If you’re totally new to the Mac Mini and still in the process of researching whether it’s something that could fit your needs, you’re in the right place!
In this article, we’ll also cover a Mac Mini setup, which may be a bit confusing if you’re not a tech buff.
And setting up a Mac Mini can get more complicated if you’re setting up multiple monitors.
So in this article, we’re going to cover:
- the basics of the Mac Mini
- accessories (monitor display, keyboard, mouse, speakers or soundbar)
- all the questions you might have, and
- how to set it up
On the setup part, we’re going to rely a bit on video.
Visuals tend to be a lot more helpful for this kind of task rather than reading thousands of words about it.
So, if you’re interested in everything to know about the Mac Mini, this article covers just about all questions you might have.
If you’re just interested in setup, we have that at the very bottom of this article.
Feel free to select anything within the Table of Contents below that fits your interests.
When it comes to any product, people generally have questions, questions, and more questions, so we’ll cover a lot of them.
So, let’s get started.
What is Mac Mini?
The Mac Mini is a small desktop computer made by Apple.
And it’s only the “guts” of the computer.
In other words, the Mac Mini does not come with a screen, keyboard, or mouse.
So, the Apple acronym is a play on BYOB – i.e., BYODKM (Bring Your Own Display, Keyboard, and Mouse).
This will also require some cables to set up, such as HDMI, USB-C, and standard power outlets.
What is the Mac Mini used for? Can it be your entire setup?
It can be your entire desktop setup if you’re comfortable doing it.
Unlike the iMac, which is an all-in-one display, coming up with the monitor display, keyboard, and mouse is your responsibility.
You can buy Apple’s products to help you complete this. But you can also buy monitors from any company as long as they’re compatible.
Types of Mac Mini to choose from
There are several types of Mac Mini that you can choose from.
Like a lot of Mac products, there are three basic Mac Mini models.
1) Apple M1 Chip with 8-Core CPU and 8-Core GPU 256GB Storage
- Apple M1 chip with 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine
- 8GB unified memory
- 256GB SSD storage¹
- Gigabit Ethernet
It starts out at about $700. Apple also enables you to pay with monthly installments with the Apple Card.
2) Apple M1 Chip with 8-Core CPU and 8-Core GPU 512GB Storage
- Apple M1 chip with 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine
- 8GB unified memory
- 512GB SSD storage¹
- Gigabit Ethernet
This starts at about $900, with monthly installments available as well.
3) 3.0GHz Intel Core i5 6-Core Processor with Intel UHD Graphics 630 512GB Storage
- 3.0GHz 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor with Intel UHD Graphics 630
- Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz
- 8GB memory
- 512GB PCIe-based SSD storage
This starts at about $1,100, with monthly installments likewise an option.
What does the Mac Mini come with?
In terms of the actual device:
Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports with support for:
- Thunderbolt 3 (up to 40Gb/s)
- USB 4 (up to 40Gb/s)
- USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10Gb/s)
- Thunderbolt 2, HDMI, DVI, and VGA supported using adapters (sold separately)
Best Monitors for Mac Mini 2023
Monitors are a big one for those looking into the Mac Mini.
As such, we have our own dedicated page to Mac Mini monitors located here: Best Monitors for Mac Mini 2023
Is it worth buying a Mac Mini?
The Mac Mini is just the internal components of a computer.
So, as you might imagine, it’s an easy product for the public to overlook.
The main selling point of computers is their flashy displays. The Mac Mini doesn’t have that, so it can be more for the true DIY types.
But it’s main selling point is that it’s great for those who want an inexpensive desktop Mac computer but just have to bring their own display monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
It’s also compact and can fit anywhere on a table.
Can you connect Mac Mini to TV?
The HDMI 2.0 port supports video output.
So you can connect:
- an external display
- a projector, or
- an HDTV
For the Mac Mini with an M1 chip, you can connect one external display up to 6K using a Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) port, and one external display up to 4K using the HDMI 2.0 port.
Does Mac Mini have built-in WiFi?
Yes. The Mac mini has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Moreover, it also has a gigabit ethernet port. This is useful in case you want to connect to a wired network.
Is Mac Mini better than desktop?
The Mac Mini has always been the least expensive Apple desktop offering. Back in 2020, it became even more attractive for consumers given the $100 price cut from previous iterations.
And because the Mac Mini has the M1 chip, it is three times faster than the previous Mac Mini that was based on Intel chips (though the most expensive version still works on Intel’s chips and offers the best performance)
Plus, you get six times faster graphics performance.
What can Mac Mini do?
Just about anything any Mac desktop computer can do.
Mac Mini turns any desk into a great productivity setup.
Just add a keyboard, mouse or trackpad, and up to two display monitors.
The discrete-class GPU performance of the M1 chip also lets you play graphics-intensive games with fluid frame rates and better fidelity.
What’s the advantage of a Mac Mini?
The most basic reason for the high interest of the Mac Mini is the fact that it’s the most economical Mac desktop computer there is.
And it’s highly customizable.
You can great a great setup at a fraction of the price of an iMac.
The Mac Mini has built-in in apps such as:
- Garage Band
- and more…
There are multiple ports, making it more like a PC.
Apple says that with fourth-generation Intel Core processors and now with advanced M1 chips, the device is able to “keep up with computers twice its size.”
It also comes with Wi‑Fi and Bluetooth.
Can Mac Mini be connected to a laptop?
You cannot directly connect the laptop to your Mac Mini like you can with a traditional monitor with a VGA or HDMI port.
To connect a laptop, you must configure wireless screen sharing.
This feature enables you to remotely control a Mac Mini from your laptop so long as both computers are on the same network.
Can I use a Mac Mini with any monitor?
The Mac mini doesn’t come with a monitor, but you can connect it to an external monitor using one of the ports on the back of the device.
Using the appropriate adapter, you can connect the Mac Mini to any monitor display via a VGA port.
Is the Mac Mini worth it in 2023?
The Apple Mac Mini (M1, 2023) performs incredibly well in our experience.
We tested a few native and a few older apps, and they ran pretty seamlessly.
You wouldn’t be able to notice that some of them aren’t running natively.
And if it fits your needs, Apple’s Rosetta 2 tool allows you to continue to run older apps without any major issues.
How Long Will a Mac Mini Last?
A Mac Mini is usually more of an entry-level type of Mac desktop setup.
But it can be configured with expanded memory, faster processors, and larger hard drives.
This will all work to extend the life span.
On average, you could expect their effective life span to be 3 to 5 years.
With all Apple computers I’ve had, some have lasted as low as 2 years before they started having some issues (graphics, slower speed, battery replacement and bloat), and some have lasted for over 10 years.
It’s also likely that using M1 optimized programs will ease the wear and tear and that the SSD will last a decent bit longer than most users might otherwise think.
But 3 to 5 years is a pretty reasonable expectation.
Does the Mac Mini have speakers?
Mac Mini has speakers in it.
But – and it’s a big but – they don’t produce the kind of sound that would be satisfactory to most people.
The sound is not great, as you might imagine coming out of a small device like that.
As a result, many people opt to buy Bluetooth speakers for better sound quality.
AirPods could also work.
How can I increase the sound on my Mac Mini?
To change the volume on your Mac Mini, click the Sound control in the menu bar or Control Center.
Then drag the slider to adjust the volume. Many Mac keyboards also have a sound adjustment option on them with the small buttons toward the upper right.
If the Sound control isn’t in the menu bar, then go to the Apple menu > System Preferences, then click on Sound.
Does Mac Mini have Bluetooth?
You can work with your Mac Mini wirelessly using Bluetooth® technology.
Your Mac mini can connect to optional wireless devices such as:
- Magic Keyboard
- Magic Mouse
- Magic Trackpad
- external/peripheral devices, and
- wearable accessories
Can you connect Mac Mini to iPad?
Yes, the iPad works with any Mac computer in the same way that it’ll work with the Mac Mini.
How do I connect my Mac Mini to the internet?
Connect one end of a network cable to the Ethernet port on the back of your Mac Mini.
Connect the other end of the network cable to an Ethernet port on your network switch or network router.
Does Mac Mini have a headphone jack?
Yes. It has a 3.5 mm headphone jack.
This is located on the back of the Mac Mini on the bottom-right under the USB-A ports.
Another option is to plug in an analog headset with a built-in mono microphone to make audio and video calls.
Does Mac Mini have a battery?
No. The Mac Mini is a small desktop computer, not a laptop.
So, it doesn’t have a battery, unless you’re counting the one that keeps the clock set on it.
You will need to plug it into the wall to give it power.
Is Mac Mini as fast as iMac?
The Mac Mini with Apple M1 and the 24-inch iMac both offer the same performance from Apple’s 8-core M1 chip.
This M1 chip is very fast and matches well against an 8-core chip from Intel.
The 27-inch iMac is the peak of performance of these options, but you’ll need to pay the top-tier pricing to make it that way (a bit over $2,000).
Is Mac Mini faster than Macbook?
Mac Mini contains an M1 processor with:
- an 8-core GPU
- 8GB unified memory, and
- 256GB of storage
It also has a Gigabit Ethernet port.
With essentially the same chip as the MacBook Air, the Mac Mini actually delivers even better performance, as you might expect from a desktop relative to an entry-level laptop.
Can Mac Mini be used with an iMac?
If you have one of the iMac models that has Target Display Mode, your Mac Mini or another Mac can make use of your iMac as a display.
What can I do with a Mac Mini?
Mac Minis are used for a variety of purposes, such as:
- at work
- school and education
- for gaming
- listening to music
- web browsing
- video editing
- multimedia, and
- general home computer use
Is Mac Mini good for video editing?
This video covers video editing on the Mac Mini:
$14,000 Mac Pro vs $900 M1 Mac Mini – Video Editing Speed Comparison
How do I connect my Mac Mini to my TV wirelessly?
How to wirelessly connect a Mac to a smart TV:
Newer Macs and Apple TVs make screen mirroring very easy.
- Just turn on the TV and Apple TV
- Then turn on the Mac
- Go through the Apple logo
- Then “System Preferences”
- Then click “Displays” and
- Select the TV from the “AirPlay Display” taskbar
Can you use a Windows monitor with a Mac Mini?
Your Mac Mini can work with any monitor with a DVI or VGA connection.
This is true even if the display came from an old desktop computer.
Can I use Mac Mini with Macbook Pro?
Yes, as long as both the MacBook Pro and the Mac Mini need to be connected to the same network.
On the Mac Mini, go to System Preference → Sharing, then turn on Screen Sharing.
Now, on your MacBook Pro, under Network, you should be able to find the Mac Mini with the name set for Computer Name.
Can I use my iPad or iPad Pro as a monitor for Mac Mini?
Yes, macOS has a built-in feature called Screen Sharing.
This lets you view and control the screen with any Mac or VNC app.
Does the Mac Mini have a microphone?
The Mac Mini does not have an internal microphone or an audio-in jack.
So you’ll have to use a USB microphone such as the Griffin iMic.
Can I use a Windows keyboard with the Mac Mini?
If you use a third-party keyboard that’s designed for Windows, the Mac Mini will treat the “Windows” key as a “Command” key, and it will treat the “Alt” key as the “Option” key.
How do I connect my Mac Mini to my Samsung monitor?
Turn off your Mac computer, then position it so that you have access to the video connection.
Plug your Samsung monitor’s power cord into a wall outlet and connect one end of the video cable to the video connection on the monitor.
The connection will be located on the underside of the screen or on the back of the monitor.
Does the Mac Mini have fans?
The Mac Mini has always been Apple’s most flexible and capable desktop computer despite its barebones nature.
The mini does have a fan for cooling, and it also has a very efficiently cooled chassis compared to all the new M1 Macs.
Is Mac Mini good for development?
According to Apple’s In-House App Development Accelerator Guide, a Mac Mini is a great choice for developing iOS apps, just as much as the iMac or MacBook.
Does the Mac Mini get viruses?
It’s sometimes asserted that Apple products are immune to viruses and other types of malware, but unfortunately that isn’t true.
MacBooks, iMacs, and the Mac Mini can all be infected by viruses and malware. And hackers can successfully attack them too.
They are very good products and less vulnerable than Windows products overall. But nothing is immune to them sadly.
Is Mac Mini quiet?
The Mac Mini is quiet because it’s designed to be quiet.
Unlike most Windows PCs which are assembled from a vast collection of generic off-the-shelf components, the Mac Mini has purpose-designed parts that all fit together like a mechanical symphony.
This includes the low RPM fan designed to move air around and it does so in a quiet way.
How do I connect my soundbar to my Mac Mini?
This video does a good job of talking about Mac Mini accessories, including your sound options in addition to the usual (monitor display, keyboard, mouse).
Is Mac Mini M1 silent?
The Mac Mini M1 is virtually totally silent all the time.
You’ll just be able to feel some slight airflow if you put your hand near in the right place.
How many Bluetooth devices can you connect to the Mac Mini?
Officially, you can connect up to seven Bluetooth devices to your Mac.
But Apple recommends you don’t do more than three or four Bluetooth devices at once for best performance.
So, ideally limited to 3-4 Bluetooth devices and add additional ones cautiously to test out functionality.
Can I connect AirPods to Mac Mini?
Yes. On your Mac, choose System Preferences from the Apple menu (), then select Bluetooth.
Make sure that Bluetooth is turned on.
Also ensure that AirPods are sufficiently charged. (If not, put both AirPods in the charging case and open the lid when finished.)
Select your AirPods in the Devices list, then click Connect.
How do I connect my iPhone to my Mac Mini? Can I connect Mac Mini to iPad?
To connect the iPhone or iPad, you will need the cable that came with the device.
The cable has a USB connector at one end and comes with a dock connector at the other.
After you’ve set up an iPhone or iPad touch to sync with your Mac Mini, you will be able to choose to sync wirelessly instead of having to use the USB cable.
How do I mirror my iPhone to my Mac Mini?
On your iPhone or iPad, you will need to look for the AirPlay button in the Control Center or within supported apps.
If you’d like to share the screen of your device over AirPlay, then tap the Screen Mirroring toggle in the Control Center.
Then you will need to select your Mac from the AirPlay list.
Can you run a Mac Mini headless?
One of the possible uses for a Mac Mini – or any other Mac – is to run it in headless mode, allowing it to act as a media server and file share server.
The media server can run Plex. This will provide access to all your media to every smartphone, laptop, tablet, smart TV, and all other internet-connected devices available to you.
What is Apple Thunderbolt?
Thunderbolt is an input/output technology that supports high-resolution displays and high-performance data devices via a single, compact port.
Thunderbolt 1 and 2 adapters are supported on the following Mac computers:
- MacBook Pro (2011 through 2015)
- MacBook Air (Mid 2011 and later)
- Mac mini (Mid 2011 and later)
- iMac (Mid 2011 through 2015)
- Mac Pro (Late 2013)
The newer Thunderbolt 3 and the Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter works for MacBook Pro (2016 and later) and iMac (2017 and later).
What comes in a Mac Mini box?
This video covers the basics of what’s inside a Mac Mini box starting at 1:47.
Does Mac Mini charge?
The Thunderbolt 3 standard differentiates between two types of power supplies over the connection, which is either for:
- “charging” or for
- “bus-powered devices”
The standard supports up to 100 watts for charging.
This is typically only supported by dedicated chargers or docking stations meant to charge laptops.
The minimum requirement of the Thunderbolt 3 standard is that the computer must be able to provide 15 watts of power to “bus-powered devices.” This is what’s supported by the Mac Mini.
If you happen to be interested in a specific device connected to your Mac Mini, you can open up System Report where it will report exactly how much power, in mA, is provided to the device, and also how much power is available for it.
Can Mac Mini run on USB-C?
A fixed USB-C cable can plug into one of the Mac mini’s USB-C ports.
As a USB-only device that’s bus-powered, the hub does not have the video output capacity as some USB-C docking stations will have.
Can a Mac Mini run Photoshop?
Adobe asserts that the latest version of Photoshop could run 50% faster on the M1 Macs, which includes:
- Apple M1-equipped MacBook Air
- MacBook Pro, and
- Mac mini
Is Mac Mini good for 3D?
The Mac Mini is great as a Render node for running render clients. However, it’s not as suitable for interactive 3D work.
This is because it doesn’t have a discrete GPU.
A BTO iMac with NVidia 650M (or better) and Intel Quad Core i7 (not i5) would be a better option for 3D.
Is Mac Mini good for audio recording?
If working on a budget, the Mac mini is a great choice for audio recording and making music – as long as you are using Apple’s native software, such as Logic Pro.
Of course, always note that with a Mac Mini you’ll also need to buy a display monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
Can I connect a Mac Mini to my laptop?
You won’t be able to directly connect your laptop to your Mac Mini like you would a standard monitor with a VGA or HDMI port.
Instead, you have to set up wireless screen sharing.
The wireless screen sharing feature allows you to remotely control a Mac Mini from your laptop so long as the computers are both on the same network.
Does Mac Mini have Siri?
Yes, you can set up Siri on your Mac Mini.
You can find a good tutorial of setting up Siri on an M1 Mac Mini at the 1:31 mark of the following video:
Does Mac Mini work with any keyboard?
Your Mac Mini can connect to wireless keyboards and devices such as:
- Magic Keyboard
- Magic Mouse
- Magic Trackpad
Accessories are sold separately since the Mac Mini box just comes with the Mac Mini itself.
You can find these compatible Mac Mini accessories at apple.com, your local Apple Store, and/or other resellers.
The video below covers in-depth all accessories you need to have a functional setup:
Can Mac Mini run Xcode?
A Mac Mini is good for Xcode.
However, to make sure you’re getting the best possible, you might want to up your RAM.
4 GB won’t be enough.
8 GB can work.
But 16 GB+ is best for running Xcode on Mac Mini.
Is 256GB enough for Mac Mini?
If you’re going the M1 route, for general use and workloads, 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD is fine.
For heavier use, 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD is preferable.
Mac Mini Setup
Now let’s look at Mac Mini setup concerns.
What can a Mac Mini M1 support in terms of displays?
Apple states that the M1 Mac Mini can support up to two displays at the same time, but at different resolutions.
This is the official word from Apple. (But tech ninjas know there’s a way around things if they know how things work.)
The M1 Mac Mini natively support up to two external monitors – one via the HDMI port and a second via USB-C.
The Thunderbolt port and HDMI 2.0 video output port support different types of displays.
The Thunderbolt port can support a single display at up to a 6K resolution at 60Hz.
The HDMI 2.0 video output port can support a single display at up to a 4K resolution at 60Hz.
For those curious about the M1 Macbooks, it supports just one monitor.
Can the Mac Mini run three displays?
Up to three displays are possible through the following setup:
- Two displays with 4096-by-2304 resolution at 60Hz connected via Thunderbolt 3 plus
- One display with 4096-by-2160 resolution at 60Hz connected via HDMI 2.0
How do I connect two monitors to a Mac Mini setup?
This video gives a great rundown on the process of setting up two monitors to a Mac Mini setup.
Complete Mac Mini Setup Tutorial – under $1,000 (including Mac Mini), under $400 in accessories
This video does a good job of explaining the entire M1 Mac Mini desktop setup using a dual monitor display.
He also talks about the best accessories for the Mac Mini and covers some of the most common Bluetooth issues.
Other Mac Mini Setup Tours
This Mac Mini setup tour is from Justin Tse, a popular Canadian YouTuber.
Comes with a direct unboxing so people can see exactly how it comes and all that’s included.
Is the Mac Mini good for the average user?
YouTube tutorials on the Mac Mini often talk about how good they are from the perspective of a creator.
For example, those using the Mac Mini often use them for video editing and other types of tasks that can be pretty heavy in terms of computing power needed, but aren’t necessary for most users.
This video does a good job of discussing whether a Mac Mini is good for the average user.
Is the Mac Mini a good buy for someone who just wants something beyond a laptop setup or just needs more screen space?
That’s what the video covers and is well worth watching for most prospective buyers of the Mac Mini.
Any regrets buying the Mac Mini?
After owning the Mac Mini for a bit of time, are there are any regrets?
Tom Buck gives the breakdown of his thoughts after nine months of owning the computer.