M2 Pro MacBook Pro vs Mac mini – What do you get for $700 extra?

Apple announced and will launch the M2 versions of the MacBook Pro and Mac mini on the same day, with the Mac mini getting M2 and M2 Pro variations, while the MacBook Pro has M2 Pro and M2 Max chip options in both 14″ and 16″ form factors.

If you are considering a M2 Pro machine, but aren’t sure if you want to go for the MacBook Pro or the Mac mini, then this analysis is for you. We’ll take a look at both machines to highlight what the similarities and, most importantly, differences are to help you make a decision.

Base Model Similarities

The base models of the M2 Pro 14″ MacBook Pro and Mac mini have the following in common:

  • Apple M2 Pro chip, consisting of:
    • 10-core CPU with 6 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores
    • 16-core GPU
    • 16-core Neural Engine
    • 200GB/s memory bandwidth
    • Media engine with:
      • Hardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC, ProRes, and ProRes RAW
      • Video decode engine
      • Video encode engine
      • ProRes encode and decode engine
  • 16GB unified memory
  • 512GB SSD
  • Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax)
  • Bluetooth 5.3
  • MacOS and future software update support (since they launched on the same day)

Performance: The M2 Pro chip performance between the MacBook Pro and Mac mini models should be identical (although this needs to be tested). That’s because we’ve seen comparisons between the M1 Max models of the MacBook Pro and Mac Studio show that they have the same performance despite the form factor difference. Therefore, we should assume the same for the M2 Pro.

Upgrade Options

Most of the upgrade options while staying on the M2 Pro chip are the same between the MacBook Pro and Mac mini. Of course, you do have the option to move up to the M2 Max on the MacBook Pro, which is not an option on the Mac mini. We’ll probably have to wait for Mac Studio refresh with the M2 Max to get that.

But staying with M2 Pro, the cost to upgrade the CPU to 12 cores and GPU to 19 cores is the same at $300 USD. The cost to upgrade the unified memory from 16GB to 32 GB is $400, and storage upgrades range from $200 to a whopping $2,400 extra for 8TB on both machines.

The MacBook Pro has 1 unique upgrade option in a 96W USB-C Power Adapter for $20 extra, which doesn’t apply to the Mac mini since it has no battery. Likewise, the Mac mini has a unique upgrade option to 10 Gigabit Ethernet for $100 extra, while the MacBook Pro has no ethernet port at all.

Form Factor and Price

Now let’s talk about the biggest difference between the 2 machines. The MacBook Pro is a laptop, while the Mac mini is a desktop. One you can take with you on the go and use anywhere, while the other, while small enough to be carried around, needs to be plugged in to both power and external peripherals like a monitor, mouse, and keyboard in order to be useful.

If you need a device that you can carry around and use while traveling, out around town, or even in different rooms of your house easily, then the MacBook Pro is the clear choice. If you prefer using the computer at a desk with a big monitor and a bunch of accessories, then the Mac mini is the way to go.

However, you may also be flexible, preferring sometimes to work at a desk and other times elsewhere. You also want to make sure you’re getting the best value for your money, and there is a clear price difference between a similarly specced MacBook Pro and Mac mini: $700 USD in fact. That means you could decide to purchase the Mac mini and a more portable laptop or even tablet if you don’t have the need for M2 Pro-level performance on the go.

But to really make the right choice, let’s take a look just what the extra $700 gets you in the MacBook Pro (and what you have to give up). There are 4 key areas of differences.


The most obvious is that the 14″ MacBook Pro comes with a gorgeous 14.2″ Liquid Retina XDR display with a 3024-by-1964 native resolution at 254 pixels per inch. XDR stands for Extreme Dynamic Range, with a claimed 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, ability to display 1 billion colors, and HDR content. It also has ProMotion technology that supports a 120Hz refresh rate. This kind of display is certainly best-in-class on a laptop, and it’s hard to find a large monitor with similar attributes.

Besides the built-in display, the MacBook Pro supports up to 2 external displays, making for a total of 3. The Mac mini supports up to 3 external displays, so the numbers seem similar. Indeed, the allowed display resolution and bandwidth between the 2 machines with 1 or 2 external displays is the same. However, keep in mind that one of the displays on the MacBook Pro is fixed, while going to 3 displays on the Mac mini means the HDMI port becomes limited to 4K @ 60Hz.

Keyboard and Trackpad

The other major feature unique to laptops is the built-in keyboard and trackpad. With the M1 MacBook line, Apple moved away from using the thin and controversial butterfly switches and included a keyboard that has generally been positively received. There were no mentions of updates to the keyboard or trackpad with the M2 models, so we can assume they are the same as the M1 MacBook Pro.

The keyboard does provide Touch ID support, which is super handy. You can get an external Apple Magic Keyboard with Touch ID on it, though that will set you back $149.

Audio and Camera

Both the MacBook Pro and Mac mini have speakers. However, Mac mini speakers aren’t really meant for hi-fidelity sound reproduction, while MacBook Pro speakers are some of the best sounding laptop speakers on the market. Apple says its a six-speaker sound system with support for wide stereo sound and spatial audio. There’s also a “studio-quality three-mic array with high signal-to-noise ratio and directional beamforming”.

The only audio components in common between the MacBook Pro and Mac mini are the “3.5 mm headphone jack with advanced support for high-impedance headphones” and “HDMI port supports multichannel audio output”.

The MacBook Pro also comes with a built-in 1080p webcam, which can be very useful these days for video calls. However, macOS Ventura does offer the ability to use an iPhone as a webcam (called Continuity Camera) for even better picture quality, or a number of paid and free apps can do this too, such as Camo.


Both the MacBook Pro and Mac mini come with a variety of ports to connect external devices, but this is one area where paying more actually gives you less. Here’s a comparison of the ports on each machine:

MacBook ProMac mini
MagSafe 3 for chargingPower connector
HDMI 2.1HDMI 2.1
3.5mm headphone jack3.5mm headphone jack
3x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C)4x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C)
n/a2x USB-A (up to 5Gb/s)
n/aGigabit Ethernet (configurable to 10Gb)
SDXC card slotn/a

So the Mac mini gives you an extra Thunderbolt and 2 extra USB-A ports along with ethernet, while the only advantage of the MacBook Pro is the SD card reader. Since there are only 3 USB-style ports on the MacBook Pro, if you use a lot of external devices, you might need to pick up a dock or hub of some sort, which can add a few hundred dollars. This is much less likely to be needed for the Mac mini.

What Should You Buy?

So should you buy the MacBook Pro or the Mac mini if you are looking for a M2 Pro computer? If the comparison until now hasn’t made the answer clear, consider your budget and what you want to do with it.

If your budget is tight or you are certain you will only use the computer at a fixed desk, go for the Mac mini. But if your budget is truly tight, consider the non-Pro M2 Mac mini instead, which starts at just $599 USD. Compared to the $1299 USD for the M2 Pro version, that machine is a really great value. It also happens to once again be a $700 price difference; I guess Apple really likes that number for some reason. The main limitation is only having 8GB of memory, which can make heavy multitasking workloads feel less pleasant.

If your budget is flexible and you can see yourself wanting to use the computer away from a fixed desk, go for the MacBook Pro. You can always dock it while at the desk, but you still have the option of taking it with you to work or play anywhere. With Apple Silicon, there is no more performance difference between laptops and desktops, and the power efficiency of the chip reveals its greatest advantage by giving you access to full power on battery.

Hopefully you found this comparison useful. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *