AtTuesday, the company rolled out the and , but the main attraction was the all-new Mac Studio desktop running on Apple’s newest system-on-a-chip, the .
Debuting alongside the new 27-inch 5K Retina Studio Display, the Mac Studio looks like a taller version of Apple’s compact Mac Mini desktop, which was.
The Mac Studio (like the Studio Display) is squarely aimed at creatives and creators. The base model ($1,999, £1,999, AU$3,099) uses an M1 Max SoC like that found in the top-end 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros. But the Mac Studio can pack even more processing performance, with an M1 Ultra chip and up to 128GB of memory and 8TB of storage for $7,999.
Mac Mini vs. Mac Studio vs. Mac Pro
|Specs (base configuration)||Mac Mini (M1)||Mac Studio (M1 Max)||Mac Studio (M1 Ultra)||Mac Pro|
|Chip||M1||M1 Max||M1 Ultra||3.5GHz Intel Xeon|
|GPU cores||8||24||48||24 CUs (Radeon Pro W5500X)|
|Connections||Back: Two Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB-A ports, one HDMI port, one Gigabit Ethernet port, one 3.5mm headphone jack||Front: Two USB-C ports, one SDXC card slot Back: Four Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB-A ports, one HDMI port, one 10Gb Ethernet port, one 3.5mm headphone jack||Front: Two USB-C ports, one SDXC card slot Back: Four Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB-A ports, one HDMI port, one 10Gb Ethernet port, one 3.5mm headphone jack||Back: Two USB-A ports; two Thunderbolt 3 ports; two 10GB Ethernet ports; one 3.5mm headphone jack. Top: Two Thunderbolt 3 ports|
|Expansion||N/A||N/A||N/A||8 PCIe slots; Afterburner slot; 2 SSD slots|
As with the latest MacBook Pro models, Apple didn’t skimp on the Mac Studio’s port assortment. For example, there are four Thunderbolt 4 ports in the back and two more in front on M1 Ultra configurations (the M1 Max version is USB-C only). There’s even a UHS-II SDXC card slot.
If you’re grinding away on motion graphics, chopping up 8K video or assembling a 100-track DJ set, a Studio Pro probably sounds like the answer to your creative demands. For the rest of us, there’s the Mac Mini.
The upgrade to the M1 chip gavethe best performance it’s ever had. The Mac Mini is a great do-it-all Mac, whether you’re a budding creator just getting started working with photos, video and graphics, you want something for school and entertainment or you’re just looking to get work done. And while the I/O connections aren’t as plentiful as the Mac Studio’s, it does have two Thunderbolt 4 ports, so a USB-C dock can be easily added to round out the rest.
Why you still might want a Mac Pro
Apple spent a good part of its Mac Studio reveal beating up on the Mac Pro’s performance, capping the comparison by saying the M1 Ultra is 80% faster than the fastest Mac Pro. Apple teased its plans tobut that slower-than-the-M1 Pro is still available to buy.
The reason likely comes down to one thing: expansion. The Mac Studio can’t be upgraded or expanded internally. While it does have a nice port assortment, the memory and storage you buy it with are what you have forever. The current Mac Pro has lots of slots for internal expansion, however, so the system you start with doesn’t always mean you have no room to grow. A maxed-out Mac Pro is $52,300 for a reason after all — it’s much more than pure processing performance.
Plus, Apple regularly makes performance claims in its presentations and displays vague bar charts with no hint as to what was tested and how. While the M1 chips have certainly impressed us, until we get some hands-on time with the M1 Ultra it won’t be 100% clear what it can really do.
Apple/Screenshot by Jared DiPane/CNET
The Mac Studio is a new desktop product line from Apple. It’s compact in size — like the Mac Mini, but taller — coming in at 3.7 inches tall. It’s the first machine from Apple that runs on its brand-new M1 Ultra chip, which was announced alongside the machine at Apple’s latest event. It has Wi-Fi 6, USB-C, an SD card reader right on the front and more. It can power up to four Studio Monitors and a 4K TV, which is a big improvement over original M1 chips.
Pricing starts at $1,999 for the M1 Max version, or $3,999 for the one with Apple’s brand-new M1 Ultra chip.