The Mac mini (with the M2 processor) packs a powerful punch as a signature Apple package but that’s not why I chose the highlight it here.
Amazon and other retailers are selling this particular model for $499, a $100 saving off its suggested retail price. Apple rarely does discounts that deep (17%) on its latest models (this device is from 2023).
OK, while it’s not as powerful as the other workstations on this list, it has a few tricks up its sleeve which makes this worth considering. First, you can add an external graphics card to the Mac mini for added graphical prowess. You can also chain several Mac minis together and offload tasks onto each machine, making it an expandable – and incredibly versatile – workstation.
The 2023 vintage of the Apple Mac mini M2 received perfect marks from TechRadar, which is surprising considering it was a surprise launch.
Even with the 8GB of RAM, the performance efficiency of Apple devices means that it performs incredibly well, making great as an entry level workstation. Even Apple pitches it as a powerful desktop for content creation, claiming that it will allow users to “run more plug-ins and layer more audio tracks in Logic Pro” as well as editing “multiple 4K and 8K ProRes” feeds.
On top of that, the Mac mini is small and looks gorgeous, a powerful machine that barely takes up space on your desk. The only downside is that once you purchase it you can’t upgrade it, so make sure that you get the configuration that works best for you before taking the plunge.
(ed: That’s definitely a candidate for both our best workstation PC and our best mini PC buying guide. It’s already in our best business PC one.)
This version of the Mac mini has eight CPU cores and 10GPU cores plus 8GB unified memory and a 256GB SSD. You can run up to two display via its HDMI and one of its Thunderbolt 4 ports. It does have two USB-A connectors as well as a Gigabit Ethernet port, Wi-Fi 6e and Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity.
There’s no VESA mount so you can’t hide it behind a monitor but let’s not kid ourselves, the gorgeous Mac mini is one to be seen, rather than hidden.
Mac vs Windows: Which is the best workstation OS?
That’s a tricky question: while there’s one Mac OS, there’s actually three different versions of Windows geared towards workstation users (Home, Professional and the lesser known Workstation edition). Double that number if you consider downgrades from Windows 11 to Windows 10 (for the more conservative business users out there. Windows offer a much wider choice for users and supports arcane, legacy and niche applications as well. Mac works well for software that’s native to its platform, unshackled by legacy code and compatible with its powerful Arm-based processor range. Ultimately the choice of operating systems depends on a few parameters outside the scope of this FAQ.
✅Are you a new user or an existing one?
✅What OS do you currently use?
✅Would you consider investment for training?
✅Do you want to move to another platform?
✅Are you the one (or part of the team) taking the business decision?
✅Is your main software suite tied to Windows or Apple?