Mac Mini vs MacBook Air – which is best for you?

Is the Mac Mini or the MacBook Air better for you this time?

Mac Mini vs MacBook Air. Image shows the text "Mac Mini vs MacBook Air" underneath the MacBook Air and Mac Mini on a blue yellow gradient background.

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When it comes to laptop and desktop devices, Apple has a lot on offer – we’re knuckling down on a comparison between two popular choices, the Mac Mini vs MacBook Air. The Mac Mini and MacBook Air both offer a lot in terms of great value and performance, but the distinct differences between the two devices might influence your decision. They’re both excellent entry-level PCs, and it can be hard to know if the portable Apple Mac Mini desktop or a Macbook Air upgrade will serve you better. In this article, we’ll compare the Mac Mini and MacBook Air side by side to help you determine which one is the best option for your needs.

MacBook Mini vs MacBook Air specs

SpecificationsMac MiniMacBook Air
Form factorMini PCLaptop
ProcessorApple Silicon M2 8-coreApple Silicon M2 8-core
DisplaySupport for two displays13.6-inch or 15.2-inch, 2,560 x 1,664, wide color gamut True Tone display
Dimensions7.7”W x 7.7”D x 1.4”H11.9”W x 8.4”D x .44”H
RAM8GB, 16GB, 24GB8GB, 16GB, 24GB
Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB SSD256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB SSD
Battery lifeN/AUp to 18 hours
PriceFrom $599From $1,099

Mac Mini vs MacBook Air features

Here are the features of both devices:

Form factor

The form factor is one of the most noticeable differences between the Mac Mini and MacBook Air. The MacBook Air underwent a redesign in 2022, resulting in a thinner and flatter profile. It features a 13.6-inch IPS display with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,664, offering vibrant colors and True Tone technology. Weighing just 2.7 pounds and measuring only 0.44 inches thick, the MacBook Air is incredibly portable and comes in four attractive colors; Midnight, Starlight, Space Grey, and the classic Silver.

On the other hand, the Mac Mini does not have a built-in display or keyboard, making it even more compact and lightweight. It measures 1.4 inches in height, 7.7 inches in width, and 7.7 inches in depth, weighing just 2.6 pounds. Though it lacks a display, the Mac Mini M2 still retains Apple’s sleek and attractive design. It is available in silver, maintaining the company’s signature aesthetic.

Processor

The Mac Mini and MacBook Air are powered by Apple’s M2 chip, which ensures reliable performance and energy efficiency. The M2 chip features an 8-core GPU and 8-core CPU architecture in its base model and provides excellent processing power for a range of tasks. It ensures smooth multitasking, fast load times, and efficient power consumption. However, if you’re willing to invest a little more into your device, you can upgrade to 10-core GPU and 512 GB storage variants. If you’re after an even higher performance from your system, the top-end Mac Mini can get you a 10-core CPU and a 16-core GPU for improved graphics and processing speed.

While it doesn’t quite meet the speed and power of the new M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max chip offered on the new MacBook Pro, the M2 still beats its predecessor in terms of power and performance. Apple quotes it as having an “18 percent faster CPU, a 35 percent more powerful GPU, and a 40 percent faster Neural Engine” than the M1 chip. So, whichever device you go for, you can rest assured in the knowledge that you’ll get an upgraded processing experience.

Storage and memory

In terms of storage and memory, both devices offer multiple configurations to suit your needs. The MacBook Air comes with options for a 256GB or 512GB solid-state drive (SSD), which can be upgraded to 1TB or 2TB through Apple. It also offers 8GB, 16GB, or 24GB of RAM. The Mac Mini, on the other hand, has two base models with either a 256GB or 512GB SSD. Both models come with 8GB of RAM, upgradable to 16GB or 24GB.

Connectivity options

In terms of connectivity, both the Mac Mini and MacBook Air offer Thunderbolt 4 ports, providing fast data transfer and versatile connectivity options. The Mac Mini also includes an Ethernet and HDMI port, along with two USB-A ports. The MacBook Air, on the other hand, can support an external monitor with a resolution of up to 6K. It also features a 1080p FaceTime camera, perfect for video conferencing and capturing high-quality images.

MacBook Mini vs MacBook Air price

The Mac Mini offers an affordable option, starting at $599 for the base model with a 256GB SSD. The 512GB edition is priced at $799, making it an attractive choice for budget-conscious users. However, it’s important to note that you will need to purchase additional peripherals like a monitor, keyboard, and mouse if you don’t already own them. This can end up adding a few hundred dollars onto to your investment at least.

On the other hand, the MacBook Air starts at $1,099, making it pricier than the Mac Mini. However, it includes a built-in display, keyboard, and trackpad, which saves you the hassle and cost of purchasing additional peripherals. If portability and convenience are important to you, the MacBook Air may be worth the higher price.

Is the Mac Mini better than the MacBook Air?

Choosing between the Mac Mini and MacBook Air depends on your specific needs and budget. If portability and convenience are essential, the MacBook Air is a solid choice, offering a built-in display, keyboard, and trackpad. On the other hand, if you already have compatible peripherals and are looking for a more affordable option, the Mac Mini provides excellent performance and versatility.