Apple sells a variety of Macs aimed at different users. Unlike the more popular MacBook line of products, the Mac mini and iMac are designed for desktop use. Thanks to Apple Silicon, these Macs are now more similar than you might think.
With both models targeting the desktop market, some of you may have difficulty choosing the perfect Mac for your use case. So we're going to compare all the differences between the Mac mini and iMac so you can make an informed decision.
1. Mac mini vs. iMac: Internal Hardware and Performance
The Mac mini and iMac are very different on the outside, but you might be surprised to find that they use almost identical internal hardware.
The current models of the Mac mini and iMac house the Apple Silicon M1 chip, an 8-core processor. Both have the same 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage in all standard configurations.
However, there is a tiny difference when we compare the base models. The base M1 Mac mini has an 8-core GPU, while the base M1 iMac has a 7-core GPU. This suggests that the Mac mini is getting a tied M1 chip with unlocked GPU cores. Both base models have an internal fan to keep temperatures low during intensive workloads.
All in all, you get the same performance whether you choose the Mac mini or the iMac. However, since the iMac is an all-in-one, you get a high-resolution display and a built-in camera for FaceTime calls. You'll need to purchase these separately if you choose the Mac mini.
2. Mac mini vs. iMac: size comparison and portability
Apple's Mac mini is the smallest Mac you can buy. At first glance it looks like a bigger Apple TV, but plugging an entire computer into such a small device is really impressive. On the flip side, the iMac looks like a monitor, only all of the hardware is built into the lower chin. It's very thin and looks sleek too.
The Mac mini is easily the more compact and portable Mac of the two due to the lack of a display, but the iMac is by no means a heavy device. It weighs just under 10 pounds, which means you can still carry it if you want, as long as you can put that screen somewhere.
Mac mini fits in your pocket when you travel, and you can use it anywhere, as long as you can plug it into a TV. You will have a harder time traveling with your iMac like this. So the Mac mini wins in this division.
3. Mac mini vs. iMac: port selection and connectivity
Image source: Apple
This is another area where the Mac mini easily wins. With the base iMac M1, you get two USB 4 ports with Thunderbolt, and that's it. To get Gigabit Ethernet on your iMac, you must purchase the optional power adapter with a built-in Ethernet port for $ 30.
You can get two more USB 4 ports and the ethernet adapter if you buy the mid-tier or high-end iMac configurations.
On the other hand, the Mac mini gets two USB 4 ports, two USB 3 ports, an HDMI 2.0 port and Gigabit Ethernet. So if you don't want to use dongles to connect your peripherals and accessories, Mac mini is a breeze.
4. Mac mini vs. iMac: The Accessories You Get
Apple never bundles the Magic Keyboard or Magic Mouse with the Mac mini range to keep prices down. So keep that in mind and be ready to spend a few hundred dollars. Of course, you can plug your existing PC keyboard and mouse into the USB ports if you don't want to spend any more money.
When purchasing the base model M1 iMac, the Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse are included in the scope of delivery. So you are ready for the price you pay. However, it's worth noting that if you want the new Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, you'll need the more expensive models.
Unfortunately, Apple isn't selling this new keyboard separately yet, so you can't get Touch ID on your Mac mini even if you want to.
5. Mac mini vs. iMac: desktop experience
Now let's discuss which Mac has the better desktop experience. When you choose the iMac, you get a minimalist setup. There is only one power cord on your desk that is neatly hidden away.
The accessories supplied, such as the Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse, are wireless. Since the Gigabit Ethernet port is integrated into the power supply, you don't have to worry about cable management either.
When it comes to the Mac mini, your desktop experience will depend on the hardware and accessories that you use it with. For example, if you plug in wired keyboards, your desk might look messy with all of the cables plugged into the back of your Mac, including the cable for your display.
For the most part, you'll struggle to get the minimalist setup that the M1 iMac can offer.
6. Mac mini vs. iMac: price
Pricing is a tough issue when you're comparing two completely different Macs. On paper, the Mac mini is the cheapest model you can buy, starting at $ 699.
However, you have to keep in mind that it does not come with a keyboard, mouse, or monitor. When you factor in all of the accessories and peripherals, the total price is at least a thousand dollars.
In comparison, the M1 iMac costs $ 1299 for the base model, but you get an all-in-one desktop with a beautiful 4.5K color-accurate display. You also get the wireless Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse. However, the base model iMac has a few limitations that can force you to consider the Mac mini.
You can easily save a few hundred dollars by buying third-party peripherals with your Mac mini. And don't forget that the Mac mini has an 8-core GPU and has more ports than the iMac.
You can't go wrong with any of these Macs
Both Macs work equally well, and Apple has rated them that you can't go wrong with either of these models. If you want a clean desk setup, the iMac is the ideal choice, but the compact Mac mini is the way to go if you want more flexibility.
Now that you know all the similarities and differences, it is up to you to make an informed decision based on your specific needs.
Image source: Apple
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About the author
(54 articles published)
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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