Apple May Have A New Mac Mini On The Way

References to a mystery Mac mini have been found in the Apple Studio Display shipping firmware, suggesting the Mac mini may be receiving a refresh soon. Developer Steve Troughton-Smith unearthed the reference and shared it on Twitter, spurring a discussion on whether such a Mac mini — assuming it really is happening — would be equipped with yet another iteration of the M1 chip, or perhaps it would be upgraded to the yet-unreleased M2.

The reference is encouraging, but it gives us very little to go on. One thing is almost certain — there will, eventually, be a new Mac mini. However, it's hard to tell if the Mini is on the top of Apple's priority list. After all, the Mac mini has already been upgraded to Apple's own silicon. The latest version of the device sports an M1 chip. Apple still has devices in its arsenal that run on Intel chips, so it could have more pressing matters at hand than updating the Mac mini.

According to 9to5Mac, which cites anonymous sources, the upcoming Mac mini has already received two codenames, both of which correspond to Apple's M2 chip. However, the rumor mill remains undecided as to whether Apple may release the Mac mini that soon, with Intel-based devices still waiting for their M1 upgrades.

Switching to M2 could be a big deal

According to the codenames unearthed by 9to5Mac it would appear that two new Mac Mini devices will either be released soon or are in a testing phase behind the scenes at Apple. The J473 model of the Mac mini is said to be powered by the basic M2, while the J474 would house the improved M2 Pro. As to what specifications we might expect from these chips — our estimations remain up in the air. After all, the M2 chip hasn't been formally unveiled by Apple on its own yet, and Apple hasn't given any indication that it's going to reveal details outside of an event centered on the computing products that'll house said chips. Much in the way the staggeringly-powerful M1 Ultra dropped with no warning, we will one day be told that the M2 will be released in a new Apple computer. Until then, everything is just a rumor.

Reports from publications such as MacRumors claim that the basic M2 chip will arrive with eight CPU cores. It should, however, offer speed and efficiency boosts over the M1, with which it would share the same core count (if this proves to be true). MacRumors expects the chip to be built on TSMC's 4nm process node. Although the CPU cores remain the same in number, M2 is said to come with 9 and 10-core GPU options.

What this means for the Mac mini is still just guesswork at this point. Upgrading to M2 could potentially be a big deal, depending on the sort of work users plan to do with it — and the amount of processing power users could potentially utilize. However, it's also likely that the discrepancy between potential M2 Pro/Max/Ultra models will grow in proportion to the power of the chip. Apple is definitely set to release some more products this year, after the spring launch of the Mac Studio and Studio Display. It's very possible we may hear about the next Mac mini sometime soon, possibly with a fall 2022 release date. We're looking at you, WWDC 2022.