I purchased my M1 Mac Mini before the M2 processor was available in any machine at all. I picked it up refurbished and got a very good price, the limitation however was being able to select how much memory it had.
So I ended up with a M1 Mac Mini, 8Gb memory, 512Gb SSD, 8 core cpu, 8 core GPU, 16 core NPU.
I’m a professional photographer so use this machine daily for processing raw images. I’ve Nikon Z6ii cameras, which have a 24mp sensor. I use external Samsung SSDs for storing work that needs editing as this allows me to quickly unlug thre drive and take it with me and the laptop when out and about. Files backup automatically on the Mac to external backup drives when the Samsung drive is plugged in.
When editing in PL5 I typically also have Firefox (often with 10-15 tabs) and Apple Mail running, and sometimes Spotify.
When I updated my machine (from an old Intel Mini) I was using a 1920x1200 monitor and a 1920x1080 secondary monitor setup.
A few months later I updated this to a 4k main monitor and kept the 1920x1080 as the second screen.
I am very happy with the performance. PL5 & 6 have been very well optimised for Apple Silicon. The way these machines utilise memory does seem to be very differnt to how Intel/AMD processors use memory.
I do wish I’d got 16Gb of memory, but that is mostly to slightly ‘future proof’ the machine as we all know that as software progresses it [places higher demands on system hardware. However, for the past 2 years 8Gb memory has worked very well for me.
Is 32Gb memory worth it with Apple silicon - probably only if you are processing much larger files than 24mp (60mp + files), if you wish to run many more applications at the same time compared to myself, or you have other software that has very large memory demands.
The M2 Pro/Max have faster memory busses than the M1 so they can utilise the installed capacity even more quickly.
Expert time is very fast with DeepPrime, 3mins 5s for 32 images from my camera in an export I did just now. My machine uses the NPU for DeepPrime, but I suspect as the number of GPU cores increses at some point it becomes quicker to use the GPU for DeepPrime export (PL chooses which is fastest for you if it is set to ‘Auto’). This is just a hunch on my part, I don’t have evidence to back this up.
I’ve looked at the M2 Pro Mini as well and concluded that the base spec would be the most suitable for me. For me, the extra £300 for the small increase in CPU and GPU cores for the M2 Pro is not money well spent. But the jump from the M2 to the M2 Pro is money well spent.
I memntioned the spec of my monitor setup earlier for a reason. I did notice that the time taken to render an image on the sceen did increase when I switched to the 4k monitor - I now have to wait approx 1.5-2s for it to render. Rendering also takes a small amount of extra time longer after an adjustment is made to the image - approx. 0.5s (with the 1920x1200 monitor as my main screen, when moving to a new image or making an adjustment, rendering was instant - there was no wait time). I guess all those extra pixels need extra processing power.
When editing hundreds of images, each with many small adjustments then that extra time adds up.
Now, what I don’t know is if rendering those extra pixels more quikly requires more CPU or GPU power. Is it CPU power to process how the rendering is to be applied to the image (hmmm, logic suggests all the image was also rendered on the lower res screen and it was quicker, so maybe it isn’t CPU causing the delay), or is it GPU power to display all the extra pixels?
So my conclusion if I were to buy a new Mac Mini today, and using a 4k monitor:
M2 Pro (base spec processor)
This would still be either £600/£400 cheaper (depending on SSD choice) than the base spec Studio.
Or I’d wait for a M2 Max Studio top be released (hopefully still at £2k) and spend the extra to get that!
Goodness, that’s a longer post that I expected. Hope it is of some help and doesn’t muddy matters more!
Edit: Basically I don’t find Apple’s pricing for upgrading the CPU/GPU or the memory for the Mac Mini Pro to be value for money. If I were to want to upgrade either of those then I’d just jump straight to buying the base spec Studio.
This is all just my opinion of course, other’s needs and views will vary