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Apple Mac mini M1 Review


Clark Mcgreat

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With the M1, the Apple Mac mini is as fast as an Intel iMac. The test clarifies what else the mini PC can do. A lot of power promised and delivered! Although only part of the software has been adapted to the new M1 processor, it provides a real speed boost: The Mac mini 2020 M1 (tested model MGNR3D / A) has become really fast and is even a fast iMac competitor. The fact that it is still only enough for a satisfactory test grade is not due to the speed, but to the sparse equipment: For example, keyboard and mouse are only available for an extra charge.

For almost 15 years, Intel was the only processor supplier for Apple's Macs, but that is changing: In June 2020, Apple announced at its developer conference WWDC that it would build its own processors for Mac computers. The first Macs to receive the new M1 chip include the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, the smallest PC from Apple: the Mac mini. The test from RACKAR BIATCH says what it can do.

Technical test results Apple Mac mini 2020 M1 Specification

Test results

Apple Mac mini 2020 M1

processor

Apple M1

Graphics chip

integrated in the processor

drive

unavailable

Dimensions

19.7 x 19.7 x 3.6 cm

TEMPO

 

Tempo with Office programs / video editing

fast (93.9 / 88.5 percent)

Game speed (4K / Full HD)

jerky (14/40 frames per second)

Storage speed

fast (85.2 percent)

FURNISHING

 

RAM (built-in / expandable)

8 gigabytes / not possible

Memory: usable size, type

234 gigabytes, SSD (M.2 PCIe)

Connections (front / rear)

none / 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type A, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C (with Displayport and Thunderbolt 3), 1 x HDMI, 1 x network, 1 x headset

Radio links

802.11ax (2.4 and 5 GHz) / Bluetooth 5

Free expansion options

none

Memory card reader

unavailable

BUSINESS

 

Operating noise (video / games)

very quiet (0.1 sone / 0.1 sone)

Power consumption: Office / full load / costs per year

14.9 watts / 38.4 watts / 7.59 euros

SERVICE

 

Commissioning / operating instructions

very simple / only brief instructions

Quality of the keyboard / mouse

not included / not included


The M1 Mini is the beginning
At first glance, the new Apple Mac mini 2020 M1 can only be recognized by the color of the housing: It is silver again, the direct predecessor was gray (Space Gray). The main changes take place under the hood and all three new Macs have very similar technology in them. The centerpiece is the new motherboard with the Apple M1 processor which is the same for everyone. It starts with the three models with 8 gigabytes of RAM and a 256 gigabyte SSD. Up to 2 terabytes of SSD and 16 gigabytes of RAM are possible and more is not possible. So there are still MacBook Pro and Mac mini with Intel processors, the Mac mini with six-core processors (Core i5 or Core i7) and up to 64 gigabytes of RAM. Only the MacBook Air with Intel chip is out of the Apple program.

If you are looking for a really fast Mac, you can already access these "small" Macs. The speed gain compared to the previous models is clear, the differences between the three M1 Macs tested are small: With Office programs, the Mac mini 2020 M1 is faster than its predecessor and any MacBook with an Intel processor. Even the current iMac 2020 27 incheswith an eight-core processor is just as fast with Office programs. Intel Macs only offer a speed advantage for video editing and gaming and if they have a faster graphics chip, such as the Radeon Pro 5500XT in the iMac. It is a corner faster than the integrated graphics unit of the M1 processor. With a reduced resolution, this is perfectly suitable for games with 1920x1080 pixels (for full HD monitors) the Mac mini calculated 40 frames per second in the test. This is fast enough for casual gamers, professional gamers usually rely on a gaming PC or a gaming notebook with Windows anyway.


New software for the mini
The software is (still) responsible for the fact that the speed advantage compared to the previous models is not even greater. Because the programs have to be adapted to the new technology of the M1 processor. Apple has already done this for most of the in-house software, as well as Microsoft for Office and Adobe for Lightroom. Smaller software manufacturers such as Affinity, who mainly develop programs for Macs, have already converted their first programs. But many important programs such as Photoshop have not yet been adapted to the new processor and therefore need the Rosetta 2 utility that translates between software and processor. The utility works so well, however, that most programs on the M1 Macs are at least as fast as on a Mac with an Intel processor. So users do not have to wait until there are versions of their programs adapted to the M1. Large manufacturers such as Adobe are likely to make their software fit for the M1 in the coming months then there will be another speed boost.
 

Nice and quiet
Pleasing: Despite the high performance, the fan in the Mac mini remains whisper-quiet ( 0.1 sone ) even under full load. Why install a fan at all when the MacBook Air with M1 can do without it? The processor in the Mac mini can run at full load for longer, while the MacBook Air slightly reduces the clock frequency after longer periods of full throttle in order to reduce power consumption and prevent the processor from overheating. This can be seen when importing a few thousand photos into a Lightroom library or when converting a long video file.

The RAM (as has long been common with MacBooks) and the SSD are firmly soldered on. Subsequent upgrading is not possible. If in doubt, you should choose the equipment a little more generously when buying. And if you want more than 16 gigabytes of RAM, the best thing to do is to use the 27-inch iMac with a Core i7 processor, so as not to bargain with speed. Two small improvements: The built-in WLAN accelerates to the current ax speed. The USB-C sockets correspond to the USB-4 standard(with USB 3.1 Gen 2, Thunderbolt and Displayport). However, Apple has reduced the number of connections (presumably in order to be able to use the same or a very similar motherboard on the Mac mini as on the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro): The Mac mini 2020 M1 has only four USB sockets (2 x USB -A, 2 x USB-C), with the Intel model there are six (2 x USB-A, 4 x USB-C). The latest Mac mini continues a "tradition": keyboard and mouse (or touchpad) are only available at an additional cost.

 

The test result Apple Mac mini M1
A lot of power promised - and delivered! Although only part of the software has been adapted to the new M1 processor, it provides a real boost in speed: The Mac mini 2020 M1 (test grade 2.8, tested model MGNR3D / A) has become really fast and makes you even quick iMac competition. The fact that it is still only enough for a satisfactory test grade is not due to the speed, but to the sparse equipment: For example, keyboard and mouse are only available for an extra charge.

A lot of power promised and delivered! Although only part of the software has been adapted to the new M1 processor, it provides a real speed boost: The Mac mini 2020 M1 (tested model MGNR3D / A) has become really fast and is even a fast iMac competitor. The fact that it is still only enough for a satisfactory test grade is not due to the speed, but to the sparse equipment: For example, keyboard and mouse are only available for an extra charge.

Mac mini 2020 M1 Pros:

  • Very high pace of work
  • Very quiet
  • Very compact
     

Mac mini 2020 M1 Cons:

  • Not all software adjusted yet
  • Not upgradeable

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