For years, tech pros and creative professionals clamored for an update to the Mac mini, long considered the cost-effective workhorse of Apple’s Mac line. And for years, Apple refused to give them one.
That all changed with Apple’s Oct. 30 event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, when it unveiled a next-generation Mac mini with a quad-core, 8th Generation Intel Core processor (configurable to six cores). That’s quite the upgrade from the 2014 edition, which boasted a dual-core, 4th Generation Intel processor.
The new Mac mini is upgradable to 64GB RAM and 2TB of storage (SSD). It features four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, an HDMI 2.0 port, two USB-3 ports, and a Gigabit Ethernet port. Last but certainly not least, it weighs 2.9 pounds, and maintains the “classic” form-factor that allows it to fit on all but the messiest desks.
That’s a lot of specs, but what does it all mean? If you’re still using an old Mac mini for work, and you’re dedicated to the brand, it’s probably time to upgrade. Apple insists the new device is “five times faster” than the old one, but that’s not saying much when the old one came out the same year that the original “Guardians of the Galaxy” hit theaters—pretty much any hardware issued within the past 12 months would be exponentially faster.
The upgraded specs are good news for any tech pros relying on the Mac mini as a server, storage device, or programming platform. But this isn’t a cheap computing solution: The most basic version of the Mac mini will cost $799, and that’s before you add in the cost of monitors, a keyboard, and the other peripherals you actually need to get work done.
At the same Brooklyn event, Apple also announced a refreshed MacBook Air, another device that some tech pros and pundits had given up for dead. The company’s message is clear: It’s updating the dustier aspects of its hardware portfolio, and it wants everyone to upgrade their aging devices accordingly. But after so many years of waiting in vain for a new Mac mini, many tech pros may have moved onto other hardware, and it’s an open question whether these improved specs (and the Apple brand) are enough to bring them back.