With the 2020 M1 update, Apple did not change the design of the Mac mini, but it did re-introduce the silver color. All M1 Mac mini models are silver, while the Intel model comes in space gray, with color being the distinguishing feature between the two.
The Mac mini has always been Apple’s smallest, most portable desktop machine and that hasn’t changed. The Mac mini continues to feature a small, square-shaped enclosure that measures in at 7.7 inches on each side and 1.4 inches thick.
Apple’s Mac mini weighs in at 2.9 pounds, so it’s small enough to take from place to place if desired, plugging into available peripherals and displays. The Mac mini, unlike Apple’s other Macs, does not ship with a display, keyboard, or mouse, so it is ideal for those who want to supply their own accessories.
One side of the Mac mini features a host of ports, while the other features an LED that lets you know when it’s on. There’s an Apple logo at the top of the device, and other than the Apple logo and port labels, there are no other markings on the visible portion of the machine.
Though the exterior of the Mac mini is unchanged over the last several generations, Apple redesigned the interior in 2018 to add a new thermal architecture to accommodate higher-powered 8th-generation chips and all-flash storage. Compared to pre-2018 Mac mini models, it features a bigger internal fan with twice as much airflow, and expanded vents, all of which also accommodate the M1 chip.
Apple has outfitted the Mac mini with multiple ports, allowing it to be used with several peripherals at once. The M1 Mac mini has a total of two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C 4 ports at the back of the device, which are able to support USB-C accessories and displays, along with an HDMI 2.0 port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, two USB-A ports, and a spot for the power cord to plug in. As of April 2021, the Ethernet port can be upgraded to 10Gb for an additional $100.
The Intel Mac mini has four Thunderbolt 3 ports, two USB-A ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a spot for the power cord, and a Gigabit Ethernet port, which can be upgraded to 10Gb for $100.
Thunderbolt 3 offers data transfer speeds of up to 40Gb/s. The M1 Mac mini officially supports one external display up to 6K along with a second with HDMI up to 4K. The Intel Mac mini with supports two 4K displays (along with a third 4K display over HDMI) or one 5K.
While Apple says the Mac mini is limited to one 6K and one 4K display, with DisplayPort adapters, M1 Mac mini models can run up to six external displays. This only works with a mix of 4K and 1080p displays as the Thunderbolt ports do not have the bandwidth to run six 4K displays.