5 Things Reviewers Liked And Disliked About Apple's 2023 Mac Mini

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Surprising as it may sound, it's been exactly one week since Apple officially announced the 2023 Mac Mini lineup and the new 2023 MacBook Pro models. Apple also used this launch event to announce the company's new M2 Pro and M2 Max chips. While customers could order these machines starting January 17, 2023 — the very day these were launched — Apple confirmed that consumers will only get their machines starting Tuesday, January 24, 2022. This is also the day when consumers can walk into an Apple Store (or an authorized Apple reseller) and get themselves the latest iteration of Apple's small form factor desktop computer.

Interestingly, one day before consumers officially get their hands on the 2023 Mac Mini, the first expert reviews for the product are out. If you happen to be among the thousands of people wondering whether or not to invest their hard-earned money on one of these machines, these reviews should help you make a decision. So even as we at SlashGear work on publishing our own review, we thought it would be great to let our readers know some of the things reviewers liked and disliked about the 2023 Mac Mini.

It still looks the same

Apple seems to be a firm believer in the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy. In the case of the Mac Mini, however, Apple is taking it to extreme lengths. PC Mag's Brian Westover loves the minimalist design that has long defined the Mac Mini. However, he also notes that the overall design language of the product has largely remained unchanged for well over a decade. However, for some people — including Techradar's Matt Hanson — this also means that their latest Mac Mini's look nearly identical to Mini's that are several generations old. Given that almost all of Apple's products have been through a design overhaul, isn't it high time Apple revamped the Mac Mini too? At least give it more color options to play around with, as Apple did with the 24-inch iMacs.

Mac Minis have long been criticized for being machines that are hard to upgrade or repair. Even with the increased interest surrounding the right-to-repair campaign, Apple has done precious little to fix this problem. According to PCMag, the 2023 Mac Minis are just as hard as their predecessors to repair, and it is next to impossible to upgrade these machines once you purchase them. Therefore, it becomes extremely important to ensure that users get the right edition of Mac Mini if they intend to use them for several years

Good performance across the board

While there is no denying that it is imperative for consumers to get the right Mac Mini because of upgradability issues, even the base models of the machine offer snappy performance. Most of the performance gains come from the new M2 and M2 Pro chips that the 2023 Mac Mini uses. As reported earlier, even the M2-powered base Mac Mini offers significant performance gains over the older M1-powered machine from 2020.

That being said, Apple continues to be extremely frugal with the list of accessories it supplies along with the Mac Mini. Even on the most specced out variant of the machine, Apple only gives consumers the power cable as an accessory. To buy any of Apple's recommended accessories, like the $199 Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and Numeric Keypad and the $149 Magic Trackpad or the $99 Magic Mouse, consumers are expected to pay the full price. There are no bundled offers that would have made the purchase even more attractive. If you add an Apple Studio Display, that would cost you an additional $1,999. 

Thankfully, the 2023 Mac Mini is compatible with your existing monitor, and the higher-end models even support high resolution and refresh rates.

Upgrade options are pricey

Given that Apple has had a long history of making new products more expensive than their predecessors, the base variant of the 2023 Mac Mini is a notable exception to this trend. At just $599, the base version of this year's Mac Mini is $100 cheaper than the base version of the outgoing model despite offering objectively better performance, Ars Technica notes. While this model is more than sufficient for someone looking for an entry-level machine, things get inherently expensive the moment people choose one of the many upgrade options Apple offers.

Take the case of the step-up option over the $599 base variant. For an additional $200 (for $799), all you get is 512GB of storage with no upgrade to the RAM. For less than that $200, you can add 2TB of space using a third-party external SSD from Amazon. Things get even more interesting as you go up the price ladder. For example, users can upgrade the M2 Pro-powered Mac Mini (which starts at $1299) with a faster version of the chip plus 16GB of unified memory for $300 more. For an additional $200, users can increase the storage from 512GB to 1TB.

On the flip side, the higher-end options of the 2023 Mac Mini offer fairly comprehensive connectivity options— including four Thunderbolt 4 ports, twin USB ports, an Ethernet port, and an HDMI port. Sadly, there is still no sign of an SD card slot that many content creators desperately wanted Apple to include.

Powerful and energy efficient at the same time

There is no denying that Apple has been setting new benchmarks in power efficiency since switching to Apple Silicon. The latest M2 and M2 Pro-powered Mac Mini computers greatly benefit from these advancements. While these machines provide the same level of performance as competing CPUs from AMD and Intel, they do so while consuming a fraction of the power.

As noted by Ars Technica's Andrew Cunningham, his M2 Pro-powered Mac Mini was only slightly slower than X86-based chips from AMD and Intel in the video encoding tests. However, the Mac Mini consumes less than half the energy to do the same task. He also noted that the M2 Pro powered test rig had an average power consumption figure of 36W when fully loaded compared to anywhere between 65W and 150W for Intel chips and between 90w AND 136W for AMD. These low power consumption figures also mean that the Mac Mini typically runs much cooler than X86 machines offering comparable performance.

The best Mac Mini ever?

While the 2023 Mac Mini does come with its own share of issues, most reviewers agree that this machine is by far the best Mac Mini that has ever existed. The Verge's Chris Welch has even termed the machine the "Mac Studio Junior" thanks to the impressive performance gains over the older M1-powered model.

Dan Moren of Six Colors has praised the Mini for its sheer versatility and asserts that the refreshed Mac Mini lineup fills a major gap in Apple's mid-range product portfolio. TechCrunch's Matt Burns has a similar option about the machine and writes that the Mac Mini, which has always been a value proposition, has only improved with the addition of the powerful M2 and M2 Pro chips.

If you were seriously on the lookout to purchase the 2023 Mac Mini, there is no denying that the machine you will end up with will offer a great balance of performance and efficiency. It is important to make sure that you customize your 2023 Mac Mini with all necessary upgrades beforehand since there is no upgrade path once you purchase the machine.