Talk me down from this purchase

Currently I’m using a M1 MBA that mainly spends it’s days/nights plugged into my Dell UW monitor. If I’m at home, it rarely leaves the office unless my wife is also WFH that day. Otherwise it lives there. Most (if not all) of what I can do can be done within iOS.

My thought is sell the MBA, purchased an Apple refurbed M1 Mac Mini, and a new M1 11" iPad Pro. The iPad Pro would be ultraportable and RDP apps to access things on my Mac that I may need. What am I going to miss not having the MBA? Am I experiencing iPad Pro FOMO? Help!

You’ll possibly miss actually having a Mac. What happens when the RDP workflow breaks while you’re away from home? Will it be a disaster or no big deal?

If it’s no big deal then you’re probably onto something


I have an old iPad that I’ve tried most of my workflows and I haven’t missed anything yet. The only workflow I likely will need a RDP is for access my Synology. However, I’m setting up a VPN that will/“should” fix that.

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“Will it be a disaster or no big deal?” - @Vincent_Ardern

That’s the question. An iPP is my main computer so I find it handy to keep files I might need in the cloud, and files I must have with me. Keep in mind that an iPP can access files on an apfs encrypted external drive.


As others have said, it depends on what you need to do. I was laptop-less for the past year and depending on the iPad Pro drove me wild. So many things took 50–200% longer—or were completely impossible—than on the Mac.

I certainly like having an iPad around, but for me, it’s a good accessory for a few particular use cases.


What are you looking to gain with the Mini instead of the Air? I don’t know if you’d come out ahead financially with this trade, assuming equivalent specs, unless you’re really good at Craigslist/FB marketplace selling.

TBH, I feel like my MBA is more fragile than an iPad. I take my iPad outside all the time but I will only take my Air out if I have a non-rough surface to lay it on. Financially, it should workout pretty close. I hate that my Air stays plugged into my monitor and likely hurting the battery when I do plug/unplug it.

When I’m in my office, I’m stationary, no need to be portable. Also, having an always on Mac would allow for some other interesting workflows.

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You’re planning to be able to sell the MBA for the cost of the Mini? Are you going to keep the same specs in this scenario, or are you going to upgrade some specs?

How does it hurt the battery when you plug / unplug it?

If you have an M1 MBA and a Mac Mini with the same specs, and leave both plugged in on the desk all day, there’s no functional difference between the two - other than that you own one already. And the MBA can be unplugged and taken with you if necessary.

If you remove your battery concern entirely, what does the M1 Mini do to improve your workflow over the MBA?

For me, it wasn’t easy. I purchased an M1 Mac mini in January to use with my iPad Pro 11". It worked ok, but sometimes I missed the flexibility of having a MacBook.

You should be ok if you only use the iPad for administrative work (Word/Pages, Excel/Numbers, etc.). I was always able to access the files from my Mac mini using a combination of the Files app and the iCloud Drive, and I also used the Backblaze app to search for files on my Mac mini that were not in the other cloud services. It was not perfect, but it was workable.

Eventually, I went back to the portability of a MacBook. I travel now, and being able to unplug from the monitor and have everything with me works best. And, I use my iPad Pro as a second screen which is helpful.

Through a combination of Apple’s F&F discount and Apple Cert Refurb program, I should be able to break close to even.

As for the battery, I’m worried about charge cycles. The actual performance should be the same but I would possibly feel better having something plug in that’s suppose to always be plugged in.

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The worst thing that would happen would be that your battery would be charged to maximum all the time, and that might shorten the life of the battery.

If you’ll allow me to be a little snarky, it would still have much more battery capacity and a nicer built-in display than your new Mac Mini would in a few years. :slight_smile:

Plus I would want an uninterruptible power supply with a Mac mini which, even after all these years, is nowhere near as integrated a package as the battery in a MacBook.

It all depends

What do you use your computer for? Play, work, academics, games, writing, coding, ???


  • Recording a podcast
  • Managing the media files from said podcast (Used Box to sync/share with my editor)
  • Emails
  • Social Media management
  • Forum Post
  • CRM (web based)

Yeah. The Aztecs were definitely a cool group. : ;o)

I really cannot imagine that an iPad woudl be sufficient for that

I don’t see what you gain from selling the M1 MBA

The only thing on that list that you’d struggle with is probably recording a podcast, but that only depends on how you record it. If you only do a single recording, and you don’t have to do two recordings at the same time, the iPad will be more than up to the task.

My primary “laptop” for the past 5 years has been an iPadPro. The always-on internet connection via the cellular plan makes all the difference for me.

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Setting up for recording a podcast with an iPad takes up more gear. I love recording my podcast on the iPad Pro but I don’t have guest or co-host so it works for me. The issue would be as @RussWinn stated, it would be a challenge to record more than 1 track.

I love editing my podcast on the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil with Ferrite Pro. But that’s where I started and have never tried any pro Mac apps like Logic.

You also need to check if the feature parity with your CRM tool has the same experienced on the iPad Pro.

I’ve tried doing an iPad Pro only for a year, what I learned is that you need to change the way you work and think on the iPad. You have to accept its limitation against its conveniences. Do extensive research with the tools you are using, if they have a counterpart on the iPad, if its easier to implement or not. It’s worth the try but that depends if you enjoy looking for solution and optimizing your workflow. If not, then its going to frustrate you.


As someone who tried this out, I feel like Macs give more customizability and more flexibility overall. iPad life might be nice, but there’s only a narrow path of options you have. You’re locked into a certain workflow in exchange for slightly more convenience. Personally I think the MBA will be more futureproof. Just my 2¢.


I have purchased the M1 Mini specifically for this use case and this setup failed big time. It’s very nice from the outside, but there are many small tasks that won’t work for you. Here are some pitfalls:

  1. Screen resolution for RDP for a headless Mac Mini is a disaster.
  2. Port forwarding for RDP sometimes might not work, so if you are on the go, you might be Mac-less easily.
  3. Shortcut keys sometimes collide with the iPad shortcuts.
  4. Sometimes some mouse gestures do not work.

Those are small things, but hitting them regularly and multiple times everyday make the whole experience a non-pleasant one. Steer away from this setup.