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Mac Mini M2 vs Mac Mini M1: What’s new?

Apple recently announced a 2023 update to its Mac Mini line with the Mac Mini M2. The biggest upgrade this time around is a jump from the company’s M1 chip to its newer M2 and M2 Pro

But what does this mean for the Mac Mini, and what else has changed since the 2020 Mac Mini M1

We’ve put the two Apple desktop computers head-to-head so you can decide whether it’s worth upgrading your Mac, as well as which model to pick up if you’re in the market for your first Mini. 

Apple M2 chip
The Apple M2 Pro

The Mac Mini M2 has a new chip 

The biggest difference between the Mac Mini M1 and the Mac Mini M2 is in the name – the Mac Mini M2 is powered by either the M2 or M2 Pro SoC, while the Mac Mini M1 comes with the slightly older M1. 

The M1 includes an 8-core CPU with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores, an 8-core GPU and a 16-core Neural Engine. It has a media engine with video encode and decode engines and support for hardware-accelerated H.264 and HEVC. 

The M2 has a similar setup with an 8-core CPU with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores and a 16-core Neural Engine, but it also comes with a 10-core GPU. The media engine also supports Apple ProRes and ProRes RAW. 

The M2 Pro, meanwhile, takes this up a notch with an up to 12-core CPU consisting of 8 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores, an up to 19-core GPU and a 16-core Neural Engine up to 40% faster than that in the M1. The media engine offers the same support as that in the M2. 

The above means that M2 and M2 Pro-powered Mac Minis can deliver faster performance and a more powerful media engine than the Mac Mini M1. 

The Mac Mini M2

The Mac Mini M2 has more memory 

Another difference to note is that the Mac Mini M2 offers larger memory options and more bandwidth than its predecessor. 

Where the Mac Mini M1 comes in 8GB and 16GB configurations, the Mac Mini M2 delivers up to 24GB of unified memory with 100GB/s memory bandwidth, while the M2 Pro caps out at 32GB and a 200GB/s memory bandwidth. 

According to Apple, this makes editing images in Adobe Photoshop up to 50% faster on the M2-powered Mac Mini.

Front bottom side view of a white Mac mini resting on a black background
The Mac Mini M1

The Mac Mini M2 has larger storage options 

The new Mac Mini also comes with more storage, but only if you opt for the M2 Pro model. 

SSD configurations for the Mac Mini M1 and the Mac Mini M2 range from 256GB to 2TB, while the Mac Mini M2 Pro starts at 512GB and goes up to a huge 8TB. 

The Mac Mini M2

The Mac Mini M2 offers more Thunderbolt ports 

If you’re in need of Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports, the new Mac Mini packs in twice as many as its predecessor. Though, again, you’ll need to upgrade to the M2 Pro-powered Mini to take advantage of this addition. 

The Mac Mini M1 and the Mac Mini M2 come with two Thunderbolt ports, two USB-A, an HDMI and an Ethernet port. The Mac Mini M2 Pro, meanwhile, gives you four Thunderbolt ports, two USB-A, one HDMI and one Ethernet port. 

Furthermore, the M2 model can play up to two streams of 8K ProRes 422 video at 30fps or up to 12 streams of 4K ProRes 422 video at 30fps at the same time. This is compared to the support for one 6K display and one 4K supported by the Mac Mini M1. 

The M2 Pro, meanwhile, can support up to three displays, including up to five 8K ProRes 422 streams at 30fps or up to 23 4K ProRes 422 streams at 30fps. 

Early verdict 

When it comes to price, the Mac Mini M2 is actually cheaper than its predecessor, with prices starting at $599/£649 to the M1’s $699/£699. The higher-specced Mac Mini M2 Pro, meanwhile, starts at over twice that price at $1299/£1399. 

That makes the new Mac Mini M2 an easy upgrade over the Mac Mini M1. 

Of course, if you want the most powerful Mac Mini there is, you’ll need to opt for the Mac Mini M2 Pro. This is where most of the upgrades come in. However, at double the price of the Mac Mini M2, you’ll need to decide whether the differences are worth it for you.

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