Apple’s Mac Mini M2 looks like a welcome upgrade to the older M1 model, but is it any good? After the disappointing debut of Apple’s M2 chip, this update to the Mac Mini seemed doomed. But the reviews say otherwise.
TechCrunch’s Matt Burns wrote that the Mac Mini “never looked better than it does now with the M2 and M2 Pro,” specifically noting the value the machine brings to Apple’s lineup. The desktop starts at just $600 for the base model, which is a $100 price cut compared to the M1 model.
Pointing out the value is great, but the Mac Mini M2 reviews released today focus on the pricier M2 Pro model, which starts at $1,300. That price paints Apple’s new mini PC in a much different light. As Burns notes: “The differences between the M2 and M2 Pro are minor but important.”
MacWorld’s Jason Cross focused more on the M2 Pro model, boldly stating that “the price isn’t right” at the top of his review. Although the lower-tier M2 model starts at a reasonable $600, the M2 Pro model represents a $200 price bump over the Intel-based Mac Mini it’s replacing. The latest model shows a significant increase in performance through revisions, but the previous generation is several years out of date. As Cross writes, “…that system was so old that we don’t even use the same tools to compare it anymore.”
However, performance is a big plus. Cross showed that the M2 Pro model achieved almost 15,000 in the Cinebench R23 multi-core benchmark, beating the M1 Max Mac Studio by almost 20%. That supercharged desktop starts at $2,000, too, which makes the price of the M2 Pro model seem much more reasonable.
Writing for ArsTechnica, Andrew Cunningham came out of Apple’s shell and compared the M2 Pro to modern desktop CPUs, and Apple didn’t fare nearly as well. The Intel Core i5-13600K shows 21% faster single-core performance and 22% faster multi-core performance. Remove the power cap on Intel’s chip and you’ll have a nearly 65% advantage in the multicore test. Oh!
That’s not the point of Apple’s desktop according to Cunningham. The review says: “But where AMD and Intel choose to maximize performance, Apple prioritizes power efficiency… The M2 Pro might encode our test video a bit slower than either of those x86 processors, but it also uses about the same half power to finish the job.”
Outside of performance, PCMag’s Brian Westover praised the Mac Mini M2 for its connectivity. For ports, the big upgrade is the two additional Thunderbolt 4 connections, bringing the total to four on the M2 Pro model. The base M2 model only comes with two. Westover says that wireless connectivity stands out the most, with the Mac Mini M2 featuring Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3.
The Mac Mini M2 Pro is a welcome upgrade, with performance often outperforming the M1 Max Mac Studio at a lower price. It also brings some much-needed updates to connectivity that the Mac Mini has lacked for several years. But a critical question remains.
The first batch of reviews has focused solely on the M2 Pro model. The value-focused M2 remains a big question mark, and we’ll have to wait and see how it performs when the machine launches on January 24. As we saw with the MacBook Air M2, that chip doesn’t look all that impressive, and it comes with some limitations that could have a big impact on performance.