Just when you think Apple can't top a device, it somehow manages to go above and beyond. And it's done it again, last week announcing two new Mac Minis – an entry-level one equipped with Apple's latest M2 chip, and a souped-up model with an all-new M2 Pro chip. You'll need a monitor for Mac mini, as it doesn't come equipped with one – but this is what helps to keep its price down.
To look at it, you wouldn't know the Mini was any different. It's the same size, weight, and shape as the previous version. But trust me when I say there is much more than meets the eye to this simple-looking device, so much so it's set to take a top spot in our pick of the best desktop computers for photo editing. Let's take a closer look at exactly what it can do...
Apple Mac Mini M2 Pro (2023) Specifications
Processor: Apple M2 Pro chip, 10-core CPU
Graphics: 16-core GPU
Neural Engine: 16-core
RAM: 16GB (configurable to 32GB)
Storage: 512GB SSD (configurable to 8TB)
Connectivity: 4 x Thunderbolt 4, 2 x USB, HDMI, headphone socket, Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth
Dimensions: 197 x 197 x 36mm
Apple Mac Mini M2 Pro (2023) Key features
The Mac Mini M2 Pro has two standout features: performance and connectivity. There is, frankly, a mind-boggling amount of power under the hood of this machine, and with four Thunderbolt 4 ports, it can support up to three displays, one of those being 8K.
This higher spec mini features a 12-Core CPU, supported by up to 19-Core GPU and 32GB of memory. Obviously, the higher specs you choose, the more it will cost you. The model I am testing here has a 12-Core CPU, 19-Core GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of storage. This particular configuration is a beast of a machine and has a price tag to match coming in at $1,799 / £1,899. That's an extra $500 / £500 above the starting price of this model.
As well as an immense amount of power, the Mac mini M2 Pro also comes with enhanced connectivity, sporting two more Thunderbolt 4 ports than the entry-level mini. There are also two USB Type-A ports, a Mini HDMI 2.0 port, a single Ethernet port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Apple Mac Mini M2 Pro (2023) Build and handling
There's very little to say here, which I'm a bit sad about. The overall design and weight of the Mac Mini remain the same as the last few iterations, which, honestly, is a little disappointing. And that's coming from a big fan of Mini's small form factor.
I can't help but wish it had been made even the tiniest bit smaller, be that in overall size or simply with some clever bevels or more rounded edges. The boards Apple uses now mean there is surely scope to make the mini even more, well, mini? But I'm guessing the connectivity options are the driving factor in its overall design. The M2 Pro mini has more ports than ever before, so I can see how shaving anything off its dimensions could cause an issue from that point of view.
I was also wondering if, by some miracle, this iteration might see the return of an SD card slot. It disappeared back in 2018, which feels like a lifetime ago. I think it's fair to say it's unlikely Apple will reinstate it now, which is a shame as it would no doubt be welcomed by many photographers.
Apple Mac Mini M2 Pro (2023) Performance
We ran a series of benchmarking tests on the new Mac Mini M2 Pro, the results of which you can find below:
|Header Cell - Column 0||Mac Mini M2 Pro|
|GeekBench 5 Single-core CPU score||1,958|
|GeekBench 5 Multi-core CPU score||15,198|
|Cinebench R23 Single-core CPU score||1,646|
|Cinebench R23 Multi-core CPU score||14,768|
To many, this set of numbers won't mean much, so let me give you a bit of context. It's important to first remember that I am testing one of the highest-spec Mac Mini M2 Pros money can buy, but I have to say these numbers are nothing short of amazing. They show this model mini to be almost 10% faster than the MacBook Air M2 (2022), and faster than the Apple Mac Studio M1 Ultra with the M1 Max chip (Geekbench score 12,500). It's quick. Really, really quick.
But what does that translate to in use? To be honest, in the short time I've been using this machine, I've yet to find anything that slows it down. At one point I was running Premier Pro (with 8K video) alongside After Effects, Freeform and an anxiety-inducing number of browser tabs, many playing YouTube tutorials, and the mini did it all not only with ease, but silently.
After that, I knew it would have no problem dealing with high res, multi-layer PSD files in Adobe Photoshop CC. But again, remember that this model is equipped with 16GB RAM, so using memory-hungry features wasn't an issue. The fact that the Mac Mini M2 Pro comes with 16GB RAM as standard is great as it makes so much more possible, particularly in the world of photo and video editing. It's also a very welcome feature addition that this model can be configured up to 32GB, something that, up to this point, has been impossible on a Mini.
Apple Mac Mini M2 Pro (2023) Verdict
The Mac mini M2 Pro fills a gap that Apple has, up to this point, ignored. If you are a professional photographer or digital content creator who needs a lot of storage and/or memory, this M2 Pro Mini is undoubtedly the best option of the two models. The addition of the two extra Thunderbolt ports, which now support 8K, will also be a big pull for anyone regularly working with high res imagery.
This higher-spec device is obviously more money than the entry-level model, but it still offers excellent value for money, particularly when you add up what it can do, how portable it is and the connectivity options it offers.
The Mac mini M2 Pro is an absolute powerhouse, wrapped up in a small, stylish package that is so quiet it's easy to forget it's there. It's the missing piece for anyone wanting a small form factor PC for everyday use with a serious amount of power. It still doesn't offer the option for upgrades in the future, but what's under the hood here will be more than most will ever need.
If the Mac Mini isn't for you, check out our guide to the best desktop computer for photo editing. If you'd rather have the portability of a laptop, these are the best photo editing laptops and the best MacBooks.