Apple’s cheapest desktop computer has had a price cut and a power upgrade – making it one of the smallest, cheapest and most adaptable Macs yet.
The Mac mini starts at £649 ($599/A$999) – £50 less than the 2020 model – and has Apple’s latest M2 or M2 Pro chips as used in the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro to great effect.
The tiny aluminium box is about the size of a hardback book, measuring just under 20cm each side and less than 4cm thick. It is easy to fit just about anywhere: on a desk, mounted under one, in a TV cabinet, on the back of the monitor, stuck to a wall – wherever you can reach with a power cable.
Like a normal desktop PC you simply plug the Mac mini into a screen, keyboard and mouse, all of which can be bought with it at great expense – or you can use your existing gear. I connected an Asus 4K monitor and Logitech Bluetooth mouse and keyboard to the mini to set it up, using them during the length of the review without issue.
It runs macOS 13.2 Ventura like all recent Macs and has the same screen-sharing and proximity features as the MacBook laptops. That means you can use a recent iPad as a second screen, use the attached mouse and keyboard to control an iPad or other Mac and use an iPhone as a wireless webcam, which works really well.
Processor: Apple M2 or M2 Pro
RAM: 8GB, 16GB, 24GB or 32GB
Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB or 8TB SSD
Operating system: macOS 13.2 Ventura
Connectivity: wifi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, 2x USB-A, 2 or 4x USB 4/Thunderbolt 4, HDMI 2.1, Ethernet, headphones
Dimensions: 197mm x 197mm x 35.8mm
Weight: 1.18kg to 1.28kg
M2 power and efficiency
The new M2 and M2 Pro chips offer decent performance gains on the previous M1 and M1 Pro chips, with a 10% to 20% improvement in CPU speed and up to 25% faster graphics. That puts them at the top of the pile alongside some of Intel and AMD’s latest top chips, but at much lower power consumption, and a giant leap over previous Intel-powered Macs.
With that level of performance, the Mac mini has become not just a small Apple computer but one of its more powerful and adaptable options. The M2 version will be more than enough for most general computing tasks, with the more expensive M2 Pro option and up to 32GB of RAM available for those who need more power. It sits below the Mac Studio, which is a beefed up version of the mini for those who need a lot more graphics or computing power.