Mac Studio vs. Mac Pro and Mac Mini: How to Choose | Jobs Vox



Image: Cliff Joseph / ZDNet

Apple sells more laptops than desktops. But there is a core group of Mac users who prefer headless (ie, screenless) desktop models over any other kind of Mac. We are looking at these people Mac Mini, Mac Studioand Mac Pro.

These are very different cars. The Mac Mini has been my personal workhorse (I own seven of them) because it’s small, versatile, and surprisingly powerful. I always like to add my own screens. I even went so far as to sacrifice my old max iMac because the size of the thing made it too unwieldy where I wanted to use it.

Mac Studio is the latest Mac in Apple’s line, and it’s powerful in every way. In almost every configuration, it’s faster than the now-older 2019 Mac Pro at a fraction of the price. Mac Studio is truly the new power user’s headless Mac.

And then there’s the Mac Pro. It’s the last Intel-only machine in Apple’s lineup. Here at the end of 2022, you can look at it two ways. Either there is no reason to buy it, or there are 1.5 trillion reasons (it supports up to 1.5TB of RAM). No other Mac comes close to this amount of RAM.

But hey, let’s take a look at the specs and then I’ll explain why you might want to buy each type of device.


As you can see, the specifications of these models are quite different. Note that while the 2018 Intel Mac Mini is still on sale, we’re focusing on the new 2021 Apple Silicon model. Also note that the 2019 Mac Pro is the only Mac model that still (as of mid-October 2022) does not have an Apple Silicon version.

2022 Mac Studio

2021 Mac Mini

2019 Mac Pro


M1 Max or M1 Ultra


Up to 28-core Intel Xeon W


32 GB to 128 GB

8 GB to 16 GB

32 GB to 1.5 TB


24 to 64 core GPU

8-core GPU

Up to Intel Class 4 GPU

expansion slots

no one

no one

PC Express up to 8 expansion slots

your memory

Up to 8 TB SSD

256 GB to 2 TB

Up to 8 TB SSD

Hard disk drives

no one

no one

no one

USB 3 ports




Thunderbolt 3 port




HDMI ports



no one

Ethernet ports

1 10 GB

1 1 GB or 1 10 GB

2 10 GB

SD card slot




headphone jack




Ვai – fai





Bluetooth 5.0

Bluetooth 5.0

Bluetooth 5.0

base price



$5,999 (without wheels)

maximum price



$52,199 (with wheels)

You should get the M1 Mac Mini if…

Mac Mini on table with purple shiny background


Product watch alert: This article was published at the end of October 2022. Apple is expected to upgrade the Mac Mini to the M2 model in November. We recommend holding off on buying after November to see what shakes out.

Also, Apple is still selling the 2018 Intel-based version of the Mac mini as an option. don’t buy it We expect Apple to drop it from their product line anytime soon, and it probably only has 2-3 years of MacOS update support left.

1. You want the cheapest, yet most powerful, Mac

The M1 Apple Silicon Mac Mini starts at $699 and even goes all the way up to $1,800. Even fully featured, it’s one of the least expensive Macs you can get.

I wouldn’t recommend the cheapest option that has 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. While this will certainly come in handy for basic work, you may find yourself up against capacity limitations if you push the machine even a little.

Instead, the sweet spot is 16GB of RAM and 512GB of fast flash storage. This will add $400 to the price, making it $999. But besides that Base model MacBook AirAlso at $999, it’s cheaper than all the other Mac options.

2. You want to use your own monitor or TV

The Mac Mini makes a really nice media center machine. It’s small and with an included HDMI port, it’s easy to connect to a TV or computer. We have two Mac Minis on the two entrances to our big screen family TV which also doubles as a work conference room. They take up very little space, but provide significant capabilities.

also: How to add a second Thunderbolt monitor to your M1 Mac Mini

The Mac Mini takes up less space than even a MacBook Air, and you don’t pay for the screen. You can attach two displays to the Mac Mini, one with an HDMI port and the other with a Thunderbolt/USB C port.

3. You want a small car that is easy to fold and store

The Mac Mini is a little powerhouse. At about 1 1/2 inches tall and just under eight inches on a side, it can fit almost anywhere. It can hang on the back of the monitor. It can go into the dashboard of the car. It can be stacked in a server room.

In addition, it has a fairly decent number of ports, so it can connect to a relatively wide range of peripherals.

You should get Mac Studio if…


Images: Cliff Joseph / ZDNet

Mac Studio is a new Apple Silicon-based desktop Mac form factor that Apple will introduce in spring 2022. This is the first all-new Mac model since Apple introduced the MacBook Air in 2009. It’s the first all-new desktop Mac model since Apple introduced the Mac Pro in 2006.

1. You want ports and more ports and lots of external displays

Yes, it has ports. It has four Thunderbolt 3 ports and two USB-A ports on the back. Also on the back is a 10GB Ethernet port, an HDMI video port, and a headphone jack.

And on the front…yes, on the front(!)…it has two more Thunderbolt 3 ports and an SD card slot. This is a wonderful thing.

All of these ports are important because Mac Studio can support up to four Pro Display XDRs (6K resolution at 60Hz and over a billion colors) over USB-C and one 4K display (4K resolution at 60Hz and over a billion colors) over USB-C. HDMI. That’s five shows at once.

2. You want power

The Mac Studio is an M1 series machine, not an M2. But don’t let that bother you. This is because while the base M2 is faster than the base M1, Mac Studio comes in M1 Max or M1 Ultra variants.

also: Apple M1 vs M2: The M1 Pro, Max and Ultra are still more powerful — for now

What does this mean? It’s all about kernels. The Max and Ultra are physically much larger chips, so they can handle more circuitry and therefore more cores.

The M1 Max variant includes a 10-core processor, a 24-core GPU, a 16-core neural engine (think machine learning and AI), and a memory speed of 400GB/s. You can configure version up to 32 GPU cores.

The M1 Ultra is probably the fastest piece of silicon you’re going to see for a while. It has 20 CPU cores, 48 ​​or 64 GPU cores, a 32-core neural engine, and 800 GB/s memory bandwidth (twice the speed of the M1 Max).

also: Everything you need to know about the Apple M2 chip

Memory bandwidth is important if…

3. You want a lot of RAM

Mac Studio can now support more RAM than any other Apple silicon-based Mac. It starts at 32GB but can be configured up to 128GB.

Unfortunately, you cannot upgrade the RAM. If you want all that RAM, you’ll have to spend money at the time you order. But still, with this memory bandwidth, it screams.

You should get a Mac Pro if…


Images: Apple

1. You probably shouldn’t

The current shipping Mac Pro is a 2019 model based on an Intel chipset. While the 2018 Mac mini is also based on an Intel chipset, the Mac Pro is the only Intel-only machine available.

It’s a lonely place to be, especially when MacOS keeps moving away from Intel support. Although Macs can easily last a decade or more, Apple tends to support an outdated OS every five years. If you buy a Mac Pro now, you probably won’t be able to upgrade it to the latest MacOS in three or four years.

Also: Introducing my design for the Apple silicon-based Mac Pro

In June 2020, Apple announced the transition to Apple’s silicon processors, stating that “the first system will ship before the end of the year, beginning a two-year transition.” All other Macs have moved to Apple Silicon, but the Mac Pro has not. If Apple’s timeline is to be believed, the Mac Pro will need an Apple Silicon model by the end of December. So if you buy this extremely expensive car now, it could be replaced in a few months.

2. You really need Intel Power or AMD Radeon graphics

If you have specialized software that specifically requires an Intel processor or AMD graphics, there may still be a reason to buy a Mac Pro. The 28-core Xeon processors are undoubtedly powerful, but early benchmarks show that the very cheap Mac Studio is 20% faster on multi-core performance and 56% faster on single-core performance.

also: This free software should ship with every Mac

So the only good reason to buy this is if your code simply won’t work on anything else. oh and this…

3. You really, really, really need an epic ton of RAM

The Mac Studio can be equipped with up to 128GB of RAM and costs almost $50,000 less than the top Mac Pro. But the Mac Pro can do things that other Macs can’t. It can be equipped with 1.5 TB of RAM. This is 1.5 terabytes RAM. terabytes. RAM.

Yes, you’ll pay for it to the point where your ears are probably bleeding, but you can get the RAM. So if you’re doing some kind of in-memory database where you just need RAM speed, this machine will do it.

But there may be a newer, better one soon. Will it support that much RAM? Only Tim Cook knows for sure. Stay tuned.

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