The M2 Mac mini may be one of Apple’s most overlooked devices. Yes, the 2022 model does little to change what we saw in the 2020 M1 Mac mini, but including an M2 and M2 Pro chip makes all the difference.
Apple has made it harder than ever for the Mac mini to stand out. It’s surrounded by a sea of outstanding M2 (and souped up M1) Airs, Pros, Studios and iMacs – and is even flanked by the powerful M2 iPad Pro tablet.
The Mac mini’s niche is obvious. It’s a simple box, and this gives it a clear advantage in its sibling rivalry: cost. This small form factor PC remains the cheapest way to access Apple’s macOS operating system, and thanks to the M2 upgrade, it (still) isn’t lacking power.
- Fantastic performance
- Most affordable Mac device
- Compact size
- No ports on the front
- Minimal changes from its predecessor
The M2 Mac mini is the most affordable way to jump into macOS. Of course, you’ll need to buy extra peripherals – like a PC monitor, keyboard and mouse – which does bump the price up, but it puts you in control.
The new Mac mini (2022) comes in three configurations: two with Apple’s M2 chip and one with M2 Pro. The most affordable model will set you back $1,099 and comes packed with an 8-core CPU (four performance cores, four efficiency cores), a 10-core GPU, 8GB of unified memory, a 256GB SSD, and two Thunderbolt 4 ports. The second option is priced at $1,449, with the only difference being an upgraded 512GB SSD for storage. Both are configurable to up to 24GB of unified memory and up to a 2TB SSD, so you can pick and choose what suits your needs.
As for the third model, the $2,399 Mac mini with M2 Pro comes with a 10-core CPU (six performance cores, four efficiency cores), a 16-core GPU, 16GB of unified memory, a 512GB SSD, and four Thunderbolt 4 ports. That’s a lot of power, but you can take this even further with an M2 Pro chip with a 12-core CPU and 19-core GPU, 32GB of unified memory, and a whopping 8TB SSD. That model costs $7,824, and if you have that much cash to spend, you may as well opt for the stronger Mac Studio with M1 Ultra.
Considering the base model M2 MacBook Air will set you back $2,149, coming with an M2 chip with a slightly less-effective 8-core GPU, the cheaper M2 Mac mini is incredibly cost-efficient. You get a better M2 chip for over $1,000 less, and you’ll also have free reign to spend however much you want on PC peripherals. As far as compact desktop PCs go, that’s a huge win.
For our review device our Mac mini boasted an M2 Pro chip, 12-core CPU, 19-core GPU, 16GB of unified memory and a 1TB SSD.
Apple established its “Mac aesthetic” a long time ago, and the M2 Mac mini doesn’t deviate from this minimalist design for good reason. It delivers a clean look with an anodised silver case and rounded edges, topped off with a black Apple logo. It’s not complicated.
It also won’t take up much desk space. The M2 Mac mini measures 19.7cm x 19.7cm x 3.58cm and weighs a light 1.18kg (1.28kg for the M2 Pro model). That’s short enough to fit under your monitor and compact enough to be placed anywhere on your desk without taking up much room – I’d even go as far to suggest it’s small enough to easily slip into your bag.
On the rear, the M2 Mac mini houses a host of ports. It comes with two Thunderbolt 4 ports (with support for DisplayPort, USB 4, USB 3.2 Gen 2 and adapters), an HDMI slot, two USB-A ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a handy 3.5mm headphone jack. The M2 Pro model, however, comes with four Thunderbolt 4 ports. This is also where you’ll find the power button, power adapter slot and vent to keep the device cool.
Keeping all the ports at the back keeps your desk from being riddled with cables, but it would have been nice to see the Mac mini come with a couple extra ports at the front, a la Mac Studio. After all, it’s easier to plug in wired headphones or an external SSD without reaching around the box. I’m also surprised there aren’t any microSD or SD card readers, seeing how photographers or video editors can make the most of the Mac mini’s performance.
Overall, the M2 Mac mini delivers a compelling, compact design that will effortlessly fit your desk setup – no frills needed.
The M2 Mac mini gives you access to macOS Ventura, Apple’s latest operating system update, which comes with several practical new features: including quick searches with Spotlight; the new Messages app that allows you to use SharePlay and quickly share documents or whole Safari tab groups; automatic app and windows organization thanks to Stage Manager; and the ability to use your iPhone as your webcam with Continuity Camera; and more.
The Mac mini sports Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 for speedy connectivity, it also supports up to two displays simultaneously via Thunderbolt ports (one up to 6K resolution at 60Hz and the other up to 5K at 60Hz or 4K at 60Hz over HDMI), and boasts HDR with Dolby Vision and HDR10 video content. There’s also a built-in speaker, which is a bit meh, so I’d recommend using one of the best Bluetooth speakers or best wireless headphones instead.
The performance capabilities of the Mac mini (M2 Pro) are, as expected, brilliant. This is a very powerful desktop computer.
To test its power we put the Mac mini through three tests:
First, we tested the CPU by putting it through GeekBench 5 single-core and multi-core tests. The results were very good with the Mac mini achieving a single core score of 1964 and a multi-core score of 14782. To put this into perspective, the MacBook Pro (M2 Max) achieved a single-core score of 2037 and a multi-core score of 15173. The M2 Pro Mac mini isn’t too far behind in this regard.
Our second test was a HandBrake transcoding test in which we transcoded a 5.27 minute 4K video and timed how long it took. Transcoding and encoding are resource-intensive tasks that are reliant on speedy hardware. If the hardware isn’t up to scratch the time it takes to transcode a video file will increase. The M2 Pro Mac mini took 1.23 minutes to transcode the video file. This is very close to the 1.20 minutes we achieved with the MacBook Pro (M2 Max)
Our last test was a disk speed test which measures how fast the device drives are. The Mac mini achieved 6041.7 MB/s write speeds and 5091.9 MB/s read speeds.
Overall, these are very good results, and the Mac mini (M2 Pro) will handle anything you throw at it. You’ll be able to comfortably edit 4K ProRes videos without stuttering or lag.
The M2 Pro Mac mini is another brilliant, but boring, upgrade from Apple.
Apple Silicon changed the game when it debuted a couple of years ago, and every Mac released since then has oozed performance and power that rival chip makers have failed to come close to.
This is more of the same, but in the form of the Mac mini. It’s the Mac mini but with more power. That’s it. That’s all you need to know here. More power.
If you already own any Mac with any M1 or M2 chip, there are few reasons to even look at this product. If, however, you are an Apple Silicon virgin, then the Mac mini becomes a lot more compelling – as it remains the cheapest way to buy into Apple’s up-to-date generation of traditional computers.