With support for the latest M1 Ultra chipset from the company, the Mac Studio brings new levels of performance to a desktop Mac. Right now, you can buy one. Apple’s “Peek Performance” event on March 8 gave us new iPhone and iPad colors and models, but the name clearly refers to the new M1 Ultra chipset that the company showed off, along with the Mac Studio, which was the first machine to show off this new top-of-the-line Apple silicon.
The Mac Studio is a deceptively small machine that has faster CPU performance than even the top-of-the-line 28-core Mac Pro. It combines the compact desktop computing experience of the Mac Mini with some of the best performance from a machine in the series to date.
When will the Mac Studio be available to buy?
At its “Peek Performance” event on March 8, Apple not only showed off the Mac Studio and Studio Display, but it also let people pre-order both of them on the same day. On March 18, you will be able to buy one.
How much is the Mac Studio?
Apple made two main versions of the Mac Studio. One is powered by the M1 Max chipset, and the other has the M1 Ultra chipset, which was just released.
The M1 Max model starts at £1,999 (US$1,999), and it costs an extra £200 (US$200) to switch from a 24-core GPU to a 32-core GPU. It also costs an extra £400/$400 to double the shared memory from 32GB to 64GB.
The M1 Ultra starts at £3,999/$3,999, and you can pay an extra £1,000/$1,000 to switch from a 48-core GPU to a 64-core GPU. A further £800/$800 is needed to double the shared memory to 128GB.
On the M1 Max model, storage starts with a 512GB SSD, while the Ultra model has at least a 1TB SSD. Extra storage SKUs are available in increments of 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, and 8TB, with the most expensive one costing an extra £2,200/$2,400.
A top-of-the-line M1 Ultra-powered Mac Studio with 128GB of unified memory and 8TB of storage costs £7,999/$7,999.
What does the Studio Display cost?
If you want to buy the new 5K Studio Display to go with your new Mac Studio, the base model with a tilting head (or a VESA mount adapter) and standard anti-reflective coating on the screen start at £1,499/$1,599.
Upgrading to “nano-textured” glass, which was first seen on the company’s Pro Display XDR, will cost an extra £250/$300, and switching from the tilt stand or VESA mount adapter to the tilt and height-adjustable stand will cost an extra £400/$400.
What does the Mac Studio have to offer?
The Mac Studio was shown off after the company’s new top-of-the-line M1 Ultra silicon was released. This is a new class of chipset that is better than even the M1 Max, which was released last year.
The Mac Studio is made from a single block of aluminum and looks like a tall Mac Mini. It is 19.7cm (7.7in) square and 9.5cm (3.7in) tall, and Apple says it was made to “fit under most displays.”
Cool air comes in from a grille around the Studio’s base, goes over a custom circular PSU, and goes out through a “low-impedance” rear exhaust above the ports on the back of the machine. When it comes to fan noise, Apple says that “for most workloads, you barely even hear it,” but it didn’t give exact numbers at the March keynote.
As for I/O, there is a power socket in the middle of the back, along with four Thunderbolt 4 ports, a 10Gb Ethernet port, two USB-A ports, an HDMI port, a 3.5mm “Pro” audio jack “for high impedance headphones or external amplified speakers,” WiFi 6, and Bluetooth 5.0.
Depending on whether you choose the M1 Max or M1 Ultra model, the two USB-C ports on the front support either USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt 4 (10Gb/s or 40Gb/s), and both have an SDXC (UHS-II) card, reader.
M1 Max vs M1 Ultra
The main selling point of the Mac Studio is, of course, that it is a very small machine that still has great performance. The new M1 Ultra is the best example of this. But what is Apple’s new chip for, and how does it compare to last year’s M1 Max, which was already very good?
Apple did a lot of computing and graphics performance comparisons for the Mac Studio to show how much more powerful the different versions of its latest machine are compared to its other high-end desktops.
With M1 Max and Mac Studio:
- Up to 2.5 times faster CPU performance than the iMac (27-inch) with 10-core i9.
- GPU performance up to 3.4 times faster than iMac (27-inch) with Radeon Pro 5700XT
- CPU performance up to 50% faster than Mac Pro with 16-core Xeon
- GPU performance up to 3.4% faster than Mac Pro with Radeon Pro W5700X
With M1 Ultra and Mac Studio:
- Up to 3.8 times faster CPU performance than the 27-inch iMac with 10-core i9.
- GPU performance up to 4.5 times faster than iMac (27-inch) with Radeon Pro 5700XT
- CPU performance is up to 90% faster than on the Mac Pro with 16-core Xeon.
- CPU performance up to 60% faster than Mac Pro with 28-core Xeon
- Compared to Mac Pro with Radeon Pro W6900X, GPU performance is up to 80% faster.
At first glance, the M1 Ultra looks like two M1 Max chips that have been stuck together. Apple says that it has a 20-core CPU, up to a 64-core GPU, 32 neural engine cores, and twice as many media engine cores as M1 Max. This means that it can handle up to 18 streams of 8K ProRes 422 video.
This inter-die connectivity solution is part of what Apple calls “UltraFusion” architecture. It is said to provide 2.5TB/s of interprocessor bandwidth, which is “more than four times the bandwidth of the leading multichip interconnect technology,” according to Johny Srouji of the company.
Because the memory bandwidth has been increased from 400GB/s to 800GB/s, M1 Ultra-powered Mac Studios can now use up to 128GB of unified memory.
What do Apple’s Studio Display’s features include?
At its March event, Apple introduced not only a new Mac with the “Studio” label but also a new display that went with it.In addition to the optional mounts and anti-reflective coatings already mentioned, the Studio Display has a 27-inch 5K Retina display that supports the P3 wide color gamut and can be as bright as 600nits.
The 12Mp, 122° ultrawide camera on the Studio Display supports Centre Stage because it has Apple’s A13 Bionic chip. This means that it can track a subject in-frame during video calls. Also, a high-fidelity six-speaker setup with four force-canceling woofers and two tweeters gives you Spatial Audio, and a three-microphone array lets you record your voice clearly and even use “Hey Siri.”
In terms of I/O, the Studio Display has three USB-C ports that can transfer data at up to 10Gb/s and one Thunderbolt 3 port that lets users connect accessories to their Mac with just one cable. With the Thunderbolt port’s 96W power output, you can also charge external devices, like a 14-inch MacBook Pro.
With the standard 30° tilt-adjustable stand, the aluminum-covered Studio Display is 47.8cm/18.8in tall, 62.3cm/24.5in wide, and 16.8cm/6.6in deep, and it weighs 6.3kg/13.9 pounds.
Want to know more about what else Apple showed off at its “Peek Performance” event in March? Check out our articles about the new iPad Air 5 and iPhone SE 3, as well as Dominic Preston’s opinion piece on Why Apple Fans Deserve Better and episode 105 of our weekly podcast Fast Charge, where we break down the whole keynote.