It’s not often that we get new products from Apple in January…but this year is different!
Is this the future
Yes, we got two new MacBooks yesterday, and Mac minis also, but the weirdest thing about yesterday, was the video that accompanied the releases.
If you have not seen it yet, it is worth checking it out – if only so you can either agree or disagree with me. The video looks, very much, as if it were shot to be part of a full-blown event.
Everything about it screamed event to me. Was there to be a January event after all? Was it a deleted outtake? But, from the way it was shot, to the way SVP, John Ternus hands over to colleagues Erin Turullols, and Tim Millet, there is something about it which suggests this was never intended to be a stand-alone video.
Anyway, enough of the pre-amble, though, let’s start to look at what Apple actually gave us yesterday.
One of Apple’s favourite Macs, the Mac mini, had its moment in the spotlight yesterday.
Apple unveiled two new super-charged models of the Mac mini – it is now available with an M2 chip, or an M2 Pro Apple silicon chip. Although it is marginally larger, and I do mean marginally, the Mac mini looks the same as it always has. But, that is not to say that there have not been plenty of improvements.
The M2 Pro Mac mini is available with a 10-core CPU and a 16-core GPU, and max’s out to a 12-core CPU and 19-core GPU. You can choose between either 16GB or 32GB unified memory, with SSD storage options ranging from 512GB through to 8TB.
The more basic, M2 Mac mini comes with options of 8GB, 16GB or 24GB of memory, and storage choices of 256GB through to 2TB. The M2 chip offers an 8-core CPU with four performance cores and four efficiency cores.
The I/O is stellar, for a machine so small, and affordable. The M2 Pro Mac mini will give you four Thunderbolt 4 ports (only two on the M2 model), two USB-A ports, HDMI, ethernet, and a headphone jack.
You’ll be able to run up to three displays from the M2 Pro Mac mini, and, additionally, it has support for a single 8K display, which is a first for the Mac.
The M2 Mac mini has support for one display with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz over Thunderbolt and one display with up to 5K resolution at 60Hz over Thunderbolt or 4K resolution at 60Hz over HDMI.
For those of you with a suitable router, both these Mac minis will run over Wi-Fi 6E, and also have the fastest Bluetooth 5.3 as standard.
Compared to the previous-generation Mac mini, M2 and M2 Pro bring a faster next-generation CPU and GPU, and a more powerful media engine to Mac mini.
The M2 mini has up to 24GB of unified memory and 100GB/s of bandwidth. This should make workflows like image editing in Photoshop up to 50 percent faster. M2 also adds ProRes acceleration to Mac mini, for video editors.
The M2 Pro Mac mini, improves on that performance still further. The latest Neural Engine is 40 percent faster than M1, speeding up still further video flows and image processing.
M2 Pro will speed through most video codecs and can simultaneously play up to five streams of 8K ProRes 422 video at 30 fps, or up to 23 streams of 4K ProRes 422 video at 30 fps.
Prices and availability
Prices are pretty competitive, with base-models starting at £649, £849 and £1399 respectively. However, a fully tripped out M2 Pro Mac mini will set you back £4599…but, that is with 8TB of storage!
An off-the-shelf option will be delivered 24th January, with higher spec’d option models requiring only a further few weeks.
It appears, the Intel Mac mini, is no longer available.
It was a busy day yesterday for Apple. Not only did we get the Mac minis, but also, upgraded MacBook Pros in both 14-inch, and 16-inch. Both sizes now come with either an M2 Pro or M2 Max option.
Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, proudly announced;
“MacBook Pro with Apple silicon has been a game changer, empowering pros to push the limits of their workflows while on the go and do things they never thought possible on a laptop. Today, the MacBook Pro gets even better. With faster performance, enhanced connectivity, and the longest battery life ever in a Mac, along with the best display in a laptop, there’s simply nothing else like it.”
There are, still, three base options to choose from in both sizes. The basic 14-inch model comes with a 10-core CPU (6 performance cores & 4 efficiency cores), a 16-core GPU and 16GB of memory. The M2 Max kicks off with a 12-core CPU (8 performance & 4 efficiency cores), a 30-core CPU, 32GB of memory and 1TB of storage. Both have a 16-core neural engine.
M2 Max & Pro are at between 20%-30% faster than their M1 counterparts, and the neural engines roughly 40% faster.
Memory on the M2 architecture starts at 16GB in the M2 Pro and can be configured all the way to 96GB on the M2 Max. SSD storage is available from 512GB – 8TB.
Display & battery life
The displays are Liquid Retina XDR, ProMotion panels, with a max XDR brightness of 1000 nits.
The M2 chip improves yet further on the stunning battery life we have come to take as normal with Apple silicon. Apple is claiming the 14-inch MacBook will have 18 hours of standard video playback, and the 16-inch 22 hours. In both cases, that is a claimed one hour improvement over M1 MacBooks.
I/O & connectivity
That remains unchanged from the M1 iterations. You still get an SD card slot, an HDMI port, a headphone jack, MagSafe, and three thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports.
The HDMI port will now support 8K displays up to 60Hz and 4K displays up to 240Hz.
Similar to the Mac mini, these MacBooks have support for Wi-Fi 6, and utilise the latest Bluetooth 5.3 connection.
M2 Pro MacBook users can now tackle larger projects and run numerous pro apps even faster than before. The next-gen GPU with up to 19 cores delivers up to 30 percent more graphics performance.
The Neural Engine will speed up learning tasks such as video work and image handling. M2 Pro will handle most popular video codecs, dramatically accelerating video playback and encoding – all while using very little power.
An M2 Max MacBook Pro with up to 96GB of unified memory, raises the bar still higher on the limits of graphics capability.
M2 Max has a next-gen 12-core CPU with up to eight high-performance and four high-efficiency cores. That means it will deliver up to 20 percent greater performance over the previous M1 Max MacBooks. The media engine is more powerful than M2 Pro, offering twice the ProRes acceleration, speeding up media playback and transcoding.
Camera, mic, and audio
Nothing new here. The camera is still the 1080p camera from the previous MacBooks, paired with the same three mics. The speakers are still the fantastic six-speaker array – but they were great anyway.
Prices & availability
Pretty much, what we have become accustomed to. Base model prices range from £2699, £2899 through to £3749. A 16-inch M2 Max MacBook Pro with 38-cores of CPU, 96GB of unified memory, and 8TB of storage will weigh in at a whopping £6549!
As with the Mac mini, delivery for base models is quoted as 24th January, with spec’d models arriving in early February.
Considering that this time last week, we hadn’t even heard we were getting products this early in the year, yesterday’s gifts were certainly a bonus-ball.
Am I tempted? Yes, and no. The Mac mini, a base model, does tempt me, but not the new MacBooks. My current MacBook Pro is less than a year old, and is well a well spec’d M1 Max model.
Occasionally, I have to wait for motion graphics to render out, but, apart from that, my MacBook is still plenty fast enough, and fit for purpose.
There will always be someone who wants the latest and greatest, but the improvements, from my M1 Max, are fairly incremental.
What interests me more, is how the M2 Pro and Ultra chips will sit in the Mac Studio and soon to be released Mac Pro. It also seems that Apple is finally catching up with supply, which can only be a good thing for us all.
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