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What next for the mighty Mac mini?

Plenty planned for this stunning desktop Mac mini

Mac mini

It seems like only yesterday that we were shown the first Apple Silicon chip, the M1 range, and yet here we are, just over a year later, and the M2 successor is suddenly the talk of the town. Of recent, there has been a real purge on great Apple desktops. Of course, last month, the all-new Mac Studio, with the M1 Ultra inside, was unveiled. Whilst we wait to see what future, if any, a larger screen iMac may have, and what becomes of the Mac Pro, I think we can expect the Mac mini to get a showing very soon. The market for a smaller, affordable, desktop is as healthy as ever, and variants of the M2 Mac mini could be the answer.

The modular answer

Whilst I entirely understand that neither the Mac Studio or the mini are not modular in the sense of upgradeability, they are in as far as peripherals are concerned. The Studio, even in base trim, is an expensive outlay at £2000. And don’t forget, for that money, you are only getting the computer. You’ll still need to buy a monitor, mouse, and keyboard. The 24-inch iMac is the only truly affordable, machine currently on sale from Apple. But, if you are the kind of user that likes to make your own choices about screen, speakers, and keyboard etc, then you are currently stuck. This is where the M2 Mac mini could strike.

The Mac mini and its future

Earlier this year, there were many reports about a Mac mini Pro. Now, it would appear that many of those rumours, were, in fact, about the Mac Studio. But, as mentioned, that machine is expensive. Apple has a gap in their line-up, that could possibly be filled with two M2 Mac mini options. Their goal with the Studio was never for lower end, consumer affordability. It was squarely aimed at the pro users, and the price reflects that. But with existing hardware already available, the Mac mini could strike a blow for those that don’t have, £2000+ to spend on a desktop. The future here could be two versions of the Mac mini, one with the base M2 chip and one with the M2 Pro. I can’t see there being a M2 Max option though, as I assume that would start to push the price toward the Studio Mac. All Pro chip machines come with a standard 32 GB of unified memory, which clearly comes at a cost. But with the Pro chips, you could at least have the choice to upgrade to 32 GB if the budget allowed. This would then make the purchase easier, for someone who has regularly been pushing the limits of the maximum 16 GB that are on offer now.


The other benefit that would come along with the option of a M2 Pro Mac mini, would be improved IO. I think it’s reasonable to expect up to four Thunderbolt ports on that machine. That would mean more choice for the amount of external monitors that could be used, with three feeding from the Thunderbolt ports, plus of course one more, if required, from the existing HDMI port.


It would also be a great time for a design upgrade. I am certain that Apple would be keen to differentiate between the new Apple Silicon powered machines and the old, outgoing Intel models. The M2 base model could perhaps have colours as it is a consumer level device. That would fit neatly in to their lineup of the iMac and the new, colourful MacBook Air that we are expecting to see launched at WWDC. There have been rumours of a Plexiglas top, which, if true, would be another marker that these are Apple Silicon Mac mini’s.


The base M2 mini would probably stay at £699 making it very affordable and easy to buy in to the ecosystem. The M2 Pro model could potentially start at £999, then as you start to add in more memory and storage, the prices could rise to around £1599. That would seem to cover, pretty much, all price points and user scenarios. Of course, if you got to the point, you decided you required even more power than the M2 Pro mini could offer, for just a few hundred pounds more, you are in Mac Studio territory.


Had you asked me that only last week, then I would almost certainly have said the new mini would not be on sale before the fall. That all changed though, with the report from Mark Gurman last week. He told us (and I wrote about this in another blog), that nine Macs are currently being tested with the M2 chip. From that nine, it seems two are ready to ship now. So, the current thoughts are now that, both the M2 MacBook Air, Apples biggest selling machine, and the new M2 Mac mini will both be shown at WWDC and available immediately. The M2 Pro Mac mini, would be a great developers machine which would be a perfect fit in to the June conference. The only stalling block I can see on the horizon for a summer release, could be the ongoing lockdowns in China and, of course, the chip shortage.

What would you want

If you are a Mac mini user, what would you want from the next generation? More power, more IO, colours? And what price point do you think these machines would sit well at?

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Originally published at https://www.talkingtechandaudio.com/blog on April 19, 2022.

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