The Mac mini (2023) is a well-performing mini PC, but it mainly distinguishes itself from its Windows competition due to its build quality, energy efficiency, and inaudibly quiet operation. The basic configuration is very sparse and opting for more memory or storage is very expensive, and upgrading yourself afterwards is of course not an option anyway. For the version that you actually want, you pay a lot more than the favorable price of the entry-level model suggests.
- Remarkably affordable for a Mac
- Good graphics performance
- Energy-efficient and inaudibly quiet
- The base model is low on memory and storage
- Upgrading yourself is impossible
- Configuration options are very expensive
In the wake of the new MacBook Pro, Apple also released a new version of the Mac mini. The Mac mini (2023) succeeds the 2020 model and uses the new M2 processor. Moreover, the price of the new mini PC is not higher, but lower than that of its predecessor. Does everything work just as well in practice as on paper?
Mac mini M2 (2023) vs. Mac mini M1 (2020)
To distinguish the old and new Mac mini in appearance, you need hawk eyes. The dimensions are unchanged at 19.7×19.7×3.6cm and the placement of all connections is identical. While invisible on the outside, there’s a slight change to connectivity, as the Mac mini now supports Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3.
You will only see a difference on the back if you buy the version with the M2 Pro soc. It has twice as many Thunderbolt 4 ports: four instead of two. The HDMI port also sends an HDMI 2.1 signal with that variant, where it is still HDMI 2.0 with the regular Mac mini M2. Controlling an 8k screen at 60Hz is therefore only possible with the Pro version. Connecting a Pro Display XDR with 6k resolution is always possible, because it fits through the Thunderbolt 4 ports.
Configurations and prices
Apple sells two customizable configurations of the new Mac mini. The entry-level model we tested costs 719 euros and has a normal M2 soc with eight CPU cores and ten GPU cores, supplemented with 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD. You can equip this model with a maximum of 24GB of ram, a 2TB SSD and 10-gigabit ethernet at a hefty surcharge.
The model with the M2 Pro has twice as much ram, storage and Thunderbolt ports as standard, and should yield 1569 euros. It is striking that the soc is partially disabled by default; you have to pay extra for the full 12 CPU cores and 19 GPU cores. You pay more than 5,000 euros for the maximum configuration with 32GB of ram and an 8TB SSD.
Incidentally, Apple offers the Mac mini considerably cheaper for pupils, students and education staff; the entry-level model then only costs 599 euros , so 120 euros less than normal. For comparison, on a similarly priced iPad, you only get a discount of four decades through that program.
|CPU||M2 8 core||M2 Pro 10 core|
|Recommended price basic model||€719
|Recommended price top model||€2,214||€5,249|
|upgrades||16GB memory + €230
24GB memory + €460
512GB SSD + €230
1TB SSD + €460
2TB SSD + €920
10GbE + €115
|12-core CPU, 19-core GPU + €345
32GB memory + €460
1TB SSD + €230
2TB SSD + €690
4TB SSD + €1380
8TB SSD + €2760
10GbE + €115
The Mac mini (2023) is a feast of recognition for those who know Apple’s previous mini PC well. Compared to other mini PCs, the device is special, because the fully one-piece aluminum casing feels very luxurious. Other mini PCs we’ve recently discussed, such as the Minisforum devices, but also the ‘original’ Intel NUC are largely made of plastic.
In a separate document (.pdf), Apple details the environmental impact of manufacturing the Mac mini. The total CO2 footprint is said to have decreased by almost thirty percent compared to the previous generation, partly due to the use of recycled metals and packaging that consists almost entirely of wood fibers.
Other than the black Apple logo on top and the subtle status LED on the front, there’s nothing exciting about the Mac mini from this angle.
On the back, you will find all the connections, which, as said, at first sight have not changed compared to the Mac mini with M1-soc. Next to the power button is the connection for the power cord; the power supply itself is integrated into the PC. From left to right you will also find the two Thunderbolt ports, the HDMI port, two USB-A ports and, yes, a headphone jack.
There is a ventilation grille for cooling under the ports, but the air that comes out of it rarely gets really warm.
Normally it is then time to talk about the upgrade options. However, we are quickly done with that, because there are none. Both memory and storage are soldered to the circuit board and are not upgradeable or even replaceable. It is likely that the new Mac mini will be added to Apple’s Self Service Repair program just like its predecessor, but at the time of writing the repair guide is not yet available. However, this only concerns repairs of, for example, the fan or the power supply, and no changes to the hardware itself.
You can of course expand the storage with an external hard drive or SSD. For the highest speeds you can then look atThunderbolt or USB4 SSDs, although they are still very expensive. You can possibly save some money bybuilding a Thunderbolt SSD yourself.