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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.

Buying advice

To get close to matching the storage in the £799 Mac mini in the MacBook Pro, you could pay another £1,000, bringing the price to £1,799 to include 1TB flash storage (the Mac mini features a 1TB fusion drive which is actually a 1TB hard drive coupled with a 128GB flash drive where frequently accessed content is stored, thereby speeding up operation).

However, you could always buy yourself an external hard drive to store media files on that might fill up your limited storage, it's pretty simple to run your photo and music library off of an external hard drive for example.

13in MacBook Pro versus Mac mini: Ports

When it comes to ports, both the Mac mini and the MacBook Pro share an HDMI port, two Thunderbolt 2 Ports, and an SDXC card slot.

The main difference is that the Mac mini has four USB 3 ports where the MacBook Pro has just two.

The HDMI port, which makes it really easy to plug both Macs in to your TV, makes the Mac mini a popular choice as a media centre for the living room.

Prior to Apple's 2014 upgrade to the Mac mini we'd have been able to say that the other port that the Mac mini includes that the MacBook Air doesn't is a FireWire 800 port. Unfortunately that is no longer the case. The old MacBook Pro is the only Mac that still features this port.

Other ports on the Mac mini include Gigabit Ethernet, while the MacBook only offers WiFi, so if you wanted to plug in to the local network you would need an adaptor. 

Buying advice

If you want to use Ethernet to plug into the local area network (perhaps WIFi is at a premium in your office) then the Mac mini has the edge because it has an ethernet port. You can of course buy a USB 3 to Ethernet adaptor from Apple for £25, so this isn't a significant issue. The Mac mini features more USB 3 ports than the MacBook Pro.

13in MacBook Pro verses Mac mini: Display options

The MacBook Pro comes with a 13.3-inch LED-backlit display with a Retina-class screen resolution of 2560x1600 resolution at 227 pixels per inch.

Last time we tested the 13-inch Retina display of the MacBook Pro in June 2014, it had 91 percent coverage of sRGB, and 68 percent Adobe RGB. Since the new model was introduced these figures have improved, to 97 and 73 percent respectively.

Contrast ratio is a trickier test but this also seemed to have improved slightly, with a maximum of 880:1 against 2014's 800:1.

The Mac mini doesn't come with a display so you will need to either use one you've already got, or purchase one separately. You can pick up a separate monitor for around £100. Or you could spend more than twice as much as the cost of the entry-level Mac mini and purchase an Apple Thunderbolt Display for £899.


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