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Apple Mac Studio (M2 Ultra) Review and Alternatives

The Mac Studio M2 Max and M2 Ultra introduce significant performance enhancements compared to their predecessors. They also align with high-performance enthusiast workstations, all while maintaining affordability.

Advantages:

  • They come in a compact, sleek design.
  • Deliver solid workstation performance.
  • Offer a reasonably competitive price point.

Worth noting:

  • PCs may offer more potent GPUs.
Apple Mac Studio (M2 Ultra) Review and Alternatives

Apple Mac Studio (M2 Ultra): In-Depth Overview

The original Mac Studio marked a breakthrough in Apple’s desktop lineup, showcasing the full potential of Arm processors. In 2023, Apple upgraded it with the M2 processor, aiming to power not only the Mac Pro but also the new Mac Studio lineup.

The M2 processors bring enhanced performance, increased memory capacities, and improved memory bandwidth. The Neural Engine has also been upgraded, handling non-native MacOS programs and AI processing tasks.

In 2023, the Mac Studio sits between the Mac Mini and the pricey Mac Pro. The M2 Max version starts at $1,999, while the high-performing M2 Ultra, available from $6,599, matches the Mac Pro in processor, memory, and SSD specs.

While Intel and AMD strive to outperform Apple’s M2, the Mac Studio offers up to 20% CPU and over 40% gaming performance improvements over the M1 Mac Studio, with further optimizations for specific applications.

If your workflow demands more memory, processing power, or graphics-intensive tasks, the Mac Studio offers excellent value. It’s space-efficient, quiet, and cost-effective for power users. With ample ports and the latest wireless tech, the M2 Max and M2 Ultra configurations leave nothing to be desired.

Apple Mac Studio (M2 Ultra): Price, Availability, and Specs

Apple Mac Studio (M2 Ultra): Price, Availability, and Specs

The entry-level Mac Studio features an M2 Max chip akin to the top MacBook Pro. Though not identical, you can align the GPU with the MacBook Pro for an extra $200 / £200 / AU$300.

This base Mac Studio comes with 32GB RAM and a 512GB SSD, an impressive combination at $1,999 / £2,099 / AU$3,299. You can boost it to 64GB RAM and an 8TB SSD, with reasonable pricing for the 1TB storage and 64GB memory upgrades.

For those venturing into workstation territory, the M2 Ultra starts at $3,999 / £4,199 / AU$6,599. Beginning with 64GB Unified Memory and a 1TB SSD, it scales up to 192GB memory and an 8TB SSD. Pricing aligns with the demands of your work, making it competitive with gaming and custom workstation PCs while undercutting the base Mac Pro configuration.

The UK pricing discrepancy likely stems from local product taxes.

Specs Comparison

Specs Comparison:

Apple Mac mini (M2 Pro)Apple Mac Studio (M2 Max)Apple Mac Studio (M2 Ultra)Apple Mac Pro (M2 Ultra)
Price (starting)$1,299 / £1,399 / AU$1,999$1,999 / £2,099 / AU$3,299$3,999 / £4,199 / AU$6,599$6,999 / £7,199 / AU$11,999
CPUApple M2 Pro (10-core)Apple M2 Max (12-core)Apple M2 Ultra (24-core)Apple M2 Ultra (24-core)
GraphicsIntegrated 16-core GPUIntegrated 30-core GPUIntegrated 60-core GPUIntegrated 60-core GPU
RAM16GB unified memory32GB unified memory64GB unified memory64GB unified memory
Storage512GB SSD512GB SSD1TB SSD1TB SSD
Ports4x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), 2x USB-A, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack. 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet4x Thunderbolt 4, 2x USB Type C, HDMI, SDXC card slot, 3.5mm headphone jack, 10Gb Ethernet6x Thunderbolt 4, HDMI, SDXC card slot, 3.5mm headphone jack, 10Gb Ethernet8x Thunderbolt 4, 3x USB Type-A, 2x HDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack, 2x 10Gb Ethernet
WirelessWi-Fi 6e (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3Wi-Fi 6e (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3Wi-Fi 6e (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3Wi-Fi 6e (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3
Weight2.8 lbs (1.28kg)5.9 lbs (2.7kg)7.9 lbs (3.6kg)37.2lbs (16.86kg)
Dimensions1.41 x 7.75 x 7.75-inches (3.58 x 19.70 x 19.70 cm)7.7 x 7.7 x 9.5 inches (19.7 x 19.7 x 9.5cm)12.31 x 8.71 x 0.61 inches (313 x 221 x 16mm)20.8 x 17.7 x 8.58 inches (52.9 x 45 x 21.8cm)

Price and Specs rating of 4.5 out of 5

Apple Mac Studio (M2 Ultra): Innovative Design

Apple Mac Studio (M2 Ultra): Innovative Design

In 2023, the Mac Studio retains its distinctive extruded aluminum chassis, resembling stacked Mac Minis. The M2 Ultra chips employ UltraFusion tech from the M1 Ultra, creating a MacMini sandwich without performance compromise.

While compact desktop PCs exist, the Mac Studio’s footprint measures just under 20cm² with a 9.5cm height, an impressively compact 3.8-liter volume. In comparison, the Intel NUC 13 Extreme Raptor Canyon, the most compact off-the-shelf PC, is 3.5 times larger.

The Mac Studio’s lower power draw ensures quieter fans for its size. It offers an upgraded HDMI for 8K/240Hz displays and connects up to six Pro Display XDR screens. With Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3, connectivity is faster.

The SSD features the latest PCIe connections, delivering read/write speeds of 7,000 and 5,759 MB/s. The connectivity options are comprehensive, with Thunderbolt/USB-C ports and additional interfaces like Ethernet, SD Card reader, HDMI, and USB Type-A sockets. It even includes a built-in speaker.

Design: 5/5

Apple Mac Studio (M2 Ultra): Impressive Performance Metrics

Apple Mac Studio (M2 Ultra): Impressive Performance Metrics

In the realm of benchmarks, the Apple Mac Studio (M2 Ultra) flaunts remarkable figures:

BenchmarkPerformance
Cinebench CPUHandbrake (1080p, Fast)
Geekbench 5Single-Core: 2,058; Multi-Core: 28,833
Handbreak (1080p, Fast)100fps
Blender monster1,751
Blender junkshop930
Blender classroom798

Our test Mac Studio packs an M2 Ultra with 24 CPU cores, 76 GPU cores, 128GB of Unified Memory, and a 4TB SSD, priced at $10,799. It’s a powerhouse, surpassing the Intel Core i9-13900K CPU by up to 25% in Geekbench 5. However, it lags by up to 20% in other tests like Cinebench R23, aligning with Intel and AMD in the gaming domain.

Compared to a MacBook Pro 16 (M2 Max 38-core GPU), the Mac Studio boasts double the core count, translating to a 58% bump in graphical performance on synthetic benchmarks, though similar framerates in some gaming applications.

Notably, it outshines the 64-core M1 Ultra from the previous year, with 40% better synthetic benchmark scores and up to 80% improved gaming performance. Creative workflows see meaningful GPU enhancements.

Should You Consider the Apple Mac Studio (M2 Ultra)?

In graphical prowess, the Mac Studio’s 76-core GPU is akin to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 (notebook) in synthetic benchmarks, but gaming performance lags, with around 64-90 FPS on demanding titles at Ultra 1080p settings.

The Unified Memory architecture benefits creative workflows, while the Mac Studio’s M2 Ultra, with a Thermal Design Power (TDP) of 90W, consumes significantly less power than a desktop Intel Core i9-13900K paired with a discrete GPU, making it an energy-efficient choice.

Performance: 4.5/5

Should You Consider the Apple Mac Studio (M2 Ultra)?

  • Price: The Mac Studio is pricier than the Mac Mini but offers high-spec options for less than a Mac Pro. (Rating: 4.5/5)
  • Design: Compact, quiet, and well-equipped with ports and wireless connections. (Rating: 5/5)
  • Performance: Delivers excellent workstation performance, surpassing larger PCs graphically. (Rating: 4.5/5)

Buy It If…

  • You engage in video, music, or 3D modeling work.
  • Desk space is a priority; it’s a compact powerhouse.
  • You’re a creative power user who appreciates Unified Memory capabilities.

Don’t Buy It If…

  • A Mac Mini would suffice.
  • You’re accustomed to PC software; the transition may not be worth it.
  • You’re an avid gamer; Apple’s platform isn’t on par with PC gaming.

Apple Mac Studio (M2 Ultra) Review: Also Consider

ModelPriceCPUGraphicsRAMStoragePortsWirelessDimensions
Mac mini M2 256GB$599 / £649 / AU$999Apple M2 (8-core)Integrated 10-core GPU8GB unified memory256GB SSD2x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), 2x USB-A, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack, 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit EthernetWi-Fi 6e (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.31.41 x 7.75 x 7.75-inches (3.58 x 19.70 x 19.70 cm)
Geekom Mini IT11$589 / £539 / AU$989Intel Core i7-1195G7 (4-core)Intel Iris Xe Graphics16GB DDR4512GB SSD2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 2x USB 4.0 Type-C (20Mbit), 1x HDMI 1.4, 1x Mini DisplayPort, 1x universal audio jack, 1x SD card reader (USB2.0)Dual-Band WiFi, 1x Gigabit LAN adapter, Bluetooth 5.21.79 x 4.6 x 4.4-inches (4.56 x 11.7 x 11.2 cm)
Intel NUC 11 Extreme$1,350 / £949 / AU$1,999Intel Core i9-11900KB (8-core)Asus RTX 3060 12GB Mini16GB DDR4500GB Sabrent Rocket 4.0 SSD2x USB-C, 6 x USB 3.1, Ethernet, optical audio out, 3.5mm headphone jack, HDMI, DisplayPort, memory card readerWi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.24.72 x 2.75 x 7.44-inches (12 x 35.7 x 18.9 cm)

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