The Mac mini is Apple’s smallest desktop Mac. It may not be as fast as Apple’s other desktop computers—the iMac and the Mac Pro—but it remains fast enough for general-purpose use, and even for pro apps. The Mac mini not only appeals to first-time Mac users, but longtime Mac users like the price and use the Mac mini as a server or an entertainment Mac connected to a TV.
Editor’s note: Updated 10/30/18 with information about the new Mac mini.
Mac mini: Updated after four years
Apple held an event on October 30, 2018, and the company revealed major updates to the desktop Mac. It has new processors, new storage devices, new ports, and a new space gray case.
The Mac mini now feature Intel's eighth-generation Core processors. Apple says the the new Mac mini is five times faster than its predecessor, which was released four years ago and has a fourth-generation Core processor.
As for storage devices, the new Mac mini doesn't use a hard drive, or even a Fusion Drive. Instead, Apple uses solid-state drives (SSDs) to provide fast performance. The company says that the SSDs are four times faster than the drives in the old Mac mini.
As for ports, here’s what the new Mac mini comes with:
- gigabit ethernet (with an option to upgrade to 10 gigabit ethernet)
- Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
- Two USB-A ports
- Headphone jack/audio out
If you’re still interested in the Mac mini, you can learn more here about its features, specifications, prices, and more.
Mac mini: Models and specifications
Apple sells two Mac mini standard configuration models.
$799: 3.6GHz quad-core Core i3 CPU, 8GB of memory, 128GB SSD storage, integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630 GPU.
$1,099: 3.0GHz 6-core Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, 256GB SSD storage,, integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630 GPU.
The Mac mini does not include a display, keyboard, or mouse, so you’ll have to provide your own. Or you can customize your order to include these devices as extra-cost options. Apple sells the Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad, Magic Mouse 2, and Magic Trackpad 2 in Space Gray to match the Mac mini, or you can get them in Silver.
Since the Mac mini lacks an optical drive, you need to buy an external USB optical drive if you want to read or burn CDs and DVDs.
AppleCare+ is available for the Mac mini for $99, which extends the standard one-year warranty to three years.
Mac mini: Connectivity
The Mac mini has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It also has four USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 2 ports, and an SDXC card slot. It also has a gigabit ethernet port, in case you want to connect to a wired network.
To connect a display, you can use the HDMI port or a Thunderbolt 3 port. You might have to buy an adapter in order to connect your display. You can consult our Thunderbolt 3 adapter guide to see what you need to connect to DVI, DisplayPort/mini DisplayPort, or VGA.
Mac mini: Speed
We haven't had a chance to test the new Mac mini, but we expect it to be not-as-fast as the iMac. But it definitely has enough speed for general use—internet access, productivity apps, email, and most of the stuff you do on a daily basis.
During the October 30 event, Apple touted the Mac mini's performance with pro apps such as Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Photoshop, Logic Pro X, and more. There's no question it's much improved over the older machine, and it can handle pro apps, though we'll be interested to see the speed differences with the iMac. And the Mac mini has even more power to act as a file or media server in your home.
Macworld’s buying advice
For new Mac users switching from a PC, the Mac mini is an excellent machine, if you don’t mind not having the absolute fastest processors. It’s a great choice for shoppers on a budget, or for someone who wants a second computer in the home. It handles everyday usage well.
The Mac mini is also an ideal Mac for a household looking to install a second or third computer. And it is a very good machine to use as a server, either for your network, or for watching media.
Ready to buy a Mac mini? Go to the Apple Store