A Beginner’s Guide to Apple’s Mini Mac Computers

Gaming on Mini Mac Computers

Table of Contents

The Apple Mac Mini computers is a small but mighty desktop computer.

In this Mac Mini desktop review, we’ll go into what makes the Mac Mini desktop unique.

Whether you’re looking for a new Apple Mac Mini desktop with the latest mini i5 processor or just looking at the Mac Mini price, we’ve got you covered.

We’ll also talk about the Mac Mini price for those buying and the benefits of buying a used Mac Mini.

Keep reading to find out how big the Mac Mini is and why it might be the perfect computer for you.

What is the Mac Mini?

Mini Mac Computer in an Office

The Mac Mini is a small desktop computer from Apple, known for its size and power.

Unlike a traditional desktop PC, the Mac Mini doesn’t come with a monitor, keyboard, or mouse, so it’s a flexible and affordable option for many.

It’s got a sleek aluminum design and packs a lot of power into a small box, making it perfect for home or office use.

The Mac Mini can be connected to any display, not just the Apple Studio Display so that you can customize your setup.

With options like the mini Mac i5 processor and the most affordable Mac, it’s got plenty of power for everyday use and more demanding applications.

Whether looking for a new Apple Mac Mini desktop or a used Mac Mini, this machine is reliable and efficient.

The Difference Between The Mac Mini M1, M2 and M2 Pro

Apple has updated the Mac Mini with the M1, M2, and M2 Pro Apple silicon chips, each with performance-level stance and capabilities.

Knowing the difference will help you choose the right one for you.

Mac Mini M1:

  • Processor: The M1 chip is the first Apple processor in the Mac Mini. It has an 8-core CPU with 4 performance cores, 4 efficiency cores, and an 8-core GPU, significantly boosting performance and efficiency over the previous Intel models.
  • Memory: The M1 Mini Mac computers support up to 16GB of unified memory, allowing the CPU and GPU to share the same memory pool.
  • Storage: SSD options range from 256GB to 2TB, so you have fast storage and plenty of room to store your files.
  • Performance: The M1 is great for everyday tasks, multimedia editing, and light gaming. It’s for users who need a reliable and efficient desktop for general use.

Mac Mini M2:

  • Processor: The Apple M2 chip is an upgrade from the M1. It has an 8-core CPU (improved performance and efficiency cores) and a 10-core GPU for better graphics.
  • Memory: The M2 model supports up to 24GB of unified memory for better multitasking and more demanding apps.
  • Storage: Like the M1, the M2 Mac Mini has SSD options from 256GB to 2TB.
  • Performance: The M2 is better than the M1, so it’s suitable for more demanding tasks like professional video editing, graphic design, and more demanding apps. The extra GPU cores also help with graphics-intensive tasks.

The New Mac Mini M2 Pro:

  • Processor: The new Mac Mini M2 Pro is a bigger step up from the M2. It is designed for professionals who need even more power. It has more CPU and GPU cores, with up to 12-core CPU and 16-core GPU.
  • Memory: The M2 Pro has even more memory capacity, so it’s great for heavy multitasking and running resource-hungry apps. This model can have up to 32GB of unified memory.
  • Storage: The Mac Mini M2 Pro’s SSD options start at 512GB and go up to 8TB, so there is plenty of room for large files and projects.
  • Performance: The M2 Pro is for professional workloads like 3D rendering, large video production, software development, and scientific computing. Its higher core count and memory capacity can handle tasks that require a lot of processing power and efficiency.

What do they have in common:

  • Ports: All three have the same ports: Thunderbolt / USB 4, USB-A, HDMI 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The base Mac Mini M2 and M2 Pro may have extra Thunderbolt ports.
  • Design: The Mac Mini design is the same across all models so it fits in any workspace.
  • Energy Efficiency: All are energy efficient and use less power than traditional desktops.

Key Features on the Mac Mini

Mini Mac Computer in a Home Office

Here are the features of the Mini Mac computers:

Small Design

The Mac Mini is tiny, 7.7 inches square and 1.4 inches tall, but it fits anywhere, whether on a cluttered desk or in a home entertainment setup.

It also looks good wherever it is.

Powerful Processors

The Mac Mini comes with Apple’s M2 and M2 Pro chips.

The M2 has an 8-core CPU with 4 performance cores, 4 efficiency cores, and a 10-core GPU.

The M2 Pro takes it up with a 10-core CPU with 6 performance cores, 4 efficiency cores, and a 16-core GPU.

These chips are super fast and efficient for everyday computing and more demanding tasks like video editing, graphic design, and software development.

Memory and Storage

The M2 model supports up to 24GB of unified memory for smooth multitasking and big apps.

The M2 Pro model supports up to 32GB of unified memory for pro use and heavy multitasking.

Storage expands to 2TB SSD for the M2 and 8TB for the M2 Pro, ensuring fast access to all your files, apps, and media.


The Mini Mac computers have multiple ports to connect up to three displays and devices: 2 Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports, 1 HDMI 2.0 port, 2 USB-A ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a Gigabit Ethernet port.

These are all the ports you need to connect monitors, external drives, keyboards, and more.


It runs on Apple’s macOS for a seamless and intuitive experience.

MacOS has an ecosystem of apps and services, including the App Store, iCloud, and built-in apps like Safari, Mail, and Photos.

It’s designed to work perfectly with Apple hardware for optimal performance and reliability.

Energy Efficiency

The Mac Mini is energy efficient and uses less power than traditional desktops.

It’s good for the planet and your electricity bill. Despite its power, it’s quiet, so it’s good for anywhere.


Without a display, keyboard, or mouse, the Mini Mac computers can be paired with whatever peripherals you like.

You can connect it to your favorite monitor, keyboard, and mouse or use it as a media server for your TV.

It’s perfect for multiple use cases, such as a primary desktop or a secondary machine for specific tasks.

Graphics Performance

The Mac Mini can handle video editing, gaming, and graphic design with powerful integrated graphics.

The M2 model with a 10-core GPU and the M2 Pro model with a 16-core GPU is ideal for creative pros and gamers who need high graphics performance.

Audio and Video

The Mac Mini has high-quality audio and video output, perfect for entertainment, video conferencing, and creative projects.

It can connect to multiple displays, including 4K and 5K monitors, and the HDMI port has high-definition audio and video output for your home theatre system.


The Mac Mini has advanced security features to protect your data.

The Secure Enclave and support for Apple’s T2 Security Chip (in earlier Intel Mac Minis models) provide hardware-level encryption and secure boot, keeping your information safe from prying eyes.

Learn to do some cool things with your Mac computer!

How to Set Up an Apple Mac Mini and Connect it to a Monitor

Mini Mac Computers In a Room

Setting up your Apple Mac Mini and monitor is easy.

Follow these steps to get your Mac Mini up and running.

1. Unbox Mac Mini

  • Unpack: Take out your Mac Mini, power cord, and other accessories from the box.
  • Check Components: Make sure you have everything you need, including a Mac Mini, a power cord, and any adapters you may need for your monitor.

2. Power Cord

  • Power Connection: Plug the power cord into the power port on the back of the Mac Mini.
  • Wall Outlet: Plug the other end of the power cord into a wall outlet or power strip.

3. Connect to Monitor

  • Ports: Identify the Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports, HDMI, and any other ports on the back of the Mac Mini.
  • Choose Connection Method:
  • HDMI: If your monitor has HDMI, plug one end of the HDMI cable into the HDMI port on the Mac Mini and the other end into the HDMI port on the monitor.
  • Thunderbolt/USB 4: If your monitor has Thunderbolt/USB 4 or needs an adapter, plug the appropriate cable into one of the Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports on the Mac Mini and the other end into the monitor.
  • Adapter: If you need an adapter (e.g. USB-C to HDMI adapter), plug the adapter into the Mac Mini and then plug the monitor cable into the adapter.

4. Power On Monitor

  • Monitor Setup: Make sure your monitor is plugged in and turned on.
  • Input Source: Select the correct input source on your monitor (e.g. HDMI or Thunderbolt/USB 4) from the on-screen menu.

5. Turn On Mac Mini

  • Power Button: Press the power button on the back of the Mac Mini.
  • First Boot: The Mac Mini will boot up, and you should see the Apple logo on your monitor.

6. Follow Setup Assistant

  • Language and Region: Choose your language and region.
  • WiFi: Select your Wi-Fi network and enter the password.
  • Apple ID: Sign in with your Apple ID. You can create a new one during setup if you don’t have one.
  • Settings: Follow the on-screen prompts to set up Siri, Touch ID and iCloud.
  • Data Transfer: If you are transferring data from another Mac or PC, follow the instructions to transfer your data.

7. Install Software and Updates

  • macOS Updates: Go to the Apple menu > System Preferences > Software Update to check for any macOS updates after setup.
  • Software: Install any software and apps you need for work or personal use.

8. Connect Peripherals

  • Keyboard and Mouse: Connect your Magic keyboard and mouse via USB or Bluetooth.
  • Other Devices: Connect devices like external hard drives, printers, or additional external displays as needed.

Intel Mac Mini: Performance

The i5 Mini has the i5 Intel processor, a good all-rounder.

Perfect for web browsing, document editing, and light content creation.

The i5 processor and Intel graphics will handle everyday use and multimedia tasks.

Up to 64GB of RAM so you can multitask and run more demanding apps.

Below is a comparison table between the intel, m2, and m2pro chips:

Feature Mac Mini i5 Mac Mini M2 Mac Mini M2 Pro
Processor Intel Core i5 Apple M2 chip with 8-core CPU (4 performance, 4 efficiency) Apple M2 Pro chip with 10-core CPU (6 performance, 4 efficiency)
Performance Good for web browsing, document editing, light content creation, some multimedia tasks Superior performance for demanding applications such as video editing, graphic design, heavy multitasking Exceptional for intensive tasks like 3D rendering, large-scale video production, software development
Graphics Integrated Intel graphics 10-core GPU 16-core GPU
Memory 64GB RAM 24GB of unified memory 32GB unified memory
Memory Bandwidth N/A 100GB/s 200GB/s
Media Engine N/A Hardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC, ProRes, ProRes RAW; Video decode and encode engine; ProRes encode and decode engine Same as M2 with enhancements in performance
Ports Thunderbolt 3, USB-A, HDMI, Ethernet Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), USB-A, HDMI, Ethernet Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), USB-A, HDMI, Ethernet
Use Case Suitable for users looking for a reliable and affordable Mac without the latest technology Ideal for power users and professionals needing higher performance and efficiency Best for professionals and creatives requiring top-tier performance and capabilities

New Mac Mini Price

The Mac Mini has multiple models at different prices, so it’s for everyone.

The base Mini Mac computers model with the M2 chip is very competitively priced at $474 on Amazon and gives excellent value for performance.

With an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU, it easily handles everyday tasks and more demanding apps. It’s an excellent choice for budget-conscious users who don’t want to compromise on performance.

As you go up the configurations, the prices increase with more memory and storage options.

For example, upgrading to a 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD model will cost $643 but give you more multitasking and storage.

The higher-end M2 Pro models, with even more capabilities and better graphics, will cost $1.187.00, but they are worth it for pros and power users.

The Mac Mini M2 Pro model takes performance to the next level.

It has up to a 12-core CPU and a 19-core GPU, making it perfect for tasks that require heavy processing power, such as video editing, 3D rendering, and software development.

This model supports up to 32GB of unified memory, allowing you to multitask with the most demanding apps.

The Mac Mini’s small size and build quality are bonuses, too.

It’s compact, so it fits anywhere; it’s robust and durable.

Used Mac Mini: Is it Worth It?

Mac Mini Computers in a Cozy Setting

Buying used Mini Mac computers is a great way to get an Apple desktop for less.

Many people find a used Mac Mini is still a great performer and reliable especially from recent years.

When buying a used Mac Mini, check the hardware and see if it’s been well taken care of.

Look for ones that come with the original box and accessories; a valid warranty is a bonus if possible.

Due to their architecture and speed, choosing an M2 or M2 Pro chip model will give you a significant performance boost over older Intel-based models.

The M2 chip has better graphics and processing power for more demanding tasks.

The M2 Pro chip takes it to the next level with more cores and memory for professional use and heavy multitasking.

Even older Intel Mac Minis models like the i5 or i7 can be valuable if they meet your needs and are priced right.

They are suitable for basic tasks and some moderate use and a budget friendly option.

Also, consider the upgrade path with Mini Mac computers.

Newer models with M2 and M2 Pro chips have soldered components, so upgrades are limited, but older Mac Minis may allow for RAM or storage expansion and extend their life.

Overall, a used Mac Mini can be a good investment if you do your research and get a well-taken care-of unit.

Check out some new and great MacBook Deals!

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly does a Mac mini do?

The Mini Mac computers are a tiny desktop computer from Apple. It’s powerful in a small package and suitable for many uses.

You can use it as your primary desktop for web browsing, document editing, multimedia creation, and more.

You can also use it as a media server, home theater PC, or development machine for software and apps.

It runs macOS so that you can access the Mac App Store and its services in the Apple universe.

What are Mac minis good for?

Mac minis are suitable for:

  • General Use: Everyday tasks like web browsing, email, and office apps.
  • Creative Work: Photo and video editing, graphic design, and music production due to the powerful processors and efficient graphics.
  • Media Server: Streaming content to other devices in your home.
  • Development: Coding, testing, and running virtual machines.
  • Home Office: Remote work setups due to the small size and performance.
  • Small Business: A reliable and compact desktop for business use.

What are the disadvantages of a Mac mini?

While the Mac mini has many advantages, it also has some disadvantages:

  • No Built-in Display: Unlike an iMac, the Mac mini doesn’t come with a display, keyboard, or mouse. You need to buy those separately.
  • Limited Upgradability: Newer models, especially those with M1, M2, and M2 Pro chips, have soldered components, so you can’t upgrade RAM or storage after purchase.
  • Graphics Performance: While good enough for many things, the integrated graphics aren’t as powerful as a dedicated GPU on high-end desktops, so they are not ideal for heavy gaming or advanced 3D rendering.
  • Peripheral Dependent: Requires external peripherals (monitor, magic keyboard, mouse), which adds to the overall cost and setup complexity.

Is there a PC equivalent to the Mac mini?

Yes, there are several PC equivalents to the Mac mini.

These small desktops offer similar functionality and size. Here are a few:

  • Intel NUC: A small, customizable desktop that can be configured with various Intel processors and components.
  • HP Z2 Mini: A mini workstation for professionals, high performance in a small package.
  • ASUS VivoMini: A mini PC for home and office use, available in various configurations.
  • Lenovo ThinkCentre M Series Tiny: These compact desktops for business use offer robust performance and security features.


I’ve used the Mac Mini for years so I can vouch for its awesomeness.

Whether you’re a creative professional who needs beastly performance or just someone who needs a desktop for everyday tasks, the Mac Mini delivers.

The latest M2 and M2 Pro chips improve performance, graphics, and memory.

These are perfect for general users and professionals who want top-notch performance in a tiny form factor.

We’ve also looked at how to connect your Mac Mini to a monitor and the benefits of buying a used one.

The Mac Mini is a versatile, powerful, and compact desktop.

Its small size and big performance make it a great addition to any workspace.

Whether upgrading from an older Mac Mini or switching from another desktop, the Mac Mini is a reliable and powerful computing experience that can handle many needs.

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Dimitar Srbinoski

Dimitar Srbinoski is the founder of WeCon Digital and an Upwork Top Rated Plus freelancer specializing in content writing and SEO. A tech enthusiast with a particular passion for Apple products, Dimitar combines his expertise in digital marketing with cutting-edge technology to help businesses thrive online.

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