According to Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman, the Mac Mini could be getting a major upgrade this year, with rumors floating around that Apple's new M1X chip will be headed to a high end version of the Mac Mini later this year. Giving the Mac Mini some much needed firepower for more demanding applications beyond video streaming and browsing the web.
A upgraded Mac Mini will be a welcome sight for many users, since the current M1 Mini uses the same chip in the current MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, but with better cooling. This new unit is believed to have double the amount of Thunderbolt ports from the current M1 mini (from two to four), and have significantly more RAM capacity, possibly up to 64GB.
Apple still sells an Intel-based Mac Mini with a six-core Intel Core i5 or Core i7, up to 64GB of RAM, up to 2TB SSD storage, four Thunderbolt 3 ports, Ethernet, HDMI 2.0 and two USB-A ports. It is likely that the M1X processor would allow Apple to remove this Intel product from its lineup. Apple previously announced it would remove Intel processors from its product within two years.
Gurman reports that this new Mac Mini will be powered off of the highly rumored M1X processor. We don't know much about this new chip, but it is believed to have a 10-core configuration with eight high performance cores and two efficiency cores. If true, this would be a much higher performing configuration compared to the current M1's 4+4 configuration.
However, the biggest improvements seems to be on the graphics side of things, with a 16-core and 32-core configuration rumored to be in the works. This would double and triple the current M1's graphics horsepower.
These upgrades will give the Mac mini a serious performance and connectivity enhancement, and according to Gurman, allow the upgraded M1 Mac Mini to fully replace Intel-equipped versions of the device.
Apple is preparing several new product launches later this fall, including the iPhone 13 and the newly re-designed MacBook Pro. Presumably, we should see Apple announce the new M1X Mac Mini around this time.
The M1X, if announced, would be Apple's second piece of custom silicon for its desktops and laptops. The M1 can currently be found in the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, Mac Mini, 24-inch iMac and iPad Pro. (Previously, Apple had used A-series chips in the iPad Pro.)
The only big Apple computers that haven't yet seen any refreshes with the company's own silicon are the Mac Pro tower, which is rumored to both use Intel's Xeon W-3300 and an alternative Apple chip, the 27-inch iMac and the 16-inch MacBook Pro, which is also rumored for replacement. Some 13-inch MacBook Pros still use Intel chips as well, which again may be waiting for a more powerful processor from Apple.