Apple claims the new M1 Mac mini is 3x faster with 6x better graphics compared to a 2018 Intel Core i3, but it may really be the best desktop of 2020.
When Apple announced its latest Mac mini, it also revealed the incredible new M1 chip that raises the tiny desktop to new heights of performance. Apple also announced two new MacBooks, each running the same M1 system on a chip, that includes an 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, and a 16-core Neural processor.
The Mac mini was introduced 15 years ago, it was the first full-featured computer at such a small size. PC manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon and began producing similar Windows systems. Eventually, PCs became available as small as a pack of gum, as with Intel’s Compute Stick. Of course, the purpose of most computers is not to be the tiniest ever, but to serve a useful purpose and there is a trade-off with size. There are only so many components that can fit in such tiny cases. Apple’s goal with the Mac mini was not only to make a physically smaller computer, but to make it efficient, yet still powerful enough and with enough storage, to replace the typical tower for many users.
The new M1 Mac mini advances that strategy much further than was possible with the Intel-based models. Apple claims the new model outpaces the quad-core Intel Core i3 Mac mini released in 2018 by three times in processing and six times in graphics. This should place the M1 Mac mini well ahead of the Core i7 model as well, but Apple only has one processor choice for the new model, so the comparison at the given price is fair. While benchmarks are not the best way to check real-life computer usage, they do allow some basis for comparison. Apple also notes that the new Mac mini is a tenth the size but up to five times faster than top-selling PC computers.
M1 Mac mini’s Advantage
The M1 powered Mac mini comes with the advantage of a decade of refinement, even though it is among the first computers of its kind. The chip is quite similar to the A-series processors used in Apple’s iPad and iPhone. Every year these systems have gotten 20- to 50-percent faster while maintaining super-efficient designs that allow all-day battery life in remarkably thin devices. Of course, Android devices match the battery life, but the processors have never caught up with the massive performance advantage that Apple’s chips have.
When you have a performance per watt advantage, that can be easily translated into a super-fast system, as long as heat doesn’t become an issue. Apple has demonstrated that it can run enough power through its chips to compete and win against similarly priced Intel systems with little concern for heat. The Mac mini is exactly the same size as the previous generation and competes on the level of a full tower system. If Apple’s claims are true, this makes the diminutive M1 Mac mini, the desktop to beat in 2020.
Next: Mac mini With M1 Chip: When You Can Buy & Pricing Explained
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