Mac mini 2018: what we want to see

Mac mini 2018

It’s been nearly four years since the Mac mini has had a major overhaul, and while some people assume that Apple’s silence means we’ll never see a mini refresh, we can still cling to the hope that a new Mac mini will surface in 2018.

We didn’t get a new Mac mini in 2017, and while that disappointed many people, Apple CEO Tim Cook himself has reiterated Apple’s support of the Mac mini, so there’s still hope that it’ll show up this year.

Now, while official word of when – or even if – a Mac mini 2018 may be coming has been elusive, there has been a large wave of speculation surrounding it. This includes everything from the addition of a separate co-processor for ‘Hey Siri’ commands to the inclusion of iOS apps through some kind of wizardry.  

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? A new version of Apple’s compact Mac
  • When is it out? As early as March 2018?
  • What will it cost? Hopefully around the price of previous models

Mac mini 2018

Mac mini 2018 release date

As with other upcoming Apple products, we haven’t got a solid release date for the Mac mini 2018. Rumors have been thin on the ground as well, so we’re going to have to use a bit of speculation when it comes to the possible release date.

The previous Mac mini was released way back on October 16, 2014, so could we witness an October launch for the new Mac mini?

Apple’s WWDC 2018 event could be another chance for Apple to announce the new Mac mini. WWDC events are usually held in early June, and last year’s conference saw the reveal of the HomePod and a new iPad Pro 12.9 and iPad Pro 10.5.

If June 2018 feels too far away, then Apple may have something planned for around March, as it has revealed new products around that time in the past. We’ll keep an eye on any rumors and update this article as soon as we get a clearer idea of when the Mac mini 2018 will be released.

Mac mini 2018 price

Again, we haven’t heard much about the potential price of the Mac mini 2018 just yet, but that’s to be expected, as pricing rumors usually begin to circulate closer to the release date.

But, could the price of previous Mac minis give us a clue to what the price of any new Mac minis would be?

The lowest spec Mac mini cost $499 (£399, around AU$650) when it launched in 2014, with the middle Mac mini costing cost $699 (£569, around AU$900) and the top-of-the range Mac mini came with a $999 (£569, around AU$1,300) price tag.

Mac mini 2018

 What we want to see in Mac mini 2018 

While we don’t know a lot about the Mac mini 2018 at the moment, we certainly know what we want to see from a refreshed Mac mini. 

1. An attractive new design

Really, there’s nothing wrong with the way the current Mac mini looks, but if we’re going to get the first major revision in almost four years, it’d be awesome if it got a nice makeover as well. Thinner, smaller and quieter. Is that too much to ask?

An old rumor from early 2017 suggested that the high-end Mac mini ‘won’t be so mini anymore’ which led people to assume more powerful components will be added, requiring more room for better cooling.

However, this rumor is quite vague, so we’d urge caution when taking this completely at face value.

Of course, powerful components will mean more heat produced, so a redesigned Mac mini isn’t out of the question, but as Apple has shown with the iMac and iMac Pro, it’s a dab hand at putting powerful components into svelte devices and keep them cool.

2. A power boost

One of the things we'd most like to see from a Mac mini 2018 is an upgrade to its components, which would make it a formidable mini machine to compete with other small form factor PCs like the Asus VivoMini and Intel NUC, which have been upgraded to 7th- and 8th-generation Intel Core processors, respectively. 

So, to begin, we’d like to see a newer CPU than the current Mac mini’s 4th generation chip. Refreshing the silicon would make modern amenities like Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), Display Port 1.2 and 4K video possible, and would give the Mac mini 2018 a considerable power boost over previous models. 

Apple is reportedly planning on releasing three Macs in 2018 with custom co-processors, though we doubt the Mac mini, even if it does come out, would be included.

RAM-wise, the previous Mac mini came with 4GB, and while that could remain, we’d like to see a base 8GB of RAM, as with the MacBook Air

2. Mouse and keyboard included

While the Mac mini has a reputation for being the most compact and economical Apple computer around, it’s also known for its lack of included (yet essential) accessories. The Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Keyboard can only be purchased separately from the Mac mini itself. That means you’ll have to shell out an additional cost for parts that are required to use it.

A recent patent filed by Apple suggests that the company is interested in bringing spill-free and crumb-resistant keyboards to its MacBooks. We would argue that this guard structure technology, designed to “keep contaminants from reaching the innards of the machine” would be a useful addition to the Mac mini as well.

3.  4K support 

Wouldn’t it be great if the Mac mini 2018 could also act as an alternative to the Apple TV? For that to happen, the Mac mini 2018 would need to be a capable 4K machine – something previous models were decidedly not.

Thankfully, as we mentioned earlier, if the new Mac mini is going to feature recent Intel processors, then the integrated graphics should give it enough graphical power to handle 4K.

Previous models of the Mac mini couldn't quite handle 4K content, and this was due to hardware limitations of the time, coupled with Apple's desire to keep the Mac mini as an entry-level device, price-wise.

However, in 2018 even budget processors come with integrated graphics that are powerful enough to render 4K interfaces and play ultra high definition content from Netflix and iTunes, so we want to see Apple make use of this technology in any new Mac mini that it produces. 

4.  For it to actually exist 

We can speculate all day about what the Mac Mini 2018 might look like, and what it’s capable of, but none of that matters if it doesn’t exist in the first place. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen an update to the Mac Mini, and Apple has a lot to gain from a market where they’re starting to see more competition than ever before. 

If Apple can put out a Mac Mini that improves and innovates on its design, they might end up with one of the best multimedia PCs on the market. So, let’s just hope that Tim Cook’s stated support of the Mac mini means that the Cupertino behemoth has something up its sleeves. 

  • These are the best Macs that 2018 has to offer so far

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this report