Monday, Feb 01, 2021, 11:50 Hardware

New M1 Mac mini: Amazing Energy And Heat Efficiency

Since 2005, the Mac mini has solidified itself a place in Apple's product line. In the last 16 years, Cupertino's smallest desktop computer has undergone several metamorphoses, not only appearance-wise but also in terms of its inner-workings. Of special importance to the latter are of course any changes to the processor architecture. The original version was powered by a PowerPC G4, with succeeding versions carrying Intel CPUs. Now, since the end of last year, the Mac mini is 1 of 3 computers equipped with Apple's newly designed, in-house M1 processor.

Top Marks In Energy Efficiency And Heat Development
According to all benchmarks released thus far, the new M1 Mac mini, as well as its portable counterparts (the M1 MacBook Air and 13" MacBook Pro), delivers a level of performance unreachable by most devices with Intel processors – whilst also being highly energy efficient. Thanks to the now well-known and impressive standards set by Apple Silicon, one of which being heat development, the M1 Mac mini rarely makes use of its fan. The technical prowess of the new Mac mini is especially impressive when compared with its predecessors.



6 Generations Of The Mac Mini In Comparison
John Gruber from Daring Fireball has combed through 6 generations worth of the Mac mini's technical data, delivering comparisons of energy usage and heat emission. As it turns out, the maximum power consumption of the M1 Mac mini (39w) is only 7 watts higher than that of the 2005 PowerPC G4-driven Mac mini when at idle. The difference, when compared to the 2018 generation Mac mini with Intel's 6 core i7, is also especially impressive. The 2018 Mac mini's maximum energy consumption was a whopping 122 watts, more than 3x higher than that of the M1 Mac mini. A similarly high value was known to the 2006 Mac mini – the first with an Intel CPU, with a maximum energy consumption of 110 watts and 23 watts at idle.

Modell Energy Usage (Idle) Energy Usage (Max) Heat Emission (Idle) Heat Emission (Max)
Apple M1 (2020) 7 W 39 W 23 BTU/h 133 BTU/h
Intel Core i7 (2018) 20 W 122 W 68 BTU/h 417 BTU/h
Intel Core i5 (2014) 6 W 85 W 20 BTU/h 290 BTU/h
Intel Core Solo/Duo (2006) 23 W 110 W 79 BTU/h 376 BTU/h
PowerPC G4 (2005) 32 W 85 W 110 BTU/h 290 BTU/h

Very Low Thermal Power Dissipation
The M1 Mac mini also receives top marks in thermal power loss (specified in British thermal units per hour, BTU/h). The M1 Mac minis maximal heat emission is around 133 BTU/h and the worst heat emission is exhibited by the 2018 i7 Mac mini. Apple's newest compact computer is only just barely beaten by one of its predecessors in terms of idle heat emission – the 2014 i5 Mac mini, with an idle heat emission of 20 watts (M1 Mac mini – 23w). The very first Mac mini (the 2005 PowerPC G4 version) emits almost just as much heat at idle as the newest model under maximum load, 110 watts vs. 23 watts. After considering these values, it's no wonder that the new Mac mini rarely needs its fan.

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