Always on M1 Macbook vs Mini

I have a 2015 MacBook Pro and a 2011 Mac mini. I don’t use them much as I use my work issues MBP on most days.

  • MacBook Pro - Photo editing (Lightroom/Photoshop)

  • Mini - email backup

I was wondering if I could replace both of them with a M1 MacBook Pro for photo editing, email back up, hazel+DevonThink. For email backup and hazel+DT, I need the machine on 24/7. Is there an issue running a M1 MBP 24/7 (heat?)? An iMac would be ideal but I do not have place for it.

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I don’t think there is any issue running any Mac 24/7. If there is a trick it would be can you keep it from sleeping. Obviously you would want the display to sleep, just not the CPU.

I do have a certain discomfort in using a computer as both a server and workstation simultaneously. But that may be just an old-fashioned viewpoint these days.

I’ve run Mac minis 24X7 for years, rebooting them only when necessary for software upgrades, etc. I’ve also used old/damaged MacBooks full time but I always removed/disconnected the batteries. (One had its damaged screen removed and replaced with a dell monitor.)

Is there a reason you wouldn’t use the mini for everything?

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I’d suggest looking at a mini instead, especially because MacBooks sometimes have issues “staying on” because of their inherent power saving ‘features’.

That’s the reason I had them separate all this while. Given the limited usage, wanted to get opinion on combining the two. I have a Synology NAS which acts as a file/downloads server. If I can find a way to backup gmail (gmvault) on NAS, I can get by without the mini.

@WayneG , @JKoopmans - I don’t have space for a monitor+Mini set up. Plus I lose the flexibility of sitting anywhere while editing photos. I could use my work MBP to log into mini and edit, but I am worried about display calibration/performance.

I understand. I was thinking the mini could run without a monitor which would allow you to put it anywhere - perhaps right next to the NAS.

In any event, should you ever want to give it a try you’ll need a monitor emulator to keep it happy. This is the one I used. $8 US

This would be my concern too. I wouldn’t be worried about the computer having issues being on all the time, but I’d be worried that something would cause you random shutdown-type issues.

Also, not to be ignored - using a MacBook 24/7 requires power 24/7, which means that you’ll either be perpetually plugging/unplugging the power to allow the battery to cycle, or keeping the battery at 100% - neither of which are optimal for longevity. Unless that’s changed somehow with the newer laptops … ?

MacOS detects now if you’ve got it plugged in for a long time and keeps the charge at about 80%.

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Good to know - thanks!

Not as bad then, but even still running a Macbook 24/7 vs. running it for 8 hours a day is almost certainly going to be rougher on your battery as batteries are rated by charge/discharge cycles.

If I were going to do that I’d figure out how to dim the display or something so it wasn’t burning all that extra power during the time when it’s not doing anything that requires the user to be able to see the screen.

There’s no real difficulty keeping a MacBook on all the time. It’s just a matter of adjusting a few settings and/ or running Amphetamine. :slight_smile:


My Mac mini that I use for a server is “headless” – no monitor, nor does it have a keyboard or mouse. I use Screen Sharing to access it.

I do the same. Screen sharing is awesome for anything that doesn’t require super-instant video response.