The Mac mini and MacBook Pro are extremely versatile computers aimed at different users. One is a laptop while the other is a small form factor desktop. However, both are portable enough to take with you almost anywhere.
Most people looking to buy their first Mac usually have their eyes on the Mac mini or MacBook Pro. The former is the cheapest Mac you can buy, while the latter is the ever-popular laptop option. Here we compare these two models in detail to see which one best suits your needs.
1. Mac mini vs. MacBook Pro: Hardware and Performance
Let's start with what you get under the hood. Although one is a desktop and the other is a laptop, both the Mac Mini and MacBook Pro have identical hardware. So you can't go wrong no matter which one you choose.
For that you can thank the Apple Silicon that powers these Macs.
The current Mac mini and MacBook Pro feature the critically acclaimed M1 chip with eight CPU cores and eight GPU cores. Both have the same 8 GB of unified memory (RAM) and 256 GB of SSD storage for all standard configurations.
Apple lets you configure them individually with up to 16 GB of RAM and 2 TB of storage space if you really want to push the envelope.
Since the MacBook Pro is a laptop, you get a gorgeous Quad HD IPS screen that supports the wide P3 color space. And yes, you also get a built-in camera for FaceTime video calls.
Let's get to the performance, we don't have much to say. Because they contain identical hardware, their performance remains the same whether you use them for video editing, music production, or other intensive tasks.
Overall, they're both equally powerful machines, outperforming previous generations by a mile due to all of the improvements Apple Silicon brings.
2. Mac mini vs. MacBook Pro: Portability and Size Comparison
The MacBook Pro is like any other laptop in its class in terms of size, so there's not much to say here. Mac mini, on the other hand, is the smallest Mac you can buy, despite being a desktop computer.
Surprisingly, you can carry a Mac mini more easily than a MacBook Pro when you travel because it's much smaller. However, you have to keep in mind that in order to actually use it, you will need a display and peripherals such as a keyboard and mouse.
Since you don't depend on external peripherals to use your MacBook Pro, this laptop would be better than your ideal travel companion. Thanks to the efficiency of the M1 chip, you can use the M1 MacBook Pro without a plug for up to 17 hours of surfing the Internet.
3. Mac mini vs. MacBook Pro: Ports and Connectivity
Unfortunately, Apple limits the M1 MacBook Pro to only two USB-C ports. These ports are right next to each other, which makes it worse as it's pretty easy to block either of them with a clunky USB drive.
If you need more ports, you'll have to settle for the older Intel-based 16-inch MacBook Pro, which has four Thunderbolt 3 ports. However, if you want a workaround, you can use USB dongles to connect all of your accessories to the M1 MacBook Pro.
The Mac mini easily compliments this department. This machine is equipped with connectors, especially for its size. It contains two USB-C ports, two USB-A ports, an HDMI 2.0 port, and a Gigabit Ethernet port on the back. You probably never need an adapter to connect USB devices to a Mac mini.
In terms of connectivity options, you get Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 no matter which M1 Mac you're using.
Since the MacBook Pro is a laptop, it's packed with features you won't find on a Mac mini. For starters, you get a Touch ID on the MacBook Pro that makes it easy to sign in. You also have access to the Touch Bar, which displays buttons relevant to the app you are using. Don't forget the built-in webcam, which you can also use FaceTime with.
While the Mac mini is better than the MacBook Pro in terms of port choices, you're going to miss out on a full macOS experience. It's mainly a server-facing device that doesn't have the bells and whistles of a typical MacBook.
If you've got Touch ID in mind, it's worth noting that Apple is now making a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID that comes with the M1 iMacs. So if it's sold separately, you can use this feature with your Mac mini too.
In the end, it comes down to price, because for most of you it is the deciding factor. However, it's difficult to talk about prices when these Macs don't even fall into the same product class.
The M1 MacBook Pro is priced at $ 1299 for the base model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. You can get the M1 Mac mini with the same specs for just $ 699, which is almost half the price of the MacBook.
Before you get all excited, it's important to know what you're getting for these prizes. With Mac mini, you get only the hardware needed to run macOS. Monitor, keyboard and mouse or trackpad must be purchased separately. Adding all of these peripherals together could add a few hundred dollars to the total price.
When you buy a MacBook Pro, you get a fully functional Mac with everything you need to use it. You don't have to buy a single peripheral to take advantage of all of the features advertised. You can also use the M1 MacBook Pro unplugged all day if necessary.
Find the right Mac for you
There is no clear winner here, as the Mac mini and MacBook Pro appeal to different audiences. It all depends on what you want from the Mac. Some of you may have all of the peripherals needed to use a Mac mini, so picking it up and saving hundreds of dollars is a good idea. However, the $ 1299 MacBook Pro won't disappoint if you're looking for the best out-of-the-box experience.
Image source: Apple
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About the author
(52 published articles)
Hamlin is a full-time freelancer who has been in the field for over four years. Since 2017 his work has appeared on OSXDaily, Beebom, FoneHow and others. In his spare time, he either trains in the gym or takes big strides in the crypto room.
By Hamlin Rozario
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