Just in case you've ever wondered how much your shiny new Apple Mac Mini featuring the M1 SoC consumes in a burn-in test scenario, Apple has disclosed its own official data (opens in new tab), and it's impressive.
Apple finally published its official M1-based Mac Mini power consumption (opens in new tab) numbers showing that the unit consumes approximately just a third of its Intel-based predecessor's power. When Apple announced the transition to its own system-on-chips, it explained the move with performance, features, and power efficiency its SoCs can deliver without giving away any numbers. Then the company demonstrated some impressive performance figures for its M1-based MacBook Pro machines when it launched them but omitted any direct power-related details.
The beefed-up 2020 Mac Mini M1 consumes 39W under high load, whereas the beefed-up 2018 Mac Mini with a six-core Intel Core i7 inside can pull 122W of power under load. At idle, a 2020 Mac Mini sucks 7W, whereas its predecessor devours 20W of power.
Power consumption of the whole system counts in consumption of all of its components, including memory, storage, connectivity controllers (with the new Mac Mini, we're talking about a bunch of chips that includes Apple's own Wi-fi/Bluetooth (and GbE controller) as well as voltage regulation overhead (something we know from 80Plus badges in the non-Apple world). Apple’s measurements are significantly higher than those obtained by AnandTech, which means that Apple indeed uses a burn-in test that stresses all parts of the system, something that arguably happens in any real-world situation.
In fact, as far as power efficiency is concerned, the 2018 Mac Mini is the most power-hungry Mac Mini ever. Yet it was a quite powerful machine for its time. In fact, with up to 64GB memory onboard, it can still outperform the new M1-based Mac Mini in memory-intensive workloads, which ironically do not really require a lot of CPU horsepower at all times, and therefore its power draw in those workloads will not hit the ceiling demonstrated by Apple’s test.
One of the interesting parts of the comparison is not exactly Apple's M1 vs Intel's previous-generation CPUs. It is against Apple’s very first generation of Mac Mini based on the single-core G4 processor based on the POWER microarchitecture. That model consumed 32W in idle mode and 85 Watts while being active.