Mac Mini Apple Silicon M1 review: M1 Apple Full Specification

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Mac Mini Apple Silicon M1 review

Mac Mini Apple Silicon M1 review: M1 Apple Full Specification

As you well know by now, Apple has recently launched its new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro 13 and Mac Mini which, although aesthetically identical to the models that precede them, offer inside them what is the biggest novelty from the 10 hardware point of view years now , from the transition from PowerPC to Intel in short. We are obviously talking about the new Apple Silicon M1 SoC which debuts on these three solutions and which marks a significant step forward in terms of performance but also and above all of temperatures and consumption.

But will these better performances already be enough to replace our home PC on a daily basis or even better the one we usually work with? After using the new Mac Mini for a few days as if it were our desktop we are ready to answer this question and be ready to be amazed.

AESTHETICALLY NOTHING CHANGES

Let’s start by starting from the design, the materials and the aesthetic aspect in general. It is called Mac Mini and the name is not chosen at random; the dimensions of this product are in fact absolutely contained. We are talking about 3.6 x 19.7 x 19.7 cm and a weight of 1.2 kg , 100 grams less than in the past. These are measures that allow you to place it on the desk or directly behind the monitor in an absolutely easy way and is in effect a point in favor.

Some might criticize Apple for not updating the design of this product but I honestly don’t think there was a need for it. Mac Mini is already beautiful and functional as it is and Apple’s choice also goes in the direction of making the user believe that nothing has changed, maintaining the family feeling with the devices of the past.

From this point of view it is certainly good that the endowment of ports that we find in the back of the Mac Mini has also remained complete. We therefore have the connector for the power cable, an Ethernet port, two USB C with Thunderbolt support, one HDMI 2.0, two USB-A and the 3.5 mm jack for headphones or to connect external speakers. Mac Mini is however equipped with its own internal speaker which does not have a great yield but which obviously has been inserted only for emergency cases.

MAC MINI 2020 Complete Specifications

  • Chip:
    • Apple M1
    • Octa-core CPU with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores
    • Octa-core GPU
    • 16-core Neural Engine
  • Memory:
    • 8GB of unified memory, configurable to 16GB
  • Audio:
    • integrated speaker
    • 3.5mm jack
    • HDMI 2.0 port with support for multi-channel audio output
  • Electrical requirements:
    • voltage: 100-240V AC
    • frequency: from 50Hz to 60Hz, single phase
    • max continuous power: 150W
  • Connections:
    • WiFI 6, compatible with WiFi 5
    • Bluetooth 5.0
    • Gigabit Ethernet 10/100 /

Thanks to Thunderbolt and HDMI ports, Mac Mini can support the connection of two displays at the same time , one of which, the one connected to Thunderbolt, can reach up to 6K resolution. Also on the back we also find a slit that reveals the radiator used for cooling the internal components which, as we will see shortly, has never had such a simple life.

 This year Apple offers its mini PC in Silver only, which is lighter than the Space Gray of the MacBooks and which I honestly prefer as it is certainly less dirty. Then I close by telling you that in the package you will find only the Mac Mini and the power cable; no mouse or keyboard which must therefore be purchased separately.

APPLE SILICON M1: THE REVOLUTIONARY HEART

We were therefore saying that the most important novelty is hidden inside this Mac Mini and is represented by the presence of the new Apple Silicon M1 chip, a real concentrate of novelty and innovation. The main features of this new SoC reside in the presence of an octa-core CPU (4 high-performance cores and 4 low-consumption cores ) and an octa core GPU , both packaged in the same package.

As for the CPU compartment, the 4 high-performance cores support the execution of ultra-wide architectures (more details are needed on this, but it is likely that only these cores will be used by Rosetta 2) and share 12 MB of L2 cache.  

The low-power cluster, on the other hand, only supports wide architecture and shares 4 MB of L2 cache (and 64 KB of data cache and 128 KB for instructions). This is able to match the performance of the dual core CPU present on the current (now previous) MacBook Air base range.

On the GPU side, however, Apple has equipped M1 with an 8-core solution capable of delivering 2.6 TFLOPS of power. This is a fact that positions the GPU on a much higher level than all other integrated solutions on the market. This allows the M1 to easily handle relatively heavy workloads, such as 4K video rendering and casual gaming, with higher performance.

The choice to integrate all the main components in a single chip has allowed Apple to review the use of memory, which is now shared between all components , without having to separate the system from the video. Although many still talk about RAM, Apple has defined this as UMA, or unified memory. 

In other words, all the high-bandwidth and low-latency memory is unified and inserted into a package with custom design specifically designed to make sure that all the components of the SoC can access the same data without having to create memory pools. different. This leads to faster access to data and lower memory consumption.

Last detail, not least, M1 is the first chipset in the PC field to be made with a 5nm production process. The new production process and the change of architecture allowed Apple to significantly improve the performance / Watt ratio ; achieving the performance of an equivalent chip requires just 1/4 of the power draw.

How does this Mac Mini perform in daily business use?

Well, what do all the big words written above translate into? How does this Mac Mini perform in daily business use? Great. Point. We could stop here and tell you simply to buy it but we want to feed your monkey with some more consideration and specify some elements that may escape but which are fundamental in the choice.

The title of this article may seem exaggerated but on balance it is not at all. This Mac Mini with Apple Silicon M1 is an incredible product for the operations it manages to complete and above all for how it manages to make everything seem so extremely simple. Definitely thanks to the computing power but also and above all to the optimization and new structure of this SoC which, as already mentioned a little while ago, guarantees access to memories much faster than it was in the past.

You can really do anything with it, and multitasking seems to be his favorite environment. You switch from one application to another with incredible speed and it seems impossible to block it. Never a slowdown or a stumbling block worthy of the name. 

It happens every now and then to glimpse a small lag when we are fully loaded but nothing that can negatively affect the user experience. We tried to open programs such as Photoshop, Final Cut, Excel, PowerPoint, Chrome with dozens of tabs, Spotify and so on and so forth at the same time, without noticing the slightest slowdown.

You can edit videos in 4K, obviously I speak of basic editing such as cut and sew, use photo editing programs and even play games. Of course, do not think you are in front of a gaming PC, AAA titles still run with difficulty unless you go down a lot with details and resolution, but we are still faced with an integrated GPU that is more for a few minutes of leisure. That’s enough.

 Same goes for video editing, programs like Premiere Pro run quietly as long as you stay in the ordinary, as mentioned above, but at a professional level a further leap is needed both in terms of power and software compatibility.

And this is precisely the crux of the matter. The architecture change will take some time before all the software adapts and is recompiled with the correct instructions, which is why we still don’t feel like recommending this Mac Mini to all users. Rosetta 2 , the instant translator that allows old x86_64 programs to run on the new Silicon M1 does a great job and in most cases doesn’t seem to be dealing with non-optimized software at all.

However, there are some situations in which this process fails and it can happen that you are faced with a crash or an app that appears to be correctly installed but in effect not working. This often happens with plug-ins, but we’ve also noticed it with programs like WinZip or some hardware monitoring apps. It will obviously not be like this forever; the developers are hard at work and considering the speed with which the most important software are being updated, we believe that the deadline of 2 years declared by Apple for the final conversion is absolutely true but probably most of the solutions will already be available in the arm64 version by the mid next year.

FINAL CONSIDERATIONS

So summing up and trying to clarify even more let’s answer the initial question: is it possible to replace our home desktop with this new Mac Mini? And above all is it worth it? For both questions the answer is yes, as long as you are a user who makes a fairly basic use of your PC. 

For standard business use made of word processing, mail, web browsing, presentations, spreadsheets and video calls this Mac Mini is absolutely a perfect solution. You can keep it on your desk without being disturbed by the fans because the components never go beyond 40 degrees, even under full load, it takes up little space and allows you to keep a desk uncluttered and tidy while ensuring sufficient power to perform all the necessary tasks with unparalleled fluidity and responsiveness in multitasking.

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