171 'Mac mini' stories
December 2010 - April 2021
The Mac mini is the gateway for the macOS ecosystem. The most affordable Mac is now one of the most powerful Apple computers. Here’s everything you need to know about it
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The Mac mini is one of the oldest products sold by Apple and it’s currently in its fifth generation, feeling as new as ever.
First introduced in 2005, the original Mac mini was equipped with the PowerPC G4 processors. This computer was Apple’s attempt to enter the BYODKM (Bring Your Own Display, Keyboard, and Mouse) market. This is the only Mac that Apple sells without any accessories. The Mac Pro, for example, doesn’t come with a display, but it ships with the Magic Mouse 2 and the Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad.
One year later, in 2006, Apple introduced the second generation with the same design, but with Intel Core processors, as well as support to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
The third-generation Mac mini released in June 2010 brought a thinner unibody aluminum case and an HDMI port. Later revisions of this Mac added a Thunderbolt port and Intel Core i5 and i7 processors.
The fourth-generation introduced in October 2018 is still being sold today and is the last one with an Intel processor. This generation includes a darker Space Gray finish, features SSD as standard, and replaces most data ports with USB-C. This is the first Mac mini made with 100% recycled aluminum.
In November 2020, Apple introduced the fifth-generation model based on the Apple Silicon processor with a silver finish of earlier models. This Mac was preceded by the A12Z-based Developer Transition Kit, a prototype used by developers to test what was going to be the first M1 Apple Silicon chip. It came with 16GB of RAM, 512GB of SSD storage, and two USB-C ports.
Mac mini specs: Apple Silicon and Intel models
Apple sells two different Mac minis: one with its newer Apple Silicon chip and a high-spec model with the 8th generation Intel chip.
Apple Silicon Mac mini
The M1 Apple Silicon Mac mini comes with an 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, and 16-core Neural engine. It starts with 8GB unified memory and 256GB SSD storage, and it can go up to 16GB of RAM and 2TB of SSD storage. This Mac has two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports with HDMI 2.0 and Gigabit Ethernet ports and a 3.5 mm headphone jack.
In April 2021, Apple silently updated the M1 model with an optional 10 Gigabit Ethernet port, which was previously only available on the Intel version.
This Mac is also made 100% recycled aluminum.
Intel Mac mini
The Intel Mac mini comes with the 8th-generation Intel Core i5, with 8GB of RAM, Intel UHD Graphics 630, and 512GB SSD storage and can go up to the 3.2GHz 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i7, 64GB of RAM, up to 2TB of SSD storage, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet support.
The M1 Apple Silicon Mac mini starts at $699 and can go up to $1,699. The Intel model starts at $1,099 and can go up to $2,999.
- 8GB RAM, 256GB storage: $699
- 8GB RAM, 512GB storage: $899
- 8GB RAM, 1TB storage: $1,099
- 8GB RAM, 2TB storage: $1,499
For the model with 16GB of RAM, adds $200 in every configuration. You can also get 10 Gigabit Ethernet for $100 more.
- i5, 8GB RAM, 512GB storage: $1,099
- i5, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage: $1,299
- i5, 32GB RAM, 512GB storage: $1,699
- i5, 64GB RAM, 512GB storage: $2,099
For the model with Intel Core i7, adds $200. If you want more storage, adds $200 for 1TB and $600 for the 2TB option. The 10 Gigabit Ethernet is $100 more.
Mac mini review
In our M1 Mac mini diary video, we believe that this is a solid buy, even being a first-generation product, since it has Apple’s proprietary chip:
Is the M1 Mac mini worth it? Absolutely, as long as you consider the fact that this is the first iteration of the Mac with Apple Silicon, and forthcoming versions will feature more powerful chips, more robust configuration options, and more I/O. But even in its current form, this Mac is the most versatile of any of the machines in Apple’s M1 lineup, and it also happens to be the least expensive. When paired with the right peripherals, the Mac mini shines as one of the best Macs that we’ve seen in quite some time. The more I use it, the more I come to appreciate just how good it is.
Here’s what our video review says about the Intel model:
The 2019 Mac Pro might be the best Mac desktop ever by a long shot, but the Mac mini is the best value desktop Mac, and it remains my favorite desktop Mac to this day. Although I look forward to an eventual CPU upgrade, the 2018 Mac mini, when properly specced, makes for a good workhorse machine for tasks like video editing with Final Cut Pro X.