- Apple M1 8-Core CPU at 3.2 GHz
- 8-Core GPU
- 16-core neural engine capable of 11 trillion calculations per second
- Up to 16GB of RAM
- Up to 2TB of SSD storage
- Multiple ports, including two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports, two USB-A ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, an HDMI 2.0 port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack
- BlueTooth 5.0 support
- 7.7 x 7.7 x 1.4 inches in size
- 2.6 pounds
- Incredible speed
- Instant on
- Wi-Fi 6
- Existing apps run well
- Great price for the specs and features offered
- No way to upgrade internal components on your own
- No external GPU support
- Fewer ports than previous model
- Maxes out at 16GB of RAM
- Truly awful built-in speaker
It was big news when Apple told the world they would begin making their own chips.
Well, now that the first spate of Macs with the Apple M1 chip have been released, it seems that all the hype was well worth it.
Nevertheless, before you plunk down hundreds of dollars on the new Apple Mac Mini M1, you should take a critical look at what it has to offer you in terms of bang for your buck.
That's where this first impressions review comes in. Let's get to it!
Apple Mac Mini M1 Specs
In the video above by Karl Conrad, you can get a quick visual overview of the Mac Mini.
For our purposes, let's begin by discussing a few of the major specs that the Mac Mini M1 has to offer:
Though this new Mac Mini M1 is vastly different under the hood than its predecessor, it retains the same small, lightweight, slim design of the Mac Mini line. At just 2.6 pounds, it's easily portable, and at 7.7 x 7.7 x 1.4 inches in size, it can easily sit on top of your desk without being obtrusive.
Of course, what we really want to talk about is the Mac Mini's components. Let's do that in more detail...
Apple Mac Mini M1 CPU & GPU
The CPU in the Mac Mini is the eight-core M1, an all-new chip designed, developed, and built by Apple.
It's eight cores serve different functions. Four of the cores are tasked with overseeing performance while the other four are in charge of efficiency. This mixture of efficiency-minded and performance-minded cores allows the Mac Mini to save power and better regulate its temperature depending on the workload.
Paired with this all-new CPU is an eight-core GPU that can support dual displays. In fact, it can handle a 6K display via Thunderbolt as well as a second 4K display via HDMI. It should be noted that some older Intel-powered models could support three displays, so dual-display support could be considered a downgrade.
It's important to note that the Mac Mini M1 is not compatible with external GPUs, so you're stuck with what Apple gives you out of the box.
While this GPU can handle intense 4K video editing, the emergence of 8K video could prove taxing for this GPU.
Apple Mac Mini M1 Performance
Of course, the big question with Apple's new silicon was how it would impact performance. And thus far, the M1 chip has not disappointed.
Like the M1-powered Macbook Air and Macbook Pro 13.3-inch, the Mac Mini M1 offers blazing-fast performance.
This applies to normal, everyday tasks as well as heavier-duty tasks like editing photos and videos. Even many programs that weren't designed to run with the M1 chip perform well and feel as though they were made for the M1 chip.
One of the biggest benefits of the M1 chip, though, is instant on. Just like your iPad, this thing fires up immediately. I am the impatient type, and waiting for my early-2020 Macbook Pro to fire up in the morning seems like an eternity. But those agonizing seconds are a thing of the past with the Mac Mini M1.
All in all, the M1-powered Mac Mini has proven to be a real asset in the short time since its release.
It offers improved performance over its predecessor (except perhaps in the RAM department, where the M1 maxes out at 16GB and the older Intel model maxed out at 64GB), offers an excellent experience for daily use, and has the power to chew through intensive tasks like photo and video editing.
I imagine that these capabilities will only continue to grow as Apple improves the M1 chip for future generations of Macs.
It should also be noted that the Mac Mini M1 can use all eight GPU cores while the M1 Macbook Air and Pro only have seven GPU cores on hand. This might not seem like a huge difference, but testers have noted that the Mini outperforms the Macbooks in terms of graphics performance due to the additional core.
Apple Mac Mini M1 Price
Considering that the base Mac Mini M1 is just $699, this is a great computer for budget-minded buyers.
Granted, most folks will want to give the RAM a boost from 8GB to 16GB, which increases the price to $899. If you add a larger SSD drive (from 256GB to 512GB), the price jumps again to $1,099. If you max out all the options, you're looking at $1,699, which is still a great price if you ask me.
But even at the mid-range price of $1,099, you get a whole lot of performance and features, especially for a "desktop" computer that is so portable.
Given how smoothly the transition to the M1 chip has gone so far, I can only imagine how good the next couple of generations of the Mac Mini will be.
So, is this new Mac Mini worth the price of admission? Let's look at its pros and cons to see:
Clearly, there are some excellent upsides and some significant downsides to the Mac Mini M1. But you get this mix of pros and cons with any computer.
In the end, the blazing performance of the M1 chip makes the Mac Mini a great buy, in my opinion. The low base price and the relatively low prices of upgraded models only adds to its appeal.
If you want something fast and inexpensive, this could be the new computer for you. But if you want external GPU support, tons of RAM, and the ability to upgrade components on your own, the Mac Mini M1 should not be on your radar.