If budget is a major factor in your buying decision, then the M1-powered Mac Mini and MacBook Air should come high on your list. But this guide is more than just comparing what is the best bang for your money. It all also comes down to what you are getting for the price and what works best for your needs. To help you make this decision, let’s take a closer look at the MacBook Air and Mac Mini and see what each has to offer. In this guide, we will be discussing Mac Mini M1 and MacBook Air M1. By the end of this article, you will have a good idea of what you should be buying.
Software and Apps Compatibility
Working with an intel-powered MacBook or Mac Mini? No problem. Because both the Mac mini and the MacBook Air run on the same operating system, macOS, they can use the same programs. Apps may be downloaded from both the official App Store and unofficial websites and will have no problems running iOS apps.
There is no need to be concerned about incompatibilities even if M1 Macs like the Mac mini and MacBook Air use a different software architecture than Macs with Intel-based processors. Rosetta 2 is a program that both Macs use to “translate” Intel applications so they work on M1 systems. Switching to and from devices is seamless.
Design – Mac Mini vs MacBook Air
Design-wise the difference between the Mac Mini and MacBook Air is night and day. The MacBook Air tips the scale at 1.29kg and has dimensions of 30.41 by 21.24. It is also Apple’s lightest notebook. The laptop is made from solid aluminum and at its thickest, it measures 1.61 cm. This makes it the perfect companion for road warriors who require a laptop that is light and easy to carry.
Most of the changes with the Mac Mini have been done internally. This change has come in terms of the hardware or ports but the design has relatively been unchanged. The M1-powered Mac Mini still retains that iconic square shape with rounded corners. The only biggest change was the removal of the optical drive slot in 2011.
The Mac Mini is a desktop. And because of the absence of an internal battery, it is not intended to be portable. Its diminutive size makes it easy to hide it from sight. The Mac mini is extremely robust because it is constructed from aluminum. The Mac mini can connect two monitors simultaneously, one with a resolution of up to 6K at 60Hz and the other with a resolution of up to 4K at 60Hz.
The Mac Mini also has a black round plastic disc on the bottom. This provides modest elevation for ventilation and internal access for the desktop.
Ports – Mac Mini vs MacBook Air
Even for its small size, the Mac Mini offers multiple connection options. It allows you to use different peripherals simultaneously without a glitch. This eliminates the need for using hubs which can be cumbersome. However, the latest Mac Mini has fewer ports compared to earlier models.
The MacBook Air only comes with two ports which are severely limiting if you’re a heavy peripheral user. Only two Thunderbolt 3 ports (with maximum data transfer rates of 40Gb/s) and a headphone connector are available on the MacBook Air.
Hubs and adapters can still be used to increase the number of ports, but this is an additional cost and an extra accessory to carry. If you use a lot of external gadgets during the day, you might find yourself switching them out frequently.
The M1 Mac mini has an HDMI 2.0 port, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, two USB-A ports, an Ethernet jack, and a headphone jack. The Mac mini has a clear edge over the MacBook Air if you need to connect a lot of external devices and want to save yourself the trouble of constantly carrying a dongle.
There’s no going around it, with more port options the Mac Mini comes ahead when compared with the MacBook Air. If you’re planning a more permanent setup and prefer working at home, then the Mac Mini is the obvious choice.
Both the Mac Mini and the MacBook Air are powered by Apple’s M1 chip. The main distinction is that the Mac mini versions have an 8-core GPU whereas the MacBook Air M1 version only offers a 7-core GPU.
When compared to previous Intel-powered devices, Apple’s graphics offer advantages, making the M1 superior in this area. Only the Intel Mac mini, however, can accommodate an external graphics card, which might allow you to employ a more potent GPU giving you more flexibility in this area.
The M1 MacBook Air lacks a fan, so it’s likely that if you really put MacBook Air into its paces it would slow down to protect it against excessive heating. However, the Mac Mini has a fan so that when the mini is pushed to its limits, the fan will kick in and it will be able to stay cool.
There are certainly useful features on the MacBook Air that are absent from the Mac Mini. Most notably, it has an integrated display with a resolution of 6K at 60Hz. This contains a 720p webcam and supports the P3 color gamut, which is crucial for creative work. There is also the Magic Keyboard, which is useful for signing into accounts and authenticating transactions thanks to the Touch ID button it comes with.
It’s fun to compare the performance of the Mac mini and MacBook Air because they both utilize the Apple M1 chip. This chip is really remarkable and competitive with much more expensive alternatives. The MacBook Air delivers excellent performance without the need for fans, making it incredibly silent. However, the Mac mini is not far behind and is hardly heard even when performing CPU-intensive tasks. Due to its fan, the Mac mini might have a slight advantage in more difficult activities, but the differences will be negligible.
Price – Mac Mini vs MacBook Air
The Mac mini and the MacBook Air are steals given the performance and overall package they offer. The MacBook Air costs $999 which is a fantastic deal given that it comes with the M1 chip and a top-notch display that supports the P3 wide color gamut.
The Mac mini, which costs $699, price wise is the easiest way to get your hands on the M1 chip. This is ideal if you have an existing desktop and already have a monitor, mouse, and keyboard. If you are looking for the performance of the M1 on a budget, the Mac mini is definitely one you should consider.
The choice ultimately depends on the purpose of your purchase. In terms of form factor, the Mac Mini and MacBook Air are on different sides of the spectrum. One is a desktop, while the other is a laptop. The MacBook Air is the perfect match if you work on the go or your job requires traveling. It gives you the power of a desktop and the portability of a laptop.
The Mac Mini is built differently. It packs the power of a desktop but unlike the MacBook Air, it is designed to stay in place. However, on the positive side, it gives you the option of connecting several monitors and peripherals with its multiple ports. Whether it’s the MacBook Air or Mac Mini, you will be sure that both have enough juice in their tank for almost all your computing needs.
If you are looking to buy a MacBook Air M1 then visit our online store. We have a stock of refurbished MacBook Airs. However, if you have decided to go for the Mac Mini, you can have a look at the refurbished Mac Minis.