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Mac mini 2021 could launch this fall — but these upgrades don't seem like enough

New Mac mini render
(Image credit: Jon Prosser & Ian Zelbo)

Apple could have a new Mac mini, which we'll dub the Mac mini 2021, ready for release in the “next several months,” according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. 

The reliable journalist and tipster made that claim in his latest Power On newsletter, and reinforced rumors that the next compact desktop Mac will feature a new design and more ports. Sounds pretty good. But in our Mac mini M1 review we concluded it’s a great little computer, topping our best mini PC list. So I’m not sure Apple really needs to bring out a new mini only a year on from the last one.  

According to Gurman and the rumors thus far, the Mac mini 2021 will double the number of Thunderbolt ports from two to four, but didn't comment much on the overall design of the Mac mini. However, leaker Jon Prosser has claimed the next Mac mini will use a "plexiglass" top and a sport magnetic power port like the iMac 2021. 

It’s under the hood that, arguably, the most significant change could happen, as the Mac mini could reportedly use the M1X chip from Apple, a more powerful take on the Apple M1 chip, with more CPU and GPU cores. This is the same chip that’s expected in the reportedly upcoming MacBook Pro 2021, which would make sense as Gurman reckons the Mac mini 2021 will arrive after its laptop siblings. 

I’m all for more power and a refreshed design. But while I think the MacBook Pros do need such a treatment, especially in the face of machines like the Dell XPS 13 OLED, I’m not sure the Mac mini needs it. 

The compact square of aluminium with a neat and simple Apple logo is a rather lovely bit of industrial design. Sure, some more ports would be good, but I’d argue that the Mac mini isn’t really targeted at people who need a large amount of Thunderbolt-enabled USB-C ports; also with a lot of ports built into some of the best monitors, you don’t really need as many on a compact desktop PC as you might think. 

And while more power is also nice to have, I’ve not heard anyone complain the Mac mini is underpowered. Folks who really need more power have the iMac Pro or other powerful desktops for such tasks. 

Maybe there are people who are clamoring out for a more powerful Mac mini, but I've not heard them. And while I’m all for Apple to keep pushing forward, I’d much rather it worked on bringing out a redesigned MacBook Air with a little more power and slimmer display bezels than mess with a perfectly neat mini desktop. 

In fact, I’d rather see the engineers at Cupertino wait until they have the Apple M2 chip up and running, or other enhanced Apple Silicon chips to give the next Mac mini a special feature that lets it stand out from the MacBooks and iMacs. We'll just have to see what the fall brings, as Gurman may not have got this predictions and rumors right. 

Speaking of the cooler months, we’re expecting to see a suite of Apple products revealed soon, notably the iPhone 13 and Apple Watch 7, but we’d not be surprised to see the rumored iPad mini 6 make its debut before the end of 2021. 

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer is U.K. Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.