Laptops may be handy, namely for on-the-go lifestyles, but they rarely match the power and productivity of working on a full-fledged desktop. Desktops are especially great when you’re settling in for a day’s work — but they don’t have to hog your entire space or cramp your style either. Pint-sized PCs like Apple’s Mac Mini are the perfect way to enjoy the comfort and utility of a desktop workstation with a small footprint, with the Mac Mini also having the benefit of being the cheapest entry point into the Mac software ecosystem. If you’re hunting for a MacOS PC on a budget, look no further: We’ve got the best Mac Mini deals right here.
If you’re keeping your options open, then also check out these iMac deals and MacBook deals as well.
Apple education pricing for new Macs and iPad — multiple price points
Whether you’re a newly accepted college student, returning student, faculty, staff, or homeschooling teacher, of any grade level, Apple offers its education pricing program for discounted hardware rates. That means you can grab an Apple Mac Mini for great prices that won’t empty your wallet or bank account before the school year. A bevy of devices are included, not just the Mac Mini, such as MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, displays, and beyond.
Because the prices vary we haven’t included any here, but it’s definitely worth checking out of you’re on an academic path!
2014 Mac Mini Renewed (Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD) — $316, was $335
It’s older, and while it won’t necessarily be running at the same speeds as the latest models, the 2014 Mac Mini can still hold its own. This particular model comes with 16GB of RAM, a 256GB solid-state drive, and an Intel Core i7 3.0GHz processor. It is Amazon renewed but considered in “excellent condition” with no cosmetic damage up close.
2020 Mac Mini (M1 Chip, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD) — $750, was $899
Delivering quiet a bit of power in an impressive and ultracompact 7.7-inch design, the 2020 Mac Mini features the 8-core M1 CPU, 8-core GPU, 8GB of unified memory, and 512GB of storage — in a solid-state drive. An advanced cooling system keeps it all cool and performing well, with WiFi 6 for faster wireless connectivity. It’s everything you could want or need in a little Apple-branded desktop.
How to choose a Mac Mini
The aptly named Mac Mini is Apple’s pint-sized desktop computer. Small PCs such as this have been around for a while, but as an Apple device, the Mac Mini runs on MacOS rather than Windows — if you like the idea of a desktop computer but you want something with a small footprint, the Mac Mini is your best option if you favor Apple software.
Unlike the MacBook or the iMac, there is essentially only one model of the Mac Mini, although it is available in several different hardware configurations. Apple has kept this small desktop computer updated nicely over the years as well, so you also have some different model years to choose from (meaning that opting for a last-generation unit is often an easy way to save some cash if you aren’t picky about having the latest hardware).
The Mac Mini saw its most recent refresh in 202o; before that, it was updated in 2018, so these two model years are the ones you’ll see the most and the ones we recommend you spring for — any older than that and the hardware might feel a bit long in the tooth in 2020 for anything other than basic computing needs.
Despite its pared-down case, the Mac Mini boasts the same modern computer hardware as full-sized desktop towers as well as the same MacOS software that you get with iMacs and MacBooks. It also features very good thermal performance that keeps it running surprisingly cool under load (something that can be a problem with smaller computers). Note that Apple has added its awesome new M1 CPU to the 2020 Mac Mini lineup, which is well worth the upgrade in our opinion unless you’re on the tightest of budgets.
The most appealing feature of the Mac Mini for many buyers is its price. This tiny computer is far and away the cheapest entry point into the world of MacOS computing, with the latest entry-level 2020 models starting at a retail price of around $800 — Mac Mini deals like the ones above often let you score one for even less, and if you’re willing to opt for slightly older hardware, then the 2019 Mac Mini can be had for cheaper still.
The catch here is that the Mac Mini obviously doesn’t include a display or peripherals (namely a keyboard, a mouse, and speakers), unlike the iMac and MacBook. These add-ons will cost extra, but if you already have peripherals you can use — perhaps you’re just upgrading an old desktop tower — then the Mac Mini offers a lot of value and power in a small footprint. If not, however, then you might want to consider an iMac instead, as it could be a better bargain depending on your needs.
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