The Mac mini is Apple's most affordable and compact desktop. It runs the M2 or M2 Pro processor in a tiny enclosure at speeds much faster than competing PCs on the market. It acts as an excellent entry-level Mac or hobbyist computer for closet home servers.
● Small form factor
● Excellent introduction to Mac ecosystem
● 100% recycled aluminum enclosure
● Up to four Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB-A ports, and HDMI
● Find great Mac mini deals
● Find discounted prices
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Apple's compact desktop, the Mac mini, was originally released in January 2005 and is still a front-runner in the lineup as it was the first desktop Mac with Apple Silicon. It bridges the gap between consumer and pro as its price runs from the entry $599 option to $4,399 at the high end.
The Mac Studio is basically a tall Mac mini with better cooling that can run the M1 Max and M1 Ultra, while the smaller desktop is limited to the M1 Pro.
Mac mini features
This headless Mac serves as a low-priced alternative to the all-in-one 24-inch iMac. It's always been a bare-bones unit, and the M2 model continues the tradition of "bring your own keyboard, mouse, and monitor."
The Mac mini has a wide user base, from the entry-level dorm PC to the high-powered server farm for industries to live on. The form factor and I/O options have always made this a versatile workstation.
Apple's tiny desktop is made out of 100 percent recycled aluminum as a part of Apple's effort to create a closed-loop manufacturing process. Extraordinarily there is enough leftover aluminum from making iPhones and other products that the entire Mac mini line can be built using that metal.
This process reduces the carbon footprint for the alloy's creation by 50 percent compared to the previous process. The use of recycled aluminum helps Apple in its push to being completely carbon neutral across manufacturing and corporate by 2030.
The Apple Silicon-based Mac mini is only available in silver, a change from the Intel variant sold in space gray. The move back to silver could indicate Apple repositioning the device as an entry-level Mac rather than being a pro-only niche product.
Ports and connections
There are two Thunderbolt 4 ports in M1 or M2 models and four in M2 Pro models. There are also two USB-A ports for further peripheral support and a headphone jack for audio professionals.
The M1 and M2 processor only allows one display to be connected via a Thunderbolt connector. So despite having two Thunderbolt ports, it can only output to one Thunderbolt display, even when using a dock. The HDMI port allows for a second 4K monitor to be attached.
The M1 Pro has more advanced external monitor support. It can have up to two 6K displays, like the Pro Display XDR, attached via Thunderbolt. The HDMI port can support an 8K monitor at 60Hz or 4K monitor at 240Hz if it is the only monitor in use.
The Mac mini has 802.11ac Wi-Fi and is IEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible, but also includes a 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet port. The 10Gb Ethernet connector upgrade is only available for the Intel model for an extra $100.
M2 Mac mini review: more power for less money
The Mac mini has always served a specific crowd of entry-level buyers and hobbyists. The M2 model provides an excellent option for switchers from Windows or first-time buyers.
The external case is identical to previous generations with a silver finish. The dimensions are 7.75 inches square and 1.41 inches tall. It weighs 2.6 pounds
The utilitarian design has stuck around for so long because of its practicality. It fits in on a user's desk or within a server rack without customers needing to adapt or worry about some awkward design change each generation.
The M2 processor has more performant CPU cores and a 10-core GPU. All in a package that's cheaper than the M1 model by $100.
Anyone upgrading from an older Mac should consider the $599 entry model or one with added RAM. Users should especially consider an upgrade if they're still using an Intel-based machine unless Bootcamp is a requirement.
The M2 Mac mini is the best balance of computing power to cost for the computer-as-appliance crowd that you can get for the money.
Read the full M2 Mac mini review, which scored 4.5 out of 5.
The base 2023 model has an Apple M2 chip, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. This base configuration starts at $599, which is $100 cheaper than the M1 model it replaces.
At the time of purchase, users can upgrade to 16GB or 24GB of RAM for the M2 model, or 32GB or 64GB of RAM for the M2 Pro model. The M2 model supports up to 2TB of storage, while the M2 Pro model supports up to 8TB of storage.
Mac mini Pricing
Retail Mac mini pricing starts at $599 for an M2 model with 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD, making it Apple's least expensive Mac. Prices range up to $4,399 depending on the processor, RAM, and storage chosen.