New models of Mac mini desktops and MacBook Pro laptops with upgrades to Apple’s M2, M2 Pro and M2 Max chips, the company announced on Tuesday.

In addition, Apple introduced an entry-level Mini with an M2 processor priced at US$599, $499 for the education market.

“That was one of the more interesting parts of the announcement,” said Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, a consumer technology advisory firm in New York City.

“It’s not often that you see Apple announce a low entry price point,” Rubin told TechNewsWorld.

“At $599, the price is designed to bring in new users, but even higher configurations can add up in price very quickly,” said Jitesh Ubrani, a research manager at IDC, an international market research company.

Those higher configurations with the M2 Pro chip start at $1,299, $1,199 for the education market.

Ubrani told TechNewsWorld that the muscle that the M2 Pro adds to the mini could potentially cannibalize the market for Apple’s premium desktop, the Mac Studio. “It’s not necessarily a bad thing,” he said.

“The mini may appeal to budding creators or consumers who have started to appreciate desktops a bit more, especially as desktops have seen a bit of an uptick during the pandemic,” he added.

More Video Editing Muscle

The M2 Mini features an eight-core CPU — four high-performance and four high-efficiency cores — and a 10-core GPU. According to Apple, with the new chip, the Mini is up to 50% faster than the previous model.

The maximum configuration for its integrated memory is 24GB with a bandwidth of 100GB per second.

Apple Mac mini M2 rear view of ports

The Mac mini M2 model has two Thunderbolt 4 ports and supports up to two displays. (Image credit: Apple)

With the M2, ProRes acceleration is added to the Mini, giving it some real punch for handling video. Apple says the M2 mini can handle tasks like video editing in Final Cut Pro up to twice as fast as previous hardware models as well as two streams of 8K ProRes 422 video at 30 fps or 12 streams of 4K at 30 fps Can run till

Overall, Apple claims the M2 Mini is up to five times faster than the bestselling Windows desktop.

The M2 brings a 12-core CPU to the Pro Mini with eight high-performance and four high-efficiency cores and a GPU of up to 19 cores.

Back view of Apple Mac mini M2 Pro ports

The Mac mini M2 Pro model includes four Thunderbolt 4 ports and support for up to three displays. (Image credit: Apple)

The memory in the Pro model can be up to 32GB with a bandwidth of 200GB/s.

The M2 also gives the Pro Mini more video handling power, allowing it to play up to five streams of 8K ProRes 422 video at 30 fps or 23 streams of 4K video at 30 fps.

Apple said the M2 Pro Mini is up to 14 times faster than the fastest Intel-based Mini.

minimize mac studio

“The fact that Apple is allowing these chips in the existing Mac Mini is sobering,” said Mark N. Vena, president and principal analyst at SmartTech Research in San Jose, Calif.

“This makes the Mac mini a more formidable content creator solution than the much higher priced Mac Studio,” Vena told TechNewsWorld.

Rubin said that getting the more powerful chip in the Mini closes the gap between it and the Mac Studio.

“The Mini can do a more professional-level workflow,” he explained, “so it could be a match for people who want to mix and match peripherals but can’t justify the expense on a Mac Studio.”

“It also provides a way for people still on Intel Macs to move to Apple silicon and experience its advantages,” he added.

When he heard that Apple was refreshing the Mini, David McQueen, a research director at ABI Research, an international technology advisory firm, thought the move was designed to satisfy customers already invested in the Apple ecosystem. Will be done. “But performance improvements and price drops could entice new consumers to the product,” he told TechNewsWorld.

fostering leader’s leadership

The new MacBook Pro laptops will also introduce an M2 Pro model and an M2 Max version.

The Max chip has the same 12-core CPU as the M2 Pro but with an expanded GPU of up to 38 cores and a larger L2 cache.

The chip can also address more integrated memory – up to 96GB – at faster bandwidth – 400GB/s.

MacBook Pro prices range from $1,999 for the 14-inch model with the M2 Pro chip to $3,499 for the 16-inch model with the M2 Max chip.

MacBook Pro is available with M2 Pro and M2 Max processors

The new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros feature the M2 Pro and M2 Max, Apple’s next-generation Pro silicon. (Image credit: Apple)

“Adding the new M2 chips makes these new Macs powerful options and, in laptops, they get longer battery life and additional graphics speed,” Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a technology advisory firm in San Jose, California, told TechNewsWorld. told. ,

Ubrani said the new chips will advance Apple’s position in the market.

“Apple’s previous generation MacBooks were already ahead of many other laptops on the market because they offered productivity and battery life that very few devices could compete with,” he said.

“The new generation is likely to widen Apple’s lead in this perspective, and it puts pressure on Windows PC makers and silicon makers to step up their game,” he said.

ready for prime time

However, those competitors have upped their game, and this announcement, which seems out of sync with the usual Apple calendar, may be a sign that the company is looking over its shoulder with some concern.

“At CES, we saw a number of announcements by Intel and AMD about laptops claiming they were catching up to Apple,” Rubin said. “With this announcement, Apple is answering those processor introductions at CES.”

“It will be interesting to see how these M2 chips compete against the likes of AMD’s new Ryzen offering, which could offer comparable – or even better – performance in terms of battery life and processing speed in the Windows space. “

M2 Pro Photoshop image processing and Xcode code processing compared to M1 Pro and Intel Core i9 chips

image credit: apple

However, Bajarin insisted that the new chips were too cool to keep under wraps until the end of the year.

“The M2 chips are such an improvement over the M1s that Apple wanted to get them to market as quickly as possible,” he said. “That’s why the launch is earlier in the year than usual. The new M2s were ready for prime time.”

Releasing new products when the PC market is in one of the worst declines in its history might make some computer makers pause, but that’s not the case with Apple.

“Apple positions itself differently from its PC competitors,” said Mikako Kitagawa, director and analyst at Gartner, a research and advisory firm based in Stamford, Conn.

“Despite the challenging environment, the market is determined to be conquered,” he told TechNewsWorld. “That’s the message behind the new product release today.”

An interesting thought occurred to me over Thanksgiving vacation thousands of miles from my home in Silicon Valley. While I do most of my work on the 2021 M1-based MacBook Pro, I occasionally need access to a Windows PC for specific applications that aren’t available on macOS.

My recent problem was that my Dell XPS 13 Plus was back in California because I didn’t want to take two laptops with me on vacation. I suspect I am not the only one facing this challenge.

While Apple’s macOS has grown in sophistication and capability over the past decade — especially if you have an iPhone or iPad and enjoy the benefits of an “ecosystem” — many users may need access to Windows-only apps. . Or, more generally, features that may not be available in the macOS versions of these apps. The latter is the category I regularly fall into.

Most companies have adopted both macOS and Windows to give users a choice at the business level, even though Windows is the dominant OS in the corporate space. After all, Windows PCs are generally more affordable than their Mac counterparts. Windows PCs are also somewhat easier to manage and secure from an enterprise fleet perspective, a selling point that appeals strongly to CIOs.

Windows apps may differ from Mac counterparts

Although the number isn’t huge, some Windows apps don’t have equivalent macOS versions. Many of these apps are relatively niche as they are development tools or applications written specifically for Windows. In all likelihood, this is an issue that won’t affect most mainstream users.

Legacy apps like Pinnacle Systems’ Studio, a video editing app that’s been around for more than a decade, don’t have an equivalent macOS version. It is always a good practice to make sure that you are using an app that is available on both macOS and Windows.

Nevertheless, frustrating problems can still occur when an app appears to be available for both macOS and Windows. For example, some feature specifics in Microsoft Office apps: there is no universal inbox support in the Windows version of Outlook and the inability to have an embedded YouTube player in the Windows versions of Word and PowerPoint.

These links will help explain some of the specific feature differences between the Mac and Windows versions of the Office 365 apps: Outlook | power point.

Admittedly, the list of differences in features isn’t huge, but these differences can be annoying, so having access to the Windows version of Outlook can be helpful.

Based on my conversations with Microsoft insiders, the company’s ultimate goal is complete feature parity between the macOS and Windows versions. However, in my view, this may not be the case for long.

All this leads to my contention that the ability to run Windows on a Mac is always a convenient backup plan should you want access to native Windows apps.

Bootcamp Great, With Limitations

Apple realized that situation in 2006 when it released Boot Camp. At the time, macOS had a much smaller market share than it does today, and it did not enjoy the wider app availability of Windows.

Boot Camp provides the ability to create a dual boot, where you can easily use either Windows or macOS, although not at the same time.

For some users, this is an attractive solution. But there are some significant challenges with this approach.

First, you won’t be able to go back and forth between Windows and macOS to share content in real-time. More importantly, Boot Camp only works with Intel-based Macs. This scenario is less appealing because Apple has clearly messaged that its desktops and laptops will run Apple Silicon in the future, starting with the M1 chip.

Therefore, if you recently purchased a Mac with an M1 or M2 processor, the Boot Camp option isn’t available to you.

Parallels offers the best of both worlds

For the past several years, I’ve used Parallels, a popular software utility that allows you to use Windows on a Mac by creating what’s known as a virtual machine. Technically, the Mac shares the computer’s resources with the Parallels virtual machine(s) and allows the Mac to operate as a standalone device.

There are many advantages to this approach. Right from the start, Parallels has allowed you to run multiple operating systems, not just Windows. You can also use various iterations of Linux, although this may be too “advanced dance lessons” for most mainstream users who need occasional access to Windows.

The other advantage I find enjoyable is that Parallels removes the need to boot into Windows or macOS. Parallels has a cool feature called “Coherence mode”, which allows you to run Windows programs in a macOS environment.

However, for usability reasons, you may just want to run Windows in a separate window (no pun intended). You can also easily copy, cut, and paste content such as files, images, videos, etc. between the two operating systems.

Parallels on a Mac computer running Windows 11

The Mac notebook is using Parallels to run the Windows 11 operating system in a dedicated window in macOS. (Image credit: Parallels International)

Parallels is not the only software utility on the market that can do this trick. VMware offers a comparable utility called Fusion. But Parallels’ advantage over Fusion is that it works on both Intel and Apple M-based Mac devices.

analyst view

I believe the ability to run Windows on a Mac is one of the most unheralded stories in the PC space and deserves more attention.

As I’ve written before, this feature attribute “How did I live without this ability?” comes under the category of I do not consider this an exaggeration, as many consumers cannot afford a Mac and a Windows PC. Often, it is an either/or situation dictated by affordability considerations.

While I don’t use Parallels every day, the convenience of accessing Windows apps without the need for a separate PC has been a game-changer for me.

What is also surprising to me is that Windows runs smoothly on the Mac. While the major PC OEMs (primarily HP, Dell, and Lenovo) have made great strides in improving the overall user experience with driver and firmware updates, I’ve had my fair share of upgrade challenges when updating Windows.

Because Parallels runs as a virtual machine on your PC, Windows runs more smoothly without the “hiccups” that driver updates will sometimes cause.

some exceptions

Still, running Windows on a Mac using Parallels isn’t for everyone. This approach won’t cut it if you’re a hardcore gamer, as most popular PC games require discrete graphics and multi-core processors from Intel or AMD, which the virtual machine approach isn’t optimized to address.

I also wouldn’t recommend Parallels to Windows users who are video content professionals, as Windows apps running under Parallels will disappoint from a performance perspective.

Also, keep in mind that if you have an Apple Silicon-based Mac, it will only run the Arm-based version of Windows, which has limitations. Drivers for hardware, games, and apps will only work if they’re designed for the ARM version of Windows. From a practical point of view, 64-bit (x64) apps will not work. You have to be careful and check whether a specific Windows app requires 64-bit support.

Nevertheless, there are a significant number of mainstream users with basic Windows productivity application needs who may be easily satisfied with the capabilities that Parallels provides for Mac users.

Interestingly, overall PC growth has been flat over the past few quarters following a pandemic-related market surge in 2020, 2021 and early 2022, but Apple has paid significantly more for its computers versus comparably configured PCs. It has continued to increase its share irrespective of the prices.

Apple’s Ecosystem Advantage

The tight integration between the iPhone, iPad, and Mac continues to resonate with many users. A great example of the strength of this ecosystem is the exclusive native text/SMS messaging service on the Mac, which is not available on the Windows platform.

If you’re an Android smartphone user, the advantage of the Apple ecosystem is gone as many apps allow you to access Android text/SMS messages on your Mac.

Mac users know what I mean when they consider the convenience of using a keyboard on a computer to send iMessage or SMS. Apple, in my view, is unlikely to ever deliver a “key to the kingdom” for that specific feature.

Equal Productivity Allowances

Putting the ecosystem element aside, more Mac users should consider using Parallels to expand their overall productivity if they need regular access to Windows.

At $99 for Parallels’ standard edition, it’s a cheap way to avoid buying a dedicated Windows PC — and that scenario may ultimately be what scares the dickens out of big PC makers.

Will using Parallels eliminate the need to buy an independent Windows laptop? Because of the caveats above, the answer is not clear. If you’re a “power” Windows user, you may need a lot more performance than the virtual Windows experience can provide.

However, the reality is that there are a non-trivial number of Mac users with occasional access to Windows for productivity applications who could benefit from a virtual operating system experience to avoid the hassle and expense of owning a separate Windows PC. Huh.