The Mac Mini is easy to overlook. It lacks the power of the Mac Studio, the flexibility of the Mac Pro, and the charm of the 24-inch iMac. You can’t carry it around with you and work anyplace as you can with a MacBook. However, it is Apple’s most utilitarian computer, as seen by the 2023 upgrade.
The new Mac Mini is identical to its predecessor from 2020, with the exception that it now uses Apple’s next-generation M2 and M2 Pro processors. This alone gives fresh life to this tiny system, since it is a poor plug-and-play solution that is nevertheless strong enough for video makers. The beginning price is lower than ever, at $599, and the Mac Mini is the cheapest option to get the M2 Pro CPU, at $1,299. The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros that start at $1,999 and $2,499 are the only other M2 Pro-powered Macs. The cheapest desktop alternative is the $1,999 Mac Studio with an M1 Max processor. However, most individuals do not require so much power.
It does not have to be flashy. Whatever processor you choose, the Mini is a clever and easy way to obtain all the power most people require without draining your wallet—and you really get to choose what type of peripherals you want.
Create Your Own Adventure.
The BYODKM regulation still applies to the Mac Mini. The initialism, coined by Steve Jobs when he launched the first Mac Mini in 2005, stands for (“bring your own display, keyboard, and mouse”) because the laptop comes with just a power cord. Because the built-in speakers aren’t pleasant, you’ll surely want to add a pair of speakers for when you’re not using headphones.
If you already have certain peripherals, this BYO design is fantastic news. Connect everything and you’re ready to go. If you’re starting from scratch and designing your own workstation, it doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive. There are several inexpensive and high-quality keyboards, mouse, and displays available. Because the machine is small and inconspicuous, it’s simple to design accessories around it. And, at 2.6 pounds, it’s lightweight and portable, making it ideal for hybrid workers who spend their time between the office and the home.
If you enjoy having a lot of screens around your workplace, you’ll be unhappy to hear that the base Mac Mini, like the M1-powered variant, only supports two external monitors. Most people will be OK with that, but if you upgrade to the M2 Pro, you can connect up to three monitors to soak up all that blue light.
My primary beef with the Mac Mini is its lack of ports. The M2-powered variant includes two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C connections, two USB-A ports, an HDMI port, a 10-gigabit Ethernet port, and a 3.5-mm headphone jack. When you upgrade to the M2 Pro model, you receive two more Thunderbolt 4 ports. However, I wish Apple had provided the same choices from the Mac Studio which included two USB-C connections and an SD card slot on the front.
A Multipurpose Chip
I put the Mac Mini through its paces with the M2 Pro, Apple’s newest processor in the M-series range. Apple claims that its successor offers 20% higher CPU performance (than the 10-core M1 Pro) and 30% quicker graphics than the M1 Pro. My setup included a 12-core CPU, a 19-core GPU, 16 gigabytes of RAM, and a 1-terabyte SSD. If you don’t mind the expense, you may increase to 32 gigabytes of RAM and 8 terabytes of storage.
My everyday routine consists of easy duties like word processing and online browsing, so I gave the Mac Mini to my partner, a skilled movie producer, to put it through its tests. After importing various streams of RED 4K video into Final Cut Pro, we used 3D tracking, color correction, stabilization, and a few light effects, as well as moving clips across the timeline. The M2 Pro was quick and showed no indications of choking.
The same is true with Mac Mini gaming. I tried some Resident Evil Village, and the creepy setting looked fantastic, and the action was smooth. It was so smooth. The Mini did become hot after a while, but it’s not on your lap like a MacBook, so this wasn’t a big deal. It’s also rather quiet, which is usually a benefit.
If you’re unsure whether to go with the less expensive M2 Mac Mini or the more expensive M2 Pro model, let me explain. The M2 is suitable if you want to use this laptop for simple things like as browsing the web, writing emails, and making video calls. But, I will recommend upgrading to the model with 512 GB of internal storage, even as Mac Mini’s base model supposedly has slower SSD speeds, exactly like the base M2 MacBook Air.
In contrast, the M2 Pro is an excellent desktop solution for most video and picture creators. You won’t be feeling like you’re pushing the equipment to its limits. Plus, extra ports are always useful. Professionals performing heavy-duty jobs like as 3D rendering and motion graphics should continue to use the M1 Max processor on the Mac Studio.
By providing the option of an M2 or an M2 Pro, Apple is addressing a critical and significant need that it previously missed. However, as simple as this computer is to operate, unlike a regular desktop PC, it does not provide many paths for future upgrades.