When the Mac mini launched in 2005 as the first BYODKM Mac (bring your own display, keyboard, and mouse), it had the potential to be one of the most popular Macs ever made. Nearly two decades later, we think its a great option as en entry-level Mac, but it hasn’t really lived up to its hype, as specs, prices, and performance never quite reached the heights we expected.
Then rumours that Apple was intending to enhance the Mac mini in 2022 were verified when Apple introduced the Mac Studio in March 2022. The Mac Studio, which looks like a Mac mini from the top, but is roughly equivalent to three Mac mini stacked on top of each other in height. The Mac Studio features M1 Max and M1 Ultra options and is a great computer, but there is now a big gap in the line up with no desktop Macs offering the M1 Pro (which is only found in the 14in and 16in MacBook Pro models).
There are Mac fans hoping that Apple will enhance the Mac mini with the M1 Pro chip and there is a Mac mini that looks ripe for a M1 Pro update: Apple still sells a $1,099/£1,099 Mac mini that features an ageing Intel processor. Apple could have discontinued this model when it introduced the Mac Studio, but it didn’t, indicating that there is still hope for a M1 Pro version of the Mac mini. Indeed, there is evidence that an M1 Pro version of the Mac mini is coming. Read on to find out when we might see the M1 Pro Mac mini.
However, there is an elephant in the room right now: at WWDC in June 2022 Apple introduced a M2 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Does this mean that Apple will not be making any further M1-series updates? Should we now be expecting an M2 Pro Mac mini? Or is an M2 Mac mini more likely? An M2 Mac mini is also expected in 2022 – perhaps in October. We have a separate article discussing the M2 Mac mini rumours.
Mac mini M1 Pro release date
We hoped to see a new M1 Pro Mac mini replace the Intel powered model at WWDC on June 6, 2022. But Apple failed to update it.
However, that doesn’t mean that the M1 Pro Mac mini won’t launch. Although there is now the distinct possibility that Apple could skip the M1 Pro version of the Mac mini and launch a M2 Pro Mac mini instead.
There is some evidence that an update to the Intel-powered Mac mini could be coming. In April 2022 developer Steven Troughton-Smith pointed out that the Studio Display’s latest software update includes a reference to a Mac mini that’s not yet available. Troughton-Smith first speculated that “Macmini10,1” could be a Mac mini with a new M2 processor, but later he changed his mind to an M1 Pro and Max model.
A couple of days after Troughton-Smith’s tweet, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that Apple is internally testing a a Mac mini with an M1 Pro, codenamed J374; and an M1 Max Mac mini, but it’s possible this model won’t ship. He also indicated that Apple is testing an M2 Mac mini, codenamed J473, with eight CPU cores and 10 GPU cores and a Mac mini with an M2 Pro chip, codenamed J474.
We could be waiting until 2023 though. In March 2022 an unverified Twitter account for analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated that a Mac mini will ship in 2023. He doesn’t offer specifics, however, but it’s possible this 2023 Mac mini could be the M2 Mac mini.
New Mac mini price
The Mac mini starts at £699/$699 and another model with more storage comes in at $899/£899. The Intel variant – which we expect to be replaced by a M1 Pro model – starts at $1,099/£1,099.
It’s possible that we could see a price rise with the introduction of the M1 Pro-powered model. Such a price rise would serve to narrow the gap between it and the $1,999/£1,999 Mac Studio with M1 Max. Apple won’t want to make the Mac mini too attractive an option for those it wants to sell the Mac Studio to.
One place to look for clues as to how Apple might price this new Mac mini is the 14in MacBook Pro with M1 Pro chip, which starts at $1,999/£1,899 (a full $500/£400 more than the most expensive M1 model). With that pricing in mind we estimate a $1,399/£1,399 starting price for the M1 Pro Mac mini.
If you want to buy one of the current Mac mini models you can do so directly from Apple, or, if you want a bargain, check out our round up of the best Mac mini deals.
New Mac mini design
The Mac mini has had a similar square design ever since it arrived in 2005. Over time it has gotten thinner, lost the CD drive, and changed colour. There are claims that the next Mac mini will shrink even further, which could put it at less than an inch tall, based on renders. However, these more compact design rumours seem to relate to the new M2 version of the Mac mini.
Further rumours about a larger Mac mini clearly related to the Mac Studio that Apple announced in March 2022. From the top looks the Mac Studio looks like a Mac mini, but it is a few inches taller. The larger form factor allows for the better cooling required by the M1 Max and M1 Ultra. Would the Mac mini need to be larger to accommodate the M1 Pro? We don’t think so – the chip works happily in the MacBook Pro after all.
On that basis we don’t expect any design changed for the M1 Pro Mac mini – it may even keep its Space Gray case, often used by Apple as a Pro badge.
In March 2022 a tweet from an account claiming to be for analyst Ming-Cho Kuo stated that the 2023 Mac mini will have the same form and design as the current model.
New Mac mini spec
We expect (and hope) that Apple will introduce a replacement for the Intel-powered Mac mini that will feature an M1 Pro chip. We don’t expect to see the M1 Max or M1 Ultra in it, although the company is said to have been testing models with the M1 Max as well as the M1 Pro. To find out more about the M1 Pro chip read our M1 series guide.
There is a chance that Apple could skip the M1 Pro for this Mac mini model and instead furnish it with an M2 Pro. Now that the M2 is out the likelihood of Apple launching more M1-series Macs seems less likely. On that basis, here’s what we could see:
If the Mac mini gains an M1 Pro it is likely to offer 8 or 10 CPU cores, like the 14in and 16in MacBook Pro.
If Apple gives this Mac mini an M2 Pro we will probably still see 10 CPU cores.
The M1 Pro offers 14 or 16 graphics cores.
The M2 Pro may offer double the number of GPU cores of the M2 – so potentially 20 GPU cores.
Since the M1 Pro in the MacBook Pro ships with 16GB as standard and supports up to 32GB memory, we expect to see the same in the M1 Pro Mac mini.
A M2 Mac mini could support up to 24GB memory, but an M2-Pro Mac mini could theoretically offer up to 48GB memory.
Ports & Peripherals
We expect to see the following ports: four Thunderbolt/USB-4, two USB-A, ethernet, HDMI and 3.5mm headphone jack, similar to the current Intel-powered Mac mini.
Apple doesn’t ship the Mac mini with an Apple keyboard, right now you need to provide your own or buy one from Apple. That’s unlikely to change, but we do anticipate that Apple will start offer the new Apple keyboard with Touch ID as an upgrade for the Mac mini, perhaps in a silver of space gray finish to match.