Do you need more power in your mini? We investigate the rumors surrounding the upcoming high-end Mac mini with Apple silicon.
When the Mac mini debuted in 2005 as the first BYODKM (bring your display, keyboard, and mouse) Mac, it had the potential to become one of the most popular Macs ever produced. Nearly two decades later, we still think it’s a great entry-level Mac, but it hasn’t lived up to the hype, with specs, prices, and performance never quite reaching the levels we expected.
Rumors that Apple intended to improve the Mac mini were confirmed when the Mac Studio was introduced in March 2022. The Mac Studio is shaped similarly to the Mac mini, but its height is roughly equivalent to three Mac minis stacked on top of each other. The Mac Studio is a fantastic computer with M1 Max and M1 Ultra processors, but there is now a significant gap in the lineup with no desktop Macs offering the M1 Pro (which is only found in the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models).
Mac fans who were hoping that Apple would improve the Mac mini with an M1 Pro chip are now hoping that Apple will release a Mac mini with an M2 Pro. And there’s a Mac mini that could use an update: Apple continues to sell a $1,099/£1,099 Mac mini with an aging Intel processor. Apple could have discontinued this model when it released the Mac Studio, but it didn’t, indicating that a Pro Mac mini is still a possibility. There is evidence that an M2 Pro version of the Mac mini is on the way. Continue reading to find out when we can expect to see the M2 Pro Mac mini.
Another reason to expect an update to the Mac mini soon is that Apple updated the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with M2 chips at WWDC in June 2022, but not the M1 Mac mini. This could be because Apple plans to release an M2 Pro Mac mini alongside an M2 Mac mini.
While we believe that now is not the time to purchase a Mac mini, if you want to purchase one of the current Mac mini models, you can do so directly from Apple or by visiting our round-up of the best Mac mini deals. Please keep in mind that if you live in the United Kingdom or another country other than the United States, prices are very likely to rise once Apple announces new models, as has been the case with previous product launches.
Will an M2 Pro Mac mini be released?
At WWDC 2022, we expected to see a new M1 Pro Mac mini replace the still-on-sale Intel-powered model, but Apple did not update it. Importantly, Apple did not update the Mac mini at all, but it did provide M2 chips to the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. The absence of the Mac mini from that lineup suggests that Apple has something different in store for the Mac mini.
The arrival of the M2 chip suggests that there will be no M1 Pro Mac mini, but the arrival of an M2 Pro Mac mini appears to be a possibility.
There is some evidence that an Intel-powered Mac mini Pro update is on the way. In April 2022, developer Steven Troughton-Smith pointed out that the latest Studio Display software update includes a reference to an unreleased Mac mini. Troughton-Smith initially suggested that “Macmini10,1” could be a Mac mini with a new M2 processor, but later changed his mind and suggested that it could be an M1 Pro or M1 Max Mac mini.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported a few days after Troughton-tweet Smith’s that Apple is internally testing a Mac mini with an M1 Pro, codenamed J374, as well as an M1 Max Mac mini, but this latter model may not ship. He also mentioned that Apple is testing an M2 Mac mini, codenamed J473, with eight CPU cores and ten GPU cores (the same chip that Apple debuted at WWDC), as well as an M2 Pro Mac mini, codenamed J474.
M2 Pro Mac mini: When will it be available?
Gurman stated in the June 2022 Power On newsletter that Mac mini models with M2 and M2 Pro chips will be available soon. “Apple will gain momentum from the launch of new Mac minis and high-end MacBook Pros later this year,” Gurman wrote.
At the time, Gurman predicted a “deluge” between the fall of 2022 and the first half of 2023. Among the products he predicts will be available in that time frame are:
- A Mac mini M2.
- A Mac mini M2 Pro.
- MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch M2 Pro and M2 Max
- The Mac Pro M2 Ultra and M2 Extreme.
On that basis, the M2 Mac mini and M2 Pro Mac mini are expected to be released in the fall of 2022. Apple’s practice is to announce new Macs at an event in October or November, so an update to the Mac mini with an M2 Pro chip at an October or November event is possible.
The company, on the other hand, may not hold an event. Gurman stated in the September and October Power On Newsletters that he does not believe Apple will hold an October event in 2022. He does not, however, imply that new Macs will not be released; rather, he believes Apple will issue a press release. Apple then used a press release to announce the availability of new iPad and iPad Pro models, so this would not be an unusual move.
Whether the new M2 Pro Mac mini is announced through a press release or an event, it now appears unlikely that it will be released in October. Will Apple instead update the Mac mini in November? This is possible, but we may have to wait even longer: Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman stated in his Power On newsletter on October 23 that “Apple still has some Macs to debut over the next several months, including a new Mac mini and a MacBook Pro.”
However, we may have to wait until 2023. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted in March 2022 that a new Mac mini would be released in 2023. (the 2022 Mac mini he referred to in the original tweet was the Mac Studio).
M2 Pro Mac mini: New Look
The Intel Mac mini differs from the M1 Mac mini in appearance: the Intel model is dark ‘Space Gray,’ whereas the M1 model is silver. Will Apple keep this distinction to emphasize the pro nature of the M2 Pro Mac mini? It’s unlikely because the Mac Studio is also silver, so Apple’s use of Space Gray to denote Pro no longer appears to be the case.
However, a change in the design of the Mac mini is possible. Since its introduction in 2005, the Mac mini has had a similar square design. It has gotten thinner, lost the CD drive, and changed color over time. According to renders, the next Mac mini will be even smaller, possibly measuring less than an inch tall. However, these rumors about a more compact design appear to be related to the new M2 version of the Mac mini.
More rumors about a larger Mac mini related to the Mac Studio were announced by Apple in March 2022. From the front, the Mac Studio appears to be a Mac mini, but it is a few inches taller. The larger form factor enables the M1 Max and M1 Ultra to have better cooling. Would a larger Mac mini be required to accommodate the M2 Pro? We don’t think so—after all, the chip works perfectly in the MacBook Pro.
In March 2022, a tweet purportedly from analyst Ming-Cho Kuo stated that the 2023 Mac mini would have the same form and design as the current model.
The new model will most likely have the same ports as the current Intel model: up to four Thunderbolt/USB-4, two USB-A, ethernet, HDMI, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Apple does not include an Apple keyboard with the Mac mini; you must provide your own or purchase one from Apple. Although this is unlikely to change, Apple does offer the new Apple keyboard with Touch ID as an upgrade for the M1 Mac mini.
Find out about all of Apple’s upcoming products here: Every new Apple product coming in 2022-2023.
M2 Pro Mac mini: Processor and RAM
M2 Pro features a 10-core CPU, up to a 20-core GPU, and up to 48GB of RAM (predicted)
Apple is still expected to release a replacement for the Intel-powered Mac mini with an M2 Pro chip. We don’t expect to see the M2 Max or M2 Ultra in it, though Gurman did say that the company had previously tested models with the M1 Max and M1 Pro.
If Apple uses an M2 Pro, we could see between 18 and 20 GPU cores, as well as 10 or 12 CPU cores. According to reports, Apple may use a new 3nm process for the M2 Pro chips, which could increase the gap between the M2 and M2 Pro even more than the gap between the M1 and M1 Pro was.
The M2 Pro may also support more than 32GB of RAM. Because the M2 supports up to 24GB, 48GB Unified Memory is a possibility.
M2 Pro Mac mini: Price
The Mac mini starts at £699/$699, with a larger storage model costing $899/£899. The Intel model, which we anticipate will be replaced by a Pro model, starts at $1,099/£1,099.
Based on the price increases for everything else Apple has released recently, anyone outside the United States is very likely to see a price increase with the introduction of the M2 Pro-powered Mac mini (and probably the M2 Mac mini).
However, even customers in the United States may see a price increase for the new M2 Pro Mac mini when compared to the Intel version. A higher price would close the gap with the $1,999/£1,999 Mac Studio with M1 Max. Apple will not want to make the Mac mini too appealing to those who will buy the Mac Studio.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro with M1 Pro chip, which starts at $1,999/£1,899 (a full $500/£400 more than the most expensive M1 model), is one place to look for hints about how Apple might price this new Mac mini. With that in mind, we estimate a starting price of $1,399 for the M2 Pro Mac mini. (In the United Kingdom, we expect something closer to £1,499.)