Mac Mini M2 review

Apple Mac mini M2 (2023) review: pint-sized powerhouse

Apple’s Mac mini doesn’t normally get much of the spotlight. With the latest model, it’s high time that this changes. Why? Since there is no 27-inch iMac, the Mac mini is poised to fill the gap for those looking for a powerful, compact machine that can tackle home, productivity and even higher-end creative tasks. This is thanks to Apple’s new M2 and M2 Pro chips, which elevate the Mac mini from its humble origins to a pint-sized powerhouse.

What’s changed? What’s the same?

While the 2023 Mac mini looks nearly identical to the previous models, this isn’t a bad thing. The silver aluminium case is still flat and compact, however, there are quite a few changes within. This includes the chip, memory, storage, cooling system and connections – but more on this later.

Also, like previous models, you only get the Mac mini and a power cable in the box, so you’ll need to bring your own keyboard, mouse and monitor.

Mac mini models

There are a few different models to choose from; the $999 entry-level with the M2 chip and 256GB of solid-state (SSD) storage, a $1,299 M2 with a larger 512GB hard drive or step up to the ‘Pro’ version for $1,999, which includes the M2 Pro chip and 512GB of storage.

You can also configure between 8, 16, 24 (and 32GB for the M2 Pro) of unified memory, up to 2 terabytes of RAM for the M2 and a huge 8TB for the M2 Pro model, and either 1GB or 10GB Ethernet port. There are two M2 Pro chips too, one with a 16-core GPU and a more powerful 19-core GPU variant.

All up, depending on what you need, you can spend anywhere from $999 to well over $3,000 on your configuration.  

M2 chip differences

Apple’s M2 chip is the successor to the very successful M1. The benefit of Apple using its own chips instead of using the same chips that are found in other PCs and laptops is that they can be fine-tuned for Apple’s specific hardware and software. The net result is a vastly more powerful chip that at the same time uses much less energy.

Apple 2023 Mac Mini with M2 and M2 Pro chip

Without getting into the technical nitty gritty, the M2 brings with it a faster CPU (Central Processing Unit) with more cores, as well as GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), again with more cores, along with faster memory bandwidth and dedicated media processors for doing things like decoding or compressing video. We recently explained the improvements introduced by the M2 Pro and M2 Max chips if you want to learn more.

Putting the M2 chip into the Mac mini versus a laptop such as the new MacBook Pro can actually produce a faster machine overall, even though they both use the same chip. This is mainly because the mini’s larger case has more room inside to dissipate the heat produced by the chip. The cooler it runs, the faster it can go. Otherwise, the system will reduce the power to keep the chip within a certain thermal envelope.


While it looks the same on the outside as previous Mac minis, there are big improvements to connectivity. The standard M2 gets 2 Thunderbolt type 4 connectors and can support two screens, while the Pro gets 4 Thunderbolt 4 connectors and can manage up to three displays. The M2 Pro can even support one 8K display. Both models now get an HDMI 2.1 connector, which can work with 144Hz TVs and monitors. All Mac minis get 2 standard USB-A ports, plus a 1GB Ethernet port, which can be upgraded to the faster 10GB version. On the wireless front, it’s great to see that the very latest (and fastest) Wi-Fi 6E is included, as well as Bluetooth 5.3.

With all of these updated attachments, the mini can link up to just about anything you could throw at it, such as multiple high-resolution displays, ultra-fast 144Hz monitors and TVs for gaming, super fast external storage and the latest Wi-Fi routers. This should also provide some future proofing to keep your mini playing nicely with external components for years.


For testing, we had the Mac mini with the M2 Pro, 16 core GPU version, with 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. Below is a table of benchmark results with comparisons to a MacBook Air with M2 chip, along with the latest MacBook Pro with the M2 Max.

Mac mini M2 Pro (2023)14-inch MacBook Pro M2 Max (2023)MacBook Air M2 (2022)
Geekbench 5 CPU single-core194019751895
Geekbench 5 CPU multi-core15105153038927
Geekbench 5 GPU Metal5333485485N/A
Cinebench R23 CPU single-core164516091602
Cinebench R23 CPU multi-core14666147327642

We found that there was an increase across all benchmarks. However, the M2 isn’t a vast step up from the M1. This, we expect, is due mainly to the M2 also being a 5nm chip, so we expect more gains when Apple moves to a 4nm or 3nm architecture with the M3 next year. This isn’t to say that the M2 offers excellent performance for its price and class, which it indeed does, and should be more than enough for just about any office or productivity task, compiling coding, working with large images, 4K video editing and more. As a platform, you can dial up the power by specifying a faster chip, more RAM or a larger hard drive.

It should be said that Apple has been somewhat hobbling the performance of the M2 chip at the lower end of its models by using a considerably slower solid state hard drive (SSD) than that found in the M1. In some configurations (such as with 8GB of RAM and doing a RAM-intensive task), an M1 with the faster hard drive can beat an M2. What this boils down to is that you should avoid the 256GB SSD on the entry-level Mac mini model and go for the faster 512GB version if you want the maximise performance, or otherwise increase the RAM to 16GB. On the Mac mini with M2 Pro, you’ll need to shell out for the 1TB SSD to get full-fat hard drive speeds.

GadgetGuy’s take: Mac mini M2

The new Mac mini M2 has everything it needs to earn its place on many a home or office desktop. The combination of very capable performance, impressive connectivity and a sleek and compact case all work together to make it a valuable successor to the aging 27-inch Intel-based iMacs out there, or those switching from the PC camp for something more compact.

Pricing is competitive too, but don’t forget to factor in a keyboard, mouse and monitor. Also, at the upper end of the configurations, such as around $3,300, you will find that the larger and more professional-focused Mac Studio starts at a similar price, only you get the addition of more USB ports, an SD card reader and 32GB of memory as standard. However, you won’t get the faster Wi-Fi 6E or Bluetooth 5.3, or 144Hz HDMI 2.1 connector, if that matters.

All up, for what it offers, the Mac mini with M2 or M2 Pro are excellent options for those that want to have their cake and eat it too.

Mac Mini M2
Regardless of whether you go for the M2 or M2 Pro option, the Apple Mac Mini M2 is a powerful desktop device despite its tiny stature.
Value for money
Ease of use
Lots of power in a small device
Vastly improved connectivity options
Competitively priced
Slower SSD speeds in lower-spec models
Not a massive step up from the M1