Mac Studio Review: Double Trouble!
At the studio. I mean welcome to the review of the mac studio, Music Applause Music – all right, so this is a computer. I personally got really excited about when i announced it because weve built a video studio here and this computer is literally called the mac studio. So the entire purpose is to be the ideal computer that is small and powerful enough to be in a studio environment, and i had all these example studios in the apple event, from music studios to design studios to specifically video studios. And so they made a little cube the size of two and a half mac minis with a bunch of io, some new cooling and an m1 max, or an m1 ultra chip inside specifically to live in these studio environments. And so now, ive got one here in our studio, so ive been throwing all types of tasks and projects and accessories at this thing, including this new studio, display, which i also plan on making a separate review about, because its pretty weird make sure you get subscribed For that – and i actually have two but ive mostly been putting my time into testing this m1 ultra version because its the newest biggest baddest chip. So i call this the 2x machine. Basically, everything about this machine is doubled. Now, im going to be referring to the m1 max chip a lot during this review. So if you havent already seen the macbook pro review with the m1 max chip in it, thats going to be very helpful ill leave that link below the like button.
This one basically doubles all the things so physically speaking its basically like two mac minis stacked on top of each other melted into one thick mac mini three cs, and this is incredibly small for the amount of power it puts out. It can sit on any desk alongside speakers or a monitor or whatever you set it up with also, and is a total coincidence, but i set mine up on this desk. I got from blue dot, which already has a bunch of these perforated holes that remind me of the mac, and it fits absolutely perfectly underneath the shelf so that a monitor can sit on top of the shelf without actually sitting on top of the computer anyway. This is the back of the computer, which has a full suite of i o, even more ports than the mac mini. There are four thunderbolt 4 ports, a 10 gigabit ethernet port, the power plug two usb: a ports, an hdmi 2.0 port, not 2.1 again. For some reason and a headphone jack that can support higher impedance headphones, just like the macbook pro now, its not kicking out world class audio by any means its not going to replace my universal audio deck, but it is convenient to have kind of the same way. Hdmi is convenient, although im kind of surprised this one doesnt do hdmi 2.1. I get it on the laptop thats just so you can plug in a random monitor on the go, but this is going to sit at your desk and it would be nice to have high refresh rate, but at the same time the four thunderbolt ports will support Up to four pro display xdrs, which are all 6k, so i guess you got that going for you, but then at the front.
Hey look! Look at that front. I o, which is nice, because this is going to sit on a desk not under it. So up front here: thats going to be two usbc ports. If you get the base m1 max version, but those graduate to two thunderbolt 4 ports, if you get the m1 ultra version, because theres literally more buses available and then an sd card slot, because every studio i know has tons of sd cards lying around somewhere. So it turns out if i wanted to replace my mac pro today. That is enough. I o for me to actually do that. So ive got two thunderbolt displays and then one thunderbolt raid array and the dac, the universal audio dac is also thunderbolt. So all together, plus a couple card readers id be set now apple did use the word modularity in their presentation. I dont know if that word means what they think it means i mean, maybe if theyre just trying to say, because its not connected to a display, and you can choose your own, unlike the imac thats, what theyre considering modular. If not, then i have no idea what theyre talking about, because this thing is absolutely not modular at all. All of the parts inside are soldered in there is no upgrading of the ram or the gpu or any parts of this thing ever for the entire lifetime of the machine. Im not even sure, theres any reasonable way to actually open up and get into the mac studio, so yeah, i cant, give you modular on this one apple, but also this level of vertical integration is basically required to get a computer to be this small, and this Efficient, like ive, seen some small pcs before this one is tiny.
Also, the power supply is built in so theres no wall wart its all. Just in this little box and also fun fact, apple did send both the m1 max and m1 ultra versions here to the studio to test and the m1 ultra version is in fact noticeably heavier than the max its two whole pounds heavier. It turns out thats because the heatsink they used in the ultra version is made of copper instead of the aluminum one they put in the m1 max its much more dense its heavier thats pretty serious. But i think thats my cue to talk about the inside of this machine a little bit more because thats, where the 2x theme starts up again. So you remember the event. The m1 ultra is literally two m1 maxes, basically fused, together with a high enough bandwidth between them to behave like one huge mega chip, which is awesome, because that means two times the cpu cores two times the gpu cores two times the memory bandwidth and two times The total memory so in applications i can take advantage of this stuff. Well, this should be twice the machine. Now apple did the whole thing. They always do with graphs, and you know you can never really take these completely at face value. I did do some synthetic benchmarks, though, and for a lot of them it does behave like twice the computer. It absolutely blew the doors off every other mac ever made, especially including the imac pro and it even flirts with the 28 core cheese grater mac pro that ive been using.
So in geekbench it ties the highest single core score ive ever seen, and then it drops a multi core score, literally double the m1 max macbook pro and yes, that also makes it more powerful in the cpu department than any other mac ever including 28 core mac. Pro then, in the cinebench test, which i think is a little more realistic, ran it for 10 minutes, and it gave me around 24 000, which again is about double the m1 max and is right in line between a 16 core thread. Ripper and a high thread count xeon chip like the mac pro. Basically, the cpu benchmarks are killer. Intel could never, but then weve got to talk about gpu stuff. It gets a little more interesting. So you might remember, apples graphs were comparing at one point the ultra to an rtx 3090. They kept saying itll have the same performance as an rtx 3090, but at 200 watts, less power and thats very impressive, but it turns out. The graph should continue a little something like this, because the rtx 3090 will happily continue to draw way more power up to 400 watts of power, its one of the power hungriest cards ever so shout out to heim gartenberg at the verge for this chart inspiration. So it turns out it doesnt beat the rtx 3090 at anything that you would buy an rtx 3090, for which i didnt really expect it to, because that cards almost exclusively for gaming, like you, buy that to play games, and you would never buy this to play.
Games but hey double the cores still do double the work so on geekbenchs metal benchmark which measures gpu performance. With things like image processing, i got nearly double the score of the m1 max macbook pro crack in a hundred thousand, which is around what a radeon pro vega 2 duo in my mac pro scores, but the mac pro has four of them. Now synthetic benchmarks are cool and everything, but you dont buy a computer like this to just try to get the highest benchmark scores. You buy a new computer to see if that new power can translate to real world performance and real world workflows, and so basically, what ive noticed most is the more well optimized the app the closer you get to those 2x performance numbers. Nothing really typically hits exactly 2x, but the m1 ultra does feel faster a bit sometimes than the m1 max i mean in everyday performance, just zipping around the mac yeah this thing slaps. It makes me really wish. I had a high refresh rate monitor here. That plays nicely with the mac, because that would actually feel way more responsive, like the macbook pro with its promotion screen. But you know 5, 000 plus megabytes per second read: write speeds from the drive things open instantly its great and then in my own workflow. You might know by now im a final cut pro editor here. It did give me more headroom and it did perform better than the m1 max macbook pro, but again it didnt quite beat the mac pro im currently using basically its gotten to the point where i can drop fresh 8k raw files on the timeline in better quality.
Playback mode immediately hit play and start tweaking color and messing with raw settings, and it plays back perfectly at 30 frames without hesitation, minimal lag. When i hit the play button, i love it its when you start adding layers of objects and plugins and animations and trackers on top that things do start to slow down, and i can still bring it to its knees with enough layers of moving objects like i Had i had six at the beginning of the ipad air review, but then, when i got to the export at the end of the video it took the mac studio, 7 minutes and 30 seconds to export my iphone se review, which is pretty impressive. But, interestingly, this same project took six minutes and five seconds to export from the mac pro, so its still more powerful just has more raw horsepower but, of course, not everybodys using apples. Own apps, like i do with final cut. There are plenty of premier studios. There are lots of davinci resolve studios hell, even in this studio, weve got people using heavy photoshop and after effects stuff for thumbnails and motion graphics. So i am happy to report that adobe has been working through their suite. The newest, after effects beta, is dramatically faster on apple silicon, so thats awesome and im gon na link an article from scott simmons, where he went through a bunch of tests between premiere and resolve, comparing the m1 ultra with the m1 max, and you can see a Consistent performance improvement with all the heavier stuff like adding warp, stabilizer, rendering a heavy clip, etc.
The only thing i did find where the m1 ultra didnt beat the m1 max was, interestingly, just a straight up. Prores video export sorry for the tons of video comparisons, but hey its a video studio. So this was one area where it did smoke the mac pro, because the new prores, the media engines in these apple silicon products are great. The m1 ultra has literally double the media engine of the m1 max, so i thought it would be twice as fast while they both beat the mac pro. It was roughly the same time to export a single prores clip, but generally yeah it might not have matched the mac pro at every single little thing i threw at it, but yeah. If youre, not a video person ill, let you find the benchmark. That applies best to your workflow, but generally with the stuff i threw at it m1 ultra heavily outperformed m1 max, and it did it all very quietly, with very little heat in this tiny little box. That just sits inconspicuously on your desk. I mean this computer makes it so obvious why they were eager to ditch intel. Also, let me give a shout out to the sustainability element here too, so they use recycled materials inside these computers, thats cool and then even the packaging. I dont think people understand how hard this is. The packaging for these computers is absolutely incredible, fully recyclable lots of padding moving parts and then, with a literal, floating cardboard platform in the middle for shock absorption its wild.
I would not be surprised if just this box added, like 50 bucks to the price of the computer, just to engineer such a ridiculous package, but as far as real world impact, the biggest chunk of that will come from the efficiency of these chips. Of course, apple says that itll use over a thousand kilowatt hours, less energy per year than an average pc desktop thats good for your electricity bill, but thats also good for the environment, but at the end of the day, look this is just a tool right. Just like the app or program youre using already is just a tool, and so i think people look for the the benchmark that will prove that this machine will make them better at what they do. It cant do that, like just because its fast, if youre bad at editing and you get this machine, youll still be bad at editing, but just faster. But i am really happy to see new machines like this still coming out that do make big leaps in performance and capability sort of raises the ceiling for you can do now. All that being said, the apple silicon mac pro is still coming, and i say that not even like as a warning to most people, but just to remind myself, because honestly, most workflows are covered with the mac studio like if i today, if im a youtuber and Im just editing 4k or 8k, even prores, all the time.
This will be able to handle it, but if youre doing large, 3d modeling projects or tons of tracking and layers and after effects or even in audio projects, lots of plugins and video stuff, if youre really pushing the limits of your machine, the mac pro platform still Does offer the most horsepower, so i mean it shouldnt. It shouldnt be surprising that the current 40 pound 28 core – you know 768 gig of ram mac pro manages to slightly outperform this little tiny box here, but when we do get the new apple silicon mac pro, i do expect performance to double this one up again, Which is crazy to say out loud, but for everyone else, this thing is overkill, and i love that thats, the narrative around this computer.