As a gamer with (fading) love for apple products, I often ask myself whether I should upgrade my older Mac to play some game anywhere. The internet more or less agrees that apple machines are not for gaming, and while they are somewhat correct, in this article, we will be putting this device to the test!
Is the Mac Mini M2 even good for gaming?
While older (supported) games run fine on it, newer ones are a clear challenge for the machine. There are absolutely better choices out there for gaming, but the gaming benchmarks it offers will definitely surprise you.
Table of Contents
Different Versions Of Mac Mini M2
There are currently two versions of Mac Mini M2 available.
One is with the base M2 chip, while the other has an upgraded version called the M2 pro. Below is a quick table to help you with the difference between both versions.
|Specifications||Base M2||M2 Pro|
|Memory||8 GB||16 GB|
|GPU||10-Core||16-Core (Configurable to 19-Core)|
|CPU||8-Core||10-Core (Configurable to 12-Core)|
|Memory Bandwidth||100 GB/s||200 GB/s|
|Storage||256 GB SSD||512 GB SSD|
|Thunderbolt 4 Ports||2||4|
If you feel the Mac Mini M2 models need to be higher level, do not panic! You can upgrade your Mac Mini M2. For extra cash, you can get additional memory and storage, whichever you prefer. Furthermore, with the M2 Pro model, you can get different GPU and CPU cores. The only difference you would get between the two models is with the display.
You can support only two external screens in 6K with 60 Hz if you have the base M2 model. However, with the M2 Pro, one can support up to three external displays in 6K with 60 Hz. The base model of the Mac Mini M2 is also configurable; however, you won’t be able to get extra cores for the GPU or CPU.
Suppose you are someone who doesn’t deal with video rendering or video editing. In that case, the base M2 model is ideal for you as it has significant power to perform most tasks. However, If you want to save some cash, getting the base model and an add-on of 16GB RAM is best. This way, you will save money, and the RAM will give your Mac the additional power it needs.
Overall Gaming Experience On The Mac Mini M2
You need emulators to run non-native games. Furthermore, the games designed for ARM would run much better. When we talk about gaming on Mac Mini M2, the process is the same as the M1. Achieving the accurate benchmark in the Mac Mini M2 can be tricky, and the performance of games depends mainly on the emulator you are using.
The MacOS also has a built-in compatibility layer known as Rosetta 2. Rosetta 2 emulates games automatically, but not all games are compatible with the emulator. For example, some games run better on Parallels, while others run better on Crossover.
You might be interested in How to Play iPhone Games on Mac!
Mac Mini M2 CPU Benchmark
M2 vs M1: Performance comparison
The M2’s chip performance across various products is almost identical. However, if we compare the speed of base M2 chips on the Mac Mini, they are slightly faster than MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.
Mac Mini M2 is faster mainly because it is less compact and has an active cooling system. Though the difference is minimal, some games still have better frames on the Mac Mini M2 than other Mac products.
Performance To Expect With Steam Games On The Mac Mini M2
You can get the Steam application on your Mac Mini M2. However, only a few games available on Steam are compatible with MacOS. You can download any game from the library, but the chances that the game runs properly are very slim.
You will also find some games in your library that will work flawlessly. Rosetta 2, for example, will try to run non-natively supported games. Whenever you launch a game from the Steam Library, Rosetta 2 will be launched in the background. If the game you have launched is compatible, it will open without issues.
The list of supported Steam games can be found in the Apple Gaming Wiki. But what happens if the Steam game isn’t playable? If Rosetta 2 can’t handle the games, your next best option is to use third-party emulators.
The two most popular options are Crossover and Parallels. However, some games won’t work on these emulators either; it all comes down to the game you are trying to play.
Performance Of Anti-Cheat Games On The Mac Mini M2
Online games which use kernel-level anti-cheat software will not work on MacOS. Games like Apex Legends, Call Of Duty, and Valorant can not be played on the Mac Mini M2 due to compatibility issues with anti-cheat software.
However, you can use Parallel (an emulator) to launch these games, but the multiplayer wouldn’t work. CS GO is one honorable mention that works on the Mac Mini M2 without additional configurations.
The Mac Mini M2 Gaming Benchmarks
|League of Legends||1080P||100+ FPS||Max|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider||1080P||Average 30 FPS||Medium|
|Metro Exodus||1080P||Average 50 FPS||Highest|
|CS GO||1080P||Average 100 FPS||Highest|
|Resident Evil||1080P||Average 60 FPS||Max Settings|
|GTA V||1080P||Average 60 FPS||Max|
Keep in mind that the Mac Mini M2 doesn’t have an internal display, so the gaming resolution is set to the external monitor. If a 4K monitor is connected to your Mac Mini, you can expect little from the system as it will try to play your games in 4K and will perform dreadfully.
If you want the best performance for gaming, it’s best to get a 1080p monitor. This way, the performance will improve, and games will run smoothly.
Mac Mini M2 Vs. Mac Mini M1: Which One Is Better?
When we compare both the models of the Mac Mini that are available in the market, the Mac Mini M2 beats the last version of the Mac, i.e., the Mac Mini M1, in various aspects. The Mac Mini M2 is 30% faster than the Mac Mini M1, giving M2 a plus one point. Here’s the complete comparison of both Macs.
If we compare both models, there’s an upgrade in performance overall. The Mac Mini M2 offers users a 10-core GPU. In comparison, the Mac Mini M1 only had an 8-core GPU. Both the versions of Mac are small in size and would look great on a desk, so in terms of looks, it’s a tie.
When comparing the gaming performance, you will find a few games that will run two times better in terms of performance when played on the Mac Mini M2. This makes the M2 model significantly more powerful than its predecessor.
Metro Exodus is the game to play if you want to experience the gaming difference. Play the game on both versions of Mac. On the Mac Mini M1, you will get around 20-30 frames per second; on the Mac Mini M2, you will get an average frame rate of 50.
In terms of transistors, the M2 base model wins again. The Mac Mini M1 has about 16 billion transistors, while the Mac Mini M2 has about 20 billion transistors. When we compare the memory bandwidth of both Macs. M2’s base version has a higher memory bandwidth of 100GB/s. In comparison, the M1 base model has a memory bandwidth of 68.25GB/s which is significantly less than the M2.
Memory Limitation In The Mac Mini M2
When we talk about limitations in the Mac Mini M2, there are not many, but there is one you would have to encounter. Memory limitation is one of the significant limitations that you would find in M2.
Many games can run on MacOS, but they eat up most of your system’s memory when running. You should upgrade your memory to at least 16 GB to eliminate the memory problem and also because the emulators, like “Parallels” specifically, would acquire a decent amount of memory.
Even if you try to run non-native games on the base 8 GB of Mac Mini, chances are your machine will fail to deliver performance.
Apple’s Mac Mini M2 is a beast in delivering performance. However, when talking about gaming specifically, it all comes down to one’s preferences. If you are someone who wants to enjoy the latest triple-A games, then M2 will be a disappointment. However, if you want to enjoy comparatively old games like GTA V and CS GO, the Mac Mini M2 is your machine.