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M2 Pro Mac mini review: Apple’s Goldilocks desktop for semi-professionals

Outstanding power efficiency is a highlight of this in-betweener desktop.

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Enlarge / Apple’s 2023 Mac mini. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Apple’s Mac Studio was its most interesting desktop in years. It lacks the internal expandability of the Mac Pro, but the raw performance and power efficiency of the M1 Max and M1 Ultra plus a great port selection make it a viable option for plenty of people who would have bought a fully loaded 27-inch iMac or a low-to-mid-end Mac Pro in the Intel era.

But the $2,000-and-up desktop is still overkill for a lot of people, even for pros and power users. There was a lot of room between the cheapest Studio and the best M1 Mac mini for a cheaper-but-more-capable system, something for people who could benefit from pro-level performance and extra ports occasionally but who don’t need them often enough to justify dropping the money on a Mac Studio.

Enter the new Mac minis. Both the M2 and M2 Pro versions are augmented in ways that will benefit multi-monitor multitasking workstations, and they can do so for substantially less money than the Studio—the M2 mini starts at $599, $100 cheaper than the M1 mini and cheaper than any Mac mini has been since 2014. Apple sent us the M2 Pro version of the mini to review, and for many price-conscious power users who prefer or require macOS, it injects just the right amount of Mac Studio performance into the mini’s 13-year-old design.

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