Apple’s latest base-model computer brings powerful performance at a bargain price.
Since moving to a full-time work-from-home environment back in March, I’ve upgraded almost everything about my home office. Sit-stand desk: check. Ergonomic chair: check. Calming paint color: check. Computer: nope.
Everything I do — from a full-time 9–5 job, managing The Writing Cooperative, and my freelance writing — is on an almost six-year-old 13” MacBook Pro. Don’t get me wrong, the computer is still a reliable machine and fully capable of all the things I threw at it, just not always quickly.
Reviews of the new M1 system-on-a-chip were too impressive to ignore. Last week, I jumped in headfirst. When it comes to buying a computer, two things matter: performance and cost. Here’s what I learned about the new M1 Mac mini and why you should consider upgrading yourself.
The initial reviews of Apple’s M1 chip were hard to ignore. Jason Snell, writing for Six Colors, said:
Basically, the $5000 iMac Pro I bought three years ago has been humbled by a $999 MacBook Air and a $699 Mac mini. This is real life. This is where we are now.
Instead of waiting a month for shipping from China, I opted for the base-model Mac mini. That’s an 8-core processor, 8-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine, and 8 GB RAM. I’ll be honest; the 8 GB RAM gave me pause.
My 9–5 job is Microsoft dependent. We use OneDrive to keep the roughly 150 GB server in sync across all our remote team. On my MacBook Pro with 16 GB RAM, the most available in the six-year-old model, OneDrive would regularly use 10 GB of active RAM. That’s… a lot.
Mainly, I was impatient. The 8 GB model was available the same day, whereas the 16 GB model was a month away. I read through a Reddit thread about the base-model’s performance with various games and figured Apple’s claims about the SoC working differently were probably accurate. I dove in headfirst.
The power of this machine is staggering.
A few weeks ago, I had an issue with my computer and needed to reinstall everything. That aforementioned giant OneDrive sync took an entire weekend to parse through and initially sync. On the M1 Mac mini, it took less than a morning. With 25 people all working from home, the server is continually updating. The M1 never slips.
I routinely have Word, Excel, OneDrive, Adobe Acrobat DC, Chrome, Outlook, and Teams running. Except for Chrome, everything runs through Rosetta, translating the Intel-native apps for Apple’s M1 processor. The Mac mini just works. No slowdowns. No bounces. It’s faster, smoother, without any pause — which was not the case on the MacBook Pro.
When it comes to performance, the M1 Mac mini was just 8 GB RAM is a powerhouse machine capable of everything I throw at it.
At $699, the base-model Mac mini is the least-expensive Mac on the market. It’s even cheaper than the base-model iPad Air I bought two months ago. Granted, it doesn’t come with a screen, keyboard, or trackpad, but I already had all those things.
While a laptop, my MacBook Pro has been fully plugged in and used as a desktop computer for at least two years. While a fully capable machine, I needed more than 13” of screen space for regular work.
At $699, the Mac mini is a steal. Plus, when you factor in the $310 Apple offered for my six-year-old MacBook Pro in trade-in credit, the computer became an unavoidable sub-$400.
Think about that. One of the most powerful Macs ever produced is less than $400 after trade-in.
Don’t sleep on this computer.
The performance of the machine is undeniable for the price. Plus, the Mac mini provides several features it’s more expensive counterparts do not. Namely, more ports.
The Mac mini has 2 Thunderbolt/USB-C, 2 USB-A, 1 HDMI, an Ethernet port, and a headphone jack. In other words, I didn’t need any dongles to move to this computer.
It’s a remarkable computer and an incredible leap in technology. If you’re considering an upgrade, don’t sleep on the Mac mini. It’ll blow you away just as it did me.