Mac Mini, MacBook Pro Get M2-Refresh, Finally
New Mac mini desktop and MacBook Pro laptop models with an upgrade to Apple’s M2, M2 Pro and M2 Max chips were announced by the company on Tuesday.
Additionally, Apple has dropped the price of an entry-level mini with an M2 processor to US$599, $499 for the education market.
“That was one of the most interesting parts of the announcement,” observed Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, a consumer technology consultancy in New York.
“It’s not often you see Apple announce a lower entry price,” Rubin told TechNewsWorld.
“At $599, the price is designed to attract new users, but higher configurations can also add up quite quickly,” added Jitesh Ubrani, research director at IDC, an international market research firm.
These higher configurations with the M2 Pro chip start at $1,299, $1,199 for the education market.
The muscle the M2 Pro adds to the mini could potentially cannibalize Apple’s high-end desktop market, the Mac Studio, Ubrani told TechNewsWorld. “That’s not necessarily a bad thing,” he said.
“The mini may appeal to budding creators or consumers who have started to appreciate the desktop a bit more, especially as desktops have seen a slight improvement during the pandemic,” he added.
More video editing muscle
The M2 mini features an eight-core processor – four high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores – and a 10-core GPU. With the new chip, the mini is 50% faster than previous models, according to Apple.
The maximum configuration for its unified memory is 24 GB with a bandwidth of 100 GB per second.
The Mac Mini M2 model has two Thunderbolt 4 ports and supports up to two displays. (Image credit: Apple)
With the M2, ProRes acceleration is added to the mini, giving it a real punch when it comes to handling video. Apple says the M2 mini can handle tasks such as video editing in Final Cut Pro more than twice as fast as previous hardware models and simultaneously play up to two streams of 8K ProRes 422 video at 30 fps or 12 streams of 4K at 30 fps.
Overall, Apple boasts that the M2 mini is five times faster than the top-selling Windows desktop.
The M2 Pro brings to the mini a 12-core processor with eight high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores and a GPU with up to 19 cores.
The Mac mini M2 Pro model includes four Thunderbolt 4 ports and supports up to three displays. (Image credit: Apple)
The memory of the Pro models can have a maximum of 32 GB with a bandwidth of 200 GB/s.
The M2 Pro also gives the mini more video processing power, allowing it to play five streams of 8K ProRes 422 video at 30 fps or up to 23 streams of 4K video at 30 fps.
Apple said the M2 Pro mini is 14 times faster than the fastest Intel mini.
Undercut Mac Studio
“The fact that Apple is allowing these chips in the existing Mac Mini is interesting,” observed Mark N. Vena, president and principal analyst at SmartTech Research in San Jose, Calif.
“It makes the Mac mini a much more formidable content creation solution compared to the much more expensive Mac Studio,” Vena told TechNewsWorld.
Rubin added that integrating a more powerful chip into the mini bridges the gap between it and the Mac Studio.
“The mini can do a more pro-level workflow,” he explained, “so it might suit people who want to mix and match peripherals but can’t justify an outlay for a Mac Studio.”
“It also allows Mac Intel users to access Apple Silicon and experience its benefits,” he said.
When he heard that Apple was refreshing the mini, David McQueen, research director at ABI Research, an international technology consulting firm, thought the move would be designed to satisfy customers already invested in the Apple ecosystem. “But the performance improvements and lower price could attract new consumers to the product,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Reinforce the lead of the leader
The new MacBook Pro laptop will also offer an M2 Pro model and an M2 Max version.
The Max chip has the same 12-core processor as the M2 Pro but an extended GPU up to 38 cores and a larger L2 cache.
The chip can also address more unified memory – up to 96 GB – with faster bandwidth – 400 GB/s.
MacBook Pro prices range from $1,999 for a 14-inch model with the M2 Pro chip to $3,499 for a 16-inch model with the M2 Max chip.
The new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros feature M2 Pro and M2 Max, Apple’s next-generation business silicon. (Image credit: Apple)
“Adding the new M2 chips makes these new Macs powerful alternatives and, in laptops, gives them more battery life and additional graphics speeds,” said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a consulting firm in technology in San Jose, Calif., at TechNewsWorld. .
Ubrani argued that the new chips would advance Apple’s position in the market.
“Apple’s latest-generation MacBooks were already ahead of many other laptops on the market, delivering productivity and battery life that very few devices could match,” he said. .
“The next generation is likely to widen Apple’s lead in this prospect, and it puts additional pressure on Windows PC makers and silicon makers to up their game,” he said. added.
Ready for rush hour
These competitors, however, have started to up their game, and this announcement, which seems out of step with Apple’s typical timeline, could be a sign that the company is looking over its shoulder with some trepidation.
“At CES, we saw a lot of laptop announcements from Intel and AMD claiming they’re catching up with Apple,” Rubin noted. “With this announcement, Apple is responding to these processor introductions at CES.”
“It will be interesting to see how these M2 chips compete with AMD’s new Ryzen offering, which can deliver comparable or even better performance in terms of battery life and processing speed in the Windows space,” Vena added.
Image credit: Apple
However, Bajarin claimed the new chips were just too good to keep secret until the end of the year.
“The M2 chips are such an improvement over the M1s that Apple wanted to bring them to market as soon as possible,” he said. “That’s why the launch is earlier in the year than normal. The new M2s were ready for prime time.
The release of new products while the PC market is experiencing one of the worst declines in its history might give some computer manufacturers pause, but that is not the case for Apple.
“Apple is positioning itself differently than its PC competitors,” observed Mikako Kitagawa, director and analyst at Gartner, a research and consulting firm based in Stamford, Connecticut.
“He is determined to win the market despite the difficult environment,” she told TechNewsWorld. “That’s the message behind the release of the new product today.”