The move away from Intel chips is one of the most significant decisions Apple has made in recent times and will undoubtedly make some sizeable ripples.
Apple says the eight-core ARM-based processor is up to three times faster than the previous Mac Mini, which used 8th-gen Core i3, i5 and i7 chips.
The M1 also has an 8-core graphics chip which is up to six times more powerful than the previous Mac Mini, and Apple says apps which use machine learning run up to 15x faster thanks to the 16-core Neural Engine.
Unfortunately, the performance comparisons were frustratingly vague: no specific processor model is quoted when Apple claims the Mac Mini is 5x faster than the bestselling Windows desktops in its price range, just an Intel Core i5.
Apple did offer a handy summary of how the 2020 Mac Mini compares more practically to its 2018 predecessor though.
- It can compile code in Xcode up to 3x faster.
- It can play games like “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” with up to 4x higher frame rates.
- It can render in Final Cut Pro up to 6x faster.
- It can handle up to 3x as many real-time plug-ins in Logic Pro.
- It can increase resolution of a photo in Pixelmator Pro up to 15x faster
You can connect two displays including Apple’s Pro Display at 6K resolution, and there’s Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 6 and an “advanced thermal design” so it remains quiet while working hard.
It also has:
- Two USB-A ports (up to 5Gb/s)
- HDMI 2.0 port
- Gigabit Ethernet port
- 3.5 mm headphone jack
The pair of Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports offer support for:
- Thunderbolt 3 (up to 40Gb/s)
- USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10Gb/s)
- Thunderbolt 2, HDMI, DVI, and VGA supported using adapters (not included)
When is the 2020 Mac Mini release date?
You can buy an M1-based Mini immediately and the first deliveries will start arriving on 17 November.
There are two models. The cheaper, which costs £699 / $699 has 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, while the more expensive £899 / $899 version differs only in that it has 512GB of storage.
You can also upgrade the RAM in either model to 16GB for an extra £200 / $200 and there are 1TB and 2TB storage options if you want to spend an extra £400 / $400 or £800 / $800 respectively.
Here's more on what Apple Silicon means for Macs.