When the Mac mini launched in 2005 as the first BYODKM Mac (bring your own display, keyboard, and mouse), it had the potential to be one of the most popular Macs ever made. Nearly two decades later, we think it’s a great option as an entry-level Mac, but it hasn’t really lived up to its hype, as specs, prices, and performance never quite reached the heights we expected.
Rumors that Apple was intending to enhance the Mac mini were verified when Apple introduced the Mac Studio in March 2022. The Mac Studio has a similar shape to the Mac mini, but is roughly equivalent to three Mac minis stacked on top of each other in height. The Mac Studio features M1 Max and M1 Ultra processors and is a fantastic computer, but there is now a big 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).
Now Mac fans who were hoping that Apple would enhance the Mac mini with the M1 Pro chip are hoping that instead Apple will launch a Mac mini with an M2 Pro. And there is a Mac mini ripe for an update: Apple still sells a $1,099/£1,099 Mac mini that features an ageing Intel processor. Apple could have discontinued this model when it introduced the Mac Studio, but it didn’t, indicating that there is still hope for a Pro Mac mini. Indeed, there is evidence that an M2 Pro version of the Mac mini is coming. Read on to find out when we might see the M2 Pro Mac mini.
Another reason to expect an update to the Mac mini soon is that at WWDC in June 2022 Apple updated the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with M2 chips, but it didn’t updated the M1 Mac mini at the same time. This may be because Apple intends to announce a M2 Pro version of the Mac mini alongside an M2 Mac mini.
While we say it’s not a good time to buy the Mac mini, If you want to buy one of the current Mac mini models you can get one directly from Apple, or check out our round-up of the best Mac mini deals. Note that if you are based in the U.K. and other locations outside the States we warn that prices are very likely to increase once Apple announces the new models, as has been the case with other new product launches.
Will there be an M2 Pro Mac mini?
At WWDC 2022 Apple updated the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with M2 chips, but it didn’t update the Mac mini at all. Apple’s failure to update the Mac mini either suggests that Apple doesn’t see it as a priority, or that Apple has something different in store for the Mac mini. This could indicate that Apple is working on a redesign for the Mac mini, which we explore elsewhere (see M2 Mac mini rumors). Or it could mean that the Mac mini is destined for more than the M2.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported in April 2022 that Apple was testing a a Mac mini with an M1 Pro, codenamed J374, along with an M1 Max Mac mini. Gurman also indicated that Apple was testing an M2 Mac mini, codenamed J473, with eight CPU cores and 10 GPU cores (which matches the chip Apple launched at WWDC) and a Mac mini with an M2 Pro chip, codenamed J474. It’s a bit late for the M1 Pro now, but an M2 Pro in a Mac mini would certainly have appeal.
M2 Pro Mac mini: Release date
In a June 2022 Power On newsletter Gurman indicated that Mac mini models with M2 and M2 Pro chips are coming. At the time Gurman wrote “Apple will get more momentum from the launch of new Mac minis and high-end MacBook Pros later this year,” adding that there would be a “deluge coming between the fall of 2022 and first half of 2023.”
The products that Gurman predicted have not yet launched, so the “first half of 2023” looks like the most likely timescale. The Mac mini launches are expected to happen in conjunction with the arrival of new MacBook Pro models with M2 Pro and M2 Max chips.
We could therefore see new M2 Pro Mac mini arrive at an Apple Event in the spring, or the news could come via a press release earlier in the year.
We could be waiting until 2023 though. In March 2022, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated that a new Mac mini will ship in 2023 (the 2022 Mac mini he referred to in the original tweet was the Mac Studio).
M2 Pro Mac mini: Design
The Intel version of the Mac mini looks different to the M1 Mac mini: the Intel model is dark ‘Space Gray’ while the M1 model is silver. Will Apple maintain this difference to emphasise the pro nature of the M2 Pro Mac mini? It is unlikely – the Mac Studio is also silver, so Apple using Space Gray to signify Pro no longer seems to be the case.
However, a change to the design of the Mac mini could be coming. The Mac mini has had a similar square design ever since it arrived in 2005. Over time it has gotten thinner, lost the CD drive, and changed color. There are claims that the next Mac mini will shrink even further, which could put it at less than an inch tall, based on renders. However, these more compact design rumors seem to relate to the new M2 version of the Mac mini.
Further rumors about a larger Mac mini related to the Mac Studio that Apple announced in March 2022. From the top, it looks the Mac Studio looks like a Mac mini, but it is a few inches taller. The larger form factor allows for the better cooling required by the M1 Max and M1 Ultra. Would the Mac mini need to be larger to accommodate the M2 Pro? We don’t think so—the chip works just fine in the MacBook Pro after all.
In March 2022 a tweet from an account claiming to be for analyst Ming-Cho Kuo stated that the 2023 Mac mini will have the same form and design as the current model.
The new model is likely to offer the same array of ports as the Intel model does currently: up to four Thunderbolt/USB-4, two USB-A, ethernet, HDMI and 3.5mm headphone jack. Apple doesn’t ship the Mac mini with an Apple keyboard, right now you need to provide your own or buy one from Apple. That’s unlikely to change, but Apple does offer the new Apple keyboard with Touch ID as an upgrade for the M1 Mac mini.
M2 Pro: 10-core CPU, up to 20-core GPU, up to 48GB RAM (predicted)
We still expect Apple will introduce a replacement for the Intel-powered Mac mini that will feature an M2 Pro chip. We don’t expect to see the M2 Max or M2 Ultra in it, although Gurman did indicate that the company had been testing models with the M1 Max as well as the M1 Pro at one point.
If Apple uses an M2 Pro, we could see between 18-GPU cores and 20-GPU cores, while there could be 10 or 12 CPU cores. There are reports that Apple may use a new 3nm process for the M2 Pro chips, which could make the gap between the M2 and M2 Pro even greater than the gap between the M1 and M1 Pro was.
We may also see support for more than 32GB RAM for the M2 Pro. The M2 supports up to 24GB, so 48GB Unified Memory is conceivable.
M2 Pro Mac mini: Price
The Mac mini starts at £699/$699 and another model with more storage comes in at $899/£899. The Intel variant, which we expect to be replaced by a Pro model, starts at $1,099/£1,099.
Based on price increases for everything else Apple has released recently, it’s very likely that anyone outside the U.S. will see a price rise with the introduction of the M2 Pro-powered Mac mini (and probably the M2 Mac mini).
However, even U.S. based customers could see a price rise for the new M2 Pro Mac mini compared to the Intel version. A higher price would serve to narrow the gap between it and the $1,999/£1,999 Mac Studio with M1 Max. Apple won’t want to make the Mac mini too attractive an option for those it wants to sell the Mac Studio to.
One place to look for clues as to how Apple might price this new Mac mini is the 14in MacBook Pro with M1 Pro chip, which starts at $1,999/£1,899 (a full $500/£400 more than the most expensive M1 model). With that pricing in mind, we estimate a $1,399 starting price for the M2 Pro Mac mini. (In the U.K. rather we expect something closer to £1,499.)