Apple’s Mac mini plans: M2 and the future of the Intel model
More than a year ago, in November 2020, Apple introduced two new Mac mini models with its own M1 chip (reviewed here: M1 Mac mini review). The Mac mini starts at £699/$699 and offers the exact same processor and graphics as more expensive MacBook and iMac options. Of all the M1 Macs on offer from Apple the Mac mini is our favourite as we think it offers the best in terms of specs coupled with a low price.
There is also another Mac mini on sale for £1,099/$1,099 that still features an Intel processor. We had expected Apple to discontinue this model when it started selling the Mac Studio, but as yet it hasn’t stopped selling the Intel Mac. It does seem inevitable that it will do so though.
While we don’t know the destiny of the Intel Mac mini it does seem likely that the M1 Mac mini will get an M2 update in 2022, although it may not arrive until the autumn.
New Mac mini release date
New Mac mini price
New Mac mini design
In March 2022 Apple introduced the Mac Studio, which from the top looks like the Mac mini, but is a few inches taller. A redesign had been rumoured for the Mac mini for some time – was this it?
While there were a number of rumours about new designs for the Mac mini, only some of them seemed to be fulfilled by the Mac Studio (which was rumoured to look like two or three Mac mini stacked on each other, and does).
Other rumours point to a much less pro-focused redesign. Apple leaker Jon Prosser revealed details back in June 2021 of a new design for the new Mac mini model that he suggested would be significantly thinner than the current one and feature a “plexiglass-like” top.
Ian Zelbo made some illustrations based on Prosser’s findings. The renders indicate that the new mini will come in silver and white, rather than one of the new bright colour options seen on the 24in iMac. These renders are based on rumours, but they may still give a good idea of what Apple could unveil.
The ports should be the same as for the latest Intel model: four Thunderbolt/USB-C, two USB-A, ethernet and HDMI.
Prosser shared the news in a May 2021 edition of Front Page Tech, embedded below:
It should be pointed out that Prosser has been wrong on several occasions before – he’s had some big hits, but his misses include one so severe that he had to shave his eyebrows – so the information should be taken with a pinch of salt. AppleTrack currently gives him an accuracy rating of 74.2% (that score changes all the time). Read more about the Apple leakers in our round up: The Apple leakers worth following.
M2 Mac mini spec
We had expected Apple to introduce a replacement for the Intel-powered Mac mini that is still on sale. It hasn’t done so yet, and we don’t know if it shall. If it does it may well feature an M1 Pro or M1 Max, but we certainly wouldn’t expect to see the M1 Ultra in it.
What we can be more certain about is that later in 2022, or at least in 2023, we will see Apple introduce an M2 version of the Mac mini. If you are interested to find out more about what the M2 could offer read this: Apple M2 Chip: Everything you need to know.
The M1 has 8 CPU cores, and the rumours indicate that this could be the same for the M2. In May 2021 Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman suggested that the M2 (apparently codenamed Staten), will include the same eight cores as the M1 chip, but it will run faster.
However, the N4P process that Apple is said to be using for the M2, could allow a transistor density that’s about six percent higher, which could enable Apple to integrate 10 CPU cores into the M2. These individual cores could be clocked a little faster than in the M1 as well.
Another possibility is that Apple could adjust the number of high performance and high efficiency cores. The M1 has four high performance cores and four high efficiency cores, while the M1 Pro and Max have twice the number of high performance cores (eight), but fewer efficiency cores (two). The next gen M2 could also increase the number of high efficiency cores.
The M2 offers 7 or 8 graphics cores. This could be set to increase: In the May 2021 report mentioned above Gurman suggested that the M2 could offer 9 or 10-GPU cores.
Unlikely to go above 16GB, but we would like to see a 32GB option offered for the high-end Mac mini, perhaps with a M2 Pro chip on offer.
Ports & Peripherals
The current Mac mini models offer two USB04/Thunderbolt ports, two USB-A ports and an HDMI 2.0 port, as well as Ethernet. It’s likely that this will carry through to the new iteration.
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 we do anticipate that Apple will start offer the new Apple keyboard with Touch ID as an upgrade for the Mac mini, perhaps in the silver finish that goes with the silver iMac.
Find out about all the new products coming in 2022 here: Every new Apple product coming in 2022.