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Mac mini versus MacBook Pro, why the Mac mini might be the best Mac you can get for your money

Karen Haslam | July 23, 2015
If you are looking for the best Mac you can get for your money there are a couple of contenders that might surprise you.

The 2.8GHz dual-core i5 Mac mini, offers 8GB RAM, a 1TB Fusion Drive (combining a hard drive and flash storage), and Intel Iris Graphics. It costs £799.

These two Mac minis are comparable to the processors inside the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, but you can expect the faster flash storage in the MacBook's to give those models a boost.

13in MacBook Pro versus Mac mini specs: Buying Advice

Back in 2014 the specs of the models were similar, so it was no surprise that the Mac mini's processor and graphics performance was similar to that of the equivalent MacBook Pro, although the Mac mini is hampered by the hard drive compared to the flash storage in the MacBook Pro. In addition, while that the MacBook Pro has seen an upgrade and the Mac mini hasn't (yet) the MacBook Pro is the faster machine.

In our tests the 2014 2.8GHz Apple Mac mini scored 3363 points in single-core mode, and 7208 points in multi-core mode Geekbench 3 processor/memory test.

For a straight comparison, the 2014 2.8GHz Retina MacBook Pro scored 3307 points in single-core mode, and 7086 points in multi-core mode.

The Geekbench results for the 2015 2.9GHz MacBook Pro were 3132 in single-core, and 7414 in multi-core mode, while the 2015 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro Geekbench results were 2974 in single core, and 7028 in multi-core mode.

The problem with Geekbench figures is that they only measure processor speed. It's not only the processor that should speed up the MacBook, we would expect the MacBook Pro to feel speedier in daily use than the Mac mini thanks to its faster flash storage.

13in MacBook Pro versus Mac mini: Storage

The storage options vary quite dramatically for the MacBook Pro and Mac mini ranges.

The Mac mini features a 500GB hard drive at the entry-level, a 1TB hard drive at the mid-range, and a 1TB Fusion Drive at the high end.

The MacBook Pro offers the choice of a 128GB, 256GB of 512GB SSD - this flash storage is considerably faster than the old fashioned hard drive in the Mac mini.

However, the Fusion Drive option in the top-of-the-range Mac mini gives you the best of both worlds - the addition storage offered by a hard drive combined with the faster flash storage.

We'd say that the fact that you can pick up a 1TB Fusion Drive as standard on the £799 Mac mini is a point in its favour, you can't upgrade the MacBook Pro to a Fusion Drive at all. You can opt for a 1TB SSD in the MacBook Pro, but that will set you back £400, bringing the price of the top of the range model to £1,799.


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