple Silicon Mac mini versus Intel Mac Mini – Connectivity

The outdated Mac mini provides a plethora of rear connections, beginning with a quartet of Thunderbolt 3 ports, in addition to a pair of USB-A 3.0 ports, an HDMI 2.0 output, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

On the networking facet, it additionally provides 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 help for wi-fi connectivity, in addition to Gigabit Ethernet for bodily networking. Apple additionally contains an elective improve for 10Gbps Ethernet.

The brand new Mac mini with Apple Silicon M1 matches most of this — and beats a few of it. It supplies the quicker Wi-Fi 6, or 802.11ax, for instance, plus Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports.

The place it arguably falls down is within the variety of ports. The brand new Mac mini has solely two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports as an alternative of 4 Thunderbolt/USB 3. It does, although, include two USB-A ports.

Apple Silicon Mac mini versus Intel Mac Mini – Storage

Apple once more provides the Mac mini beginning with a storage possibility of a 256GB SSD in a single base configuration, with upgrades to 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB of storage. The opposite configuration begins from 512GB and has the identical 1TB and 2TB choices.

This successfully boils right down to each configurations having the identical 256GB to 2TB storage capability vary. The earlier Intel Mac mini had completely different choices, with the Core i3 and Core i7 variations in a position to be configured to have 256GB of storage.

Apple Silicon Mac mini versus Intel Mac Mini – Consumer upgradability

Upgrading the Mac mini has modified over time, and never at all times for the higher. Whereas earlier fashions allowed customers to alter the storage drive for a better capability, or to maneuver from mechanical exhausting drives to SSDs, the brand new Mac mini with Apple Silicon M1 removes even the power to improve the RAM.

Apple has historically at all times priced RAM far increased than different suppliers, so the power so as to add extra after buy was vital in making the Mac mini reasonably priced. That capability so as to add RAM later additionally meant that customers might hold bettering the efficiency of their machine because it aged.

Apple Silicon Mac mini versus Intel Mac Mini – Pricing

Apple begins the brand new Mac mini with Apple Silicon M1 at $699 within the lowest-priced configuration. This will get you 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. Upgrading to the now most 16GB provides $200 to the value.

Equally, shifting up from the bottom 256GB to 512GB additionally takes $200. The 1TB model is one more $200. Going from the bottom 256GB all the way in which as much as 2TB storage provides $800 to the value.

Detail from how the new Mac mini dissipates heat (Source: Apple)

Element from how the brand new Mac mini dissipates warmth (Supply: Apple)

Evaluating Apple with Intel

The brand new Mac mini is way quicker than the outdated Intel mannequin. Unusually for Apple, it is also truly cheaper. That mixture, particularly the extraordinarily improved efficiency, is sufficient to present simply why Apple has made the transfer to Apple Silicon.

There’s the difficulty which you can now not improve the RAM within the Mac mini. Which means it is in all probability a greater wager, in the long run, to spend $899 and purchase the model with probably the most RAM already put in.

Whether or not you do this or not, although, in each method that we will but measure, the brand new Mac mini is a particularly substantial improve to the outdated one.

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