Nerdy: M1 Mac mini - first impressions and Wishlist

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This post is a bit more nerdy then normal, sharing it here because it’s the best place for me to write it, normal service focusing on autistic life will resume shortly

I don’t need to bury the lede, the new “M1” powered Mac’s are phenomenal. Swapping to the Apple designed M1 chip is by far the most impressive performance jump we’ve ever seen. It’s a literal generational leap where the base level Mac mini turns into one of the fastest Macs ever made.

I’ve been using one (well, two) for a few weeks now, this post is my first impressions of using the Mac mini M1, plus my Wishlist for future revisions.

Really fast

The most noticeable thing about the new Mac mini is the performance. As i mentioned above, it’s moved from an entry level machine to comfortably midrange.

The performance is easy to use and can transform productivity. For example, on one of my side projects, running the test suite went from 87 seconds down to 17 seconds. Damn near a 5x improvement in performance.

While it doesn’t sound much, the performance improvement makes it much easier to get into flow states. It’s much easier to maintain focus without big delays 10 times per hour.

The performance improvement in general usage is much the same. The Mac mini is damn snappy for browsing the web, opening apps and doing “computer things”.

It’s been a fab little experimental / play / research computer. A very enjoyable place to get things done.


I’m yet to hear the fans on the Mac mini kick in. Even when i am exporting video files the fan is essentially inaudible. This is most noticeable when i am writing late at night. The silent running means i can leave it doing things overnight (like download from dropbox) without it keeping me away.

Well connected.

I have the little Mac plugged into my 4K dell display via one of the thunderbolt ports. It could also plug in using HDMI. The flexibility is very useful. For example i can plug it into the 4K TV in my lounge to watch back 4K footage from our bike rides.

It also has a nice range of USB ports. A pair of classic USB-A ports on the left, and a pair of USB-C ports in the middle. These ports are all fast. I saw speeds over 1000MB/s while coping video footage from an external SSD to the Mac mini. It makes working with large video files a breeze.


Another area i enjoy is that the Mac mini is discrete. It’s small and runs cool so it can fit into desk draws and attach to the back of monitors. Without much work it can be all but invisible. I currently have it on my desk, but i suspect i will tuck it away on the back of my monitor pretty soon. At that point it does a fairly passable impression of an iMac.


While i love this little Mac and have enjoyed using it, it’s far from perfect. With that in mind heres a Wishlist of things i hope Apple will change in the future.

Fix QA & Bluetooth issues.

This Mac mini is the second i have had, the first had to be returned due to hardware issues. It kept becoming stuttery and unstable. Apple where quick with the replacement, but it wasn’t a great way to start the experience.

This Mac mini is much better, but its still not perfect. I’ve seen a fair few bluetooth issues, with devices loosing connection and the machine requiring a reboot before being able to see the keyboard and trackpad.

Bring back expansion

This is perhaps the biggest “technical” grumble i have about the Mac mini. I don’t understand why it’s not upgradable. The case is huge, it has space for at least two 2.5” drives, but Apple wastes the space. Wasting the space internally means i have to waste an external port.

Being able to expand the storage would make it much easier for me to recommend this Mac to others. It’s right at the top of my wish list.

Final thoughts

All in i am extremely happy the Mac mini. It’s improved my day to day computing life and has enhanced my productivity and enjoyment no end. It’s by far the best money I have ever spent on a Mac, and thats a pretty remarkable achievement for 2020.


Spaced Out & Smiling is about exploring the fun side of Autism, and trying to understand what it means to be Autistically Happy.

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