If you had asked me before I started Mark Ellis Reviews which Mac would be the least interesting to cover, I’d probably have said the Mac mini.
Back then, it was Apple’s unloved child. Left to fester – yet, presumably, sell in big enough numbers to make it a viable product – Apple’s tiny headless desktop was bereft of meaningful updates and, presumably, not long for this world for that very reason.
Then, the M1 chip came along, and everything changed overnight. Suddenly, the Mac mini was a powerhouse and the most sensible route into macOS for first-timers. It went from being upgrade-hungry to unbelievably capable – even in base model form.
Earlier this year, Apple slapped an M2 Pro chip into the Mac mini and everything changed again. I’ve been using mine for around three months now and I thought it was a good time to give you an updated review.
Who is the M2 Pro Mac mini for?
This question fascinates me the most when it comes to the M2 Pro Mac mini. Reading the comments sections of the videos I’ve published about this machine, it’s clear there’s a lot of buying confusion out there.
I understand. Why opt for an M2 Pro Mac mini when the Mac Studio exists? Can’t you just get away with the standard M2 Mac mini and spec it up a bit?
This confusion mainly stems from Apple’s pricing strategy. It’s true – as soon as you start fiddling with the configurations of Mac minis and Mac Studios, the route forward fogs over, fast.
However, the more time I spend with the M2 Pro Mac mini, the more I realise that it’s far simpler than we’re giving Apple credit for. The M2 Pro Mac mini most people need is the base model version (the one I have). Priced at £1,399 it comes with a 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, 16GB of unified memory, and a 512GB SSD.
I’ve put this machine to work on both audio and visual stuff. It does not falter. Like most Apple silicon-based devices, the M2 Pro Mac mini punches well above its weight class and it’s hard to think why you’d ever need to add to your basket during checkout.
Need more memory? Chucking 32GB in there doesn’t take it into Mac Studio territory, price-wise. Want more storage? Grab an external SSD or two (that’s far cheaper than Apple’s storage pricing and, remember, this thing has four Thunderbolt 4 ports).
I’m pretty sure the Mac Studio has already had its day. And as for the regular M2 Mac mini, that remains the perfect entry-level machine. For everyone else, there’s the base model M2 Pro Mac mini – it’s damn near perfect.
My music production tests
If you remain unconvinced about the capabilities of the M2 Pro Mac mini, I urge you to watch my latest music production test video.
Without giving too much away, the Logic Pro session I managed to create on that computer while retaining the ability to hit the space bar and have the music play back immediately, is nothing short of breathtaking.
I’ve made music my entire life and had no choice but to endure some pretty horrendous hardware on which to bash out those tunes. To spend £1,399 on a Mac which can handle as many tracks of audio and midi data as Air Studios is creatively liberating. Every single technical barrier is removed and those pesky Beach Balls of Death never get in the way of your flow. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it at this price level.
I know this is a very specific use case for the M2 Pro Mac mini, but, beyond video editing, it’s the one I can relate to the most. And, trust me, the things this Mac can do are absolutely mind-boggling.
I’m fairly sure that the new Bluetooth hardware in these M2 Mac minis has solved the previous issues.
Don’t hold me to this, please. It’s worth keeping in mind that my current M2 Pro Mac mini setup is very different to the one I had in our spare bedroom at home. It’s a much bigger space, for starters. But I’ve not experienced any of the frustrating device drop-outs that plagued my M1 Mac mini.
This could be very good news, folks. I’ll keep you posted.
Final thought: what this means for Apple
I’ve deliberately kept this M2 Pro Mac mini three-month review as short as possible. The fact I’ve managed to is a testament to the device itself.
There’s no need to dive deeply into its performance, or offer a detailed buying guide – Apple has made such a good base model machine here that it really is a case of, “just buy the damn thing – you’ll love it”.
You can’t say that about many Macs these days. They all need a tweak during the checkout process, and you’ll spend what feels like far too long comparing your desired machine with something that sits above or below it.
As noted earlier, you really don’t need to do that with the M2 Pro Mac mini. If you’ve got your eye on it already, it’s the machine for you. Go for it, and then let me know what you think in the comments section once it has spent some time on your desk.
M1 Mac mini giveaway!
As promised a little while ago, I’ve decided to give away my original M1 Mac mini. It’s the computer I used to build Mark Ellis Reviews, and while it means a lot to me, it’s one of several Macs that no longer sees any use in my studio.
It’s therefore time to pass the baton onto someone else, which is why I’ll be running a giveaway in the next couple of weeks. To avoid missing out on the chance to own my M1 Mac mini, make sure you follow me on Instagram and keep an eye on my stories!
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