Rumors are swirling that Apple is about to release a brand-new Mac Mini. With the company’s October event apparently no longer happening, that means we could see a new Mac Mini launched with a press release any day now.
While the M1 Mac Mini is a great device, there are still a bunch of ways Apple could make it even better, from fixing problems to adding new features. Here are five things that could make the next Mac Mini almost irresistible.
Right now, if you were to take a stroll over to Apple’s website, you’d see three Mac Mini options. The entry-level and mid-range choices are powered by the M1 chip, yet the high-end version, curiously, still retains an Intel processor.
It’s been two years since Apple launched the M1 Mac Mini, yet there’s still no replacement for the Intel model. We know how much better Apple silicon chips are than the 8th-generation Intel Core i5 in the high-end Mac Mini — the M1 Pro would utterly destroy it, both in terms of power and efficiency — so why hasn’t Apple switched it out yet?
Fortunately, there’s talk that Apple will do just that this fall by adding an M1 Pro or M2 Pro model to the lineup. That would go some way toward giving fans of the Mac Mini a more powerful option than what’s currently available. And going forward, let’s hope Apple doesn’t make us wait as long for subsequent high-end models.
Speaking of Apple silicon, we’ve seen recently how Apple’s new chips can affect the design of its products. The 24-inch iMac, for example, was able to adopt a radically thinner chassis compared to its predecessor because its chip required so much less cooling. That’s the kind of change I want to see in the next Mac Mini.
Right now, the Mac Mini only takes up a small footprint on your desk. Yet it feels taller than it needs to be, despite most models coming with an efficient M1 chip. If the chassis was slimmed down, it would make the Mac Mini far more portable and travel-friendly, and much prettier sat on a desk.
In May 2021, leaker Jon Prosser claimed Apple was working on cutting down the Mac Mini’s profile with a new model that would also feature a plexiglass-like top surface. We haven’t seen the fruits of that prediction yet, but Prosser has a decent track record when it comes to Apple rumors, so it wouldn’t surprise me if this redesigned Mac Mini was close to release by now.
Prosser’s report also touched on another intriguing aspect of this speculated future Mac Mini, that Apple was apparently experimenting with adding various colors to the device. That would be highly unusual, since the Mac Mini has traditionally only come in white, silver, or gray.
But before we get too carried away, I don’t think we should expect anything like the range of colors you see in the 24-inch iMac. Apple likes to frame the Mac Mini as a more professional device, which usually limits its color palette somewhat.
Still, I’d love to see a little more flexibility when it comes to the color options. The M2 MacBook Air currently comes in the lovely Midnight and Starlight shades (in addition to silver and gray), which maintain a professional air while adding a bit of visual variation to the device. Why shouldn’t the Mac Mini get similar color options? If Apple brought out a Midnight Mac Mini, I’d buy it in a second.
While the M1 Mac Mini might have destroyed its Intel predecessor in almost every regard, there is one way that it actually falls behind: ports. The M1 Mac Mini only offers two Thunderbolt 3 ports, whereas the Intel model comes with four. In every other way, their port selection is the same, but it’s a notable loss for the M1.
Apple needs to fix that by restoring the port parity. In an age where Apple is bringing back things like the HDMI slot and MagSafe connector to the MacBook Pro, it wouldn’t surprise me if the next Mac Mini expands its port array as well.
I don’t expect Apple to go wild here — there’s very limited space on the back of such a small device, after all — but it could mirror the Mac Studio and add a few slots around the front. Not only would that expand the connection options to every user, but it would mean there’d be less need to clamber around the back of the device every time you wanted to plug something in. Who needs that kind of hassle?
Apple’s entry-level chips, whether the M1 or the M2, have a noticeable limitation: they can only support one external display via the USB-C ports (you get one extra thanks to the HDMI slot). So even though you get two USB-C slots, only one will support a monitor, limiting your options. While annoying, that’s not so much of a problem with a laptop, since you’re unlikely to haul an external monitor or two with you when you take it to the coffee shop. But it’s more of a problem with the Mac Mini, since you’ll usually be using it while sitting at a desk, where multiple monitors are more common.
Regardless of whether the next Mac Mini lineup consists of an M1 and M1 Pro model or gets bumped up to the M2 range, we know the entry-level model won’t support more than one external display over USB-C because the M2 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro also have this limitation. Yet there’s hope for the high-end model.
That’s because Apple’s Pro chips, which have been rumored for the next Mac Mini, let you connect up to two extra screens. That gives me hope, as it would be a great productivity booster for anyone who likes a little more display real estate when using a Mac Mini.
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