In March 2020, Apple updated their website with a NEW label on the Mac mini, the small form factor BYODKM (Bring Your Own Display, Keyboard, and Mouse) computer that was last updated in 2018. Before that, there was a dry spell of 4 years without any updates.
Some retailers selling the Mac mini have begun labeling the new 2020 Mac mini as the “Early 2020” version, which implies there are some differences between it and the “Late 2018” edition.
So what changed in these 2 years?
It turns out: nothing.
The only reason that Apple is labeling their Mac mini pages as NEW is because they have included double the storage in the base models of their 2 standard Mac mini configurations (going from 128GB to 256GB in the Core i3 model and 256GB to 512GB in the Core i5 model). This is effectively a $200 price decrease, since that is what it would have cost extra to bump up a tier of storage capacity.
However, other than this, there are zero differences between the 2018 and 2020 models of the Mac mini. In fact, if you buy a 2020 Mac mini and go into Apple > About This Mac, you will see that it actually says Mac mini (2018)! This screenshot is from the "NEW" base model Mac mini I purchased directly from Apple in April 2020:
That’s right, it is in fact the very same machine.
So does that mean Apple is lying? Well, no, because they did update their website and the pricing is indeed NEW. However, this is somewhat misleading as usually such a label is used when there are actually updated models of a product released, so I wouldn’t fault anyone for thinking that there are differences in the 2020 Mac mini from the 2018 model. Also, Apple does not actually call the Mac mini a 2020 model anywhere on their website.
Does this mean retailers who list the Mac mini as a 2020 model are lying? Maybe… it does seem ingenuous to list a product as a 2020 version when in fact it is the 2018 version (which can be confirmed once you actually receive it).
That doesn’t mean the Mac mini isn’t a worthwhile computer to own in 2020, despite having been released in 2018. On the contrary, I recently purchased one and will share my experiences as I try using it as my primary desktop computer.