Apple's latest Mac Mini has dropped to $549 at Amazon and B&H. Outside of special discounts for education customers, this matches the lowest price we've seen for the entry-level model with 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and Apple's M2 chip. For reference, Apple normally sells this variant for $599.
We gave the Mac Mini with the beefier M2 Pro chip a review score of 86 earlier this year. This model won't be as powerful for video editing or software development, but the hardware is just as compact, and the base M2 is still plenty fast and quiet for web browsing, less hardcore work and general use. Just make sure that's all you want out of the device first, as, like most Macs, you can't upgrade the Mini's internals over time. And while the Mini's lack of front-facing ports is annoying, on the back it has two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, two USB-A ports, an HDMI port, an Ethernet jack and a headphone jack.
As with other recent Macs, this entry-level Mac Mini technically has slower SSD performance than its predecessor, but the drop-off shouldn't be significant in real-world use, especially if you stick to the less intense tasks at which this model is aimed. If you think you'll need more storage and don't want to use an external drive, a variant with a 512GB SSD is available for $749. If you plan on using the desktop daily for the next several years, buying a model with at least 16GB of RAM may be a better value; those options start at $799. But if you just want the cheapest Mac desktop possible, the base model is still a great compact PC for the essentials, and this discount makes it a little more affordable.