Cloud hosting company Scaleway is adding a new type of instances today — Mac minis powered by Apple’s M1 chip. The new instances cost €0.10 per hour, around $0.12 at today’s rate — there’s a minimum commitment of 24 hours.
Scaleway is hosting those new computers in its DC4 data center in Paris — it’s a former underground nuclear fallout shelter. Right now, the Mac minis aren’t available in the company’s other data centers in Amsterdam or Warsaw.
When you boot up a Mac mini from the console, you get an entry-level Mac mini with 8GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD and macOS Big Sur. And of course, it uses Apple’s first Arm-based chip, the M1.
After that, you can connect to the instance using VNC — you’ll see the desktop environment and you’ll be able to use it like a normal Mac. You can also connect to the instance using SSH directly in case you only need a command line interface.
Scaleway isn’t the first company to offer Mac mini instances. Amazon Web Services recently launched its own Mac mini instances, but they rely on Intel i7 CPUs and cost $1.083 per hour — or $26 for 24 hours. The company will likely roll out M1 minis at some point in the future.
There are also several Mac-focused hosting companies out there, such as MacStadium, MacinCloud, MacWeb and Mac Mini Vault. An M1-powered Mac mini with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage currently costs $109 or €109 per month on MacStadium — that’s slightly more expensive than Scaleway. If you keep a Mac Mini instance for 30 days on Scaleway, it costs €72 (or $87 at today’s rate).
You can use Mac servers for development purposes, and specifically for continuous integration and delivery. Building an iOS app requires a Mac. You can’t just build the app on an Ubuntu server. So if you want to build your app on a server, you have to rent a Mac.
But you may have different use cases for a Mac server. You might want to use it to test your macOS app on Apple silicon before releasing it. Or you might just want to play around with the M1.