Apple released the M1-based Mac Mini in November 2020 as one of the first Macs to get the Apple Silicon treatment, and the performance was impressive – especially at the Mac Mini’s tempting £699/$699 price tag.
But despite its popularity, it seems Apple may have something big planned for the Mac Mini, and we could see it sooner than anticipated.
Here’s all you need to know about the new Mac Mini, from release date and pricing speculation to the latest leaks and rumours.
When will the Mac Mini (2021) be released?
The most popular rumours suggested Apple was going to reveal the new Mac Mini at WWDC, but that didn't happen.
While there isn't any other information regarding the Mac Mini release date specifically, analysts like Ming-Chi Kuo suggest the new MacBook Pro range will make an appearance in Q3 2021, and it's likely Apple would announce the new Mac Mini at the same time - after all, it's what happened with the M1 range back in November 2020.
Adding more fuel to the fire, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman suggested in an August 2021 report that the new Mac Mini will be released in the "next several months", lining up with Kuo's Q3 prediction.
Apple chose not to announce any new Macs at its California streaming event, where it focused on iPads, iPhones and the new Apple Watch 7.
How much will the new Mac Mini cost?
This one’s a little tougher to predict. Apple could go one of two ways; it could replace the entire Mac Mini line-up with the redesigned model, or it could continue to offer the older M1-enabled Mac Mini and introduce the new model at a higher price. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman suggests it'll be the latter.
Given the fact that the Mac Mini is positioned as the entry-level Mac, it’d be hard for Apple to justify too much of a price hike.
If the new Mac Mini doesn’t replace the entire range and match the price of its predecessors – something Apple aims for with most new releases – it could replace the top-end £1,099/$1,099 Intel-based model, completing Apple’s transition from Intel to Apple Silicon on the Mac Mini range.
What should I expect from the new Mac Mini?
Despite the fact that the M1-based Mac Mini was only released in November 2020, rumours suggest the new Mac Mini could offer key upgrades and an all-new design.
Redesigned form factor
Apple explained to Macworld UK that the Mac Mini design hasn’t changed for a few years not because it isn’t possible, but because there are a number of server farms and organisations that use Mac Minis based on the existing form factor.
However, that looks to change with the release of the new Mac Mini, with rumours suggesting an all-new form factor that’s significantly thinner than its predecessor, and it could sport new "plexiglass-like" top too.
That's from well-known tipster Jon Prosser, who worked with concept artist Ian Zelbo to create renders based on the information provided to the leaker. He detailed the redesign in a recent episode of Front Page Tech, suggesting the new model will come in both silver and white – but not the colourful options of the 24in iMac.
It’s certainly not confirmation given Prosser’s hit-and-miss track record when it comes to Apple leaks – AppleTrack gives him an accuracy rating of 78.1% - but he's not the only source suggesting a redesign is on the way.
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman also suggests that a slight redesign is on the way, with a plexiglass top, but that it'll be limited to the top-end Mac Mini only.
Per Bloomberg’s May 2021 report, the new model is a “more powerful version of the Mac Mini” that’ll offer the same chipset as the new MacBook Pro range. In a follow-up report in August 2021, the publication suggests it'll appear as the new top-end option for its line, rather than being a feature of the entire Mac Mini range.
While there is some confusion as to whether it’ll be branded M2 or M1X (Prosser and Gurman suggest the latter), the new chipset will allegedly feature an upgraded eight performance cores and two energy-efficient cores with either 16- or 32 graphics cores.
If true, it’s a huge step forward from the four high-performance cores, four energy-efficient cores and eight graphics cores on offer from the M1 in the current Mac Mini.
There’s also rumoured to be a boost in the RAM department, with the new model allegedly able to support up to 64GB of RAM like its Intel-based processor, an improvement from the maximum 16GB available on the M1 model.
One of the main drawbacks of the M1-based Mac Mini compared to its Intel predecessor was the lack of ports; while Apple’s Intel-based Mac Mini offered four Thunderbolt 3 ports, the newer model sports two.
Jon Prosser suggests that the new Mac Mini port selection will mirror that of the Intel-based Mac Mini, with an increased four Thunderbolt 3 ports, a 10Gb Ethernet port, a HDMI 2.0 port and more.
It’s alleged that the new Thunderbolt 3 ports will be connected to an enhanced Neural Engine in some way, which could enable the ability to run more 4K displays – the M1 Mac Mini can only power one, while the Intel-based model can power three.
It's a sentiment backed up by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, claiming that the new model will have "more ports than the current model", but no specifics were provided.