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Mac mini vs Mac Studio: How the desktops compare

Apple’s next-generation Mac mini with the M2 or new M2 Pro chip is here. It’s got more powerful CPUs and GPUs, up to 32GB RAM, up to 3 external displays, 8K output via HDMI, WiFi 6E, and the base models are even more affordable. The new desktop joins the more powerful Mac Studio, making the lineup more diverse. But is the Mac Studio overkill for most people with the new Mac mini to consider? Here’s an in-depth Mac mini vs Mac Studio comparison for how everything shakes out.

After shifting from Intel to the M1 in 2020, Apple has given the Mac mini a big refresh to start 2023. The new desktop has a lot more flexibility when it comes to configurations and will cover more use cases than ever with the option of picking the M2 or M2 Pro chip.

The Mac Studio remains the most powerful Apple Silicon Mac with either the M1 Max or M1 Ultra chip. Whether you’re in the market for a new desktop Mac or are just curious how everything compares, let’s dig in!

Mac mini vs Mac Studio: How do they compare?

CPU, GPU, memory, neural engine

The M2 is a moderate upgrade over the M1, but the M2 Pro brings a much greater range of power and capability to the Mac mini – serving as a step up without having to go all the way to the Mac Studio.

M2 Mac mini M2 Pro Mac mini M1 Max Mac Studio M1 Ultra Mac Studio
CPU 8-core Up to 12-core 10-core 20-core
GPU 10-core Up to 19-core Up to 32-core Up to 64-core
Storage Up to 2TB Up to 8TB Up to 8TB Up to 8TB
RAM Up to 24GB Up to 32 GB Up to 64GB up to 128GB
Neural engine 16-core 16-core 16-core 32-core

Apple says the M2 has an up to 18% faster CPU and up to 35% faster GPU than the M1. The M2 also offers up to 24GB RAM, 50% more memory bandwidth, and a 40% faster neural engine than the M1.

Mac mini comparison M2 vs M1 CPU

For more power, Apple says the M2 Pro gives 20% faster CPU and 30% faster GPU performance than the M1 Pro. And the M2 Pro neural engine has seen a 40% speed increase over its predecessor (note: the M1 Pro was never available in the 2020 Mac mini).

You’ve got up to 12-core CPU and 19-core GPU options with the M2 Pro plus up to 32GB RAM.

And another upgrade with the M2 Pro chip is dedicated ProRes encode and decode engines.

The M1 Max and particularly the M1 Ultra jump way beyond the M2 Pro with up to a 20-core CPU, up to 64-core GPU, 32-core neural engine, up to 128GB RAM, and more. While those numbers may look enticing on paper, remember you’ll need to have very intense workflows to make use of that power.

I/O

Both the M2 Pro and M2 Mac mini get upgrades when it comes to I/O. First, you’ve got WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 on both builds.

Then the M2 Pro gets more improvements with double the Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 ports (4), support for up to 3 external displays, and up to 8K output via HDMI (presumably HDMI 2.1 but Apple doesn’t specify).

Mac mini vs Mac Studio I/O
M2 Pro Mac mini I/O
M2 Mac mini M2 Pro Mac mini Mac Studio
USB-C/Thunderbolt ports (up to 40 Gbps) 2 4 Up to 6
USB-A ports 2 2 2
HDMI
SDXC ✅ UHS-II
Bluetooth 5.3 5.3 5.0
3.5 headphone jack
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi 6E (802.11.ax) Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax) Wi-Fi 6 (802.11.ax)
Ethernet Gigabit or config to 10Gb Gigabit or config to 10Gb 10Gb
External display support Up to 2 displays: 1 up to 6K/60Hz over Thunderbolt and 1 up to 4K/60Hz over HDMI Up to 3 external displays: 2 up to 6K/60Hz with Thunderbolt, 1 up to 4K/60Hz over HDMI

Or 1 display at 8K/60Hz, or 1 display at 4K/240Hz over HDMI

Up to 5 external displays: 4 up to 6K/60Hz plus 1 up to 4K/60Hz

But as you’d expect, the more powerful Mac Studio remains with the most I/O. It offers two USB-C or Thunderbolt 4 ports on the front along with its SDXC UHS-II slot. The rest (majority) of the I/O remains on the back.

While it’s a bit behind with WiFi, Bluetooth, and no 8K video support, Mac Studio offers support for up to 5 external displays and comes standard with 10Gb Ethernet.

Dimensions and color

The new Mac mini is essentially identical in size to its predecessor. The Mac Studio features the same 7.7 x 7.7-inch width and depth as the mini but is about 2.5x taller at 3.7 inches.

Not that it matters as a desktop, but the M2 Pro is 0.2 pounds heavier than the M2 and M1 builds. And the Mac Studio is 2-3x heavier at 5.9 or 7.9 pounds for the M1 Max and M1 Ultra models.

M2 Mac mini M2 Pro Mac mini Mac Studio
Height 1.41 inches (3.58 cm) 1.41 inches (3.58 cm) 3.7 inches (9.5 cm)
Width 7.7 inches (19.7 cm) 7.7 inches (19.7 cm) 7.7 inches (19.7 cm)
Depth 7.7 inches (19.7 cm) 7.7 inches (19.7 cm) 7.7 inches (19.7 cm)
Weight 2.6 pounds (1.18 kg) 2.8 pounds (1.28 kg) 5.9 or 7.9 pounds (2.7 or 3.6 kg)

Both Mac mini and Mac Studio are available in one color: silver.

What’s in the box

The only thing in the Mac mini or Mac Studio box is the computer and power cable.

Apple of course offers its Studio Display as its own external monitor. But there are also many great alternatives that are less expensive:

You may also want to pick up Apple’s Magic Keyboard and mouse or check out options like Logitech’s popular MX Master lineup.

Mac mini vs Mac Studio: price

A nice surprise with the new Mac mini, the base M2 configurations start just $599 – $100 less than the M1 models.

Jumping up to the M2 Pro Mac mini more than doubles the starting price of the M2 at $1,299 – but you’re getting a lot more power and double the storage and RAM. Mac Studio with M1 Max starts at $1,999 and goes up to $7,999 for custom configurations.

M2 Mac mini M2 Pro Mac mini Mac Studio
256/8 $599
512/8 $799
512/16 $999 $1,299
512/32 $1,999
Custom $1,899 Up to $4,499 $7,999

Mac mini vs Mac Studio wrap-up

The new Mac mini with M2 or M2 Pro is a great update is a very welcome update. It offers flexibility to get (or build) the Mac desktop you need without having to step all the way up to the Mac Studio.

  • For anyone with basic to medium-intensity workflows, the M2 Mac mini will be a great fit with options between 8 and 24GB of memory and storage up to 2TB.
  • For those with more intensive workflows like creative professionals or aspiring creative pros, prosumers, and similar that don’t need a Mac Studio, the M2 Pro Mac mini should be a perfect fit.
  • I’d imagine the Mac mini will be plenty of power for 95%+ of customers. But if you regularly push your Mac with lots of video exports, other creative work like 3D modeling, are running large data sets, etc., and also need that work to happen as fast as possible, the Mac Studio is there for you.

The new M2 and M2 Pro Mac mini are available now from Apple, Amazon, Best Buy, and more.

What do you think about the new Mac mini and how does it compare with the Mac Studio? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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