Now available in a new, more powerful version, the Mac Mini desktop is one of Apple’s oldest products. The first versions date back to 2005, a year before the first MacBook. Years have passed, but it retains the same basic form and basically appeals to the same audience. Unlike the MacBook Pro and Air laptops or the iMac desktop, the Mini is designed to fit in a small space and be used with the display and peripherals of your choice.
It is sometimes referred to as the podcasters’ favorite computer, but that description still applies to this new version of the Mac Mini. And with an additional M2 Pro processor, the new Mini can handle more complex multimedia tasks like the new MacBook Pro M2 Pro.
The starting price of the Mac Mini is 699 euros. This is the most affordable way to purchase a computer running MacOS. The Mac Mini version of the M2 Pro is much more expensive, with a starting price of €1,549.
The relatively affordable price of the Mini line remains one of its main selling points. Especially if you have your own screen, keyboard, and mouse, Mac Mini lets you take full advantage of macOS and its capabilities in terms of sound production, photo editing, and video editing at a lower price.
Apple’s processor naming system is clearer than other manufacturers, but still confusing if you don’t stay tuned. The M1 range has expanded with M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max and M1 Ultra. The M2 range starts with the base M2 model, to which the M2 Pro and M2 Max versions have just been added. It’s the Pro/Max/Ultra suffix that actually tells you which chip is more powerful. M1 Pro is always more powerful than the base M2 and so on. But the number of CPU and GPU cores available in certain configurations can also affect rankings and relative performance.
Various versions of the Mac Mini
The two new versions of the Mac Mini differ in both the chip and some configuration options. The base M2 model comes with 8GB of RAM, which can be upgraded to 16GB or 24GB. Storage starts at 256GB and can be upgraded up to 2TB. The M2 Pro version comes with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of internal storage (up to 32GB). GB of RAM and 8 TB of storage.
Another difference is that the M2 Pro model has four Thunderbolt 4/USBC ports on the rear panel, while the M2 version has only two. And while the M2 Pro can support up to three displays or one at 8K/60Hz, the M2 can support two displays at a maximum of 6K/60Hz.
Two models were tested here: a base Mac Mini with 8core CPU/10core M2 GPU, 8GB RAM and 256GB storage, and an upgraded version with 12core CPU/19core M2 GPU. 16 GB of RAM and 1 TB of storage.
Where other Apple products had a moment of glory that didn’t last, like the 27inch iMac or the 12inch MacBook, the Mac Mini has always stayed. It’s not the first Mac you think of when it comes to prep, but it’s the perfect machine for a small production studio.
It can serve as a modest recording studio for music and voice acting, as well as audio or video podcasts. This is an area where dedicated computers may eventually become redundant as new popular platforms like TikTok are designed to shoot and edit right from your smartphone.
However, there is no comparison between even advanced editing from your phone and using dedicated software like Final Cut or Premiere Pro on your desktop or laptop to create creative content, even if it ends up in a small vertical social media video.
Soundwise, the Mac Mini also seems like a great allrounder. After recording a few voiceover videos on a Mac Mini using Audacity and an external microphone, we had no problem even using a few audio shaping plugins (although for such a simple task, a standard Windows machine could do the same).
We asked one of our video editors to run a pretty heavy Premiere Pro project on M2 and M2 Pro Mac Mini versions, 4K/24 video with some graphics/titles and some color correction. On a basic Mac Mini with an M2 chip, “it was doable, but when editing, I had to play the video in the program window at the lowest quality to avoid stuttering, but even then I had slight jumps.” The system will be fine for regular FHD video, but the base model’s 8GB of RAM is a performance barrier. A base Mac Mini with a 256GB SSD also has potentially slower read/write speeds than other configurations like the MacBook Air M2 due to the storage being split across two NAND chips. We’ll be doing more reading speed tests in the coming days.
Then he tried the same project on the M2 Pro version with 16 GB of RAM: “The result is almost flawless. I could preview the video in full resolution and only had a slight lag when editing graphics. timeline without any delay. There were no problems with color correction. I could definitely use him as an editor.”
Our benchmark tests also noted different levels of performance for the M1 and M2 chips, in part because the number of cores and CPU and GPU clock speeds have increased generation by generation. The 2022 Mac Studio desktop with the M1 Max chip is the most powerful Mac we’ve tested – in situations where it has the most cores. The Mini and Air with the M2 outperformed their M1 predecessors, and similarly, the M2 Pro systems outperformed the M1 Pro systems.
Overall, the fact that you can get the same performance as a desktop or laptop by choosing the same chip and RAM combination makes the comparison easier. Note, however, that larger desktops and laptops have a thermal advantage through better cooling, which can help with a slight performance boost.
Who should buy it?
The MacBook Air is easy to use on the go—slip it into your backpack or shoulder bag and it’ll take you to the coffee shop or the airport with ease. iMac is a great family or workfromhome computer, especially if you spend a lot of time in Zoom meetings or other video conferences. The Mac Mini has a very attractive starting price.
The base Mac Mini M2, starting at €699, seems to be aimed at buyers who want a macOS system at the lowest price possible; audio and video manufacturers that are already equipped with screens, input devices and drives; or those who need a portable mini desktop that can be easily carried around. It’s also worth noting that the Mac Mini has an Ethernet port, an HDMI output, and USBA ports—amenities that are hard to find on some other, even very expensive Macs.
The main disadvantage of this basic model is the relative weakness of RAM and storage. Unlike a Windows machine, macOS can get by with 8GB of RAM in most cases, but 256GB of storage fills up quickly. To go up to 512GB you have to pay €230 more, which is a significant increase but also offers potentially faster read/write speeds.
The M2 Pro version offers a significant performance boost, as well as improved RAM and internal storage options, but if you’re considering this option, the MacBook Pro and even the Mac Studio should also be among the devices to consider. As such, the base Mac Mini M2 should be the preferred choice for many users.
Cnet.com article adapted by