Mac Studio is compact, cool and incredibly powerful—but who is it for? | Jobs Vox

Mac Studio is easy to forget, and I mean that in a good way. Sure, Apple’s new desktop is one of the fastest computers I’ve ever tested, but it packs all that power into a compact, clean design that sits neatly under my monitor.

This combination of big performance in a not-so-big box makes the studio very compelling, especially for creatives who need a lot of video, graphics or music production muscle but don’t have a lot of desktop space. But you’ll also have to pay for the privilege, with a starting price of $1,999 that will quickly add up to thousands more — especially if you want Apple’s extra-shiny new M1 Ultra processor.

There’s also the fact that Apple’s standard M1 Macs are still ridiculously powerful for the average person’s workload, which begs the question: Who should actually buy Mac Studio? I spent the past week with Apple’s small but beastly desktop to find out.

Compact power for serious creativity

Mac Studio offers some of the best performance you can find in a computer in a compact design that can sneak into any setup.

Who, what and how

For whom it is intended: Mac Studio is for creative professionals and “prosumers” who want the best processing performance you can find. It’s also perfect for those who want tons of power but don’t have a lot of space, thanks to its compact design you can sneak under almost any monitor.

What you need to know: Mac Studio offers your choice of Apple’s fastest processors—the M1 Max and M1 Ultra—and in our testing, delivers some of the best overall speeds we’ve seen from any computer. It packs all that muscle into a small cube that manages to offer plenty of connectivity options, including a slew of Thunderbolt 4 ports and two USB-A ports.

How it compares: The Studio is the middle child of Apple’s dedicated desktop line, offering more power and connectivity than the $699 Mac Mini, but not as high-end configuration options as the massive Mac Pro, which starts at $5,999. Our Mac Studio with the M1 Max outperformed nearly every Mac and PC we tested in terms of general processing power, falling behind dedicated gaming desktops only when it came to graphics.

Bottom line of mac studio review

Mike Andronico/CNN

Compact, curvaceous, and sleek, the Mac Studio is basically a ruggedized Mac Mini—and that’s a good thing. Apple’s new desktop computer measures just 7.7 inches wide by 3.7 inches tall, with a sleek, all-silver look that’s perfect for even the tightest workspace. I currently have it under my Apple Studio display, along with the Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad, which combine for a clean, minimalist workspace that still leaves plenty of space on my desk.

Despite its small size, Mac Studio offers a number of useful ports for accessories and displays. You’ve got two USB-C ports up front, as well as an SDXC card slot for quick access to photos and videos from the camera. On the back, you’ll find four Thunderbolt 4 ports (the latest standard for enabling high-resolution displays and fast data transfer), an Ethernet port for wired internet, an HDMI port for traditional monitors and TVs, a headphone jack and — most importantly — two USB-A ports.

Mac Studio review back

Mike Andronico/CNN

I’m particularly excited about the inclusion of USB-A, as I still rely on a lot of accessories that use the older connection standard. While the latest 24-inch iMacs and 14-inch MacBook Pros have forced me to pull out a USB-C adapter to connect my webcam or music interface, the Studio just lets me plug and play those peripherals. I would have liked the power button to be on the front to make booting up a little easier, but overall, the Studio is a well-designed compact computer that does more than a Mac Mini without taking up too much space.

mac studio review video montage

Mike Andronico/CNN

Don’t let its small design fool you—Mac Studio is one of the most powerful Macs ever. It gives you your choice between two of Apple’s top-of-the-line processors: the M1 Max, which debuted on the 2021 MacBook Pro, and the new M1 Ultra, which is actually two M1 Max chips fused together and promises to run laps in nearly every Mac available. it around. . We haven’t had a chance to test the M1 Ultra Mac Studio yet, but even my review unit — which features a 32-core M1 Max chip and 64GB of RAM — delivered some of the most impressive performance I’ve ever seen. seen

Mac Studio allowed me to seamlessly run a massive Final Cut Studio project, taping and scrolling between nine simultaneous 8K video streams without a single touch. And when it came time to export the whole thing to a single 4K video, it took the studio just 22 seconds to complete the job. Apple’s desktop was also fast when it came to mixing in Ableton Live, exporting a complex 16-track electronic music project in just 24 seconds.

Whether I was playing with a detailed 3D model in Horos Mobile or quickly scrolling through 1,000 high-resolution photos in Adobe Lightroom until it felt like I was playing a movie, the studio felt incredibly responsive when working with advanced creative projects. and liquid. And here’s the most impressive part: Even when I had more than 16 apps open—including the aforementioned projects and a lack of memory-hungry Chrome tabs—Studio never slowed down or stayed silent.


Geekbench 5 (single core)

Geekbench 5 (multi-core)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider (1080p)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider (4K)

Mac Studio

Apple M1 Max (32-core)



88 fps

32 fps

MacBook Pro 14 inches

Apple M1 Pro



47 fps


iMac 24 inches

Apple M1



30 fps (900p)


MSI Aegis RS

Intel Core i7-11700K; Nvidia RTX 3080


10 348

170 fps

84 fps

Mac Studio’s stellar real-world performance was also reflected in our benchmark tests, where it beat nearly every computer we tested. On Geekbench 5, which measures general performance, the studio scored a very impressive 12,792 points. The only machine that comes close in our testing is our 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro chip (12,463), and it beats even the highest-end gaming PCs with the latest Intel Core i7 chips by a significant margin. . If you’re wondering how it compares to a machine with a standard M1 processor, the Mac Studio’s computing speed is about 40% faster than the latest 24-inch iMac.

This little box is no slouch when it comes to graphics. It handled cinematic Shadow of the Tomb Raider action at 88 frames per second (fps) at 1080p and 32 fps at 4K. We consider a minimum of 60 fps to be ideal for smooth, immersive games and a minimum of 30 fps for basic gaming.

mac studio review games

Mike Andronico/CNN

To put that number into perspective, a standard iM1 iMac struggled to run the game at 30 fps at a low 900p resolution. At the other end of the spectrum, most gaming PCs we tested with Nvidia’s high-end RTX 3080 graphics card delivered double the 1080p and 4K scores we saw in the studio.

So while the Mac Studio M1 Max isn’t quite up to par, it’s more than capable of high-quality gaming performance — which is especially impressive considering it doesn’t have a dedicated graphics card. We still wouldn’t recommend buying a Mac just for gaming, due to the relatively small selection of titles compared to Windows, but the M1 Max chip will give you plenty of power for graphics work or the occasional Steam game.

mac studio at the bottom of the review

Mike Andronico/CNN

Mac Studio’s performance varies depending on how you configure it, and there are many options for doing so. Apple’s desktop starts at $1,999 with an M1 Max processor (10-core CPU, 24-core GPU), 32GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD, but that price quickly climbs into the thousands once you start upgrading.

To give you an idea of ​​what the updated model looks like, my review unit bundles the M1 Max with a faster 32-core GPU, as well as 64GB of RAM and a much larger 2TB SSD for storage, costing $3,199.

You’ll need to pay at least $3,999 if you want the more powerful M1 Ultra processor (32-core CPU), which can be upgraded to an even more powerful 64-core GPU for an additional $1,000. The M1 Ultra model is the only one with Thunderbolt 4 ports on the front and the only variant that allows you to add 128GB of RAM for serious multitasking. Both versions of the Studio can be equipped with up to 8TB of SSD storage, ensuring you’ll virtually never run out of space for a price of $2,200.

It’s also worth noting that you’ll need to provide your own mouse, keyboard, and monitor for the studio, whether you choose a Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse or a cheaper third-party option. Still, even with all these extras, the Studio is much more affordable than the Mac Pro Tower, which begins for $5,999 before you do any upgrades.

mac studio review top

Mike Andronico/CNN

It’s easy to say that Mac Studio is the most powerful Mac ever, with more than enough muscle to handle almost any video editing, 3D rendering, or music production workload. It’s a bit hard to tell who should actually buy.

If you’re only interested in having a compact PC, you can get a Mac Mini for much less at $699 – complete with a standard M1 processor that, while not quite as blistering as the M1 Max or Ultra, still runs circles around the average Windows. computer. And if you prefer an all-in-one, the $1,299 24-inch iMac offers a similarly excellent M1 experience, complete with a brilliant display, rich speakers, and an included mouse and keyboard.

If you’re a true power user who wants a wide range of configuration options (and the flexibility to swap in new components over time), there’s also the more modular Mac Pro, which starts at $5,999. However, we recommend waiting until Apple Silicon arrives on this desktop before you buy.

That leaves Mac Studio as the premium middle ground for creatives and prosumers who want future-proof performance in a box that barely disrupts your setup. It’s a steep investment, but one that offers a lot to those who really need the muscle.

Mac studio 3 highlighted

Mac studio 3 highlighted


Apple M1 Mac (24-core or 32-core GPU)

Apple M1 Ultra (48-core or 64-core GPU)


32 GB or 64 GB

64 GB or 128 GB


512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB or 8TB

1TB, 2TB, 4TB or 8TB


USB-C (2), SDXC, Thunderbolt 4 (4), USB-A (2), HDMI, 10Gb Ethernet, 3.5mm headphone jack

Thunderbolt 4 (6), SDXC, USB-A (2), HDMI, 10 Gb Ethernet, 3.5 mm headphone jack

size and weight

7.7 x 7.7 x 3.7 inches, 5.9 pounds

7.7 x 7.7 x 3.7 inches, 7.9 pounds

the price

From $1199.99

From $3,999.99

Source link