I will not lie. I am a big fan of Windows. I love my Surface Laptop Studio, and I’ve tuned in to every new Windows 11 update. Not that I don’t break out of the Microsoft ecosystem from time to time, but I always find myself drawn into its familiar embrace.
But then the M1 Mac Mini appeared. I sold my old MacBook Pro and “replaced” with the M1 Mac Mini, excited to test out the latest hardware myself. As fad as it sounds to say, this little machine made me a believer after only two months.
I’ll start with the most obvious thing – performance. Using the Surface Laptop Studio as the main device, I was absolutely shocked at how well the Mac Mini powered by the Apple M1 performed.
The $2000 Surface Laptop Studio is powered by an Intel Core i7-11370H processor, as well as an Nvidia Geforce RTX 3050 Ti GPU. It’s a solid machine for what it is, but the M1 Mac Mini matches and sometimes beats that performance for me.
Given the price tag under $700, this really surprises me. Don’t forget that the Mac Mini doesn’t have a dedicated GPU inside like my Surface Laptop Studio does.
Goodbye MacBook. I’m going to replace you with a Mac Mini M1. Maybe this will make me use the iPad more. pic.twitter.com/kLZhPVTplL
And[مدش]. Arif Bacchus (@abacjourn) March 29, 2022
How is this possible, you may ask? Well, my tests aren’t exactly scientific (head over to our M1 Mac Mini review for that), but I do use the Surface Laptop Studio for video editing. When I edit my podcast using Wondershare Filmora on Windows 11, an hour-long episode and roughly 1.5GB of media files take 8-9 minutes to encode. The process is quick, but the fans kick in to help cool the power-hungry GPU. and loudly. Like standing next to an airplane turbine loudly.
Using the same files, audio/video feeds, and the app on my Mac Mini, this encoding time was reduced to 5-6 minutes, sometimes closer to 4 minutes. Again, all of this is done without a dedicated GPU and with the built-in M1 CPU. Even the system stayed quiet, with no fan noise, and was great to use. I was so freaked out after years of using my Windows desktops and laptops that loudly.
Outside of video editing, it’s a basic Mac Mini that I still hold up well for everyday tasks. I would have thought that with only 8GB of RAM, running 10+ tabs in Microsoft Edge, combined with Microsoft Teams, could slow down the device. It’s something I’ve commonly experienced on my Intel MacBook, where apps take a while to load, and with fans turning on when the system is hot.
But this was not the case at all on the Mac Mini. Teams and Edge are both optimized for the Apple M1 silicon, and both apps work just fine, without the case getting hot. It’s crazy how Apple has improved temperatures for the new M1 chipset.
but that is not all. Being a Windows fan, I also wanted to install Windows 11 on my Mac Mini. Although I can’t play it locally because Microsoft doesn’t license an ARM-based version of Windows for Apple to use, I ran it through the free 30-day trial of Parallels 11 – and was impressed.
Again, my testing is very unscientific, but running Windows 11 Parallels on an M1 Mac really shocked me. Despite being virtual, the apps in my Windows 11 install were very quick to load – and very responsive. Microsoft Edge, Widgets (built-in system apps), Consumer Teams, and Microsoft Store performed better than Windows PCs or even ARM-based systems like the Surface Pro X.
Well, I just installed Windows 11 on my M1 Mac Mini. I was very impressed with the performance, even though it is a virtual machine. I had my doubts, but now that I’ve tried it… I’m a believer. haha. These numbers outperform even poor budget Intel Celeron PCs: o pic.twitter.com/Acg4i5lLig
And[مدش]. Arif Bacchus (@abacjourn) April 23, 2022
While it’s true that the Geekbench 5 results do not represent actual performance, running the test in Windows on the M1 Mac Mini yielded some good results that support my experience. It has a single-core score of 1508, and a multi-core score of 4832. I went and checked, and this even beats the Surface Go 3, which scored 828 single-core scores, and 1,819 multi-core scores.
For the latest ARM-powered SQ2 Surface Pro X, the results weren’t good either. That got 722 single-core scores and 2,623 multi-core scores. Again, it’s really surprising to see how fast and improved M1 Macs are.
Find some of my own ways to boost multitasking
One of the reasons I hate using Macs so much has to do with multitasking. it’s something I have complained before. Windows 11 has some amazing multitasking tools, such as Snap Layouts and Snap Assist. It’s part of the reason I loved Windows 11 so much when I first reviewed it. Unfortunately, macOS lacks true multitasking features like those. But when buying a Mac Mini and committing to long-term use, I found some solutions that really helped me enjoy using my Mac.
The first is a tool known as Spectacle. Connecting the M1 Mac Mini to a 4K display, and with plenty of space, Spectacle brings some of the keyboard shortcuts you’re used to with Snap Assist in Windows 11 to macOS.
The app is free to install, and once configured, I can use a file Command + Option + Left or Command + Option + right Keyboard commands to stack windows side by side, evenly. It’s just like Windows Key + Left or Windows key + Right In Windows 11. There are also additional commands for tiling windows in the upper right or upper left part of the screen.
Another mod I used involves using Apple’s virtual desktop feature. Since window tiling and multitasking aren’t as efficient in macOS as they are in Windows, this feature gave me a way to stack the apps I normally bundle in Windows into their own space. For me, this includes my two Teams installs (a PWA and desktop app) so I can keep track of what my co-workers and colleagues are telling me. I created a new desktop space, opened Teams in that new space, and switched to the space when I need those apps. control + right And control + left It easily jumped me between the spaces.
Additionally, when I receive a notification, clicking on it automatically sends me to the correct desktop. This has been a great way for me to improve multitasking on macOS. On top of being able to access my iPhone texts, send photos between my Mac Mini and my iPhone, and capture tabs in Safari from my phone on my Mac, it was a really great experience for me.
Tempted to buy a MacBook
Seeing the power of the Apple M1 chip in a mini desktop system made me consider buying a newer MacBook. I love Windows PCs for things like 2-in-1 form factor, touch screens, stylus support, and super vivid OLED displays, but the processing power of the M1 chip really intrigued me.
I know, I know – it looks like a rash. But believe me, if you told me I was going to be an investor in the Mac ecosystem a few years ago, I would never have believed you.