Apple Mac mini M1 2020 Review – Features, Price and Specs

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Estimated read time: 10 minutes

Apple Mac mini M1

We finally get to see the smallest Mac get a much-needed update with the new Apple Mac mini M1. This device emerges with many promises from Apple. Apple claims to have a three times more faster CPU performance and six times graphical performance than its predecessors. 

This is possible thanks to Apple’s new M1 chip. Which has been implemented in the new Mac mini, MacBook Air M1 and MacBook Pro M1 this year. The Mac mini is able to compile XCode three times faster, play intensive games and give Pro scene rendering much faster and still retains its small and compact chassis because of the M1 chipset. 

This new update is definitely fantastic to lovers of the Mac mini. Given that this is Apple’s oldest device in some way, the computer has gone for some years now without any update. It feels great to finally see an update in the form of the M1 chipset and Apple’s macOS11 Big Sur operating system on the new Mac mini.

However, this new upgrade comes with a compromise. The compromise being that the new Mac mini with the M1 chip has its RAM capped at 16GB and you can no longer make use of external graphics cards (eGPUs). This may come as a major disappointment to most people hoping to upgrade their new Mac mini M1. 

In a Nutshell 

Over all, the Mac mini M1 has an impressive build and possess the ability to run legacy intel apps along with M1 apps and iOS apps. 

With the compromise posed on the Mac mini M1 which makes the use of eGPUs non supportive may be of great detriment to video editors and photographers. However, knowing Apple and how they work, they are sure to have come up with a suitable alternative to make this new Mac mini perform even better for these professionals without the need of an eGPU.

Price and availability 

Price-wise, the new Mac mini M1 starts at $699 / £699 / AU$1,099 for the model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. This is impressive to see a performance boost I the new Mac mini M1 and at a cheaper price when compared to the Mac mini 2018 model. 

There’s also a model with 8GB RAM and 512GB storage space for $899 / £899 / AU$1,399. Both of these have the same M1 chip with an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU, which is the same chip as the one in the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch M1. 

Both models can be further configured to offer up to 16GB of unified memory and up to 2TB of SSD storage. But nothing more than 16GB of Ram can be place on this device. 

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Apple Mac mini M1 Design

Mac mini M1 Design

Like all Apple’s computers this year, the Mac mini like the MacBook Air and MacBook pro maintains the same design as its predecessor. 

The Mac mini M1 has exactly the same size as the Mac mini 2018 with their difference being the weight of the new device. The new Mac mini M1 weighs 2.6 pounds (1.2 Kg), which is slightly lighter than the 2018 Mac mini model.  

Though there is no change in the new Mac mini design, this feels ok. Reason being most people don’t really care about its look since it is meant to be indoors all day unlike the MacBook Air and Pro. As long as it is able to give the required performance and occupies less room, it is accepted by many. 

The slight design change aside the M1 chip, is that it now comes in a new color: Silver. This is lighter than the Space Gray color of the Intel model, and it’s a handy way of differentiating between the two, although if you prefer the Space Gray look it’s not an option with the new Mac mini.

Port-wise you get Ethernet LAN, two Thunderbolt ports, HDMI, two USB and an audio jack for headphones. Thanks to the M1 chip, the Mac mini can now support up to two displays (one with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz connected via Thunderbolt, and one with up to 4K resolution at 60Hz connected via HDMI 2.0).

Mac mini M1 Ports

It’s worth pointing out that the Mac mini (M1, 2020) doesn’t come with a mouse or keyboard (nor a monitor), so you’ll need to buy these separately. 

Apple Mac mini M1 Performance

If you had any doubt I the performance of the Mac min because of the move from intel hardware to its own silicon chip, then be rest assured that your mind will be blown away by the performance of this new Mac mini M1. The Mac mini M1 has an incredible performance and runs smoothly with the macOS Big Sur operating system. Few legacy apps were tested with the help of Apple’s Rosetta 2 tool which allows you to run older apps without major issues. 

The work done by Apple on this device is commendable. The fact that the M1 chip allows iOS apps to be installed makes the Mac mini a very versatile small PC. 

The big selling point for the Mac mini M1 is the inclusion of the Apple silicon M1 system-on-a-chip, a new 8-core chipset that combines the CPU, I/O, security and more into one. 

Apple is making some big claims here, promising that the M1 will offer the world’s best CPU performance per watt. The M1 has an 8-core CPU consisting of four high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores to balance workloads, which Apple claims will enable it to process tasks nearly three times faster than the chip in the previous Mac mini.

Mac mini M1

performance for Gaming, video editing and graphics designers

The Gaming performance on this device has been greatly improved and is very impressive for a non-gaming PC. The M1 powered Mac mini plays graphically intensive games with up to four times higher frame rates. Few games were tested and performed incredibly, although a few setting tweaks may be necessary to get the best performance out of some games. 

For professionals (video editors and graphics designers), rendering in Final Cut Pro is also promised to be up to six times faster than on previous models. 

While performance on the Mac mini M1 is incredible, Apple is still selling the intel based mini unlike with the MacBook. In some ways, the intel model may offer better performance to some people. 

First of all, while the Mac mini M1 only goes up to 16GB of RAM, the intel model goes up to 64GB of RAM. The RAM on the Mac mini M1 is unified, meaning it is shared between the CPU and GPU. Apple argues that the unified memory architecture is beneficial because it gives the CPU, GPU and Neural Engine access to the same pool of superfast memory, so stored data on the memory can be transferred with ease. 

Having a unified memory could lead to great repercussions on the CPU performance if there is a task using up a lot of memory on the graphical side of things. 

Multitasking with the Mac mini M1 is quite nice. Apps open quickly and worked smoothly on the new device. One thing we should note, is that throughout our tests the Mac mini stayed virtually silent. You could easily hide it away and forget it was even on. 

Specification 

Manufacturer Apple 
Product Type Mini Desktop 
Model No Mac Mini (2020, November) 
Operating System MacOS 11 Big Sur 
Processor & Chipset Apple M1 chip 
8-core CPU with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores 
8-core GPU 
16-core Neural Engine 
RAM Memory 8 GB LPDDR4X 4266Mhz 
Solid State Drive (SSD) 512 GB PCIe SSD 
Physical Dimension Height: 1.4 inches (3.6 cm) 
Width: 7.7 inches (19.7 cm) 
Depth: 7.7 inches (19.7 cm) 
Weight 2.6 pounds (1.2 kg) 
Color Options Silver 
Manufacturer Warranty 1 Year 
Body Material Aluminum body 

Network & Communication 

Wireless LAN 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 wireless networking 
IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac compatible 
Bluetooth Yes, 5.0 wireless technology 
Ethernet Technology 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45 connector) 
Electrical and Operating Requirements Line voltage: 100–240V AC 
Frequency: 50Hz to 60Hz, single phase 
Maximum continuous power: 150W 
Operating temperature: 50° to 95° F (10° to 35° C) 
Storage temperature: –40° to 116° F (–40° to 47° C) 
Relative humidity: 5% to 90% noncondensing 
Operating altitude: tested up to 16,400 feet (5000 meters) 
Typical acoustical performance: Sound pressure level (operator position): 5 dBA at idle 
Connections and Expansion   Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports with support for: 
DisplayPort 
Thunderbolt 3 (up to 40Gb/s) 
USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10Gb/s) 
Thunderbolt 2, HDMI, DVI, and VGA supported using adapters (sold separately) 
Two USB-A ports (up to 5Gb/s) 
HDMI 2.0 port 
Gigabit Ethernet port 
3.5 mm headphone jack 

Interfaces/Ports 

USB Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports with support for: 
Charging 
DisplayPort 
Thunderbolt 3 (up to 40Gb/s) 
USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10Gb/s) 
Video Support Simultaneously supports up to two displays: 
One display with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz connected via Thunderbolt and one display with up to 4K resolution at 60Hz connected via HDMI 2.0 
Thunderbolt 3 digital video output supports 
Native DisplayPort output over USB‑C 
Thunderbolt 2, DVI, and VGA output supported using adapters (sold separately) 
HDMI 2.0 display video output 
Support for one display with up to 4K resolution at 60Hz 
DVI output using HDMI to DVI Adapter (sold separately) 
Audio Built-in speaker 
3.5 mm headphone jack 
HDMI 2.0 port supports multichannel audio output 

Extras 

More Features Voice Control 
Voiceover 
Zoom 
Increase Contrast 
Reduce Motion 
Siri and Dictation 
Switch Control 
Closed Captions 
Text to Speech 

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Should I buy The Apple Mac mini M1?

Buy it if you: 

  • Want a powerful and compact PC. 
  • Want a Mac at less price. 
  • Own a lot of iOS apps as they can now be opened using the new Mac mini M1 2020. 
  • Don’t want some serious graphical firepower. 
  • Don’t want a gaming PC: Though this device can be used to play games, powerful games may find it hard working fine on this device. 
  • Have no plans of Upgrading the RAM above 16GB in the future.
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The Final Verdict 

The Mac mini M1 is a great choice for anyone looking to own a Mac PC at an affordable rate. It comes with a compact design as its predecessor, the major difference being the switch from an Intel chip to a new Apple chip. 

The 2020 Mac mini feels pretty nice and incredibly powerful with its new chip and it comes in a silver color unlike the 2018 model. It also comes equipped with an 8K and 4K resolution.  

This device also comes with a promise of three times more faster CPU performance and six times graphical performance than its predecessors. 

Has great multitasking and gaming performance, although it is not made as a gaming PC. 

In general, the Mac mini M1 comes with an impressive build and at a price lesser than the 2018 model. However, it does come with a compromise that not everyone will like. The compromise being that, Its RAM cannot go higher than 16GB, eGPUs cannot be used and its unified memory may cause issues if the GPU takes more than half the memory performing a task. 


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