Apple just announced a new Mac mini with either an M2 or M2 Pro chip. How does it compare to the Mac mini with an M1 processor? In 2020, Apple released the first Mac mini with a chip made by Apple. Less than a year later, there were rumours that Apple was going to release a more powerful model in 2022, but the new mini PC is finally here after a short delay.
The M2 Mac mini looks exactly the same as the M1 Mac mini. It still has the same aluminum body and the same number and arrangement of ports. But the M2 Pro model is different in some ways. Even though the design is the same, it has more ports. The M2 Mac mini has a 3.5mm headphone jack, Ethernet that can be set up to 10GB, two Thunderbolt 4 ports (which replace the Thunderbolt 3 ports on the M1 Mac mini), and two USB-A ports.
The M2 Pro Mac mini is different because it has two more Thunderbolt 4 ports than the standard Mac mini. The M2/M2 Pro Mac mini is very different from the M1 Mac mini on the inside. The M2 Mac mini’s base model has a CPU with 8 cores, a GPU with 10 cores, and a Neural Engine with 16 cores. It also has 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. But buyers can choose to set it up with up to 2TB of SSD storage and up to 24GB of unified memory. The storage on the Mac mini can’t be upgraded after it’s bought.
Price and availability
Since the Mac Mini M1 is an older model, we would usually spend this section talking about how it’s cheaper than the newer model and might be a better deal, etc. This time, though, that’s not the case. The Mac Mini M2 is a lot cheaper than the Mac Mini from before. The Mac Mini M2 starts at $600, which is $100 less than what the Mac Mini M1 cost when it first came out you can buy both the products directly from Apple’s store.
For that price, you get an M2 processor with eight CPU cores and ten GPU cores, 8GB of Unified Memory, and 256GB of storage. You can spend a lot more, though, if you set up the machine better. You can pay extra to get up to 24GB of Unified Memory for $400, 2TB of storage for $800, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet for $100.
Apple’s M2 Pro is also available inside the Mac Mini, which it didn’t do with the last generation. This model starts at $1,300 and has 10 CPU cores, 16 GPU cores, 16GB of Unified Memory, and 512GB of storage. It has the same kinds of upgrades as the base model, but you can get up to 32GB of Unified Memory and 8TB of SSD storage (which costs an extra $2,400).
Apple Mac Mini M1 vs M2 Comparison Table
|Mac mini (M2)
|Mac mini (M1)
|M2 (8-core CPU, 10-core GPU)
|M1 (8 core CPU, 8-core GPU)
|Support for up to two displays
|Support for one display up to 6K and one display up to 4K (sold separately)
|197mm x 197mm x 36mm
|197mm x 197mm x 36mm
|Two Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB‑A ports, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet
|Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports, two USB‑A ports, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet
Apple Mac Mini M1 vs M2 Design
From the outside, you would have a hard time telling the new mini from the old one. That’s because they’re both the same. The M2 model has the classic square aluminum design with the Apple logo on top and all the ports hidden around the back. The size is also the same, at 197mm by 197mm by 36mm, so if you liked the look of the old Mac mini, the new one will look just as good.
But if you had the old Space Gray Intel model and want to get an M2, you’ll have to settle for silver since Apple no longer sells the darker colour. As with all Mac minis, if you want to do anything, you’ll need to bring your own keyboard, mouse/trackpad, and monitor.
Apple Mac Mini M1 vs M2 Ports and connectivity
On the back of both the M1 and M2 models, there are two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports, two USB-A ports, an HDMI port, and Gigabit Ethernet. Elsewhere, the M1 and M2 models aren’t too different from each other. The M2 has Wi-Fi 6E, which is better than Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.3. (versus Bluetooth 5.0).
The M2 model can also support up to two displays, while the M1 model could only support one. The M2 model has a 3.5mm audio jack, just like the M1, but it also has better support for headphones with a high impedance.
Apple Mac Mini M1 vs M2 Storage
The new Mac Mini has more storage space, but only if you buy the M2 Pro version. SSD options for the Mac Mini M1 and Mac Mini M2 range from 256GB to 2TB, while the Mac Mini M2 Pro starts at 512GB and goes up to a huge 8TB.
Apple Mac Mini M1 vs M2 Performance
The new M2 chip and M2 Pro chip help the Mac mini reach new levels of performance. These are the most exciting changes to the Mac mini with M2. Apple says that the M2 has 25% more transistors than the M1 and up to 18% more multi-core performance. This makes it likely that the M2 Mac mini will be a pretty linear improvement over the M1 Mac mini.
The company also says that the M2’s 16-core Neural Engine, which helps with machine learning tasks like image processing, can do up to 40% more calculations per second than the M1, which is good news for people who like to see numbers go up.
Apple says that the M2 chip can do up to twice as much as the M1 chip while using half the power. It can also handle up to 24GB of memory. This lets you set up a Mac mini M2 with up to 24GB of RAM, which is more than the M1 chip could handle (16GB).
You can also choose to get an M2 Pro chip for your 2023 Mac mini, which wasn’t an option for the 2020 Mac mini. The M2 Pro supports up to 32GB of memory and has a faster memory bandwidth than the M2. This means that if you get a Mac mini with the M2 Pro and set it up with up to 32GB of RAM, apps will load faster than on a basic Mac mini with the M2.
The M2 Pro chip also has more cores than we’ve ever seen in a Mac mini. It can be set up to have a 12-core CPU (8 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores) and a 19-core GPU, which is more than we have ever seen in a Mac mini. Apple is promoting this model as a solid workhorse for photo/video editing and even gaming, saying that a Mac mini with M2 Pro offers up to 2.5x faster graphics performance in Affinity Photo and up to 2.8x faster gameplay in Resident Evil Village than the basic Mac mini with M1. Even though there was a 3-year gap between the two chips, this is still a big deal.
Apple Mac Mini M1 Pros and Cons
- Blazing performance
- Existing apps run very well on M1 chip
- Surprisingly quiet and cool operation under load
- Unified memory tops out at 16GB
- Boosting RAM and SSD capacity at purchase time is pricey
- Memory no longer upgradable post-purchase
Apple Mac Mini M2 Pros and Cons
- Classic Mac mini design
- Small and quiet
- M2 Pro adds peak 8K-resolution, 240Hz-refresh-rate display options
- Storage is slower than previous-gen models
- Still limited to just two displays
- Prices jump quickly for upgraded configs
Which one should you consider?
Buy the Mac Mini M2 without a doubt. It’s a little bit faster, but what’s more important is that it improves connectivity in important ways and costs about the same as the Mac Mini M1 right now. The only problem is how to store it. If you want to see big changes, you should get the 512GB model.
The Mac Mini M1 is still useful, though. A refurbished Mac Mini M1 can save you a couple hundred dollars if you need a simple computer without a lot of storage space. It’s not as fast or as connected as the M2, but it still works with the same apps and operating systems.
Is M1 or M2 Better Mac?
The M2 chip helps with multitasking and workflows that need a lot of memory, such as working with large assets. Also, the M2 has a memory bandwidth of 100GB/s, while the M1 only had 68.25GB/s. This means that the latest MacBook Pro can access more memory faster.
Is M2 worth upgrading from M1?
First of all, the M2 has 20% more transistors than the Apple M1: 20 billion. Even though it has the same number of cores as the Apple M1, this makes the CPU 18% faster than the Apple M1. The GPU now has up to 10 cores instead of just 8, which helps it perform even better.