Digital Camera World reviews Apple’s M1 Mac mini: ‘A terrific buy, excellent value’

The Mac mini is Apple’s most versatile computer, and now with M1, it packs a staggering amount of performance and incredible new features in such a compact design. M1 brings an 8-core CPU with up to 3x faster performance than the previous generation, dramatically accelerating demanding workloads, from compiling a million lines of code to building enormous multitrack music projects. An 8-core GPU delivers up to a massive 6x increase in graphics performance, allowing Mac mini to tackle performance-intensive tasks like complex 3D rendering with ease. ML workloads also take a quantum leap forward with up to 15x faster performance over the previous generation. And when compared to the best-selling Windows desktop in its price range, the Mac mini is just one-tenth the size, yet delivers up to 5x faster performance.

The new Mac mini packs a staggering amount of performance into its ultracompact design.
The new Mac mini packs a staggering amount of performance into its ultracompact design.

When compared to the previous generation, the M1-powered Mac mini can:
• Compile code in Xcode up to 3x faster.
• Play a graphics-intensive game like “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” with up to 4x higher frame rates.
• Render a complex timeline in Final Cut Pro up to 6x faster.
• Take music production to new levels by using up to 3x as many real-time plug-ins in Logic Pro.
• Increase the resolution of a photo in Pixelmator Pro up to 15x faster.
• Utilize ML frameworks like TensorFlow or Create ML, now accelerated by the M1 chip.

Ben Andrews for Digital Camera Review:

The first thing that strikes you about the Mini M1 is how impressively quiet it is. Even when continuously running hugely intensive benchmarking software, you’ll need to have your ear pressed against the casing to hear the internal cooling fan running. To all intents and purposes, the M1 is a silent computer.

When it comes to overall system performance, the M1 Mini performs superbly. A Geekbench 5 Multi-core score of 7611 puts it on par with the M1 MacBook Air and Pro – no surprise there. But more remarkable is how close the Mini M1 gets to the 8153 score achieved by an all-guns-blazing 8-core Intel Core i9-10980HK-equipped Asus Zephyrus Duo GX550 – a gaming laptop that really isn’t designed for thermal or energy efficiency, and is significantly more expensive than the Mac Mini M1.

Photoshop performance is equally rapid, with little-to-no sign of lag when working with high resolution, multi-layer PSD files. That said, if you start using more memory-hungry features like Content Aware Fill, things can start to slow down, as our review sample was only equipped with 8GB RAM. This soon gets used up if you regularly have a lot of web browser tabs open, and it’s not really enough for serious image or video editing. Upgrading to 16GB at the time of purchase really is a must, both for current use, and for future-proofing.

If you’re after a small-form-factor computer that performs superbly, runs almost silently and exudes quality, the new Mac Mini M1 is a terrific buy, and it represents excellent value for money.

MacDailyNews Take: When the Mac mini appeared 16 years ago (gasp!) in January 2005, it was an amazing personal computer, but now, with the M1, what it offers in performance and value is absolutely ridiculous!

1 Comment

  1. It’s the least expensive, the most versatile feature for feature is the MBP. Thus largely due to the non-ugradability of both. Git the M1 MBP for Christmas, I use it as I would a Mac-Mini.

    But the price delta is appreciable in the Mini’s favor.

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