Earlier this week Apple unveiled a new mac mini, just as we’d been expecting it to. That Mac Mini cam with a brand new M2 chip, as predicted. But it also came with a surprise. A chip beyond. An M2 Pro.
Previously, Apple reserved the M1 Pro for its MacBook Pro which meant that the Mac Mini had to make do with the standard M1. The same went for the 24-inch iMac and the 27-inch model, as well. The less said about that the better at this point. Will it come back? Who knows? I certainly wouldn’t want to put any money on it at this point.
The only other desktop Mac (if we ignore the Intel-only Mac Pro) is the Mac Studio — a machine that sits at the high end with M1 Max and M1 Ultra chips inside. The result? The only way to get an M1 Pro was to go MacBook Pro. And that sucked.
A tweak short of a fixed problem
Apple has now fixed that conundrum by putting its second-rung chip into something that you don’t have to move around to get the best out of. An M2 Pro Mac Mini makes a ton of sense.
Or at least, it does until you get to the price. At $1,299 before you add options, it’s an expensive proposition. Despite the fact that the M2 Pro chip has proven to be quite the performance monster.
It’s great that the M2 Pro exists in something that you put on a desk and leave there and there might even be an argument for making it an option for Mac Studio buyers, with its many ports and even better cooling system. But there’s a case for putting it somewhere else that I think makes even more sense.
The kind of sense that could sell a ton of Macs to people who need something powerful but don’t want something they can take with them but do want something with a screen built into it.
Introducing the M2 Pro iMac
Apple should put the M2 Pro into the iMac. There, that’s the article. You can probably skip the rest. But hang around for a moment and let me explain.
To expand slightly, it just makes so much sense, for two main reasons.
The iMac is in dire need of something a little more capable. The iMac Pro seems to be dead, at least for now, and the M1 24-inch iMac is cool and all, but nobody would accuse it of being a powerhouse. The M2 chip won’t change that when it eventually lands in a refreshed model, probably with some even less lovable colors. What the iMac needs is a little more oomph for people who want the iMac look but need to get a little more done.
The M2 Pro would definitely achieve that and it would do it, again, with extra space for cooling. The silent iMac would remain, but with more capability and support for up to 32GB of RAM. It’s the kind of Mac that just makes sense in lieu of an iMac Pro busting at the seams with an M2 Ultra. Who knows, maybe that’s just around the corner.
The second reason an M2 Pro iMac makes sense is purely a financial one.
The Mac Mini has historically been the entry-level Mac. The cheaper option for people who just want a box to put on their desk that runs macOS. Apple’s $100 price reduction on the base model of the M2 Mac Mini helps ensure that factor remains. But more than doubling the price with the M2 Pro changes that dynamic. It almost feels like it’s encroaching on Mac Studio territory, and that’s no good.
But the iMac. That’s a different thing entirely and it’s much more able to carry the price bump of an M2 Pro chip that will offer the power some iMac owners crave — and then some. And because it’s got a 24-inch display attached, the higher price just feels more reasonable. Maybe Apple could even eat some of that M2 Pro price because it’s in a more profitable Mac, or one that likely sells more at least.
M2 Pro and beyond
All of this is to say that the M2 Pro Mac Mini should have had a display installed and called the new iMac. It’d be nice if that display got a little bigger, perhaps, but we can’t have everything with Apple. For now, I’ll just take the current 24-inch iMac with the new Mac Mini inside. Isn’t that what the iMac has been all along anyway?
Now imagine a 27-inch iMac with an M2 Max or M2 Ultra inside. That would truly be the best mac for a whole load of people. And Apple surely remembers how popular the 27-inch 5K iMac used to be.