If you’re planning to enter the world of Macs, your best bet is to go for an entry-level Mac. Apple currently offers two Macs in this segment: the M2 Mac mini and the M1 MacBook Air.
Both have different form factors yet are portable with similar performance. Hence, you are bound to be amazed about them. Here, we will compare Mac Mini and MacBook Air in detail to help you make the right decision.
hardware and performance
The entry-level MacBook Air features the first Apple Silicon processor, the M1. In contrast, you get to see the second generation M2 chip in the Mac mini. You can believe that the M2 is faster than the M1; However, both perform very similarly, with a slight improvement in the M2 chip. So, you won’t find much difference in real world usage.
You can configure the M2 Mac mini with 24GB of RAM and 2TB of storage space, while the M1 MacBook Air can be configured with 16GB of RAM and 2TB of storage space. However, since the MacBook Air is a laptop, you get a QHD Retina display, an integrated 720p camera, a backlit keyboard, and a trackpad.
The Mac Mini lacks a monitor, camera, keyboard, and mouse/trackpad because it is a smaller form-factor desktop. As a result, you may question whether the Mac mini is worth it compared to other Macs. Thanks to the Apple silicon, you’ll find similar performance on both machines, which are just more capable than their previous Intel-powered predecessors.
Design, Size and Portability
The first point of distinction will be in the design. The MacBook Air is Apple’s lightest laptop, weighing about 2.8 pounds (1.29 kg), while the Mac mini is a smaller form factor desktop that weighs roughly the same as the MacBook Air.
Because of its smaller size, the Mac mini is easier to carry than the MacBook Air. Remember, though, that you’ll need an external display, other peripherals, and a power supply to use it.
However, the MacBook Air is portable enough that you can take it with you wherever you go. It’s ideal for working on the go as you don’t have to carry any extra peripherals while still taking up a lot of space in your backpack. And thanks to the battery optimization of the M1 chip, you can play it unplugged for up to 15 hours.
Connectivity and Ports
The M2 Mac mini is the clear winner in this department, offering two Thunderbolt 4-capable USB-C ports, two USB-A ports, an HDMI port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a Gigabit Ethernet port. As a result, you won’t need any additional dongles or adapters. And talking about connectivity, it supports both Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3.
On the other hand, the M1 MacBook Air only has two Thunderbolt ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack. So there’s no doubt that you’ll find yourself buying additional dongles or adapters to connect multiple devices and accessories. In terms of connectivity, it supports the older Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 standards.
Ultimately, it all comes down to pricing, which influences your buying decision. Although it sounds simple, pricing for these Macs is more complicated than you might think.
The base model of the M1 MacBook Air with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage costs $999. On the other hand, the base model M2 Mac mini with similar specifications costs $599.
Before you settle on the M2 Mac Mini, remember that it will require an external monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other peripherals in order to function. Even after that, depending on the peripherals purchased, the price of the MacBook Air may increase or exceed it.
When you buy a MacBook Air, you get a fully functional laptop. Plus, you can use it without worrying about power cuts.
MacBook Air vs Mac Mini: Which Mac Should You Get?
Since both the MacBook Air and the Mac mini have advantages and disadvantages, the decision ultimately comes down to your use case. For example, if you’re always on the go, the MacBook Air is an excellent choice because it’s more portable.
However, if you have the peripherals you need and want a desktop solution, you can save money with the M2 Mac mini. Whichever Mac you choose, you won’t be disappointed with the performance, as the jump from the M1 to the M2 isn’t massive.