M1 MacBook Air vs M1 Mac mini: Which offers the best value for money?

Are you in the market for an Apple computer but can’t decide if you want a desktop or a laptop? Are you looking for an inexpensive Apple? Then, you came to the right place.

If you’re somebody that is always on-the-go or enjoys sitting at a café with your laptop then the MacBook Air is the way to go. On the other hand, if you’re a homebody and enjoy the comfort of working from home then the Mac mini has you covered. Both models are a good way to get an Apple computer without breaking the bank.

One obvious difference between the two is the mini doesn’t come with a mouse, monitor, or keyboard. Yet, both Air and Mini feature the new M1 chip. In the next two years Apple plans to move away from Intel’s CPU in previous models and use similar processors to the M1 chip. Let’s get into the details and find out which one suits you best for your situation and lifestyle.

M1 MacBook Air vs M1 Mac mini

MacBook Air (M1) 13.3inch vs Mac Mini (M1)

 The new M1 MacBook Air was released in November 2020 alongside the M1 Mac Mini, part of the new M1 chip generation. They have three main differences in terms of RAM, battery life, and price. And their biggest similarity is in the practically identical processors.


  • M1 MacBook Air and Mac Mini base models use the same M1 chip processing power.

M1 chip specs

  • 3.2 GHz 8-core Apple M1
  • 4 cores for efficiency
  • 4 cores for performance
  • 7 core GPU
  • 16 core Neural Engine


  • Both computers have the same memory capability of 8Gb or 16 Gb, depending on the model

Battery Life:

  • Mac Mini is a desktop computer, and all you need to do is plug it in for it to work.
  • MacBook Air being a laptop has up to 15 hours while browsing the web. It can work for 18 hours while watching Apple TV app movie playback.
  • The Air has a 49/.9-watt-hour Lithium polymer battery integrated, and it comes in the box with a 30W USB-C Power Adapter.


The 2020 MacBook Air has a starting price of $999 up to $1249, while the Mac Mini retails from $699 up to $1099.

Pros and Cons of the M1 Chip

M1 MacBook Air vs M1 Mac mini

The newly released M1 chip has been making some noise in the tech world. Apple assures that soon they will no longer use the Intel processors and will continue using the M1 chip in future Mac releases. Yet, this new tech has still some room for improvement. Here are some of the Pros and Cons of the M1 Chip:


  1. It is designed to offer a higher performance when compared to any existing laptop chip.
  2. It offers more than 2x faster CPU performance than the latest PC laptops while saving more power.


  1. Since the RAM is integrated to the processor chip, there is no room for memory upgrades.
  2. The M1 doesn’t support eGPU or multiple external displays.
  3. This processor is unable to run Windows or other non-Apple apps at the moment.
  4. The unknown factor is also a con, as problems may arise as the computers get more use.


The best way to know how good the performance of any computer is to compare their benchmark scores. These numbers provide the actual way the device performs, and whatever physical specs they have.

The MacBook Air has the lowest score at 1720 in the single-core Score, and 7334 in the multi-core Score. On the other hand, the Mac Mini scores at 1740 and 7456 in the single- and multi-core respectively. The final Geekbench GPU Benchmark scores the MacBook Air at 16069 and the Mac Mini at 19124.

The Mac Mini overall score is higher than its counterpart. The main difference is in the heat distribution of the hardware. While both use the M1 chip the MacBook Air has no fan to dissipate the heat. The fan integrated to the Mac Mini make the device able to process with larger power.

Which one is better?


It is not very easy to give a verdict when discussing the MacBook Air and the Mac Mini. If we focus on the performance and price, the win goes without a doubt for the Mini. However, the Air is an all included computer that can be used as a standalone laptop.

The Mini requires a display, and to be plugged-in for it to be functioning. The MacBook Air, on the other hand, can be used by itself for all the same activities.

Even though we are compelled to submit the crown to the Mac Mini. It is compact, has a stronger working processor and higher benchmark scores. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we recommend the mini for all users.

M1 MacBook Air vs M1 Mac Mini – Recommendations

When it comes down to which is best for the value, it is a matter of comfort and how you will use your machine. My vote would go to the MacBook Air because it’s an all in one device for a set price.

However, when we talk about the Mac mini, you’ll have to throw down some cash for the monitor, mouse, keyboard, and who knows what else you might need down the road. All in all, this could jack up the price depending on what accessories you decide to buy for it. If you already have what you need to run the mini and you are just trying to build up your current desktop setup then the Mac Mini is a great offer. 

If you are looking to get the best computer for its overall value, then we are happy to recommend the MacBook Air as the best budget option.

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