M2 Pro Mac Mini Review: Game Changer!

So this little machine, this one right here, that I can hold in my hands, has more power than a base Mac Pro right now, more CPU power anyway. Now, I hope that that's not true for much longer, because the Mac Pro is overdue for its Apple Silicon upgrade. But the fact that it's true at all right now is insane. This little machine is not only super powerful, and super efficient, and super small, But it's also a really good price. So I said in my last video about the MacBook Pros that the Mac mini is the more interesting machine. And I mean it, it is. It's just gotten a refresh from the M1 chip that it had before to now having an M2, and an M2 Pro option, both of which are kind of game changers in their ways. So first, the M2 version, The base M2 Mac mini is a game changer because it's all the benefits of the new Apple Silicon stuff, the second-generation, five-nanometer process, the blazing-fast shared memory, all the optimizations that come with it,

for a starting price of $599, US. So I mean, it's a pretty simple computer, not even a small tower, just a tiny computer in there. It's the laptop, but without the screen and the keyboard, only one color, silver, and then a decent selection of ports around the back, along with a small exhaust vent for active cooling, and a headphone jack. And so this thing packs a surprisingly enormous power for its size. We've seen this Apple Silicon transition play out over the past two years. And when the Mac mini moved to Apple Silicon from the Intel chips, it took a hilarious leap up in performance. Some of the numbers on paper are just ridiculous. You have to forgive me for using Apple's stupid unlabeled charts, but like, just to give you an idea, this completely changed the nature of the product. So this M1 Mac mini is already dramatically better than the Intel one for 99% of people. And now the M2 comes along with more cores, a more powerful CPU and GPU, more max memory,

and a higher overall performance ceiling, and the price goes down from $699 to $599. Apple rarely lowers the price of the entry-level of anything, but that's exactly what's happened here. So we just got a computer that's more powerful, and more capable, and more efficient for less money. And so then we also have the M2 Pro Mac mini. This is the one that I've been testing and using. And so before, we just had the base Apple Silicon M1 Mac mini, now that's the M2, but we've also now got this Pro chip, which raises the ceiling for Mac mini performance, still on the same tiny body. Well, I can't say the same tiny body, because the M2 Pro version also does gain two more Thunderbolt ports. So now there are four Thunderbolt four ports on the back along with everything else still here. That means you can now do three external displays instead of two, and you can still option up to 10 gigabit ethernet If you're blessed with that type of internet connection, or if you're at an institution that will take advantage of the networking capability. And yes, that is HDMI 2.

1. But the big deal here with this new chip is the M2 Pro is so much more performant thanks to the updated architecture, and the extra cores, that it's now benchmarking actually over the M1 Pro and the M1 Max in the CPU department That was in the highest-end MacBook Pros before. I had to double-take when I first read that, Because M1 Max has been so incredible, but yet here we are, Even the incremental improvements here are notable. And on top of that, The thermal advantage potential of a Mac mini with active cooling in a taller chassis over a MacBook Pro can also mean in the long term, you know, sustained CPU performance over time. You may see even better results there. So this thing's performance is rock-solid. And then, of course, as you move up in chips from base to Pro to Max, that's mostly a GPU improvement. And so M2 Pro does great here, too, but as you can see, the results fall sort of more in line. It's an improvement, of course, over the last one, but the Max chips are still the way to go if your applications specifically take advantage of GPU power.

But then everyday performance is just, it's gonna be the same, which is to say, great. But the sustained multi-core performance ceiling is just way higher. You know, especially for things like video editing, or app development, things that have longer compiled times or render times That might be above what you wanna do on the base M2, That's awesome on the M2 Pro. This model starts at $1299. Not cheap, of course, but when you consider the M2 Pro MacBook Pro with the same system on a chip starts at $1999 right now, pretty good. That's actually, that's the real reason I'm calling these Mac minis a game changer, or at least for being so good, is performance per dollar. You don't usually expect that out of a Mac, But if I were to do like, one of those dumb Apple charts of like, here's the laptop performance per dollar, and then here's the Mac mini's, which is the same performance, but for less money, it's better, the line's higher. You know, for so long Apple's prioritized these laptops, which makes perfect sense, by the way.

They've been great, lots of people buy them. But some people get the laptop, and then just keep it in one room all the time because desktop options aren't as appealing. And if we're being honest, the iMac is cool, but it's not for everyone. Like even right now, it kind of feels like Apple low-key forgot about the iMac. It's just been sitting with the unupgraded M1 chip for a little while now, even when M2 is out, but then they dropped Mac Studio. And Mac Studio is excellent in the highest-end configurations, and I can't wait for the M2 Ultra here. But yeah, the Mac mini now slots in really nicely underneath all of that. And, of course, with the modularity of a desktop that doesn't come with a monitor built in, now you pick whatever display you want with the $700 you save. It's funny, in recent reviews, I've been trying to give sustainability notes where it's relevant. And so there are some neat ones with this machine like recycled aluminum, the packaging on the outside, the recycled plastics on the inside of the Mac,

All that's cool, but all of that sort of outweighs by the ability to continue using your same display, and swap out displays however you want, unlike the iMac. Call me crazy, but I think there's a lot of people who probably don't wanna be stuck with a non-upgradable display and webcam and white bezels forever. Plus, if you already have a display you like, Yeah, you can just continue using that. I haven't done a video on the Mac mini Since the "Fastest Mac Mini in the World" project that I did back in college. Shout out to those of you who subscribed back then. But I basically, I took the highest-end available Mac mini in 2012, and maxed it out by upgrading to the fastest RAM, the fastest SSD it would support, to make it like, the most capable tiny machine for a college dorm room where space is at a premium. Because, clearly, my priorities at the time were video editing over homework. Now, this M2 Pro Mac mini has all the power that I would've killed for back then As a fledgling creator with not a lot of space, and it costs less. It costs less.

I had to look back. I had spent in total with the Mac and all the upgrades, $1,759 for the fastest Mac mini in the world. This one blows it out of the water as far as performance and capability. Of course, the difference here is no part of this tightly integrated machine is upgradable at all. So now you gotta think about spending a little bit more to account for having the machine for a long time and not upgrading things. Maybe a little more RAM, maybe a little more storage. Depends on what you're doing with it. But yeah, this would have blown out the water. . . This can handle any footage that I could throw at it that I could shoot myself. Also, by the way, if you do happen to be looking at one of these and you are in college like I was back then, don't forget about the student discount. That's typically a hundred bucks off. And I think with these machines it's a hundred bucks. So now that brings this down a hundred. That also brings the base M2 down to $499, which is great.

So in conclusion, if you're trying to think of. . . If you're trying to pick one Mac to buy right now, think of it this way. If you already have an Apple Silicon Mac, like an M1 generation Mac, you're good. You don't have to buy a new Mac every year. Those machines were a great update over the Intel ones. You're set. Now, if you have an older machine, and you're looking to upgrade, I would default to the Mac Mini, and just start with the base M2 $599 Mac mini. And I would not buy the iMac right now, because if you look at the specs specifically, It's still M1, and it's $1299 for a non-removable 24-inch display. I would just get the Mac mini instead, and get whatever $600 screen you want. You can swap that out, however. So I wouldn't recommend the iMac right now. And then if you know that you specifically wanna be computing on the go, That's when you move over, okay, okay, The laptops are really good.

You can get an M2-generation MacBook Pro, and those are excellent. I just reviewed them. If you wanna check it out, the link's below the like button, that video's up, and that's how I think about the lineup. But honestly, if you can find an M1-generation MacBook Pro right now at a discount, that's good, too. And then within each lineup, of course, I keep saying this, but the big difference between M2, M2 Pro, M2 Max, and eventually M2 Ultra when it comes out, is GPU. So it shouldn't be a shock that they're all sort of similar in CPU performance. But if the applications that you use, and you know your workflow will take advantage of GPU power, then that's when you bump that up. Okay, yeah, that's pretty much it. Maybe a little bit shocking, but yeah, the price for performance, Mac mini, is kind of a huge winner. Mac Mini might make me miss removable memory, but it makes most massive media machines feel pretty mid.

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