M2 Mac mini Review Roundup: The Best New Desktop on Earth?

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M2 Mac mini review

Apple’s new M2 Mac mini launches later this week. Ahead of its official launch, the new desktop computer from Apple has made its way to a select few reviewers and YouTubers. The reviews offer our first look at the performance of the Mac mini with M2 and M2 Pro chips.

Check out the Mac mini with M2 and M2 Pro chipsets review roundup from all major publications down below:

The Verge

M2 Mac mini The Verge Review

Image Credit: The Verge

In an article for The Verge, Chris Welch dubs the new Mac mini the “Mac Studio junior,” and states that it is now more attractive than ever. However, The Verge also notes that it lacks front-facing ports and an SD card slot as downsides.

It shouldn’t be surprising that the 2023 Mac Mini is the best version of the product that Apple has pulled off yet. It looks the same but benefits greatly from the M2 platform, and that’s true whether you choose the standard chip or invest in the powerful M2 Pro. Either way, you also gain better Wi-Fi and can expect very few bumps this far into the Apple silicon transition. Spend more on the M2 Pro, and on top of the mighty speed, you’ll get to take advantage of even more Thunderbolt 4 ports and more external displays.

If you’ve been waiting for the in-betweener Mac that’s more capable than the iMac and less exorbitant than the Mac Studio, look no further. The new Mac Mini is still small and not the type of computer that calls attention to itself on your desk, but it’s never been more mighty.

It shouldn’t be surprising that the 2023 Mac Mini is the best version of the product that Apple has pulled off yet. It looks the same but benefits greatly from the M2 platform, and that’s true whether you choose the standard chip or invest in the powerful M2 Pro. Either way, you also gain better Wi-Fi and can expect very few bumps this far into the Apple silicon transition. Spend more on the M2 Pro, and on top of the mighty speed, you’ll get to take advantage of even more Thunderbolt 4 ports and more external displays. 

Full Review

Ars Technica

Image Credit: Ars Technica

ArsTechnica reviewer Andrew Cunningham observes that the M2 Pro performs well when compared to modern CPUs from Intel and AMD, but it doesn’t break any records. However, he notes that Apple Silicon continues to excel in efficiency compared to its Intel and AMD counterparts.

The upshot is that the M2 Pro is a solid step up from the M2, and the fully enabled version even gives the M1 Max in the Mac Studio a run for its money. Because we don’t have a regular M2 mini to review, we’ve used scores from an M2 MacBook Pro where we have them—both Macs should perform similarly.

The M2 Pro looks fine next to modern CPUs from Intel and AMD, but it’s not setting records. Across all of our tests, it performs something like an upper-midrange desktop CPU, like Intel’s Core i5-13600K or AMD’s Ryzen 7 7700X. That’s where the “Pro” tier chips exist in Apple’s lineup, too—faster than the no-adjective M2 but slower than the Max or the presumably forthcoming Ultra.

But where AMD and Intel opt to maximize performance, Apple prioritizes power efficiency. Our Handbrake video encoding test provides a decent way to show how much power a CPU will consume when performing any intensive test for an extended period. The M2 Pro might encode our test video a bit slower than either of those x86 processors, but it also uses around half as much energy to finish the job.

Full Review

CNET

Image Credit: CNET

CNET’s Dan Ackerman calls the new Mac mini a “clear choice for a lot of people.” Thanks to Apple making both the M2 and the M2 Pro variant available, Ackerman says that you can now choose the perfect Mac mini for “your specific needs, whether that’s creating pro-level YouTube videos or recording and producing the next great true crime podcast.”

And especially for audio, the Mac Mini still feels like an excellent all around solution. I recorded some video voiceover on the Mac Mini for this review, using Audacity and an external mic. As expected, I had no problems, even running multiple sound-shaping plugins (although for a very basic task like this, a standard budget Windows machine could do the same). 

I asked one of my team’s video editors to throw a decently chunky Premiere Pro project on both the M2 and M2 Pro versions of the Mac Mini. He said on the base $599 Mac Mini with the M2 chip, “It was doable, but while editing I had to play the video in the program window at the lowest quality setting to avoid stuttering, but even then I got some minor stuttering.”

Then he tried the same project on the M2 Pro version, which had 16GB of RAM. In that case, he said, “That one felt almost flawless. I could preview the video at full resolution and only had some minor stuttering when I hit the graphics. I could move easily around the timeline without any delay. Color correction didn’t seem to be an issue. I would definitely use it as an editing machine.” 

Full Review

M2 Mac mini Video Reviews

Popular YouTubers, including Krystal Lora, Karl Conrad, and Justin Tse, have also uploaded video reviews of the new Mac mini. You can check out some of the best video reviews down below:

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