Macbook Air vs. Mac Mini

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by gary39, Jun 21, 2014.

  1. gary39 macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2014

    Just wondered how the 2013 Macbook Air i5 would compare to the 2012 Mac Mini i5?

    Obviously the Macbook Air is newer, but as it's a (very lightweight) laptop does its performance actually top that of the Mini?

    And in general, does the Air work well as a desktop? I would mainly use it at home on an external monitor.

    My usage will pretty much be browsing, MS Office, HD Videos, and a few applications.

    Also, which is going to have the longest life before becoming obsolete/outdated?

  2. Micky Do, Jun 21, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2014

    Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    An island in the Andaman Sea.
    If being nearer to the state of the art with hardware is important to you, go with the 2013 Air, but any advancements over the 2012 Mini are more tweaks than substantial.

    The 2012 Mini runs all the current software, and will likely do so for a good few years ahead. In that respect it is probably no different from the 2013 Air.

    In terms of performance, some may argue this score or that, but in use for most general purposes there would not be much in it beyond bragging rights.

    Given that you are planing to use the computer mainly as a desktop, disregard the peripherals, which you would acquire in either case.

    If occasional transportability is important, the Mini is a good choice. It takes me only a couple of minutes to disconnect mine. Setting it up with a projector or another monitor and peripherals elsewhere only takes a couple more. It is rugged and fits in a backpack easily.

    If frequent portability to places where peripherals are not available is important, the Air would be the way to go.

    In the end it comes down to your needs. The Mini suits mine.

    If I came to be needing more frequent portability I might be inclined to go for an Air to supplement the Mini. I would not be choosing the Air as my mainstay if it was going to sit on the same desk most of the time.
  3. egy195 macrumors regular

    Jan 28, 2014
    i think the mini is the more reliable computer between the two.
    in a few years you can increase the ram and replace the hdd with an ssd, in the air you can't do anything and based on you using it at home i think the mini is the better option.
  4. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    If you need the portability, get the MBA, if you don't, get a used/refurbished Mac Mini. Definitely upgrade the HDD to an SSD on the Mini if you get one.

    The GPU on the MBA is better than the Mini. Also, unless you already have a display/keyboard/mouse, the Air is probably the better option. They will come out to be around the same price, and as long as you aren't doing heavy professional work, the baseline MBA should last about 4-5 years.

    The Mini is great, but I think the MBA has an edge up because of PCIE Flash, the HD 5000, and the slim form factor. Realistically, all the upgrades you could get on the Mac Mini wouldn't really make it better than the MBA. That is of course assuming you aren't using VMs or Photoshop on a daily basis. If you are, then the Mini may be a decent buy.

  5. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    If you have mobility needs, then the Air a great computer. If its going to sit on your desk, I'd opt for the mini myself.
  6. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I have both. Unless you upgrade the mini, it will feel vastly slower than the MBA due to the SSD. My mini is only used as an iTunes server and it is perfect for that. The MBA is a really fast little computer right out of the box.

    If I could only have one, there is no question that the MBA would be my choice. It is a great desktop machine as well, I use mine with a big screen and keyboard quite a lot.
  7. drsox macrumors 65816


    Apr 29, 2011
    Me too. The MBA is for carrying around the house. The Mini is used as my "compute server". It is the one that runs Parallels, does the heavy lifting in data transfers and deals with all the DVDs. If I didn't have NASs, I would connect drives (DAS or USB) to the Mini.

    If I only had one it would have to be the MBA, but then I have NASs as well.
  8. Yvan256 macrumors 603


    Jul 5, 2004
    If you go with the Mac mini, be aware that you're buying 2012 hardware at 2014 prices.

    It's way overdue for an update but we think Apple is waiting for Intel to release Broadwell CPUs to update it, probably with a new form factor too.

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