Buyer's Guide: Don't Buy a Mac Mini Right Now – New Model Imminent
The high-end Mac mini is expected to arrive in the immediate future with a number of notable features and improvements, so prospective customers should now hold off on buying a Mac mini until the new model arrives.
Based on a range of reports from reliable sources over the past year, the new high-end Mac mini is currently expected to bring at least three key improvements:
- New design with more compact form factor, "plexiglass" top, and two-tone color options
- Magnetic power connector from the 24-inch iMac
- Apple silicon chip options, likely including M1 Pro and M1 Max
Apple has been believed to be working on a new Mac mini for some time. Apple updated the entry-level Mac mini with the M1 chip in November 2020, but the high-end offering is still the Space Gray model with an Intel processor from 2018. It is this high-end model that is expected to be replaced this year with an Apple silicon model that features the first redesign since 2010.
It is unclear if the entry-level Mac mini will also be getting an upgrade, but with the 13-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 chip looking likely to get an upgrade to the M2 chip this year, a similar upgrade for the entry-level M1-based Mac mini seems plausible.
Design and Color Options
The Mac mini is set to get a significant design overhaul, in the first major redesign to the popular desktop computer in almost 12 years. According to leaker Jon Prosser, who shared renders of the new Mac mini's alleged design last year, the new Mac mini will retain a similar form factor to the current Mac mini, but with an overall reduction in size.
The design itself is said to be moving away from the unibody aluminum enclosure that Apple has offered with the third, fourth, and fifth-generation Mac mini. The new design is purported to feature a "plexiglass-like" top, sitting above an aluminum frame.
This new design appears to be strongly evocative of the first-generation Apple TV, which the company went on to abandon in 2010 with the second-generation Apple TV, which moved to the black plastic enclosure that has remained through to the current version of the device.
Prosser added that the Mac mini could get a two-tone color scheme like the 24-inch iMac owing to the different materials on the top and the sides, but it is unclear what color options Apple could choose to offer. Being a high-end device akin to the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro, Space Gray and Silver seem like reasonable possibilities.
Ports and Magnetic Power Connector
Not only is Apple rumored to be testing iMac-like two-tone color options for the new Mac mini, but the device is also said to feature the same magnetic power connector that debuted on the Mac mini's all-in-one sibling.
The rear of the device is said to feature the same ports that are currently available with the high-end Intel-based Mac mini, including four Thunderbolt ports, two USB-A ports, one Ethernet port, and one HDMI port.
Apple Silicon Chips and Memory
The updated high-end Mac mini is expected adopt the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips that were first introduced in the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, completing the Mac mini lineup's transition from Intel chips to Apple silicon.
Both chips feature a 10-core CPU with eight high power cores and two high-efficiency cores, though there is also an 8-core version used in the 14-inch MacBook Pro. As for GPU performance, the M1 Pro chip features a 16-core GPU (14-cores in the base model 14-inch MacBook Pro), while the M1 Max features a 32-core GPU with a lower tier 24-core option also available as an upgrade. These same chip options may come to the Mac mini, but further details are unknown.
The M1 version of the Mac mini is limited to 16GB RAM, while the Intel version supports up to 64GB of RAM. The M1 Pro chip supports up to 32GB RAM and the M1 Max supports up to 64GB, so the new Mac mini is expected to continue to offer support for up to 64GB RAM.
Rumors and filings in the Eurasian Economic Commission's database suggested that Apple would launch its new Mac mini in the spring, but the machine did not emerge at Apple's March "Peek Performance" event.
Now, the high-end Mac mini is expected to arrive in 2023, so it is still inadvisable to buy the current version of the machine until the new model arrives, especially given age of the current high-end Mac mini.