In terms of price to performance ratio, how does the Mac Mini compare to your average Chromebox? Would a Chromebox appeal better to those who aren’t looking for much with their computer?
What do you want to do with it? Chromebooks (and I guess a Chromebox too) now run Linux native and that opens tons of options. For example: you can run Linux desktop apps like VS Code, MS Teams and more. This makes it a more all-round device than before.
At least give us a hint on the use-case. My my Mini I have ScanSnap and Hazel running, which prevents me from going any other route than macOS. What would you want to use it for?
Linux development and general web browsing?
Chromeboxes don’t seem as popular as Chromebooks. Maybe some people don’t even know that they exist.
macOS or Chrome OS? Pick your poison?
If your only real use case for this is to build for Linux and do web stuff, I’d get a Linux machine of some sort. Take your pick of a lightweight distro (or your favorite distro, if absolute performance is less of a need for your dev machine), and call it good.
Mac Minis are wonderful, and I own two - but I just about guarantee that you can do better - both price-for-spec and from an upgradeability standpoint - with a Linux box.
As an aside to the main topic, if you ever had to use Windows, you might want to look at File Juggler. It’s my Hazel replacement on Windows and works nicely.
As others have said, a linux box can be had cheaply. I purchased my Asus PN50, with 16GB RAM and an 512GB NVME SSD for cheaper than the base level Mac Mini. It’s smaller as well (and more ports!). Easily put together and works well. Geekbench says that the new M1 though is quicker than the Ryzen 4300U in mine, but it works well (I use Windows on it though).
Depending on what you want to do even a Rasberry Pi 4 may be able to do the job.
I was looking at a Chromebox because Chrome OS has some pretty tight integration with Linux, while remaining simple and easy to use.