Apple’s Mac Mini 2023 is a vehement reassertion of good things in small packages - Hindustan Times

Apple’s Mac Mini 2023 is a vehement reassertion of good things in small packages

Feb 22, 2023 03:08 PM IST

The Mac Mini, which remains an uber-compact desktop, gets the generational performance update with M2 and M2 Pro chip options. What hasn’t changed is the flexibility of using a display of your choice

It was very easy to miss the Mac Mini as it evolved over the years. After all, the MacBook changes, the iMac’s colourful progress and rapidly changing computing performance goalposts, courtesy Apple’s M-series chips, cornered our attention. This form factor should have never been ignored, and the latest iteration ensures, you cannot either. Desktops may suddenly be in vogue again. That’ll undoubtedly be a worry for the Windows PC ecosystem, because in that space, desktop evolution has effectively stagnated.

The Mac Mini 2023. (Apple)
The Mac Mini 2023. (Apple)

There are three core specs of the Mac Mini that are on sale. You can customise these for more RAM and storage. Prices start at 59,900 for the newest M2 chip with an 8-core CPU and a 10-core GPU, paired with 8GB unified memory and 256GB SSD storage. A bump up gets you a 512GB SSD, with all other specs staying the same, at 79,900.

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The new M2 Pro chip that the Mac Mini gets is with a 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU, as well as 16GB memory and 512GB storage. It is priced at 1,29,900. Whichever model you pick, the biggest upgrade is the performance. Yet, what hasn’t changed at all is the charm of the Mac Mini, which takes us back to Steve Jobs penning the phrase in 2005 with the first-generation Mac Mini – BYODKM, or ‘bring your own display, keyboard, and mouse’.

The Mac Mini’s prices are enticing, particularly at the lower end of the spectrum, but there’s a caveat here. You’ll need to connect this with a display. Your options range from the impressive OnePlus Monitor X27 (around 27,999) to the gorgeous Apple Studio Display (around 1,59,900). Basically, anything with HDMI or Thunderbolt (that’s USB-C, for the other ecosystems) connection options. For the keyboard and mouse options, you have choices aplenty, across budgets.

The Thunderbolt 4 standard gets a theoretical data transfer top speed of 40Gbps which means you can output to a display up to 6K resolution at 60Hz refresh rate. If you choose the HDMI option instead, then an 8K resolution display is also very much an option for you. But the latter is true for Mac Mini’s M2 Pro model – the lower spec variants get HDMI that tops out at 4K at 60Hz refresh rate. It can all be a bit complex, be careful to make the correct pick.

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And that’s where the finer detailing becomes important. The M2 models have two Thunderbolt 4 ports, while the M2 Pro models have four. Rest of the checklist, that is the ethernet port, HDMI, two USB ports and headphone jack, remain constant.

We tested the Apple Mac Mini in the mid-spec guide, with the M2 chip and 512GB storage. Luckily for us, this experience included the Apple Studio display, complete in 27-inch glory. That display has its own ultrawide camera for video calls, with Center Stage, a six-speaker sound system with Spatial Audio as well as downstream Thunderbolt ports for accessories such as storage, networking, and printers – this in a way extends the Mac Mini’s connectivity ports.

Much like how it is almost impossible to strain an Apple MacBook Pro 13 running the M2 chip, it is a replication of something similar with the Mac Mini. There is incredible headroom to push multi-tasking. This is the entry-spec M2 chip, but you shouldn’t expect it to be any slouch in the graphics department. That makes it versatile.

Depending on what your workflow is, make a pick that fits best. The M2 variants will be ideal for a workstation for most users, with the real value being added by the fact that everyday apps and multitasking situations feel snappy – in fact, there is definite feedback that everything feels a tad snappier than the M1, when you push the limits of multitasking.

Even the M2 Mac Mini can do quite a bit of it too without breaking a sweat, which adds to the versatility, but the M2 Pro configuration will be a good pick if you intend to dabble with multiple streams of 4K footage editing. With Arcade Gaming very much on the radar, we noticed that the M2 chip returns unbelievably fluid gameplay. This isn’t to be considered a gaming rig, but the fact it can do a lot of that task too without much stress, is nothing short of marvellous.

The performance is maintained well too, considering the Mac Mini’s design allows for a fan that should actively help with ventilation. It is a very silent fan too – you won’t realise it is on when it is on.

If you are still confused about which Mac Mini to buy, here’s simplified guidance for you – Get the M2 chip variant for most desktop-at-work usage scenarios, which will include working on lots of documents, carelessly opened (and left open) web browser tabs and video calls. A simple recommendation would be to spend that bit more for 512GB storage. The M2 Pro Mac Mini price, considering the steep jump from the mid-spec variant, will be easy to justify for video and photo editors, for instance. The two extra USB-C ports will come handy too.

The Mac Mini, in its 2023 evolution, has focused on choice and versatility. The entry price tag will make it relevant for a wider demographic, considering the undeniable step forward in terms of performance and versatility. The M2 Pro option too, for someone who wants more performance from the tiny desktop form factor, adds another dimension to the desktop experience.

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    Vishal Mathur is Technology Editor for Hindustan Times. When not making sense of technology, he often searches for an elusive analog space in a digital world.

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