M2 Pro Mac mini has Packet Loss over Ethernet + Solution (How to Fix)

Can Apple release a Mac computer without any major issues? Well, if my recent experiences are an indication… it seems not.

The latest issue I ran into using the M2 Pro Mac mini is with the Ethernet. More specifically, transfer speeds seemed erratic, and it turns out it’s because of packet loss.

The Beginning

When I first got the M2 Pro Mac mini, I hooked it up via Ethernet and it seemed to be working fine. As I was downloading various programs and setting it up, I did notice that sometimes things would lag a bit, or download slowly, but I didn’t think much of it.

Sometimes, certain websites would seem to lag and not load properly as well, but then it would work again. With such sporadic and somewhat invisible symptoms, it can take a while to notice that there actually might be a problem.

The Packet Loss Problem

Then, I came across a thread on MacRumors started by a poster that said their M2 Pro Mac mini was experiencing packet loss issues over Ethernet.

What is packet loss? Well, in brief, packets are the bundles of data that are uploaded and downloaded over the network that your computer connects to. Packet loss is when the bundle gets sent by the source, such as a website you are trying to view, but then never reaches its destination, such as your computer. Generally internet protocols mean the packet will be retried so you will eventually get the data, but losing packets frequently means network speeds and lag become an issue.

Packet Loss Testing

So, naturally, I got curious and used a packet loss testing website to see if my Mac mini is also experiencing this issue. Lo and behold… yes, it does.

I seemed to be getting between 14-17% packet loss every time I ran the test, which is, not good. Although it seems to be better than others who have been reporting up to 60 or 70% packet loss in some cases.

To see if it was a problem with my other network equipment or setup, I ran the same test on my Windows computer and it passed with no packet loss every time. I also ran the test on the M2 Pro Mac mini using Wi-Fi, and although there were some late packets, none got lost.

Thus, the problem has to be with the Mac mini’s Ethernet port. And in case you are wondering if this problem also affects the non-Pro M2 Mac mini, a forum poster reports that it does not. And the only M2 Pro machine with an Ethernet port is the M2 Pro Mac mini, so this doesn’t apply to the MacBook Pros either.

The Solution

Reading further into the thread, I saw a potential solution posted by cyberpunk_ber say that if you changed the Hardware settings from Automatic to Manual configuration, the issue would be fixed. A bunch of other posters reported that the fix seemed to have worked for them, so the good news is the problem appears to be a software or driver issues rather than hardware.

The Caveat

I gave it a try myself, and unfortunately my Mac mini doesn’t seem to be able to connect to the network successfully when I switch to Manual configuration. I’m not sure why this is, but it would end up with a “self-assigned IP” and the connection would not work. (Note: Later, I was able to get manual setting to work after I updated my router firmware.)

After fiddling with it for a while, I found that making the Ethernet connection inactive after changing the settings, and then switching back to active allowed me to finally connect. The Hardware configuration setting got switched back to automatic in this case, but when I ran the packet loss test again, I was not getting any dropped packets.

It seems a few other posters on the forum thread also reported packet loss stopping after changing some setting in manual and then going back to automatic, but it would only last until the next reboot. (Note: Leaving it on manual worked for me. Having it on Automatic would cause packet loss to return after rebooting.)

I shut down my Mac mini and booted it up immediately after, then ran the packet loss test again. And unfortunately, the packet loss issue returned.

I’m not sure why I was unable to get the Manual configuration setting under Hardware to work, and maybe if I do and leave it on Manual, that could fix the issue. (Note: It did after I updated my router firmware and was able to leave it on manual.) I’ll try again, but I can’t get it to work, I’m not sure if I can keep this Mac mini.

One comment

  1. It is a shame that Apple cannot seem to provide the premium experience they used to. After all, Apple controls every aspect of Macintosh computers in fact all their products are controlled directly by Apple. So either they are not properly vetting these hardware issues before release. Or they are simply becoming sloppy in their software support. Maybe the learning curve for the Apple silicon is still fresh for Apple as well?

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