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Posts tagged with "mac mini"

The New M2 Mac mini and MacBook Pros

Source Apple

Source Apple

Reviews of the new M2-based Mac minis and MacBook Pros are out, and of the two computers, the mini is the one that I find the most interesting. With Apple silicon no longer limited to the entry-level mini, it’s now possible to spec the tiny desktop so it rivals some configurations of the M1 Mac Studio, leading The Verge’s Chris Welsh to dub the higher-end mini configuration the ‘Mac Studio junior.’

That’s a great way to look at that model, but it also fills many more roles than just the slot immediately beneath the Mac Studio. As Dan Moren of Six Colors explains:

It’s hard to argue that the mini’s versatility isn’t the biggest part of why the product is still going strong, nigh on two decades after its debut. If the iMac, the Mac Studio, and the still-waiting-in-the-wings Apple silicon Mac Pro are the bricks of Apple’s Mac lineup, the Mac mini is the mortar, with its various configurations filling the gaps in between.

Welch strikes a similar note:

But remember that there’s no such thing (yet) as an iMac with an M2 Pro inside. So for anyone who wants a Mac desktop but finds the Mac Studio to be overkill — and it’s exactly that for many use cases — this M2 Pro Mini could make a ton of sense. And it doesn’t cost anywhere near as much.

I’ve owned the 2009 and 2014 Mac minis, as well as a fully-spec’d 2018 Mac mini, which I’m still running as a home server. I’ve also tested the M1 version of the mini. It’s safe to say that I’m a big fan of Apple’s tiniest desktop machine, which started as a way to attract Windows users into the Mac universe with a modestly-powered and priced desktop. That original mini has morphed into a Mac that now fulfills a remarkably broad spectrum of use cases. I’m sure that if I weren’t using an M1 Max Mac Studio, I’d have an M1 Pro Mac mini with 32 GB of unified memory, a 4 TB SSD, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet on my desk instead.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

The M2 MacBook Pro is less interesting than the mini, not because it’s a less capable computer, but because the design is identical to the M1 version of the laptop and the speed gains are incremental over those models. Of course, as Jason Snell points out on Six Colors, most users won’t be upgrading from an M1 MacBook Pro to the M2 model, and for them, the jump will be significant and worthwhile:

The fact remains, though: If you want the very best laptop Apple has to offer, the MacBook Pro will not disappoint you. The M1 models were great in late 2021, and these new M2 models are even better—albeit incrementally so.

I’m fascinated with Apple’s gaming narrative. Ever since WWDC, Apple has touted Metal 3 and the M1, and now, M2’s videogame performance. There aren’t a lot of games that take advantage of Metal 3 yet, so it’s still hard to judge how Apple’s computers stack up to their PC counterparts, so I was particularly intrigued by Monica Chin’s imperfect, but insightful take on how the MacBook Pro with M2 Max’s performance compares to gaming laptops that she’s tested for The Verge:

I think — put the pitchforks away, I know these are totally different things and there are all sorts of problems with this comparison — that the simplest way to think of the MacBook Pro with M2 Max is as the addition of an RTX 3070 GPU. It’s not quite providing the frame rates that we’ve seen from the biggest RTX 3070 computers out there (MSI’s GS76 gave us 114fps, for example) but it’s not too far off, and it’s well above what we’d expect to see from an RTX 3060 gaming machine. The M2 Pro Mac Mini, which only put up 62fps on Tomb Raider, is closer to RTX 3050 territory.

There are far more economical ways to achieve that sort of gaming performance than buying a MacBook Pro, but it’s still interesting to see where the laptop falls on the gaming spectrum because it speaks directly to the capabilities of its GPU. As with the M1-based MacBook Pros, the M2 models also distinguish themselves compared to the MacBook Air by their superior displays, higher memory configurations, the wider variety of ports, and ability to drive multiple external displays.

If there’s anything missing from Apple’s current laptop lineup, it’s the ability to configure a laptop with the horsepower of an Air but the memory and storage capacities and screen of the MacBook Pro. I think there are a lot of ‘pro’ uses for a laptop that would benefit from that sort of configuration but don’t require a lot of raw CPU or GPU performance. However, given the lines along which Apple distinguishes its ‘Pro’ laptops from the Air, I’m not holding my breath waiting for it.


Apple Updates the MacBook Pro and Mac mini with New Chipsets and Other Features

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Today, Apple announced new MacBook Pro 14” and 16” models and a new Mac mini via press releases and a video on its YouTube channel. The new laptops are available in M2 Pro and Max chip configurations and feature faster memory bandwidth, WiFi 6E, and the same design as the models they replace. The Mac mini has also been updated to add the M2 and M2 Pro options, as well as other features.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

In its press release, Apple had this to say about the new M2 Pro and M2 Max SoCs:

M2 Pro scales up the architecture of M2 to deliver an up to 12-core CPU and up to 19-core GPU, together with up to 32GB of fast unified memory. M2 Max builds on the capabilities of M2 Pro, including an up to 38-core GPU, double the unified memory bandwidth, and up to 96GB of unified memory. Its industry-leading performance per watt makes it the world’s most powerful and power-efficient chip for a pro laptop.

The 13” MacBook Pro and MacBook Air were upgraded to the base model M2 last year, but the laptops announced today are the first to include the Pro and Max versions of that SoC. Regarding the MacBook Pro, Apple says:

With M2 Pro and M2 Max — the world’s most powerful and efficient chip for a pro laptop — MacBook Pro tackles demanding tasks, like effects rendering, which is up to 6x faster than the fastest Intel-based MacBook Pro, and color grading, which is up to 2x faster. Building on the unprecedented power efficiency of Apple silicon, battery life on MacBook Pro is now up to 22 hours — the longest battery life ever in a Mac. For enhanced connectivity, the new MacBook Pro supports Wi-Fi 6E, which is up to twice as fast as the previous generation, as well as advanced HDMI, which supports 8K displays for the first time. With up to 96GB of unified memory in the M2 Max model, creators can work on scenes so large that PC laptops can’t even run them.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

The MacBook Pro with M2 Pro comes in 10 and 12-core CPU configurations that Apple says deliver up to 20% faster performance than the M1 Pro, about what you’d expect from an SoC with 20% more cores. The laptops can be configured with up to 32GB of unified memory that has 200GB/s of bandwidth, which is double the standard M2. The GPU has 19 cores and delivers 30% faster performance, according to Apple. The laptop also features Apple’s media engine that handles encoding and decoding video.

The M2 Max version of the MacBook Pro can be configured with up to 38 GPU cores for what Apple says is 30% better performance than the M1 Max, while the CPU has 12 cores. The MacBook Pro with M2 Max also supports up to 96GB of unified memory with 400GB/s of bandwidth.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Apple also updated the Mac mini today. Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, said:

With incredible capabilities and a wide array of connectivity in its compact design, Mac mini is used in so many places, in so many different ways. Today, we’re excited to take it even further with M2 and M2 Pro. Bringing even more performance and a lower starting price, Mac mini with M2 is a tremendous value. And for users who need powerful pro performance, Mac mini with M2 Pro is unlike any other desktop in its class.

The Mac mini, which was among the first Macs to be updated to the M1, is gaining an M2 SoC, with an option to configure the desktop Mac with an M2 Pro. The M2 mini has two Thunderbolt 4 ports, and the Pro version comes with a total of four. The M2 model can power two displays, and the Pro model three.

The updates bring WiFi 6E to all of the Macs announced today for the first time too. The only other devices Apple makes that support the faster wireless networking standard are the 11” and 12.9” iPad Pros.

These look like solid updates across the board, but I’m especially interested in the Mac mini, which seems to be the best value among the Macs announced today.

Both Macs can be preordered today, with deliveries starting January 24th.


The M1 Mac mini and MacBook Air: A Giant Leap Forward for All Mac Users

It’s been just over two months since the first M1 Macs were delivered to customers. I purchased an M1 MacBook Air to replace my aging 2016 MacBook Pro, and not long after, Apple sent me an M1 Mac mini to try. In the ten weeks or so since then, I’ve used both almost exclusively for a wide variety of tasks, and although both computers are somewhat limited by their lack of ports, that has been less of an issue than I anticipated. What’s been far more notable, remarkable in fact, is the performance of the new MacBook Air and Mac mini.

Benchmarks don’t do these Macs justice. There are plenty of CPU-intensive tasks that are faster than before, which I expected would be the case. However, living with both of these Macs for as long as I have has given me a much greater appreciation for the impact that the M1 has on ordinary, day-to-day tasks. The differences are less pronounced for individual tasks that require less computing power, but the aggregate impact has still been significant for both computers, especially the MacBook Air.

The M1 SoC. Source: Apple.

The M1 SoC. Source: Apple.

Performance increases quickly become the ‘new normal.’ They tend to fade into the background. What starts as startling soon becomes ordinary and expected. The M1 Macs are no different in this respect and perhaps even more so because they look like the machines that came before them.

Still, if you step back and consider these new Macs in the context of those that immediately preceded them and account for the fact that these are entry-level models, the future of the Mac is bright. The M1 update makes these Macs substantially better deals than the versions they replace with computing power to spare for most users. The new machines also bode well for the remainder of the Mac lineup that hasn’t been updated yet.

I’m excited to see what the M1 means for the rest of the product line, and I’m sure I’ll be tempted to try them, but I’ve also never been more content with new Macs than these. I’m sure there are things I do that future M1 Macs will do even faster, but the M1 MacBook Air and Mac mini have introduced a fluidity in my daily computing that I haven’t experienced since I first tried the iPad Pro. It’s the sort of subtle, qualitative shift that can’t be captured by benchmarks but has rekindled my fondness for the platform by improving the experience across the board. Here’s what I mean.

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Apple M1 Mac Review Roundup: Big Performance and Battery Gains

Last week, Apple unveiled M1-based models of the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini. With deliveries of the computers beginning to arrive around the world, reviews are out, and I’ve rounded up some of the most interesting tidbits from them.

The reviews are overwhelmingly positive with a few caveats. However, reviewers were universally impressed by the new Macs’ performance and the laptops’ battery life. The experience of Wired’s Julian Chokkattu was common:

Spend a day with the new MacBook Air and the improvements are immediately noticeable. The thing’s as powerful as many of the higher-end Intel-powered Macs, blowing past the speed limits of the higher-tier MacBook Air from earlier this year. The M1 is no Mac evolution, it’s a Mac revolution.

What’s especially remarkable about these Macs is that they are low-end models as Jason Snell observes on Six Colors:

It’s all too easy to overlook the fact that these are low-end models, given how fast they are. But this is just Apple’s first step in what the company says is a two-year-long transition. The M1 chip, which appears to be a next-generation riff on the A12X processor in that 2018 iPad Pro, has a bunch of limitations that will undoubtedly not exist on future Apple-designed Mac processors: It only supports two Thunderbolt ports and up to 16GB of RAM. It has no support for external GPUs or discrete graphics of any kind. It can drive a maximum of two displays. It is, by every definition, a low-end chip, the slowest and least capable Mac chip Apple will ever make.

And yet…

Based on my testing, it’s also safe to say that all three M1-based Macs, these low-end systems at the bottom of Apple’s price lists, are among the fastest Macs ever made.

Jason and Myke Hurley also interviewed Apple’s Tim Millet and Tom Boger on Upgrade about the M1 Macs.

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The M1 Mac mini: The MacStories Overview

At today’s special event Apple announced the much-anticipated first round of Apple silicon Macs. Running the impressively fast and efficient M1 chip, Apple’s initial offering includes new MacBook Air and 13” MacBook Pro models, and an all new Mac mini.

The M1-powered Mac mini features significantly faster compute and graphics performance, two Thunderbolt/USB-4 ports, Wi-Fi 6 support, SSD storage, and significantly improved machine learning capabilities. To top it all off, the starting price has been dropped by $100.

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Using a Mac from iOS, Part 2 – Luna Display and macOS as an App

iPad Diaries is a regular series about using the iPad as a primary computer. You can find more installments here and subscribe to the dedicated RSS feed.

In the first part of my ongoing experiment with controlling and accessing a Mac from the iPad Pro, I covered FileExplorer – the app I use to open Finder locations from iOS’ Files app – and shared a collection of shortcuts to control certain macOS features via Siri and the Shortcuts app. I also described my podcasting setup and how I’ve been taking advantage of Keyboard Maestro to automate window resizing across my two displays connected to the Mac mini. Today, I’m going to cover one of those two external displays – the iPad Pro running the Luna Display app – and how I’ve been using it to have “macOS as an app” on my iPad Pro. If you find this idea of reducing macOS to an app that runs on the iPad upsetting, the rest of this article likely isn’t going to make you happy. If you’re intrigued, however, strap in because I have a lot to share.

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    MacBook Air and Mac mini Review Roundup: Welcome Updates to Apple’s Mac Lineup

    Tomorrow, Apple will begin delivering new MacBook Airs and Mac minis to customers around the world. It’s been a long time since either computer was updated; too long many would say. John Gruber of Daring Fireball asked around about the period between updates:

    Behind the scenes last week in New York, I asked a few folks from Apple for any sort of hint why these two Macs — the MacBook Air and Mac Mini — went so long between updates. One thing I was told is that Apple wants to focus on “meaningful updates”. The days of “speed bump” updates are largely over. The value just isn’t there.

    That may not be a message that long-time Mac users want to hear, but it’s consistent with recent history and seems to be supported by the reviews published today. Regardless of the backstory though, both new Macs are substantial updates that have received generally favorable reviews.

    Read more


    Mac mini: The MacStories Overview

    Tim Cook introduced the new Mac mini at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House by gesturing to the sky. What followed was a video titled ‘The Arrival’ depicting a Mac mini descending like a UFO from the nighttime sky into the desert, which turned out to be a nighttime wallpaper from Mojave, Apple’s latest macOS update. It was a fun introduction to a computer that was last updated in 2014, and many Mac users had predicted would be discontinued.

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    Apple Reveals its Mac Pro, Display Plans and More

    I recall staring at the then-new Mac Pro at WWDC, which was displayed in a clear tube, not unlike the original iPhone. The design was unlike anything on the market then or since. That was 2013. The Mac Pro shipped just before Christmas 2013, but it hasn’t been updated since.

    As the years wore on, pro users fell out of love with the Mac Pro. It was less upgradeable than other pro PC systems, and its internals quickly began to show their age. Disillusionment with the Mac Pro evolved into open speculation about whether Apple cared about the pro user market anymore.

    Apple answered that question today. A new modular, more upgradeable Mac Pro is in the works. As John Gruber describes it on Daring Fireball Apple is working on:

    a “completely rethought” Mac Pro, with a modular design that can accommodate high-end CPUs and big honking hot-running GPUs, and which should make it easier for Apple to update with new components on a regular basis.

    To go along with the new Mac Pro, Apple is developing a new pro-level display. Unfortunately, the new Mac Pros and display won’t ship in 2017, and no firm launch date has been announced. In the meantime, Apple has bumped the speeds of existing Mac Pros:

    The $2999 model goes from 4 Xeon CPU cores to 6, and from dual AMD G300 GPUs to dual G500 GPUs. The $3999 model goes from 6 CPU cores to 8, and from dual D500 GPUs to dual D800 GPUs.

    In addition to the Mac Pro, Apple told Daring Fireball and a group of four other writers that it has a new iMac that will ship this year that is designed with pro users in mind.

    So what went wrong? Why hasn’t the Mac Pro seen an update for so long? Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi told Matthew Panzarino of TechCrunch and the other writers in the room:

    I think it’s fair to say, part of why we’re talking today, is that the Mac Pro — the current vintage that we introduced — we wanted to do something bold and different,” says Federighi. “In retrospect, it didn’t well suit some of the people we were trying to reach. It’s good for some; it’s an amazingly quiet machine, it’s a beautiful machine. But it does not address the full range of customers we wanna reach with Mac Pro.

    Apple’s discussion with five writers covered a lot of ground. In addition to the new Macs discussed, Federighi said Apple is committed to the Mac mini and that scripting and automation on macOS remain ‘super important’ to Apple. It was also revealed that notebooks make up 80% of the Mac market and the pro market makes up roughly 30% of the Mac user base.

    With the increasing drumbeat of discontent from pro Mac users over the past months, it is refreshing to see Apple address the pro market head-on and explain what happened with the Mac Pro. It’s disappointing that new Mac Pros are still many months off, but the breadth and depth of Apple’s candor with the writers it spoke to should provide comfort to pro users who can hold off on buying new hardware for a while longer. The key now will be whether Apple can execute its plans for the pro market.