Apple has given nothing away about the new Mac mini yet, but based on past experience and the existing specs of other Macs, it is easy to surmise what to expect from the new Mac mini. We are also pretty sure that the Mac mini will be updated soon, given that it wasn't touched at all in 2015!
In this story we round up the latest information based on what we deem to be credible rumours and speculation, and our own analysis of Apple rumours. We'll update this story as new rumours and evidence comes in, so keep checking back.
After a two year wait, Apple finally updated the Mac mini on 16 October 2014, but Mac mini fans are now waiting for the next iteration of the smallest/cheapest Mac, hopefully coming in 2016. Find out more about the latest Mac mini in our Mac mini (Late 2014) 1.4 GHz review and Mac mini (Late 2014) 2.8GHz review.
Also read: Apple rumours and predictions for 2016
Mac mini 2016 release date: When is the new Mac mini coming out?
We had expected that Apple could announce a new Mac mini in the autumn of 2015, possibly along side the new iMac with 4K Retina display, or at the same time as the El Capitan launch. But those opportunities have both been and gone and we've still not got a new Mac mini. We're getting impatient!
The 2014 Mac mini became available to buy immediately after Apple's 16 October 2014 keynote ended, and you can still order a new Mac mini on the Online Apple Store. Shipping times are not clear since Apple changed its online store - now products just say "Get Delivery Dates", but a search by postcode suggests the unit will ship in 24 hours, suggesting an imminent launch is unlikley.
However, an update is overdue. Since the introduction of the Mac mini in 2014, Apple has added new processors to it's range of laptops - with the MacBook Air and the 13in MacBook Pro models gained Broadwell processors (however, the 15in model is still using Haswell!) Plus, the 21.5in iMac now has Broadwell and the bigger 27in iMac has the even newer Skylake chips. We think that the Mac mini is in line to get a new processor soon too.
Mac mini 2016 price: How much will the new Mac mini cost?
There are currently three models of the Mac mini available, depending on your budget and your specification needs. The cheapest model currently costs £399, the middle model is £569, and the priciest model is £799.
These prices ware significant because they marked a reduction of £100 compared to its price before the Mac mini came out, previously the cheapest Mac mini was £499, for example. Of course, you'll need to factor in the price of a monitor, keyboard and mouse with the Mac mini, though.
However, we don't anticipate Apple reducing the price further with the new model when it launches, so you can expect similar pricing, but hopefully better specs.
What is the Mac mini?
It's understandable that you might not be aware the the Mac mini even exists - sometimes it looks like even Apple isn't aware of its presence (if the long gap before the 2014 model was launched is anything to go by).
The Mac mini is Apple's smallest desktop Mac and also its cheapest Mac, at £399. It's a full-blown OS X desktop that fits into a self-contained chassis no bigger than a set-top box. An inexpensive living room Mac that lacks the power of even some MacBooks and comes with no keyboard, mouse or display, but one that works perfectly as the centre of your digital home – not least because it comes with HDMI sockets making plugging it into a modern TV a doddle.
There used to be a Mac mini with OS X server available for £849 but Apple removed that option from the line up in October 2014.
Is Apple going to discontinue the Mac mini?
in 2013 we were starting to worry that Apple would discontinue the Mac mini, indeed we speculated about whether Apple might discontinue the Mac mini in this article. We think Apple is wise to continue to ship this low cost of entry Mac because, despite the declines in the PC market, there is a lot of interest in Macs, as evidenced by the increase in Mac marketshare while the rest of the PC industry is in decline. In the future the Mac could become even more important for Apple.
New 2016 Mac mini specs and features: Processor
It seems likely that Apple has been waiting for Intel to ship the new Skylake chips before launching the new Mac mini, although it is also possible that they will use Broadwell chips. Broadwell is the successors to Haswell, Skylake replaced Broadwell (but Broadwell was so delayed that Skylake basically came out around the same time). There's been a bit of a delay waiting for Skylake processors that have integrated graphics chips though, which may explain why Apple hasn't issued an update yet.
2016 Mac mini rumours: Design
It's possible that the Mac mini will get a new design. We're not expecting a major visual or build redesign, but it is certainly possible that it could get thinner and smaller, especially since it no longer has to accommodate a CD drive.
Right now the dimensions are 3.6cm high, 19.7cm wide, and it weighs 1.22kg. How about a Mac mini that has similar dimensions to an Apple TV (9.8cm wide, 2.3cm high, 0.27kg).
There was some speculation that the reason for the long delay prior to the Mac mini update in 2014 was that Apple was looking at redesiging the Mac mini along the lines of the Mac Pro.
This was probably intended as an April Fool's Day prank, but we like this render of a flat Mac mini, as seen on Apple User.
Even better, how about a Mac mini that was also an Apple TV! Adding Apple TV functionality to a Mac mini would be a great way of getting the Mac mini into people's living rooms as a home entertainment device.
2016 Mac mini rumours: RAM
Currently the entry-level Mac mini features just 4GB RAM as standard, we would like to see that ramped up to 8GB in the new entry-level model.
2016 Mac mini rumours: flash storage
The other big change we hope to see in the 2015 Mac mini is more flash drive options. Currently the 2.8GHz model comes with a Fusion Drive, or you can add 256GB flash storage to that model, or the 2.8GHz model.
While the 500GB hard drive in the current entry level model (and the 1TB hard drive as standard in the £569 model) might appear attractive to some, flash memory is so much faster that we believe it is well worth the compromise of storing additional files on an external hard drive.
However, it seems unlikely that Apple would do away with the hard drive storage option all together as many workgroups choose the Mac mini as a server and will need the extra capacity and lower prices that HD storage makes possible.
2016 Mac mini specs
As well as the new price tag mentioned earlier, the 2014 Mac mini differed from its predecessor when it comes to specs, though the overall design of the Mac mini remains the same. It features Intel's Haswell processors, 802.11ac WiFi and Thunderbolt 2.
The 2014 Mac mini is available with the choice of three processors, all dual-core Intel Core i5. Those options are 1.4GHz, 2.6GHz or 2.8GHz.
The two higher-end models are configurable, though, allowing you to add a 3.0GHz dual-core Intel i7 processor if you choose (at an additional cost, of course).
The 1.4GHz model comes with a 500GB hard drive, while the 2.6GHz model features a 1TB hard drive and the 2.8GHz model has a 1TB Fusion Drive.
When it comes to memory, the £399 model features 4GB, while the other two models have 8GB of memory, but all are configurable up to 16GB.
The £399 model will give you Intel HD Graphics 5000, while the two more expensive models both feature Intel Iris Graphics. Apple says that this means up to 90 percent faster graphics performance than the previous generation.
You'll now find two Thunderbolt 2 ports on the Mac mini, as well as the faster 802.11ac WiFi standard. We hope to see Thunderbolt 3 coming to the Mac mini soon, which will incorporate USB Type-C.