Review: The M2 Mac mini is the perfect desktop for most users

Nothing is similar with Apple Silicon. Whereas the leap from M1 to M2 chips doesn’t ship fairly as large a  efficiency enchancment because the soar from earlier Mac chips to Apple Silicon did, it nonetheless provides sufficient juice to make sure that even the entry-level M2 Mac mini does what most individuals want.

The Geekbench assessments

Listed below are some Geekbench efficiency figures for entry-level Mac mini configurations relationship again to 2011. The M2 system knowledge was generated by a check machine made out there by Apple:

  • Mid 2011: 506 single-core, 1,262 multi-core.
  • Late 2012: 570 single-core, 1,278 multi-core.
  • Late 2014: 771 single-core, 1,503 multi-core.
  • Late 2018: 895 single-core, 3,183 multi-core.
  • Mini M1 late 2020: 1,715 single-core, 7,442 multi-core.
  • Mini M2 early 2023: 1,943 single-core, 8,916 multi-core*.

Knowledge solely tells a part of the story, in fact. However what’s clear is that technology by technology, Apple on Intel achieved comparatively modest efficiency features. Then Apple Silicon arrived, and now you possibly can count on much more vital generational enhancements throughout the road.

Phrase is that high-end Mac mini M2 Professional techniques compete with Apple’s present King of Desktops, the Mac Studio, not less than in benchmark phrases. And these entry-level Macs ship the identical form of computational skill because the Intel-based iMac Professional. That’s vital.

Apple continues to take advantage of its management over the {hardware}, software program, and (now) processor to tweak techniques to do the belongings you want higher. On this launch, you get quicker processors and graphics processors, in addition to a lot greater reminiscence bandwidth and much better media dealing with.

What Mac mini do I’ve?

I have been utilizing Apple’s $799 Mac mini. That’s the identical primary mannequin because the $599 model, however with double the SSD storage (512GB as an alternative of 256GB) and the identical 8GB reminiscence. In any other case, it provides the identical specs, which embrace an 8-core CPU with a 10-core GPU and help for as much as 24GB of unified reminiscence operating at 100GBps.

Once I seemed on the first Mac mini with an M1 chip I ran a variety of assessments. I repeated them this time and the brand new mini dealt with something I threw at it; by no means as soon as did it appear to wrestle.

It’s cool, quiet, succesful, and barely bought heat to the contact even when working with a number of music tracks. Imaging enhancements have been evident: Pixelmator dealt with picture transitions considerably quicker, Photoshop was happier and GarageBand trundled out its tunes whereas I manically added extra instrument tracks.

A few extra benchmarks:

  • Cinebench gave scores of 8606 (multi-core) and 1,623 (single-core).
  • Unigine Heaven 4.0 returned a rating of two,146 at 1920×1080-pixel decision, although this check depends on Rosetta emulation and has not been optimized to run natively on Apple Silicon.

Each assessments affirm large enhancements in graphics efficiency in comparison with the M1, simply as Apple promised. (Apple boasted of 35% quicker GPU efficiency, and I am  seeing that.) Which means you possibly can count on a 50% enchancment when dealing with information in Photoshop, for instance. You’ll additionally fly by way of apps, due to the 50% quicker reminiscence bandwidth.

All this efficiency begins at $599 — although you do want a keyboard, mouse, and show. The M2 Mac mini will help as much as two shows, one at as much as 6K.

Which brings one thing else to thoughts….

Is the age of all-in-one over?

There was a time once I most well-liked all-in-one techniques, however I’ve moved on. Restore is dear, recycling a ache and since you lose your show in addition to your pc while you do improve it seems like separates could also be a greater environmental alternative.

It simply is sensible to improve the pc however hold the keyboard, mouse, and show. It additionally makes upgrades extra inexpensive, as you should purchase the PC however hold the remaining. At $599 per seat, the Mac mini hits this want head on. Because the benchmark knowledge and my anecdotal expertise present, you get a strong Mac able to most every day duties whereas additionally match for processor-intensive work.

In case you are migrating to Macs in your enterprise or placing worker alternative schemes in place, it’s price noting that these use far much less vitality than different competing desktops and might also be suitable with the keyboards, mice, and screens your groups already use, decreasing switching prices.

Companies also needs to take into consideration the pc power-per-watt with these techniques, as at scale the Mac mini is a less expensive PC to run. I’d additionally argue that together with an iPad Air for gentle cell duties, this can be all the pc some data employees want. 

The improve quandary

Is it a sufficiently big improve in comparison with the M1 Mac mini?

Truthfully, I used to be so impressed with that mannequin that I bought one among my very own. This time round? I’m contemplating it as a result of the worth is true and the efficiency a particular enchancment on M1.

Nonetheless, if you happen to or your groups are utilizing Intel-based Macs, the M2 completely justifies the improve. Apple’s Mac growth street map at the moment suggests we’ll see but extra enchancment (particularly round vitality use) with the 3-nanometer M3 chips; these might attain Mac mini in late 2024 and provide one other leap in efficiency.

What’s to not like?

Probably the most trivial criticism may be that the Mac mini form hasn’t modified a lot — it’s the identical small discreet field it is all the time been (and can in all probability stay). A second criticism: the M2 mannequin options simply two Thunderbolt and two USB-A ports, although if you happen to want extra Thunderbolt ports the (costlier, but additionally extra highly effective) M2 Professional system provides 4.

A 3rd criticism can be the price of extra BTO storage, which is all the time excessive, and the problem of changing the SSD storage modules. It could be greatest to make use of revolutionary peripherals equivalent to these from Satechi to assist meet any extra storage/I/O wants, as as soon as once more this modular method makes it simpler and extra inexpensive to improve the core system.

One criticism that doesn’t actually exist for the reason that introduction of the final M1 Mac mini is that the majority key third-party purposes ought to now run natively on the processor. Those that don’t needs to be changed.

Should or miss?

Apple’s Mac mini has ultimately proven itself to be the swan in ready it all the time was.  Extra versatile than all-in-one techniques and delivering energy far past its price-driven punch, the mini’s newest enhancements make it tempting, however in all probability not obligatory, to present M1 Mac customers.

The mini is a particular contender for anybody nonetheless on an Intel Mac or a Home windows PC who desires to make the transition to a desktop Apple Silicon Mac. It’s a wonderful low(er) value system for switchers or employers provisioning desk-based staff who need their work machines to be pretty much as good as those they use at dwelling.

And that is the paradigm shift in motion. Nothing is similar with Apple Silicon. Apple’s new processor structure means every Mac Apple ships is enhancing at a tempo we’ve by no means seen the corporate ship earlier than. Because it does, it is altering the language (and the market share) of the PC trade, and this new starting has solely simply begun for Cupertino.

Apart from the wants of high-end creatives and the pattern towards cell Macs, I actually see no compromise on this machine. The Mac mini M2 is a implausible desktop Mac for many of us. 

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