M1 Mac mini is 8GB RAM enough? | All your questions answered

M1 Mac mini

M1 Mac mini is currently the cheapest and the fastest macOS running desktop computer you can buy from Apple. Its performance and memory management are nothing like you have seen before.

While the M1 chip is the fastest SoC Apple has ever designed, there is still a lot of confusion and skepticism among many people whether they should buy a first-generation device that yet does not natively support a lot of apps designed for x86 processors.

Even if you decided to buy the new M1 Mac mini, you still might have a ton of questions about which configuration to buy, what apps can it run, will it be perfect for your workflow, will it run a game you want to play, can it edit 4K or 8K videos, how many external monitors can you connect, and so on.

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The M1 Mac mini is a first-generation device from Apple. All your questions are understandable, which is why we created this post that will answer every single M1 Mac mini related questions you might have.

If you have any other questions that were not answered in this post, please comment your questions down below, and we will try to answer those questions as well.

All your M1 Mac mini 2020 questions answered

Should you get the M1 Mac mini with 8GB RAM or 16GB RAM?

This is probably the most asked question about the M1 Mac mini, and naturally, it is critical to know which one should you choose, especially considering the 16GB variant costs $200 more.

So, if you can afford it, the simple answer is to go ahead and buy the 16GB RAM variant without any second thoughts because having more RAM is always better. You will not regret purchasing the maximum variant.

However, if you cannot afford it or are hesitant to spend the extra $200, it depends on your use case and workflow.

My workflow mostly involves creating blog posts, editing videos and images, making podcasts, using the web browser to watch videos, and using some online apps like Canva, Image compressors, and the web’s occasional browsing.

I have the 8GB M1 Mac mini. I have been using it for the past couple of days, and not once did I experience any performance issues or slow down, even when I had more than 20 browser tabs open with 4K videos running in the background, was typing a 5000+ word blog post with over 60 high-resolution images, and was running several systems and third-party apps in the background and a 1080P 144Hz external monitor and speakers connected.

Even with all these, my Mac mini was only able to consume 6-7GB of RAM out of the total available 8GB, and the performance was stunning with no signs of stuttering or slowing down.

I also played a few Apple Arcade games, and both the performance and frame rate were smooth in the 8GB RAM variant.

If your workflow is somewhat similar to mine, you should have no problem with the 8GB RAM variant; I would even go as far as to say that it is more than enough.

But if you have a heavy workflow involving a lot of 4K or 8K video editing, audio production, app, or game development, I would recommend you to go with the 16GB RAM variant.

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Even if the 8GB RAM variant might handle all these tasks with ease, having more RAM is better in the long run.

You don’t have to wonder if you should have got the 16GB Variant in the future, especially considering you cannot upgrade the Mac mini’s RAM.

Can you upgrade the RAM later?

Unfortunately, with the M1 Mac mini or the M1 Macbook Pro or the Air, you are stuck with whatever RAM you are getting at the time of purchase and won’t be able to upgrade it by adding more RAM the future.

This is because the SoC in the M1 Macs has a unified design with the processor, RAM, and the CPU all fitted into a single chip, and it won’t be possible to add more RAM to it, so whatever decision you are going to make, it will be the final and cannot be changed.

How much storage should you get?

Again, the short answer to this question depends on your budget and afford to buy more storage for the M1 Mac mini.

I got the 256GB variant because it is cheaper, and I already have two external hard disks with 2TB capacity each so that I wouldn’t need any extra storage.

You would also be better off by getting the 256GB variant of the M1 Mac mini and later buying an external SSD according to your needs, which is also a cheaper alternative to paying $200 to Apple to upgrade your storage.

There are a lot of great options on Amazon and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales also coming up, you might be able to find a much cheaper external SSD for your M1 Mac mini than upgrading it at the time of purchase from Apple’s website.

What is the M1 Chip?

The M1 chip is the first proprietary SoC designed by Apple for its Mac enabled devices to replace the Intel processors it previously used on its laptops and desktops.

The main idea behind this is that Apple could have complete control over both the hardware and software on its devices and would not rely on another manufacturer.

Apple Silicon-based M1 chips are also considerably faster, more memory and power-efficient than the Intel-based processors, and are slightly cheaper.

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While it is true that it is a first-generation device, the M1 chip in the new Apple Mac devices is getting generally positive reviews.

The benchmark test results also show that it is leaps and bounds ahead of the older generation Macbooks and Mac minis.

What apps and games are compatible with the M1 Mac mini?

As you might already know, the most popular apps and software available in the market today are designed for x86 based processors.

They might not be natively compatible with the new Apple silicon architecture.

However, most of the app developers are already updating their apps to be compatible with Apple Silicon.

Until then, all the apps developed for x86 could still be run in your M1 Mac mini through Rosetta 2.

While this might not be an ideal solution, it is the best possible way to run any app on your M1 Mac mini, and the excellent performance of the M1 chip makes it seem like all apps are natively running on the device.

To check the full list of natively compatible apps and games with the M1 Mac mini, check out the below post.

Top Native Compatible apps for Apple Silicon M1 Macs

How to run iPhone and iPad apps on the M1 Mac mini?

One of the best and my favorite features about the M1 Mac mini and all the other M1 based Mac devices is that you can now run iPhone and iPad apps on your Mac.

This officially makes the M1 based Mac devices the ones with the most number of available apps.

However, not all iPhone and iPad apps are compatible by default in the M1 Mac mini as some developers opted out of this feature.

Fortunately, there is a simple workaround using which you can still run most of the iPhone and iPad apps on your M1 Mac mini.

Check out the below post for detailed step by step instructions on how to do that.

How to install iPhone and iPad apps on Apple M1 Mac

Can the M1 Mac mini stream 4K videos?

Yes, with a supported 4K external display and an internet connection with sufficient speed, you should have no issues streaming a 4K video on your M1 Mac mini.

Can you connect the M1 Mac Mini to a 4K display?

According to Apple’s website’s official information, you can connect two external displays and use them with your M1 Mac mini simultaneously.

It supports one 6K external display and one 4K external display with HDMI 2.0.

Can the M1 Mac mini run Microsoft Office apps?

You can run any of the Mircosoft Office apps, including Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, right now on your M1 Mac. But, they are not natively compatible as the code is still written for x86-based processors.

However, Microsoft is currently working on releasing the Microsoft Office apps that are natively compatible with the Apple Silicon-based M1 Macs.

But, the good news is if you don’t want to wait until the stable versions of Mircorocst office apps are released for your M1 Mac, then you can join the Microsoft Insider program right now and download and try the preview builds of the Silicon-based Microsoft Office apps on your M1 Mac. 

Until then, you have the option to use the Microsoft Office apps on your M1 Mac, thanks to Rosetta 2, which is a software that converts x86 based apps to work on Apple Silicon until the natively compatible apps are released, which are expected to be more efficient and stable.

Can the M1 Mac mini run Adobe apps?

Similar to the Microsoft Office apps, then Adobe apps are also currently under development, and the Silicon-based Adobe apps like Photoshop and Lightroom will probably be only released earlier next year.

However, you still have the option to use the x86 based Adobe apps on your M1 Mac, and thanks to its terrific performance, you almost notice no slow down or compatibility issues when using them.

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You can now download and use the Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop Elements 2021 from the Mac App Store on your M1 Mac right away and download other apps from Adobe’s official website if you don’t want to wait for the Apple Silicon compatible versions to be released. 

How much time does it take to export a video in iMovie?

Suppose you are like me and are only looking to do some basic video creation and video editing on your M1 Mac. In that case, you will be happy to know that the video editing performance on the M1 Mac mini is one of the best you can find on any Mac device.

In my test, I tried to export a 1 minute 4K video taken in my iPhone 11 Pro Max, which was around 870MB in size when I loaded it to iMovie.

The video loaded instantly, and I immediately worked on it without any slow down or stutter.

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I then exported the video with a 4K resolution and the best possible settings, and the video finished exporting in less than 2 minutes, which was very impressive.

The M1 Mac mini can even edit 8K videos, and the export time might relatively vary based on your export settings and the length of the video.

Does the M1 Mac mini support a 144Hz monitor?

Yes, you can certainly use a 144Hz monitor with your M1 Mac mini, and it works flawlessly; and the high refresh rate also really helps when you are playing games or even while editing videos.

By default, the display settings were set to 60Hz, so you might need to manually change it to 144Hz from the display settings if you will use a 144Hz monitor with your M1 Mac mini.

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Any further questions about the M1 Mac mini?

Make sure to join our community on Slack, Discord, and Telegram and Subscribe to our YouTube channel as we will soon be making videos and posts about the gaming performance of the M1 Mac mini and how well it can run popular games.

If you have any other questions or if you want to know how well or if a particular game or an app can run on the M1 Mac mini, please let us know in the comments section below, and we will make sure to include the answers to your questions in our upcoming posts and videos.

Technology and Cybersecurity Enthusiast with a passion for writing and sharing knowledge. Podcasts occasionally and loves to keep watching the same TV series over and over again during my free time.