Mac Mini vs. MacBook Air

Choosing the right Mac is no easy task. Do you want a laptop or a desktop? Something light with a long battery life or a power pack with the most powerful components? While the answer to one of these questions depends on your situation, there are some universal truths about any hardware that are worth taking note of to make your selection easier.

In this comparison, we contrast Apple's fantastic Mac mini with the MacBook Air. Let's see what comes out on top.


Riley Young / Digital Trends

The Mac mini and the MacBook Air are based on the design decisions of their predecessors. Both devices are exceptionally well built and have robust frames that do not creak or bend.

The Mac mini is a thin plate with a metal case that is incredibly understated in design. It can be an attractive centerpiece in your office or hidden under a monitor or under a desk. You can basically place it anywhere your monitor cables can reach it, but it's still a desktop, which means it stays stationary.

The MacBook Air is a completely different animal. After all, it's a laptop. Due to the integrated screen, it is longer and wider than the Mac mini, but also much thinner. Because it's a laptop, unlike the Mac mini, you can use it anywhere.

For connectivity, the Mac mini offers a smaller footprint with a variety of ports. It offers four Thunderbolt 3 ports, two USB-A 3.0 ports, an HDMI 2.0 output, a Gigabit Ethernet port and a 3.5 mm headphone jack.

The MacBook Air is far more restrictive with just two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack. You don't necessarily need a large selection of video outputs with a laptop, but the Mac mini is far more versatile when it comes to cable connections.

Both devices support Wi-Fi 5 wireless networks ( and Bluetooth 5.0.


The hardware options for the MacBook Air are limited, with only a selection of processor, memory and memory influencing the price.

The basic configuration starts at $ 999 and comes with a 10th generation 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core i3-1000NG4 processor, 8GB RAM, and 256GB solid-state drive memory. The performance is decent enough, but it lags far behind the MacBook Pro and a number of Windows computers in the same price range. However, this configuration has enough momentum to do everyday tasks such as surfing the web and working with documents, viewing media, and editing photos with ease.

If you need a little more headroom for storage and storage, you can upgrade to 16 GB of RAM ($ 200) and up to 2 TB of storage (up to $ 800). Other customization options include only 10th generation Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs.

The graphics chip in every MacBook Air is the integrated Iris Plus graphics from Intel, which is based on the 10 nm GPU design of the 11th generation. It works well for media viewing and should deliver semi-playable frame rates in the least intense games. However, don't expect to play anything better, although the Core i7 configuration should perform better than the Mac mini.

The Mac mini has one much lower starting price of $ 799, but its hardware configuration is again somewhat weaker. It has an older 8th generation Intel Core i3-8100H quad-core CPU, 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage. Its graphics processor, the integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630, cannot do much beyond entry-level games.

At a comparable price, however, the Mac mini becomes far more powerful than the MacBook Air. At $ 1,099It comes with either an Intel Core i5-8400B with six cores or a Core i7-8700B with six cores, which are one step ahead of the MacBook Air's dual-core CPU.

However, memory upgrades reach 2 TB and are just as expensive as the MacBook Air options. The RAM can also be upgraded up to 64 GB, but this costs up to an additional $ 1,000.

You can update the Mac mini yourself at any time after you've bought one for far less. However, it is difficult enough not to recommend it. Still, a 6/10 repair score for iFixit for an Apple product is pretty good.

Macbook Air (2018) review

The Mac mini is more powerful than the MacBook Air at the same price, but it's important to note that if the Apple laptop is ready to use, the Mac mini will lack all the peripherals needed to use it correctly, such as the MacBook Air. B. a keyboard, mouse and speakers or headphones. It also doesn't have its own display (here are some good recommendations). Depending on your preferences, this can result in significant costs that add to the already over-cost Mac mini.

In comparison, the MacBook Air has an integrated keyboard and a touchpad. We're not big fans of the keyboard, but Apple is improving its design with every generation, and it's the best of the past few years.

The display is a classic Apple Retina design and now features True Tone technology with a high resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels. We found it a bit boring, so it's likely that an external Mac mini display will look better. It would surely be much larger and would likely achieve higher resolution and contrast.


Macbook Air (2018) reviewRiley Young / Digital Trends

There's no denying that the MacBook Air is the more portable of the two. At just 2.8 pounds and 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.61 inches, it's a sleek and light laptop that can be used on the go. It has the best battery life of any MacBook we've tested, which isn't fantastic for modern laptop standards, but it's enough to get you through a busy day into the evening.

The Mac mini is not designed for use on the go, so there is no built-in display, keyboard, or battery. However, it is very compact and measures 7.7 x 7.7 x 1.4 inches. It's also very light and only weighs 2.9 pounds, which is only slightly heavier than the MacBook Air.

We don't say you want to take it with a display, keyboard, and mouse on the train to use on your way to work. However, if you travel between offices and want to take your hardware with you, the Mac mini makes it possible. It is certainly far from large desktop systems such as the iMac or large Windows slot machines.

Don't you need a laptop? The Mac mini is more powerful

It would be a waste of time for everyone if we ended this comparison and simply suggested the following: If you want a laptop, get the MacBook Air. If you want a desktop, get the Mac mini. These are important factors to consider, but they don't tell the whole story.

The Mac mini has a variety of ports, making it a much more versatile computer to connect various devices. On the other hand, you can get an adapter for just about anything you want to connect to the MacBook Air, but its two lonely ports result in multiple adapters – or constant swapping when you use multiple external devices throughout the day .

The hardware of the Mac mini is much more powerful than the MacBook Air at a comparable price. It's still quite competitive at its entry-level price, which is a lot cheaper – especially if you already have a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. If you don't, consider these costs in your budget for a new system.

The MacBook Air is a great laptop, and the Mac mini is a great desktop. Comparing two different pieces of hardware like this isn't easy, but the Mac mini is in a way a more powerful device, so we're confident about recommending it on the MacBook Air – unless you really need a laptop, in this case already knew the device you wanted to buy anyway.

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