The Intel NUC 11, Intel's latest mini desktop with a range of features and upgradability options, but is it better than the Apple Mac Mini? Many people think this may come down to a matter of preference of Windows or Macintosh OS, but it's actually a bigger fight than that.
Let's see who comes out the victor in the Intel NUC vs Mac Mini debate.
Intel NUC VS Mac Mini: Performance
The Intel Nuc 11 has an i7 with 16 GB DDR4 RAM and a 512GB SSD, The Mac Mini has an Apple A1 processor 8 GB ram, 512 GB SSD. There's really no comparison here.
The Nuc has twice the storage and twice the processing power of the Mac Mini. With the NUC you're going to get twice the performance that the Mac Mini has hands down.
That Apple M1 processor is about on par with the i7 processor, but the RAM and the hard drive space that you get with the NUC is going to make for an overall faster machine.
Intel NUC VS Mac Mini: Upgradability
The NUC supports up to 64GB RAM and the Mac Mini can be purchased with up to 16 GB RAM. Neither processor in either unit can be swapped out.
There is a version of the NUC that allows for the addition of a Graphics card, the Mac Mini's M1 chip has an 8-core GPU built-in that acts as its graphics card and does not allow for the installation of another graphics card.
The NUC has two slots inside for additional hard drives, while the Mac Mini only can be purchased with a hard drive of up to 512GB.
Intel NUC VS Mac Mini: Portability
Both machine are extremely portable. The NUC is really small, much smaller than I expected it to be.
It's about the size of a brick. Depending on how big of a jacket or coat you have it could potentially fit in a pocket. Both of them will easily fit into a backpack of course.
But, the Intel NUC 11 can be easily placed on the table, and it is compact and compact, so you don’t have to worry about taking up a lot of space. If you don’t want to put it on the table, it can be attached to the back of the computer screen.
If you’re looking for a portable machine, the NUC has an advantage over the Mac.
Intel NUC VS Mac Mini: Connectivity and Ports
The NUC has 3x USB A ports, 2x USB C ports, 1x HDMI port, 1x Mini DisplayPort 1x headphone/microphone jack as well as a built-in microphone, 1x Ethernet Port, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, and an SD card slot. The Mac Mini has 2x USB A ports, 2x USB C ports, 1x HDMI port, 1x Ethernet port, 1x headphone jack, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.0.
The NUC has more overall ports for connectivity than the Mac Mini, it really has everything the mini has and more. The NUC is more internally and externally customizable than the Mac Mini, but Apple does do a good job at adding the most basic connectivity.
Intel NUC VS Mac Mini: External Display
While both systems have a number of potential inputs, neither come with an external display. Apple claims that you connect to two different screens at the same time with the Mac Mini using separate outputs, but the NUC has the ability to connect to 4 screens at one time.
The Mac Mini can connect to 1 monitor and 1 HDMI source and the NUC can handle 2 monitors and 2 HDMI sources at the same time. If you're the type of person that needs multiple screens to see multiple different things at once then the NUC is going to support your needs very well.
Intel NUC VS Mac Mini: Operating System
Some NUC kits comes with no operating system so you can install either Windows or Linux on it. There are ways to install Mac OS on it, but that is outside the scope of this article. The Mac Mini comes with Mac OS 12.0 Monterey which is their latest operating system. Is this a matter of what operating system you prefer to use or are most familiar with?
Well, you could argue that it depends on what you plan to do with your machine, but I'm going to skip the age-old Windows vs Mac debate and keep the focus on the NUC vs Mac Mini debate. You're probably not going to be doing any serious gaming or video production on either machine and you'd have a separate machine for that.
The reason you're probably looking for a portable computer is so that you can have a powerful machine that you can easily use, connect multiple devices to, and be able to take it anywhere and do the same thing. The fact that the NUC can potentially run any operating system where the Mac Mini can run only one is going to give the NUC an advantage here.
Intel NUC VS Mac Mini: Price
The Mac Mini comes in two standard configurations, with the Apple M1 chip version starting at $699 and the Intel Core i5 version starting at $899.
Since Intel NUC are so multiple versions, we can get configurations like the Mac Mini, with a Core i5 processor, 16 GB of RAM, and 512 GB SSD for about $750, with all the full equipment.
If you want to use it for everyday office work, both will provide you with everything you need without any problems, but Intel NUC will do it for you at a much lower price.
In addition to being cheaper, the NUC has many other benefits. A lot of users prefer its portability and small size.
So which one is better?
As we can see, the Intel NUC is going to outperform the Mac Mini in pretty much every category. Even if you're a die-hard Mac user, I'd still go with the NUC and just run a virtual machine if I want MAC OS. The Apple M1 chip in the Mac Mini is pretty good but the intel i7 CPU in the NUC is just a beast. If you want a more versatile machine that has a more affordable price then the Intel NUC 11 is going to be your best bet.