Apple recently released the brand new Mac Studio, a computer aimed at creative professionals and other power users who need a very powerful desktop Mac with the latest Apple Silicon processors. As the name hints, this Mac is very much targeted at the type of professionals who might work in a studio setting of some kind. Such as professional photographers, musicians and audio engineers, video editors, graphic designers, coders and programmers.
It’s also important to note who this computer is NOT for. Anyone who needs a computer for hard-core gaming will probably not be happy with this Mac, since it just won’t do that great with the more demanding games, which are usually optimized to work best on PCs.
And for anyone who spends most of their time emailing and working with Word documents, spreadsheets, or other office work apps … this Mac would probably be complete overkill.

image of Mac Studio

As an option for this new Mac, Apple also introduced a new processor called the M1 Ultra, which is essentially two M1 Max processors fused together into a single processor. Until recently, the M1 Max processor was the fastest processor manufactured by Apple and was only available in the MacBook Pros that came out last year in 2021. What Apple has done here is use a process they call UltraFusion to combine the two processors so that they look like a single processor to the computer. That is a big leap in technology and it can make most computing tasks happen a lot faster than running two separate processors in the computer.
Now, this does not mean that the M1 Ultra is twice as fast as the M1 Max processor, unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. But it does mean that depending on which application you’re using, you will get a significant speed boost with the M1 Ultra compared to the M1 Max. You can reasonably expect to gain 20% to 50% better performance on certain tasks using the M1 Ultra, such as exporting and rendering long videos. If you are someone who spends hours a day on your Mac, that could add up to a noticeable boost in productivity. On the other hand, for many users, the upgrade to the Ultra processor probably isn’t really all that necessary and not worth the extra cost.

This Mac is available in two basic configurations: The base model with the M1 Max processor starting at $1,999 or the more expensive M1 Ultra configuration starting at $3,999.
One of the important things to keep in mind with the new Apple Silicon Macs is that these computers are no longer user-upgradable. The hard drive size you pick when you buy the computer is what you get for the lifetime of the computer, and it’s the same with the RAM and all the other parts. Whatever configuration you get initially is what this Mac will be like for however long it lasts.
So, if you’re planning on using one of these Macs for a few years, it’s probably wise to spend a little more upfront to get a decent size hard drive and maybe pay for a little more RAM. For example, 32GB of unified memory (RAM) may sound like a lot right now, but may no longer feel like a lot in 4-5 years time. So, spending the extra $400 to get 64GB of unified memory may be worthwhile for some users who like to have a lot of applications open at the same time.

image of Mac Studio

The Mac Studio itself looks very much like a tall Mac Mini or Apple TV. So the design looks very familiar. But in a very welcome turn of events, Apple has added a lot of connections to this Mac, even adding some to the front of the computer itself, which Apple hasn’t done in a very long time. On the back of the computer you get 4x Thunderbolt 4 ports, 2x USB-A ports, an HDMI port, an Ethernet port, and a headphone jack. So, that’s already great. But, then you also get an SD card reader on the front, along with 2 USB-C or Thunderbolt 4 ports (depending which version of the Mac Studio you opt for). So, if you’re paying for the $4,000 model, you’re getting faster ports up front basically. And for anyone who regularly imports videos and phots from an SD card to their Mac, having the card reader available right there on the front is a very nice perk.

And just like the Mac Mini, this computer does not come with a display, keyboard or mouse. All you are getting is the computer itself and you can use whatever monitor and peripherals you choose with it. Apple did release a new display called the Studio Display that is meant to be a companion to the Mac Studio. In many ways, this is very similar to the 5K display that the 27inch iMac has had the last few years. It does have an improved webcam and very nice speakers and microphones, but it also starts at $1,599 and is getting mixed reviews. So, I’m not sure I’d recommend that display at this time when there are plenty of other options available out there for a much lower cost.

Conclusion:

This new Mac Studio has been getting rave reviews from the various publications who have had some time to test it out. By all accounts, it’s incredibly fast and quiet, and just seems to do everything better than the most recent Mac Pro with Intel processor that cost a small fortune to purchase just a couple years ago. One of the key target market that Apple is aiming for with this Mac are creative professionals who often use Adobe’s creative cloud software such as Photoshop, Lightroom, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Illustrator and similar applications. And typically, these same creatives are using a few of those apps at the same time. Unfortunately, for the last few years, Adobe software has not run particularly well on Mac with Intel processors, for whatever reason.
With the introduction of the M1 processors, Adobe seems to have gotten things right and has done a great job to optimize their software to run much better on the M1 Macs, with vastly improved performance. And if you’re someone who uses Apple’s Logic Pro or Final Cut Pro, you can expect outrageous performance gains there as well, since Apple has optimized those two apps to run noticeably faster than they could on Intel processors.

At some point, and probably soon, Apple will also announce a new Mac Pro with Apple silicon processors. And those Macs will certainly be even more powerful than this Mac Studio, but presumably with a much higher price tag. I would expect those Macs to have the option to add much more internal storage drives, maybe additional graphics cards, or anything else Apple deems appropriate for the most demanding video editors, movie studios, for 3D rendering, scientific modeling and such. I fully expect Apple to pull out all the stops on this Mac Pro, and they will probably start at $6,000 and cost upwards of $10,000 to get a decent one.

But for most creative professionals, the new Mac Pro is likely to be way more powerful than what they really need, at a cost that probably can’t be justified. So, this Mac Studio is going to be ideal for anyone who spends a few hours a day creating content such as graphic design, photography, videos, music, podcasts, and makes a living at it. Or aspires to do so.

For most Mac users, this is probably not the right computer, but for the intended niche of creative professionals Apple created this for, it’s just about perfect.
And the good thing for everyone is that a lot of the technology that’s inside this new Mac Studio will eventually trickle down to other Macs in the future.