IT Pro Verdict
Minimal desk presence
MacOS brings open-source limitations
The Mac Mini (M2) might not be recognizable to every business user, but it has a long and proud history as Apple's only microcomputer offering. First introduced in 2005, the Mini has barely changed visually – save for getting wider and flatter – but the inside has undergone seismic overhauls.
Though it lacks the portability or stylish appeal of Apple's business behemoths like the MacBook, iMac, and iPad, the Mac Mini has lots going for it that make it a quietly confident offering by the tech giant.
Whatever your role, it's likely that the Mac Mini can provide the power necessary for your day-to-day tasks. Micro computers are often associated with lower-end models, or devices only intended to run simple tasks such as web browsing or for use with projectors.
The Mac Mini does not recognise these limitations, and chooses instead to take on business workstations from a case smaller than your lunch box.
Apple Mac Mini (M2) review: Design
It's downright impressive that Apple has managed to fit such a powerful package in such a small box. It takes up less room on a desk than any laptop you can find, and is half the width of the Magic Keyboard supplied by Apple.
At the ITPro desks, it sat comfortably to the side of a monitor – but a business user could just as easily sequester the Mac Mini onto a desk shelf, or hide it behind the monitor entirely (provided it receives a suitable level of airflow).
If we were to be picky, it would be nice to have a number of colour options over the standard brushed metal for which Apple has become known. Businesses looking to inject more personality into their hardware will have to come up with other ways to spruce up their devices, but this is a small gripe as you barely find yourself looking at the Mac Mini while using it.
The Mac Mini is still less portable than a MacBook or any other business laptop, as it can't be used on the go. But you wouldn't expect to pick up any other desktop computer and use that on a commute, so this isn't so much of a problem.
At a stretch, it's not too difficult to carry the Mac Mini around. In our time testing the model given to ITPro, we took it between a home office setup and the main office on the tube, and it was easy to carry around (in its box no less) without any strain. For those who move setups intermittently, it's not hard to see this as the perfect mix of stability and portability rolled into one.
Apple Mac Mini (M2) review: Peripherals
As expected, the Mac Mini works flawlessly with the Apple Studio Display. Connecting the two is a breeze, with the Thunderbolt 4 port easily accessible via the back of the device.
The Magic Mouse works excellently whether used on a mouse mat or not. It's unlike any other mouse we've used in that regard, and as such is a properly portable option. In the hand, it's comfortable, light, and sleek. If you're not using a mouse mat, there is the small matter of dusting off the bottom of the mouse on occasion – make a habit of it, or it won't glide across the desk quite so easily.
The Magic Trackpad compares unfavourably to the Magic Mouse. While we tend to prefer a mouse over a trackpad for most devices, the MacBook trackpads are a real delight to use, but this peripheral doesn't quite live up to that standard. Though it's a nice, tactile surface that sits well on the desk it had an annoying tendency to stutter when in use and we found ourselves reaching for the Magic Mouse when it came to precision and comfort.
Neither comes as standard with the unit, so it should in theory be able to be someone's sole mouse option – you shouldn't have to rely on the Magic Mouse as a more accurate backup.
On a lighter note, the Magic Keyboard is an absolute delight. It's full size, at around twice the width of the Mac Mini itself, so a friend to those who like their number pads. The keys press with a satisfying 'clack', and provide excellent travel somewhat akin to a MacBook keyboard. There is a touch sensor on the keyboard that can be used in lieu of a password on the Mac Mini, and we found it extremely responsive and useful.
The included instructional manual tells you to "find a comfortable posture" when using the magic keyboard, though the lack of legs on the unit itself makes this a difficult proposition. This is far from a dealbreaker, though there are more comfortable keyboards on the market
Once in a while, the Magic Keyboard disconnected from the Mac Mini while editing a document in Google Docs. In these cases, it began working again after a few seconds and the problem occurred extremely infrequently during tests, but it provided enough confusion and annoyance to put a black spot on an otherwise flawless experience.
That said, the full range of peripherals for the Mac Mini are absolutely worth investing in if you go for the device. Though third-party options are compatible, they won't provide the same all-encompassing experience, nor functionality such as Touch ID.
Apple Mac Mini (M2) review: Specs and performance
In ITPro's tests, the Mac Mini scored a mighty 2,631 in its single-core Geekbench 6 benchmark, and 9,602 in the multi-core. This compares to the 2019 iMac's 1,024, single-core score, and the M1 Mac Mini's 1,740.
This model is equipped with the mighty M2, Apple's latest in-house chip, and it packs a real punch. At no point did we feel like performance would have been better with an Intel or AMD silicon under the hood – to the contrary, we were frequently surprised at just how capable the M2 really is.
The device handled the Adobe suite with complete ease, providing lightning-fast access to apps such as Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Photoshop. It handled 4k video well, rendering at near real-time in the former programs, while Photoshop effects were applied with little to no lag. The device ran ultra-high resolution images in Photoshop with no grumbles, even when a multitude of layers were active and more GPU-heavy effects such as liquefy were applied.
In operation, the Mac Mini is almost spookily silent. Though its peripherals carry the prefix "magic", this is perhaps a better descriptor for the device itself which has to be used to be believed.
Several times during the testing of the device, we expected some straining noises from its insides. But no matter what was thrown at it, whether it was 4k and 8k video tests, editing 100MP images in Photoshop, or balancing an obscene number of tabs in memory-hungry Chrome we heard nothing. To add to this, putting a hand on and behind the Mac Mini during these stress tests revealed no extreme heat, or fan output, a testament to Apple's excellent thermal control.
Apple Mac Mini (M2) review: Features
With two Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB-A ports, an HDMI port, gigabit ethernet port, and a headphone jack, the Mac Mini is very well equipped to support whatever peripherals you may have. We never found ourselves annoyed at the lack of a specific connection during our tests, and it easily supported three monitors.
Although the M2 provided very impressive performance in our tests, it bears mentioning that a lot of open source software is not properly optimised for Apple silicon. Some developers are still catching up with M1s, let alone M2s, and though the upstream Linux kernel has edged closer to full Apple support it's not there yet.
Depending on your role, this could be the deciding factor for whether you adopt the Mac Mini just yet. If you're looking for a standard business functionality or a device that can handle whatever the Adobe Creative Cloud can throw at it, however, this is among your best choices.
You will need to buy a speaker for the Mac Mini, or pair it with the Apple Studio Display to make use of that monitor's excellent speakers. This is because, to put it mildly, the Mac Mini's built-in speakers are extremely lacking and are really only suitable for video calls. Even then, prepare for an experience like a cheap speakerphone.
Most of the features on this device are the same as you would expect to find on a MacBook or iMac. If you're already a fan of the Apple ecosystem, you'll be pleased that the best version of the macOS experience has been packed into this tiny box with no obvious issues.
If you're looking to future-proof your office, the Mac Mini's support for gigabit internet connections will be welcome. Up to 10 gigabit internet for £100 extra.
Apple Mac Mini (M2) review: Price
For the price, the Mac Mini is seriously impressive. It's the cheapest route to getting your hands on an M2 right now, and in its cheapest configuration – at the time of review – can be obtained for as little as $599 (£649 inc VAT). The model we tested sells for $799 (£849 inc VAT), still affordable for the power that it offers.
While we tested it with the Apple Studio Monitor, we also tried it out on 4k and 1080p monitors to get a feel for the device with a range of peripherals. If you're looking to kit your company out with hardware from a blank slate, this could be a worthwhile investment – creative teams seek to benefit the most from its excellent Adobe RGB scores and powerful speakers.
But the reality for most offices is that if laptops and computers aren't already available, monitors almost certainly are. At a push you could pair the Mac Mini with any monitor of usable quality, though it pairs best with a good 4k panel or - ideally - its intended mate the Apple Studio Display.
Apple Mac Mini (M2) specifications
|Processor||Apple M2, 8-core CPU with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores 10-core GPU|
|Ports||Two Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI port, two USB-A ports, Ethernet port, 3.5mm headphone jack|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, 10/100/1000BASE-T gigabit ethernet|
|Dimensions||(WHD) 3.58 cm x 19.70 cm x 19.70 cm|
|Weight||1.18 kg (2.6 pounds)|
|Price||£849 (£649-1,399) / $799 ($599-1,299)|
Rory Bathgate is a staff writer at ITPro covering the latest news on UK networking and data protection, privacy and compliance. He can sometimes be found on the ITPro Podcast, swapping a keyboard for a microphone to discuss the latest in tech trends.
In his free time, Rory enjoys photography, video editing and graphic design alongside good science fiction. After graduating from the University of Kent with BA in English and American Literature, Rory took an MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies at King’s College London. He joined ITPro in 2022 as a graduate, after four years in student journalism. You can contact Rory at firstname.lastname@example.org or on LinkedIn.