Mac mini 2018: Apple updates Mac mini range after 4 years

Long-standing Apple fans will remember the Mac mini. Apple’s dinky desktop computer last saw an update in 2014, a lifetime ago in Apple terms. Many Mac mini advocates felt that they’d been abandoned by Apple but, just in time for Halloween, the Mac mini has risen from its grave for a new release.

Announced at Apple’s October product event, alongside the new iPad Pro 2018 and revamped MacBook Air, the new Mac mini is still Apple’s tiny desktop computer. This minimalist member of the Mac family is still shipped without a screen, mouse or keyboard, but this time around Apple has bolstered its power.

While it’s no new Mac Pro in terms of power, nor does it have the memory of the iMac Pro, the Mac mini’s tiny frame works to its advantage. Because it’s portable and flexible to use, it’s favoured by many a Mac power user and it can easily be connected to other devices to bump up processing power.

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Here’s everything you need to know about Apple’s brand-new Mac mini computers before we get a chance to fully review it on launch.

Mac mini 2018: Price and release date

Just like the other products at Apple’s October event, the Mac mini is available to purchase immediately from Apple’s online store, and ships on 7 November – the same day it becomes available to from stores.

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There are two main variations of the Mac mini: one equipped with a quad-core processor and 128GB SSD storage, a 6-core processor and 256GB storage. The quad-core i3 setup starts at £799, while the 6-core i5 version starts at £1,099.

While that may sound like a reasonable price for a Mac, it’s worth noting that it’ll actually set you back a lot more than that. Because the Mac mini ships without a screen, keyboard or mouse, you’ll need to snap those up yourself. You could just buy a cheap monitor, but that wouldn’t really make the most of the Mac mini’s potential — it can, after all, output to three 4K monitors at once. If you’re curious, our sister site Expert Reviews does have helpful buying guides for the best monitors, keyboards and mice to buy for your workstation.

Mac mini 2018: Design

Let’s be frank, other than size considerations, you’re not buying a Mac mini for the way it looks — it’s just a plain box, after all. However, that doesn’t mean its design isn’t important.

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According to Apple, the Mac mini was designed using new thermal architectures, so it won’t overheat despite being a tiny metal box stuffed with processing power. Using a bigger fan and vents, its airflow is double that of previous Mac minis and a redesigned power supply ensures it won’t burst up in flames while you use it.

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One of the best features of the Mac mini is the fact it has a huge number of inputs and outputs for its small size. It provides four Thunderbolt 3 ports, a HDMI 2.0 output, two USB 3 sockets, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a 10GB ethernet port. It can easily be connected to a huge range and quantity of devices from these, including three 4K monitors simultaneously, or a huge chain of other Mac minis.

Mac mini: Specs

The Mac mini’s aforementioned quad- and 6-core processor options aren’t exactly groundbreaking in terms of Mac devices, but the real selling point is how it’s a lot more portable than other Macs. Equipped with either an Intel Core i3 or Core i5 (with an i7 available as an upgrade option), with a 6MB and 9MB shared L3 cache respectively, it should be more than enough for most people to use. Both chips make use of Intel’s integrated UHD Graphics 360 graphics chip too.

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Both Mac mini options come with 8GB of 2666MHz DDR4 SO-DIMM memory, which can be configured up to 16GB, 32GB or even 64GB. The 128GB and 256GB SSD storage can be configured up to 2TB, and it uses PCIe-based flash storage so read times are up to 4 times faster.

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In terms of operating system, Mac mini uses MacOS Mojave, features of which include the integration of popular iOS apps, a darker colour scheme, and increased security on Safari.

As with all Mac’s, Mac mini is protected by Apple’s T2 security chip, present on all the new Mac devices. The chip boasts encrypted storage, consolidated system controllers, the capability for a secure boot, and a secure coprocessor. If you’re a security buff, or don’t know what any of this means, Apple has published a handy PDF explaining the new security chip.

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