Apple Mac Studio Review – Best Mac for a Home Studio

With more power than any other compact desktops that can be found on the market, the Apple Mac Studio is really a power-generating machine perfect for a home studio!

Recently at the Apple Event, the Company announced the all-new Mac Studio for all the Content Creators equipped with one of the fastest hardware on the planet in one of the smallest form factors.

The new Mac Studio has changed a lot of things within apple because Apple now can do something that never thought of before. Joining the two most powerful processors with a bridge is excellent and efficient as well. The Apple Mac Studio is the best if are setting up a home studio whether it’s for music or video production in 2022. Its compact size and powerful hardware complement the best performance while taking up very little space on your desk.

So without further delay let’s quickly check out the all-new Apple Mac Studio.

Apple Mac Studio 2022
Apple Mac Studio 2022

Apple Mac Studio Design & features

Available with either an M1 Max or M1 Ultra processor, the design of the Mac Studio is both strikingly new and instantly familiar, looking rather like a Mac Mini on steroids. It was instantly dubbed the ‘Mac Mini Pro’ by many Apple watchers, while the brave souls at iFixit described it as “more than a Mac Mini, but not quite a Mac Pro”, following a recent teardown. 

Like the Mac Mini, the Mac Studio is sold without a monitor, mouse, or keyboard. It has the same compact footprint as the Mac Mini, measuring 197mm (7.7 inches) square. The difference, of course, is that the Mac Studio stands considerably taller, at 95mm (3.7 inches), compared to the low-profile 36mm (1.4 inches) of the Mac Mini. Much of that extra bulk is devoted to a more powerful cooling system that can accommodate the heat generated by the M1 Max and Ultra processors. However, Apple has also improved the Mac Studio’s connectivity to meet the needs of professional users. 

Apple Mac Studio Ports

There are four Thunderbolt 4 ports on the back panel, and one HDMI connector, with the multi-core GPUs provided by the M1 Max (24-32 cores) and Ultra (48-64 cores) allowing the Mac Studio to support four of Apple’s 6K Pro Displays and one 4K display. The back panel also houses two USB-A ports, 10-Gigabit Ethernet, and a 3.5mm headphone socket.  

And, in a break with Apple tradition, the Mac Studio even has some additional ports on its front panel so you no longer have to stand up and reach behind the Mac to plug in a memory stick or an SD card. If you opt for a top-end Mac Studio with the M1 Ultra processor then you get an SDXC card slot and two additional Thunderbolt 4 ports (supporting speeds of up to 40Gb/s), while the M1 Max version provides two USB-C ports (up to 10Gb/s) instead.

But, of course, it’s the M1 processors inside the Mac Studio that really set it apart from the more compact Mac Mini. As mentioned, the Mac Studio is available with either an M1 Max or M1 Ultra, the latter providing a 20-core CPU, 48 or 64 GPU cores, and a 32-core Neural Engine.

Bolting two M1 Max processors together isn’t a simple matter, so rather than connect them via the motherboard Apple has developed an on-die interconnect technology called UltraFusion, which allows macOS to simply treat the M1 Ultra as a single processor. This means that software developers don’t have to rewrite their applications in order to utilize the M1 Ultra’s twin processors, allowing the Mac Studio to really hit the ground running.

Apple Mac Studio 2022 Bottom
Apple Mac Studio 2022 Bottom

The M1 Max doesn’t generate as much heat as the M1 Ultra, so it only requires an aluminum heat-sink, which results in a total weight of 2.7kg (5.9lbs). However, the greater power of the M1 Ultra requires a copper heat-sink, increasing the weight to 3.6kg (7.9lbs). Even so, that’s not much heavier than a large 16- or 17-inch laptop, and Apple is understandably proud of the fact that it has designed a desktop workstation that can fit into a backpack.  

The elephant on the desktop, though, is the fact that yet again – Apple has designed a ‘pro’ desktop computer with absolutely no internal expansion ports.

We’ve been here before, of course, when Apple produced the equally striking ‘trashcan’ Mac Pro in 2013. That black, cylindrical design drew gasps when it was first unveiled, but it soon became clear that Apple had designed itself into a corner, and it spent years developing the current Intel-based Mac Pro with its battery of expansion slots and drive bays. It’s telling that the Mac Pro remains on sale, while the 27-inch iMac, as noted above, has now been discontinued. 

Apple Mac Studio Performance

Here’s how the Apple Mac Studio performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Cinebench CPU: Single-Core: 1,519; Multi-core: 30,054
Geekbench 5 Single-Core: 1,776; Multi-Core: 32,637
Handbreak (1080p, Fast): 54.53fps
Blender monster: 5,697
Blender junkshop: 270
Blender classroom: 265

When Apple announced the Mac Studio, it threw out some big claims, including that it’s 50% faster than the MacBook Pro 13-inch with an M1 chip, and offers 3.4 faster graphics than the most powerful iMac.

It’s also apparently 80% faster than a Mac Pro with a 28-core Intel Xeon processor and can support up to 18 streams of 8K ProRes video.

These boasts refer to the capabilities of the Mac Studio with the new M1 Ultra chip, which is the model we have for review, and likely to be the model most serious creatives are tempted by.

Before we get into the details of how the Mac Studio lives up to Apple’s claims, or if it falls short, we should give a shout-out to the M1 Ultra, which really is remarkable. The M1 Ultra is essentially two M1 Max chips connected together using a super-fast and low latency connection known as UltraFusion.

When the M1 Max launched alongside the new MacBook Pro 14-inch and MacBook Pro 16-inch late last year as the most powerful chip Apple had ever designed, it actually featured the UltraFusion connection – which no one spotted.

This clever bit of forward-thinking has allowed Apple to produce the M1 Ultra without altering the M1 Max. This means greater yields, as Apple doesn’t have to make new chips from scratch, which should avoid the sort of stock shortages we’ve seen with other chips recently.

Apple Mac Studio best for Creative Professionals
Apple Mac Studio best for Creative Professionals

With the Mac Studio aimed at creative professionals, and using the M1 Ultra comprised of two M1 Max chips, which have already shown how good they are for creative workloads in the new MacBooks, it’s perhaps little surprise to learn that the Mac Studio is a formidable machine when it comes to video editing, coding, and 3D modeling, in particular.

When it comes to video, the Mac Studio puts in a performance that easily rivals, and sometimes surpasses, desktop PCs with discrete professional graphics cards. This is impressive enough before you even factor in the compact size of the Mac Studio. It has the graphical grunt to handle 18 streams of 8K footage on the fly (which we tried for ourselves in Premiere Pro, allowing us to view, edit and add effects without having to wait for anything to render.

The smoothness of the footage, even with numerous 8K elements on the screen at once, is incredibly impressive – at one point the Mac Studio was putting through 8 billion pixels per second, and it coped admirably.

Apple Mac Studio Price

There’s a huge price difference between the two versions of the Mac Studio, with the M1 Max model starting at $1,999. That price includes an M1 Max with a 10-core CPU, 24-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine, along with 32GB of integrated ‘unified’ memory and 512GB of solid-state storage. 

However, opting for an M1 Ultra instantly doubles the price to $3,999. This provides you with a 20-core CPU (3.2GHz), 48-core GPU, and 32-core Neural Engine, along with 64GB of and a 1TB SSD. However, you can also upgrade the M1 Ultra to provide 64 GPU cores for an extravagant $1,000 more, while doubling the memory to 128GB costs an additional $800, bringing the total price to $5,799.  

It’s also possible to purchase the Mac Studio with up to 8TB of solid-state storage, which adds a hefty $2,200, bringing the total price to $7,999. However, most users will likely prefer to use more affordable external drives for additional storage. 

The Mac Studio can be purchased from the Apple website. The M1 Max version is priced at $1,999, and the M1 Ultra version is priced at $3,999, with additional upgrade options available.

So this was all about the Apple Mac Studio.

That’s all folks!

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