It’s been a while since I wrote about the M1 Mac mini.
If you’re a regular reader, you might have found this rather refreshing. Or, equally, you may have missed my constant gushing about Apple’s tiny desktop powerhouse.
Either way, I’m going to write about it today for one very simple reason.
When I moved into my new studio space, I thought I’d pay homage to the M1 Mac mini by placing it lovingly within a frame, ready to be hung proudly on the wall at the rear of my set. I no longer needed it, you see, thanks to the arrival of my universe-bending M1 Max-powered 16-inch MacBook Pro.
As it turns out, that was rather short-sighted. In fact, I’m sat at the M1 Mac mini right now writing this blog post; I really cannot let this thing go.
I think I’ve worked out why.
What IS it about the M1 Mac mini?
To the outside world, the Mac mini is Apple’s least interesting product. It’s a Mac, sure, but it’s encased in the most uninspiring body and has none of the why-didn’t-I-think-of-that design features Apple is so great at devising.
It’s just a box with some computer stuff inside. It doesn’t even come with a mouse or keyboard, let alone a monitor.
So why is it so coveted? Why, prior to the launch of the M1 chip, were so many people crying out for a new version?
It’s simple: the Mac mini is Apple’s most accessible Mac. It’s the cheapest of the lot, it doesn’t force you to use Apple’s expensive and often crippled peripherals, and thanks to the thermal efficiency of the M1 chip, it can be tucked away literally anywhere.
The Mac mini offers so many potential use cases: it’s an incredibly cost-effective content creation machine, it’s a brilliant Mac to give to your kids, and it’s the perfect ‘glue’ for processing requirements in the world of professional media production.
As I’ve noted recently, the Mac mini is even capable of having a dust-up with its big brother, the Mac Studio, and escaping with nothing more than a slightly sore fist. I’d still argue that for the vast majority of users, a fully specced-up M1 Mac mini will be a far more sensible purchase out of the two.
This tiny little Mac is as lovable and unbelievably capable as the M1 MacBook Air. That’s how good it is.
A new role for my M1 Mac mini
You might be wondering why on earth I’ve kept the M1 Mac mini in operation. After all, I have a super-expensive 16-inch MacBook Pro for all things production, a base-level M1 MacBook Air for mobile blogging duties, and, yes, the 24-inch iMac is somehow still in my kitchen.
I’ve thought about this quite a bit and I think there are a few compelling reasons for not giving up on the M1 Mac mini just yet.
The first is that it is just so damn easy to use. I leave it switched off overnight, and there’s barely any wait time when I boot it up the next day. And, once booted, it is still as smooth as butter when it comes to opening and navigating around my apps. It therefore fills the ‘occasional use’ role perfectly.
Secondly, the Mac mini is the only device I have attached to an ultra-wide monitor. I still have a huge soft spot for my 34-inch MSi, despite having access to Apple’s overly pricey Studio Display and the wonderful mini LED panel in my 16-inch MacBook Pro.
This is one of the best things about the Mac mini – it forces you to build a mini-ecosystem of peripherals around it. For me, that’s the MSi ultra-wide, an IQUNIX F96 keyboard, and the awesome Logitech MX Master 3.
Lastly, the M1 Mac mini is an amazing backup production machine. If I have any trouble with my 16-inch MacBook Pro, I wouldn’t hesitate to move all video and audio production back to the Mac mini. It gives me so much peace of mind.
What I want from the next Mac mini
Not much. There have been some exciting rumours about a more colourful product line, and numerous murmurings about a much thinner chassis, but I’m not too fussed about that stuff.
I’d like a few more ports, and the addition of the M1 Pro chip, just to keep the Mac mini chugging along the marginal gains tracks we’re now on with Apple Silicon.
Oh, and please fix those Bluetooth issues once and for all, Apple.
But what about you? What do you want from the next Mac mini, and how are you using yours at the moment? Get involved in the comments!
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