It appears that I’ve written 15 articles about the M1 Mac mini since it landed on my desk in January.
So, why, you might ask, am I still writing about it?
The reason is simple. Well, there are two, actually. Firstly, I think it’s one of Apple’s most fascinatingly under-the-radar products (when was the last time your mum mentioned it?), and, secondly, it has some irritatingly needless showstoppers.
I’ve had my M1 Mac mini for six months now and I still use it every day.
But would I buy it again?
How I use the M1 Mac mini
This has resulted in the repurposing of my M1 Mac mini from a do-it-all machine to a video and audio editing station. It’s still coupled with my huge 34” ultra-widescreen monitor and it still performs brilliantly.
Every video I’ve published since January has been edited, polished and published directly on that Mac mini. It matches my since-departed 16” MacBook Pro, pound-for-pound, without the relentless heat or fan noise.
The only thing I’ve noticed recently is a slightly glitchier performance in Final Cut Pro. This has coincided with a change in my camera setup, where I’m now working with 10-bit 4:2:2 footage from the Sony FX3. The slightly degraded performance isn’t productivity-sapping, but it does occasionally drop the odd frame and place a cut in the wrong place, half a second later than intended.
That’s no big deal, though – given how much I spent on the M1 Mac mini. It still delivers in terms of return on investment, big time.
What I love about it
Price and performance are the two factors at which the M1 Mac mini excels. It remains the most cost-effective way to ease yourself into the macOS ecosystem.
It also features a design that is timeless. Like so many Apple designs, it’s completely no-frills, non-fussy and beautifully simple.
But the power produced by that M1 chip. Wow. Aforementioned Final Cut Pro glitches aside, I never thought I’d be able to run a YouTube channel that deals solely with 4K videos produced on a sub £1,500 Mac that only has 16GB of RAM.
But I can. And I’ve still never heard the fan come on (even with it sandwiched between my desk, an AGPTEK hub and a monitor stand, as you can see in the photo above).
What I don’t love about it
There are two showstoppers with the M1 Mac mini.
The first is the Bluetooth problem which, for a long time, I willfully ignored. But, after a while, I couldn’t look past it any longer. It’s a serious issue that affects a great many owners (the comments about it still flood in each day, and my analysis of the issue is one of the top-performing blogs on my website).
Apple has only referenced the issue in passing within release notes for various macOS updates, but they appear to be rather more interested in burying the headline as far as Bluetooth and the M1 Mac mini is concerned.
It’s not good enough. And it affects both third-party peripherals and even Apple’s own hardware. Maintaining reliable Bluetooth connections is nigh-on impossible, and I’m convinced the presence of the Mac mini in my studio is still causing havoc with pretty much any Bluetooth device in the room.
The other showstopper is the port situation. Granted, this won’t be an issue for every owner, but it cannot be ignored.
There aren’t enough ports on the M1 Mac mini. Simple.
Sure, unlike the M1 MacBooks, you can connect more than one monitor to it, but in doing so, you only leave yourself with one remaining USB-C port. And there are only two USB-A ports (this is actually a bigger gripe for me).
Oh, and why can’t we have an SD card slot, Tim?
Although never officially confirmed, there’s a general consensus that the lack of ports on these M1 machines is related to some form of technical limitation within the chipset itself. That might be the case, but because Apple is so infuriatingly tight-lipped about, well, everything, I think we’re well within our rights to assume that the M1 Mac mini should have more ports.
So, would I buy it again?
You know what? Yes, I would.
The M1 Mac mini is like that little brother who irritates the hell out of you, but with whom you laugh the hardest and have the most fun while playing football in the garden.
It works relentlessly, outperforms its apparently meagre specs, and slots effortless onto every desk.
I’ve lived with the M1 Mac mini’s showstoppers for six months now; I could live with them for another six. Maybe I should stop moaning. Perhaps the show will still go on for this little desktop monster.