In this comparison the main difference I see is in the processors. https://www.apple.com/in/mac/compare/results/?product1=imac-21&product2=mac-mini

Irrespective of other feature differences this is what I'm mainly concerned about.

On the iMac it is 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor

On the Mac mini 3.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i3

Can someone help me to identify which is better in terms of performance?

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  • I would not get either - only i7 minimum... – Solar Mike Apr 8 '19 at 10:33
  • How do you measure performance? Most mac are CPU idle, so get the cheapest mac until you know your workload would be a general starting point, but perhaps you have a specific performance measurement or goal to meet? – bmike Apr 8 '19 at 11:23
  • This will be a development machine at office. Mainly for app development which also include running multiple IDEs at one time and also virtual machines, emulators and simulators. – Sreekanth Apr 9 '19 at 11:03

The iMac in your screenshot comes with the Intel i5-7360U CPU. The Mac Mini comes with the i3-8100B CPU.

If you look at the PassMark benchmark, the i5-7360U CPU benchmarks at 5823 passmarks multi-threaded and 2047 single-threaded. If you look at the Geekbench benchmark, the i5-7360 CPU benchmarks approx. 9075 multi-threaded and 4375 single-threaded.

In comparison the i3-8100B CPU benchmarks at 8431 passmarks multi-threaded and 2172 passmarked single-threaded. For Geekbench the numbers are approx. 14.000 multi-threaded and 4700 single-threaded.

There could be an obscure corner case, but I would expect the Mac Mini to have the best CPU performance in almost any case. According to the benchmarks, you would expect it to be approx. 40-50% faster, when running a multi-threaded workload (i.e. running more than one app at the same time, or running an app that is multi-threaded in itself). Note that this number may vary wildly depending on what exactly you're doing with it. As the i3-8100B is a newer generation and has a higher frequency memory bus, I would expect there to be almost no corner cases, if any at all.

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    This is a great overview. Assuming the OP has even a 40% CPU load when they are working. Is Passmark single threaded / multi threaded or a blend of both that makes assumptions on some typical workloads? – bmike Apr 8 '19 at 11:25
  • @bmike I have added single-threaded scores, so that you can compare the two. Even if you look at single-threaded scores only, the i3 is still the fastest CPU of the two. In addition, almost everyone has a workload that is at least partially multithreaded. I don't know where you have the idea of a 40% CPU load assumption from - there's no such assumption here. The only case (in general, not specific for speciality instructions) where the i3 is not faster is when you look at a completely idle CPU, but that is not interesting. You do not need to have a 40+% CPU load to experience gains here. – jksoegaard Apr 8 '19 at 12:38
  • This has helped. My use case is app development and in most cases it goes to full utilisation of the CPU. Thanks for the detailed comparison. I've placed order for the Mac Mini. – Sreekanth Apr 9 '19 at 11:02

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