Apple's all-new Mac Studio desktop computer launches this Friday. Ahead of time, the first reviews and unboxing videos for the Mac Studio have surfaced, providing us with a closer look at the machine and its companion Studio Display.
While the Mac Studio resembles a larger Mac mini, it is far more powerful. The computer can be configured with the same M1 Max chip available for the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro, or the new M1 Ultra chip, which features a 20-core CPU, up to a 64-core GPU, and a 32-core Neural Engine. With the M1 Ultra chip, the Mac Studio has faster performance than a 28-core Mac Pro tower released in December 2019.
Specifically, the Mac Studio has earned a multi-core score of around 23,500 to 24,000 in many Geekbench 5 results, compared to an average multi-core score of 19,956 for the Mac Pro with a 28-core Intel Xeon W processor. This is especially impressive given that the Mac Studio with the M1 Ultra chip starts at $3,999, while a Mac Pro tower configured with a 28-core processor is over three times more expensive at $12,999.
My first stop was Becca Farsace, our video director who edited the entire video review of the Mac Studio and Studio Display (which you should go watch if you haven't already) on our Studio unit. I watched her work in Premiere and Media Encoder for hours, and even to my amateur eyes, it was clear that the Studio was flying. It was miles better than our two-year-old Mac Pro (which Becca uses for most of her work) at basically everything.
Becca was able to play 4K, 10-bit 4:2:2 footage from a Sony FX3 at full resolution in Adobe Premiere Pro at 4x speed with no proxies. It was lightning fast. On any other machine, she'd have had to be in half-resolution at most. There was also no lag between hitting the spacebar and stopping playback when playing footage at 2x or 4x speed, something she finds to be a big annoyance on the Mac Pro.
On the back of the Mac Studio, connectivity options include four Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB-A ports, one HDMI port, one 10-Gigabit Ethernet port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack with support for high-impedance headphones. On the front, there is an SD card slot, along with two USB-C ports for M1 Max configurations or two Thunderbolt 4 ports for M1 Ultra configurations. The computer supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.
But that may be the point: this is a computer designed to be used, not to be looked at as a piece of art. When you choose to stick ports on the front of a computer—hey everybody, Apple put ports on the front!!—you are choosing function over form. That's the story of the Mac Studio.
Apple hasn't skimped on the Mac Studio when it comes to what a certain portion of its customer base wants—connectivity. I used the SD card on the front of the Mac Studio twice on the very first day I had it connected. I also plugged a keyboard into that front USB port. (My test unit was an M1 Max model, so those front ports were USB-C; on models with the M1 Ultra chip, they’re full-fledged Thunderbolt 4.)
And then there's the full array of ports on the back: Four Thunderbolt 4, two USB-A, HDMI, a headphone jack, and 10Gb Ethernet. While I didn't fill up all of those ports, I did transfer an array of cables and adapters from the back of my iMac Pro to the Mac Studio and didn't have to dig out a single adapter or find a USB hub to accommodate them.
- WIRED's Brenda Stolyar
- TechCrunch's Brian Heater
- Pocket-lint's Stuart Miles
- Ars Technica's Andrew Cunningham
- CNET's Dan Ackerman
Top Rated Comments
Overkill is relative. I’d avoid sweeping language like that. The M1 Ultra isn’t enough for my line of work. However, it’s enough for a lot of people. And too much for some. It’s not as simple as you make it sound.
If the computer is lag-free then that means you actually need that speed and performance.
If you aren't a creative professional then stick to a lower spec Mac - that's the whole point of the Studio.
Rendering a 22 second clip in After Effects took over 4 hours on an M1 Ultra MBP with 32GB RAM. I wouldn’t even dare try it on the M1 MBA we have, it would cripple it. My guess is the Ultra cuts that time significantly. Even if it shaved 30 minutes off (probably more), do you know what 30 minutes is worth to people that do that for a living? The machine will potentially pay for itself in 2 weeks or less.