The 2023 iteration of Apple's Mac Mini looks basically identical to the Mac Minis of the past decade, sure. But it's also arguably the most exciting new product Apple has released this year (albeit, it's only January) — especially if you're an average everyday Mac user.

Like myself.

The reason being is that Apple has decked the 2023 Mac Mini with its newest Apple silicon — you can configure it with either Apple's M2 or M2 Pro chipsets — which is benchmarking significantly higher than Apple's M1 chip that was integrated in the previous Mac Mini released in 2020. But in a rare twist, Apple has actually lowered the price. The newest M2 Mac Mini starts at just $599, making it a easy cop for an entry-level Mac setup.

The M2 chipset is a powerful upgrade (especially over Intel-based Macs).

a desk with a computer monitor showing tv show ted lasso on it with a silver mac mini next to the computer
The newest Mac Mini is basically the same design, shape and size as the previous Mac Mini that was released in 2020. But the new model is way more powerful...and more affordable.
Tucker Bowe

I've been using the newest Mac Mini as my primary work computer for the past week and, well, it's blazing fast. My normal work computer is a 2016 MacBook Pro with an Intel chip, and the new Mac Mini blows it out of the water in terms of start-up speeds, load times and just overall snappiness. Again, I'm not a super-pro user; I mainly work in Safari and Chrome, with the occasional dalliance in Photoshop and Lightroom when I want to tweak photos — but the new Mac Mini handles everything with ease. Heck, I didn't even manage to get its fan — yes, it has one, unlike the M2 MacBook Air — to fire up. I don't think I even came close.

Since I'm not a power user pushing the CPU and GPU of Apple's latest machine to the limit, it's admittedly a little difficult to grasp just how powerful the Mac Mini actually. When compared to the previous M1 chip, the newest M2 chip — which has the same 8-core CPU — promises to deliver the same performance but a generally faster, more power-efficient experience. The M2 chip does have two more GPUs (it's a 10-core unit, instead of the M1's 8-core) so you should notice even more of difference when doing graphics-intensive things like editing higher-resolution photos, gaming or playing 4K video content.

The M2 and M2 Pro Mac Minis are slightly different.

a side profile view of the apple mac mini showing the ports
The Mac Mini with the M2 and M2 Pro chipsets differ in their port selection. Specifically, the M2 Pro model has two extra Thunderbolt 4 ports and can support one more (up to three total) external monitors.
Tucker Bowe

The M2 Pro chip takes everything about the M2 chip and ramps it up. It has more CPU (there are 10-core and 12-core options), significantly more GPU (there are 16-core or 19-core options), more memory and more storage. Basically, if you're more of a power user who doesn't want to take the leap up to more expensive Mac Studio (it has M1 Max and M1 Ultra chipsets, which are pretty massive upgrades even over the M2 Pro), then the Mac Mini definitely makes more sense.

Aside from general performance, the M2 Pro Mac Mini differs from the M2 Mac Mini in its port selection. Specifically, and most notably, the M2 Pro version has a total of four Thunderbolt 4 ports instead of the M2 Mac Mini's two. This is a big deal for those working with multi-monitor setups; the M2 Mac Mini has support two monitors, while the M2 Pro Mac Mini can support three. The M2 Pro version can support a single 8K monitor, too, which is a first for a Mac Mini.

It's a better, more affordable Mac Mini.

On paper, the entry-level M2 Mac Mini isn't all that different than the M1 Mac Mini that was released three years ago. It's the same size and design, and has the same port selection — Thunderbolt 4 (2x), USB-A (2x), Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI and a headphone jack — but Apple did give it a few subtle upgrades in addition to the new chipsets. Specifically, the M2 Mac mini has upgraded wireless connectivity. It has Wi-Fi 6E instead of Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.3 instead of Bluetooth 5.0, both of which promise faster and reliable speeds — if paired with a supported router and accessories, respectively.

The M2 Mac Mini starts off at $599, which is $100 cheaper than what the previous M1 Mac Mini started at. And that's pretty awesome, because Apple rarely ever makes something better in every way and cheaper.

It's Apple's most entry-level modular machine

If you're familiar with the Mac Mini, you'll know that it's essentially a MacBook without a screen, keyboard or trackpad. It's a modular machine that you'll need to pair your own external display and peripherals for it work. For somebody like me, who has been working from home for most of the last two years and will be doing so for the foreseeable future, this makes the newest M2 Mac Mini a pretty enticing proposition. I can use it with the external monitor, wireless keyboard and wireless mouse I already have, and it's way cheaper than any of Apple's newest laptops right now. (For context, the M2 Mac Mini is half the price as the M2 MacBook Air.)

The only real downside: no SD card slot.

a brown desk with a silver mac mini and black cords on it
The lack of SD card slot is one of only real omissions of the newest Mac Mini.
Tucker Bowe

One of the coolest things about the newest MacBook Pros is that Apple has diversified its port selection and brought back a lot of the old ports — like USB-A, HDMI and an SD card slot, specifically — that had been missing over the last few years. The newest M2 and M2 Pro Mac Minis have all those ports, too...except for an SD card slot.

And that's the one thing I wish it had. As somebody who takes a decent a mount of photos, not having an SD card slot is a bit of an inconvenience. Over the years, I've gotten used to using an dongle with an SD card slot to quickly upload my photos, so it would've really nice for Apple to include it in their latest Mini machines. But alas it wasn't meant to be.

Apple's M2 and M2 Pro Mac Mini: The Verdict

a brown desk with a silver mac mini on it
The Mac Mini is Apple’s most affordable and most modular Mac computer.
Tucker Bowe

The newest M2 and M2 Pro Mac Minis are little powerhouses. Apple didn't completely rewrite the script in terms of the design from previous Mac Minis, but the newest chipsets make these new entries incredibly capable machines.

If you're not a pro-user, the M2 Mac Mini really is an enticing proposition. It delivers a noticeable jump in performance over the M1 Mac Mini and a night-and-day difference over any Intel-based Mac from a few years ago. The fact that the M2 Mac Mini is even cheaper than before makes it feel like an easy cope for most people looking to upgrade their current work-from-home setup.

The Mac Mini with the M2 Pro chip is a little more complicated affair. It starts at $1,299 and delivers big gains in performance — especially in the GPU department — over the M2 Mac Mini. But it's definitely more of a "pro" computer — and because of the price, is now placed in the middle group between the M2 Mac Mini and the even higher-end Mac Studio (which has more ports and can be configured with the even more powerful M1 Max and M1 Ultra chipsets). So it's not quite as easy of a choice.


M2 Mac Mini

  • Superb performance
  • Surprisingly affordable price
  • Extremely modular design

  • Computer isn't upgradable after purchase
  • No SD card slot