Mac mini vs MacBook Pro performance review – can you upgrade?


Should you buy Mac Mini or Macbook Pro? Mac mini vs MacBook Pro performance review – can you upgrade? One of the things that Apple Silicon will have to do is to draw developers and users to the platform, and one way it can accomplish that is by offering itself as a reasonably-priced computing option. For many people needing a desktop-based Mac replacement or switching from Windows-based PCs, that option largely boiled down to the Mac mini.

We independently review everything we recommend. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Lean how we earn commission

Mac mini vs MacBook Pro performance comparison

Mac miniMacBook Pro 13-inch
Display13.3” Retina display
ProcessorUp to6-coreIntel Core i7 processorUp to4-coreIntel Core i7 processor
MemoryUp to64GBmemoryUp to16GBmemory
StorageUp to2TBstorageUp to2TBstorage
Battery LifeUp to10 hrsbattery life
Touch bar & Touch IDYes
Processor details3.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i3
3.0GHz 6-core Intel Core i5
3.2GHz 6-core Intel Core i7
Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz
1.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5
1.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 630Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645
Storage256GB SSD
DisplaySupport for up to three 4K displays or one 5K display and one 4K display (sold separately)13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology
Retina display
2560 by 1600 pixels
500 nits brightness
Wide color (P3)
True Tone technology
Height1.4 inches (3.6 cm)0.61 inch (1.56 cm)
Width7.7 inches (19.7 cm)11.97 inches (30.41 cm)
Depth7.7 inches (19.7 cm)8.36 inches (21.24 cm)
Weight2.9 pounds (1.3 kg)3.1 pounds (1.4 kg)
Camera720p FaceTime HD camera


Mac MiniMacBook Pro
SpeakerYesStereo speakers with high dynamic range
Wide stereo sound
Support for Dolby Atmos playback
Three-mic array with directional beamforming
3.5 mm headphone jack3.5 mm headphone jack
HDMI 2.0 port supports multichannel audio output

Keyboard and Trackpad

Mac MiniMacBook
Space Gray Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad (sold separatelyBacklit Magic Keyboard with
Space Gray Magic Mouse 2 or Space Gray Magic Trackpad 2 (sold separately)65 (U.S.) or 66 (ISO) keys including 4 arrow keys in an inverted-T arrangement
Touch Bar
Touch ID sensor
Ambient light sensorNoYes
Force Touch trackpad for precise cursor control and pressure-sensing capabilities; enables Force clicks, accelerators, pressure-sensitive drawing, and Multi-Touch gesturesNoYes


Mac MiniMacBook
802.11ac Wi-FiYesYes
Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technologyYesYes
Two USB 3 ports
Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) portsTwo Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
Gigabit Ethernet or 10Gb Ethernet
HDMI 2.0 port
Up to 10 hours wireless web
Up to 10 hours Apple TV app movie playback
Integrated 58.2-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
61W USB-C Power Adapter
USB-C power port

Key feature – Mac mini vs MacBook Pro

Mac mini

Models for sale were originally released March 2020.

Who’s it for? Because of its price and performance, the Mac mini is a great Mac for just about anybody. It makes for an ideal primary Mac for a home or small office. Professionals on a budget will be satisfied with the Mac mini. If you’re switching from a PC, you can use your PC’s keyboard and mouse with the Mac mini. The Mac mini is also ideal as a secondary Mac in your home, and it can integrate into your home entertainment center.

What is it? The Mac mini is Apple’s smallest desktop Mac. It’s a nice combination of speed and affordability. It’s not only fast enough for general-purpose use, but its multi-core speed is quite good—if you use a professional app like a video editor, 3D software, or developer tools, the Mac mini can handle it, no problem.

What are the specifications? What makes the Mac mini stand out is its small size. It doesn’t take up a lot of desk space.

Apple sells two Mac mini models. The $799 model has a 3.6GHz quad-core Core i3 (eighth generation) CPU, a 256GB SSD, 8GB of memory and an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630 GPU. The $1,099 model includes a 3.GHz 6-core Core i5 (eighth generation) CPU, a 512GB SSD, 8GB of memory, and integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630 GPU.

The Mac mini does not include a display, keyboard, or mouse, so you’ll have to provide your own—or you can customize your order to include these devices as extra-cost options.

Since the Mac mini lacks an optical drive, you need to buy an external USB optical drive if you want to read or burn CDs and DVDs.

How fast is it Mac mini vs MacBook Pro performance? Not surprisingly, the  Mac mini offers a nice single-core boost over its 2014 predecessors. Even in single-core apps (e.g., mail, browsers, iTunes, and even some consumer-level video and image editors), the boost is significant, thanks to eighth-generation Intel chip improvements and the clock speed bump.

If you use apps that can take advantage of multiple cores (pro apps for video and audio editing, 3D software, developer tools, etc.), you’re going to see a huge speed increase with the new Mac mini. It’s well worth the cost of upgrading.

How do I connect stuff? Like Apple’s other Macs, the Mac mini has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It also has four Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, two USB-A ports, an HDMI 2.0 port, and a headphone jack. It also has a gigabit ethernet port, in case you want to connect to a wired network.

To connect a display, you can use the HDMI port or a Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port. You might have to buy an adapter if your display doesn’t have either HDMI or a port that can connect to Thunderbolt 3/USB-C.

Should you buy it: The Mac mini is an excellent machine for most Mac users—new or experienced, professional or general consumer. For you’re on a budget or not, tt’s a great choice.

MacBook Pro

13-inch models were released May 2020. 16-inch models released November 2019, replacing the 15-inch models.

Who’s it for? The MacBook Pro is for the demanding user who wants a portable computer that also performs well. MacBook Pro models sit at the top of the performance chart of Mac laptops.

What is it? The MacBook Pro features a high-density display with so many pixels that images and text look especially smooth and clean. At normal viewing distances, you can’t discern individual pixels.

What are the specifications? The MacBook Pro is available in screen sizes of 13 inches and 16 inches. All laptops include the Touch Bar interface at the top of the keyboard.

There are four 13-inch models:

  • $1,299 model: 1.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 (8th generation) processor, 8GB of memory, 256GB SSD, Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 integrated graphics, two Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • $1,499 model: 1.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 (8th generation) processor, 8GB of memory, 512GB SSD, Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 integrated graphics, two Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • $1,799 model: 2.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 (10th generation) processor, 16GB of memory, 512GB SSD, Intel Iris Plus Graphics integrated graphics, four Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • $1,999 model: 2.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 (10th generation) processor, 16GB of memory, 1TB SSD, Intel Iris Plus Graphics integrated graphics, four Thunderbolt 3 ports

Apple has two 16-inch MacBook Pros:

  • $2,399 model: 2.6GHz 6-core Intel Core i7 (9th generation) processor, 16GB of memory, 512GB SSD, Intel UHD Graphics 630 integrated graphics, 4GB Radeon Pro 5300M discrete graphics
  • $2,799 model: 2.3GHz 8-core Intel Core i7 (9th generation) processor, 16GB of memory, 1TB SSD, Intel UHD Graphics 630 integrated graphics, 4GB Radeon Pro 5500M discrete graphics

The 13-inch Retina display has a native resolution of 2560×1600, and macOS offers a scaled resolution up to 1680×1050. The 16-inch Retina display has a native resolution of 3072×1920, and macOS’’s highest scaled resolution on those laptops is 2048×1280. These high-scale resolutions can accommodate the workspace of a larger-screen standard Mac laptop on a smaller Retina MacBook Pro if you can tolerate the smaller icons, text, and other graphics on the screen. If you use a third-party app such as QuickRes, you can set the Retina screen to use resolutions higher than the scaled settings macOS offers, including the native resolution.

The MacBook Pro does not have a SuperDrive, so if you need one, you’ll have to buy an external USB optical drive.

What is the Touch Bar that’s mentioned in the specs above? The Touch Bar is a input device that sits on top of the keyboard. It’s basically a narrow touchscreen. The buttons and controls available on the Touch Bar change depending on the software you are using. Learn more about the Touch Bar.

How do I connect stuff? No need to worry about wireless connectivity: The MacBook Pro has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

It’s the wired connectivity you need to be concerned with. The MacBook Pro has only Thunderbolt 3 ports, which are compatible with USB-C. The $1,299 and $1,499 13-inch MacBook Pro models have two ports, while every other MacBook model has four.

If you have a Thunderbolt 3 device, you can plug it directly into the laptop. The same goes for any USB-C device. However, if you have wired devices that aren’t USB-C or Thunderbolt 3, you’ll need an adapter. We have a separate MacBook Pro Thunderbolt 3 adapter guide to help you decide which ones you’ll need. Unfortunately, be prepared to shell out a good amount of extra cash.

How fast is it – Mac mini vs MacBook Pro performance? The MacBook Pro models are, to no surprise, the fastest laptops Apple has ever released. If it’s processing power you seek, it’s the MacBook Pro you want.

What about the 15-inch MacBook Pro? Apple replaced the 15-inch model with the 16-nch MacBook Pro in November 2019. If you really want a 15-inch model, try looking in Apple’s Refurbished and Clearance Store.

Should you buy it: For the most demanding mobile Mac user—someone whose work requires a lot of processing power—the MacBook Pro is the ticket. If you’re looking at a 13-inch model, the $1,799 Retina MacBook Pro hits a sweet spot for price and performance. The money that separates the two 16-inch Retina MacBook Pro models is a hefty chunk of change; the $2,799 MacBook Pro is the top-of-the-line Mac laptop, offering the strongest performance. If your work mostly involves internet access and other productivity tasks, however, go for a MacBook Air.

Apple has refurbished MacBook Pro models available in the company’s Refurbished and Clearance Store. Refurbs offer a modest savings over new models, though the inventory for refurbs runs out quickly. You may find only older models, so check back at a later date to see if there are any 2019 laptops available.

Apple tests and certifies all products in the Refurbished store. Supply is limited, so Apple could run out of refurb stock, and you’ll have to check back if you missed your opportunity to buy. But once Apple receives your payment, the company guarantees your purchase.

Editor’s recommendations

Lead Content Editor
Lead Content Editor

I enjoy creating stuff and giving back to my community. My days are spent producing content for brands who need an internet presence and for things that I adore. I bring with me six years of experience generating content and obtaining leads from untapped markets. I concentrate on the qualities and advantages of the goods that add value for my audience. After reading my reviews, anyone who want to purchase a product from me are given my honest and open recommendation. I integrate my reviews with those of actual people to make the content authentic and accurate. Please take a moment to contact me if you see any deviations; I always value and appreciate hearing from my readers.

Articles: 1393