The M1 iMac is all screen. The rumored M1X Mac mini is super thin. How small can Apple go?

Mac Mini Pro Display
Mac Mini Pro Display (Image credit: Jon Prosser x RendersbyIan)

Apple's move to its own silicon is allowing all kinds of changes to its lineup already, and we're only on the first version of its chips. We've seen the M1 power a new iMac that's thinner than a headphone jack is long. We've seen a rumored Mac mini refresh that's about half the thickness of the Intel machines that still sell in the Apple Store. We even have an M1 in an iPad.

So how thin – or how small – could Apple go?

It's abundantly clear that much of Apple's design in recent years hasn't been about fitting components into a box. It's been about making sure that there is enough space for fans, air, and heat dissipation to ensure thermal throttling doesn't happen. And to prevent Intel's chips from cooking themselves. Now that Apple is rid of the shackles, things are getting impossibly thin again.

So thin, in fact, that the new M1 iMac had to have its headphone jack moved to the side because it was too long to put on the back. It'd have stuck out the front of the computer! Recent teardown images show the modern iMac is all display and very little computer.

Much of that is made possible by moving as much as possible onto the M1 chips, rather than having them soldered to a logic board. RAM and storage are now more closely linked to the CPU than ever, reducing the physical space needed. But what's next? Just how small can Apple go?

The obvious question – will Apple be able to put the M1, or whatever comes after it, into an iPhone? Will the M-series chips be the chips Apple uses eventually? The A-series chips have served Apple well, not least as the birth of those M-series chips that are running Intel ragged right now. But maybe it's time it was put out to pasture. Not because it's old, or slow, or anything bad. But because Apple can. And when Apple can, it usually does.

I for one wouldn't be surprised to see an M-series chip in an iPhone sooner rather than later. 2021 might come too soon, but who knows?

Until then, be sure to check out the best iMac deals and then see if you can work out where Apple put the computer in that thing!

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.