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Why you probably shouldn’t buy the $599 M2 Mac mini

Computers don’t typically get cheaper — especially not when they have an Apple logo plastered on them. But it’s true, the new M2 Mac mini is $100 cheaper than the M1 Mac mini. It’s certainly the most affordable way in a long while to get into the Mac ecosystem. Add in the extra performance that the M2 brings over the M1, and you have a winning formula, right?

In theory, yes. But there are a few considerations to take into account about the base configuration of the M2 Mac mini that should at least make you think twice about what kind of a computer you really need.

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A top-down view of the Mac Mini.

First off, the $599 Mac mini comes with just 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Now, 8GB of RAM is OK, and for a long time, it was the standard. But these days, even just running a window of Google Chrome full of tabs might use that memory all on its own. More and more, I find myself recommending that people try to opt for 16GB of RAM to make sure they aren’t getting bottlenecked.

Not only is that low capacity on both fronts for this $599 Mac mini, neither is upgradeable either. That’s true regardless of whichever Mac you buy in 2023, but it’s especially important when you’re considering a machine with just 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

Apple doesn’t make upgrading these components cheap, though. It’ll cost you an extra $400 to jump to 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, which suddenly makes this a much more expensive computer. That’s still $400 cheaper than an identically configured MacBook Air M1, and $1,000 is still a decent price for a computer. But that updated price paints the Mac Mini M2 in a much different light.

There’s also the problem of how Apple has configured its SSD. To put it bluntly, this base configuration delivers about half the read and write speeds of the base M1 Mac mini. That doesn’t mean this is an overtly slow SSD altogether. For the type of use this base configuration was designed for, it’s plenty fast. But it’s nonetheless true that basic things like file transfers will be half the speed of a Mac mini that came out two years ago.

The ports on the back of the Mac mini.

In terms of CPU performance, though, you’ll likely be impressed by what Apple has done with the M2 Mac mini. It’s blazing fast and remarkably quiet. The M2 Pro model is really only reserved for those who need the improved graphics, which would come in handy for editing video or playing games.

I don’t deny that there’s certainly a target audience for the $599 Mac mini. For a basic family computer, it’ll do great. If you need something for a Plex server or to run a home theater setup, the M2 Mac mini has more power than you’ll ever need. I’m delighted that Apple’s serving those customers with a fair price.

But if you want something that’ll handle the ins and outs of your daily work, you should at least consider upgrading the storage and memory of your Mac mini to something that will last you a bit longer. In this case, investing a little more upfront is really going to make you happier in the long run.

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