iMac, Mac Mini, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air – there are plenty of Macs to choose from. On the desktop front, however, the two obvious choices are the Mac Mini and the iMac.
In this guide, we present the specifications of the most recent and updated Mac Mini compared to the iMac. We probably would never have compared these two in the past, but thanks to the price hike for the new Mac Mini and the update to eighth-gen Intel processors on the iMac, there is now an overlap in configurations and capabilities. By weighing features like design, performance, and our overall impressions of the new Mac Mini, we’ll help you decide which one is right for your setup at work or at home.
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The iMac and Mac Mini are both made from aluminum and are designed like desktop computers, but the form factor couldn’t be more different between the two. At 2.9 pounds and 1.4 inches thick, the Mac Mini is a thin slab of metal that looks like a super-compact cable box.
A highlight for us in our review, the Mac Mini is great for sitting under a monitor or next to a desk. It easily stays out of the way in places with limited space and the fans are whisper quiet. As great as it is, the sleek space gray aluminum design does not take into account any monitors or keyboards, all of which must be purchased separately, reflecting its history as a computer designed for Windows switches that likely already had these accessories.
The iMac contrasts with the Mac Mini since it is an all-in-one computing solution. The base 21.5-inch iMac model ends at 17.7 inches in height and 20.8 inches in width, but a 27-inch model is also available.
It also packs a 21.5-inch display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, while the Retina 4K model comes with a screen with 4096 x 2304 resolution. There is also a separate 27-inch model with a Retina display. 5K, which operates at 5120 x 2880 pixels. Apple even includes a Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2 in the box, so you don’t have to make separate purchases.
Some pros may prefer the iMac for its all-in-one display and design, but the Mac Mini will be more appealing to someone who already has a monitor.
Apple revamped the Mac Mini with new internals to make it a better buy compared to the iMac. The base $ 799 Mac Mini model comes with an 8th Generation Intel Core i3 quad-core processor clocked at 3.6GHz. It also comes with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB PCIe SSD. The drive is super fast and achieved a read speed of 2753 MB / s and a write speed of 1238 MB / s in our transfer tests. files. That’s double the speeds on similar SSDs in other desktops we’ve tested before – with the exception of the iMac, of course, which we’ll come back to in due course.
For more processing power, a Mac Mini model with a 3.0GHz six-core 8th-gen Intel Core i5 processor is also available for $ 1,099. This is the model we reviewed, which is exactly where the Mac Mini crosses into iMac territory. It is a very powerful machine, especially for its size.
In all Mac Mini models, up to 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of RAM can also be added, and there are options for 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB SSD storage configurations. Not surprisingly, given its size, there is no dedicated graphics option. All Mac Mini models come with Intel UHD Graphics 630.
As for the iMac, the entry-level 4K model has the same 8th Gen Intel Core i3 processor and 8GB of RAM as the base Mac Mini. Unfortunately, the base model (with 1080p display) still ships with a 1TB mechanical hard drive and an older 7th generation processor. Its price starts at $ 1,099 – $ 300 more than the base Mac Mini. If we compare just these two options, the Mac Mini wins by a mile.
However, when you compare the Mac Mini to high-end iMac models, it gets trickier. A separate 4K iMac with a slightly more powerful 3.0GHz six-core 8th-gen Intel Core i5 processor is also available, but that pushes prices well into the $ 1,499 range. For even more processing power, Apple offers the 27-inch iMac 5K with an option for the new 9th-generation Intel Core i5 processor. You can even go up to an eight-core Core i9 if you need real power. That puts it out of the league of the little Mac Mini, however.
There are a host of dedicated graphics options for the iMac, which the Mac Mini doesn’t offer at all. The 21.5-inch iMac comes with a Radeon Pro 555X or 560X with 2GB or 4GB of video memory. High-end 5K iMacs come with the Radeon Pro 570X, 575X, or 580X for graphics. You can even upgrade to the Radeon Vega 48 or Vega 20 for additional graphics power.
Apple has embraced USB-C, and ports onboard the Mac Mini and iMac continue this trend. On the Mac Mini are four Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI 2.0 port, one Ethernet port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The iMac retains a similar range of ports, including four USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 3 USB ports, an Ethernet port, and an SDXC card slot.
The iMac has the most ports between the two machines. We see the lack of an SDXC card slot on the Mac Mini as a hurdle for content creators considering adopting the machine. Mac Mini users who need this location will need to purchase a separate dongle to transfer their files. This is a slight inconvenience which might be a deciding factor for some.
Buy the Mac Mini, unless you get tall
At the end of the day, the $ 799 Mac Mini is worth more than a $ 1,099 iMac or maybe even the upgraded $ 1,299 iMac 4K. This price does not include your keyboard, mouse, or video option, but many users still have this equipment on hand.
For those looking for serious performance, the iMac 5K is Apple’s top-of-the-line model. Its Core i9 processor makes this machine much faster than the Mac Mini. At the low end, everything revolves around the Mac Mini. In the high end, the iMac has well deserved its place. For those looking for the golden mean, you will need to honestly assess your current and future needs to decide which machine is best for you. For more graphics power or the all-in-one visual appeal, the iMac is what you need. For a more versatile setup, the Mac Mini is the way to go.
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