Yesterday, we saw a new range of Mac Mini's released. Although little had changed on the outside, things were very different under the hood. The M2 chip was now powering things on the base model, and an all-new M2 Pro chip was unveiled for the premium variant.
It marked a substantial upgrade, but many were left questioning how the Mac Studio fit into the new range. Billed as the more premium desktop Mac variant, the Studio now uses an outdated processor. So, are you better off buying a Mac Mini? Let's take a look.
To compare the two fairly, we put together the most similar spec possible. As shown in the table below, most of the spec points are identical, except for the processor.
|Mac Mini||Mac Studio|
|Processor||M2 Pro (12‑core CPU, 19-core GPU, 16‑core Neural Engine)||M1 Max (10-core CPU, 24-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine)|
|Rear Ports||Four Thunderbolt 4; Two USB-A; One HDMI; One 3.5mm headphone jack; 10 Gigabit ethernet||Four Thunderbolt 4; Two USB-A; One HDMI; One 3.5mm headphone jack; 10 Gigabit ethernet|
|Front Ports||None||Two USB-C ports; One SDXC card slot|
|Price||£2,199 / $2,099 / AU$3,199||£1,999 / $1,999 / AU$3,099|
Right off the bat, it's clear that the M2 Pro chip is carrying a premium. The comparable Mac Mini is more expensive than the Studio, but is it worth the extra cash?
On the basis of the processor alone, it's probably unfair to call, with each having benefits and pitfalls. Both have a 16-core neural engine, making them equally adept at machine learning tasks. The M2 Pro's extra two CPU cores are counteracted with an additional five GPU cores on the M1 Max.
Ports are similar across the two devices, with a good selection mounted on the rear of the device. The Mac Studio benefits from an extra pair of front mounted USB-C ports, as well as an SDXC card slot.
Plus, the taller case height is home to an advanced thermal distribution system, which should help to keep things cool, even under intense workload. That could be very useful – especially if you're going to be powering through intensive tasks like photo and video editing.
Given its current cheaper price point, I think the Mac Studio offers insane value. If an M2 update does come through for the Studio – and that is a big 'if' – you can be sure it will bring a price hike with it.
The Mac Mini is a great device, but it excels more at lower price points. Once you get into a tricked out, higher-spec variant, it loses the magic of its' incredible value.