As well as quietly launching new MacBook Pro models with M2 Pro and M2 Max chips, Apple is spoiling desktop users with the most advanced Mac mini desktop models ever made too.
In an announcement at Tuesday lunchtime, Apple debuted a powerhouse of a Mac mini with the M2 and M2 Pro chips, starting at just $599/£649. They replace the old M1 Mac mini released in 2020.
There’s no M2 Max chip configuration, a la the MacBook Pro, but this is by far Apple’s most powerful Mac mini yet. The little slab has proved popular down the years for users who’d like to choose their own monitor and accessories, as opposed to the all-in-one iMac.
However, this model makes no sacrifices in the engine room and promises to give Mac owner the power required for labor intensive creative applications and much more. The M2 based model includes support for two displays, while the M2 Pro supports as many as three if you’re going for the full command center set-up.
Let’s delve a little deeper into the new Mac mini…
Price and release date
All of the new models are available for pre-order today ahead of their release on January 24.
The Mac mini M2 with 8GB RAM and 256GB of storage starts at £649, which is more expensive than the US version at $599. If you were doing a straight up conversion, that would translate to £488. Damn Why you gotta do us like that Apple? If you want to double the storage to 512GB then you’ll pay £849 ($799).
The Mac mini M2 Pro, which also offers 512GB of storage but 16GB of RAM is a big leap to £1,399 ($1,299). That model also includes the four Thunderbolt ports and support for an 8K display, compared to two ports on the M2 version.
Apple, of course, would love you to pair the Mac mini with its expensive accessories like the Studio Display, which you can see below.
Apple’s M2 chip has a 8-core CPU with four high-performance and four high-efficiency cores, augmented by a 10-core CPU. It can be configured with up to 24GB of unified memory beyond the 8GB RAM as standard. It’s possible to simultaneously play two 8K ProRes video streams at 30fps, so there’s plenty of oomph here.
Apple says says the ProRes acceleration on board the M2 means you can edit video in Final Cut Pro twice as fast compared to the M1 model. Continuing that theme, filter and function performance in Photoshop is 50% faster, while Resident Evil Village gameplay is 35% faster. When compared to the last Intel i7 Mac mini, the gains are exponential.
It’s a similar story with the M2 Pro version of the new Mac mini. There’s a 12-core CPU with eight high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores, boosted by an up to 19-core GPU and up to 32GB of memory.
That translates to playing up to five streams of 8K ProRes 422 video at 30 fps, or up to 23 streams of 4K ProRes 422 video at 30 fps simultaneously. It’s doubtful you’ll ever need to do that, but still, you get the idea. Compared with the M1 model, you’ll get 2.8x faster gameplay in Resi 8, and 4.2x faster ProRes transcoding in Final Cut Pro.
The new Mac mini also delivers big in terms of connectivity with up to four Thunderbolt ports for all those additional displays. The M2 Pro can also support an 8K display, which the company says is a first for the Mac.
There’s 2 USB-A ports, a HDMI port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, as well as a new headphone Mac that supports high-impedance headphones. Wi-Fi 6E is on board as well as Bluetooth 5.3.
Aside from the extra ports, there’s not a lot to report here. Apple has maintained the Mac mini’s classic design. However, the M2 Pro version is .2lbs heavier than the M1 model at 2.8lbs. Both M2 models are ever so slightly (2mm) taller than the predecessor.