The Mac Mini M1 is several hundred dollars cheaper than the M1 Macbooks. This and the $599 sale price seem to make the Mac Mini M1 a good value for developers. Homebrew has arm64 binaries. Most programs not specifically for arm64 work through Rosetta with nearly full performance.
Running benchmarks that take about ten minutes, the fan did not come on and the case was still cool to the touch. With 8GB of RAM, some large project require limiting build parallelism to avoid running out of RAM on build.
The M1 Mac mini has a modestly adequate internal speaker suitable for quiet offices. It was disappointing that with MacOS 11.2, the volume was not controllable in MacOS itself with HDMI audio on the same monitor that volume control worked with Raspberry Pi–to be clear, this is an OS setting, not adjusting the monitor itself. It’s also disappointing that a microphone isn’t built in–this would have been useful for Siri at least. I suppose Apple may have felt people would try to use an internal microphone for conferencing, and then get disappointed if they weren’t close enough to it for good sound.
As compared to a $50/month cloud Mac service, the Mac Mini M1 pays for itself in a year, while adding value as a media center and convenience of having a local physical Mac. A a developer, I didn’t feel the M1 laptops were a good value for my use cases, but others will of course enjoy them.