From Mac mini to MacBooks and iMac (Pro)s to Mac Pro, Apple offers a computer for every application, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. We try to navigate you through the offer and give you a decision support.
Let’s start with the professional desktop Macs: If you are looking for the maximum computing power because you do a lot of video editing, run scientific simulations or use other compute-intensive applications, you should take a look at the iMac Pro and, in special cases, the Mac Pro.
In this case, read on the iMac page, there you’ll find criteria on how the devices differ and which is most suitable for you. If you don’t have a high budget but still need high performance, a well-equipped iMac can be an alternative.
We have also created a separate detail for the boundaries differences betwwen MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro , which you can find here. The criterion for mobile Macs is always portable computing power. The differences between the models are not to be neglected, therefore we tried to work out the peculiarities of the models for you well.
The display is a quick decision criterion: Do you want a large display, don’t have one yet and want a tidy desk? Then the iMac is your first choice. With its beauty and good usability, no desktop computer has established itself as a designer object like the iMac. Have we met your taste with this argument, read here in the iMac chapter for further detail information and what you should be aware of when making a purchase. Even for users with a limited budget, a good “normal” iMac is a good alternative to the iMac Pro.
Mac mini or MacBook Air? The often overlooked alternative.
So since the criteria for the large stationary Macs and the mobile MacBooks are quite clear, we refer directly to the detail pages for these computers. The decision between Mac mini and MacBook Air, which we will discuss below, is more interesting.
If you already have the peripherals like mouse, keyboard and monitor, you are well prepared and may have a Mac mini in mind. But it’s a different story if you don’t have any hardware at all. If you buy the keyboard and the trackpad from Apple, you will have to add another $250. Together with the smallest M1 Mac mini, you’ll be at around $950 – a complete MacBook Air will cost only $50 more and comes with a screen.
Both devices have nearly the same power consumption, because they both use the M1 chip. The Mac mini has the advantage that it still has an active fan, which ensures that the chip does not have to reduce its performance during long periods of use. But maybe it is more attractive for you to buy a complete MacBook Air and use it with an external monitor. Keep in mind that a Mac mini has more ports on the back of the device. MacBook Air offers only two Thunderbolt 3 ports.
The full range of possible models and useful features for the Mac mini can be found below.
MacBook Air details are available on the MacBook Detail page.
Which Mac mini to buy? Decision criteria.
Apple had redefined the task of the Mac mini with Intel chip. For a long time, the mini was the cheapest Mac in the portfolio and served as an entry-level computer. Now it is almost twice as expensive as it was at the beginning. Instead, it was now aimed more at professionals.
However, in addition to the model with an Intel chip, there is now also a model with Apple’s own M1 chip – and this offers excellent performance and is even cheaper. For home use as well as for professional video editing this seems to be the better choice at the moment.
The main difference is the fact that the M1 model comes with fewer interfaces and can drive one monitor less. Furthermore, there is no 10 Gbit network available. Also the Intel models with up to 64 GB memory can be ordered, with the M1 models is with 16 GB end. This does not necessarily have to be a disadvantage, depending on the application.
The processors have at least six cores in the Intel model, the M1 comes with eight cores. The smallest SSD memory size is a fair 256 GB – but we would invest some money to upgrade them.
When choosing the memory, make sure that it is still upgradeable on the Intel model, but not on the M1 model. With this model you have to decide on the right size.
When to buy a Mac mini?
The Mac mini lineup was last updated in November 2020.
We inform you here if it is a good time to buy the product.
green means: up to date
orange means: coming to the end of the product cycle
red means: don’t buy, an update is coming soon
What has changed?
As already mentioned, the M1 model comes with fewer interfaces: there is one Ethernet, two Thunderbolts, two USB-A ports, one HDMI 2.0 and an audio connection. The advantage of the newer model: it can drive a 6K monitor. The color of the case is silver again.
The connectors on the back of the Intel model: There are four Thunderbolt 3 ports, two USB 3.0 and one HDMI port, plus a 3.5mm jack connector. The infrared port on the front side has been eliminated. The network is connected either with 1 GBit/s or with 10, which then costs extra.
Mac mini Intel
- 3.0 GHz Intel 6-Core-Processor
- 8 GB RAM, optional up to 64 GB
- 256 GB, optional up to 2 TB
- Intel UHD Graphics 630
- four Thunderbolt 3 ports
Mac mini M1
- 3.2 GHz M1 8-Core processor
- 8 GB RAM, optional up to 16 GB
- 256 GB SSD, optional up to 2 TB
- two Thunderbolt 3 ports
The same over all models:
- audio out
- two USB 3.0 ports
- one Gigabit Ethernetport
- ac Wifi and Bluetooth 5.0
- HDMI port
Mac mini vs. iMac
The current edition of the Mac mini is no longer a beginner’s computer, but a professional one with a lot of computing power that is an alternative to the iMac.
This can come into its own if you need a lot of computing power, but want to provide all the peripherals yourself. It is therefore the most compact version of computing power and macOS that Apple offers. But also friends of free monitor choice can now get CPU performance on the level of iMac and can freely assemble their system.