When Apple announces a new product Mac mini (M2)one of the cool tidbits is that its HDMI port has been upgraded, though only if you get the version with the M2 Pro chip.
Support for 4K at 120Hz natively, or 4K at 240Hz using Display Stream Compression (DSC), is now available in that model, and both are good – but what really made me sit up and notice is 4K HDR supported for the first time.
We’re only talking about HDR10 for now (the ‘basic’ and most common form), but it’s still an important step up from the ‘completely no HDR’ we’ve had before. Apple does not support more advanced Dolby HDR Vision format in macOS (the mini LED display on its Pro laptop takes full advantage of it, as we discuss in 16-inch MacBook Pro (2023) Review), but currently not through the HDMI port.
However, with HDCP 2.2 onboard to support this, it immediately raises questions about using the Mac mini M2 Pro as an HTPC (home theater PC) connected to one of the The best TV. HTPC used to be a notable thing, but has been gradually declining due to the rise of best streaming devicecan do most of the same features for a lot less money.
But HTPCs still have their uses (and their fans). After all, you can watch videos from anywhere that can deliver the video to a web browser – not just services supported by the device. You can also play any digital movie files you have, whatever their format, or connect to any type of streaming server (or create one powered by Mac mini, of course).
And because it’s the M2 Pro version, you get tremendous power for anything else you want to do with it – entertainment included. As always, Macs are generally not the first choice for games, but there are still a large number of releases, new and old (especially strategy games) and you can be sure that whatever you throw at it will run fine on the 19-core GPU.
And it can also be ideal for music fans – plug the Mac mini into a great device. AV receiver with serious speakers connected to it and you can play your music collection High-Resolution Audio in superb quality.
There are some issues using the Mac mini M2 Pro as an HTPC. The first is the lack of Dolby sound output from HDMI – multichannel audio is supported, but not in Atmos format, so you can effectively get surround sound, but not the full 3D object-based sound effects enough with one of the The best Dolby Atmos soundbar.
And then there’s the price. $1,299 / £1,399 / AU$1,999 is completely a lot for an HTPC. You can get the latest Apple TV 4K (2022) at almost 90% cheaper than that, leaving you with enough money to buy one PlayStation 5 and one Xbox Series X for that game. And then you’ll also have Dolby Vision and Atmos support.
But you won’t have the flexibility. I’m not saying people should rush out and buy a new Mac mini as an alternative to watching best streaming service; I’m just saying that for a certain group of home theater nerds (I – I mean: me), it has become one of the more interesting devices around.
You can read our full Mac mini review (2023) for more on the machine – and yes, we tested the M2 Pro version.