Mac Studio M2 Ultra vs M2 Pro Mac Mini
If you're looking for a powerful Mac that can handle any creative task, you might want to check out the Mac Studio. This sleek device has been upgraded with the Apple Silicon M2 Chip, which lets you choose between the M2 Max or the M2 Ultra chip.
This is the highest-end model available with the M2 Ultra, 192 GB of unified memory and 8 TB of storage. And guess what? It only occupies 3.7 liters of space on desk. That's impressive, right?
But how does it compare to the M2 Pro Mac Mini, which is much smaller and cheaper. Well, to be honest, these two Macs are not really in the same league. The Mac Studio costs $7,000 more than the Mac Mini with similar specs. But that's because the Mac Studio is not meant for everyone. It's designed for professional studios that need the best performance and features that Apple can offer.
The Mac Mini, on the other hand, is a great option for creative professionals who want a reliable and affordable Mac. I've written a separate article about it, which you can read here.
⚡️ The Apple Silicon M2 Ultra Chip
The Mac Studio is powered by the M2 Ultra, which is a remarkable chip that combines two M2 Max chips into one. This means that you get double the performance and features of the M2 Max, such as a 24-core CPU, a 76-core GPU and up to 192 GB of unified memory.
💰💲 Mac Studio Pricing & Specs:
The Mac Studio is not a cheap device. The starting price is $2,000, which gets you the M2 Max chip with 32 GB of memory and 512 GB of storage.
|Mac Studio M2 Max||12 Core||30 Core||32GB Unified||512GB||$1999|
|Mac Studio M2 Ultra||24 Core||60 Core||64GB Unified||1TB||$3999|
|Mac Studio M2 Ultra||24 Core||76 Core||1926GB Unified||8TB||$8799|
If you want the M2 Ultra chip, you have to pay double that amount. And that's not all. There are two versions of the M2 Ultra: one with a 60-core GPU and one with a 76-core GPU. The difference? A whopping $1,000. That's right, you have to pay $63 per core to get 16 more cores. That seems like a huge rip-off.
But then again, this is Apple we're talking about. The same company that charges $400 for a set of wheels for their Mac Pro. So I guess they can get away with it.
→ Mac Studio Pros & Cons
|✅ Pros||❌ Cons|
|M2 Ultra chip||Price difference for additional GPU cores|
|Ample memory, storage options||Limited SSD performance|
|Low fan noise||Higher power consumption|
|SDXC card reader||USB 3.2 Gen 1|
|Ideal for professional studios||Not for everyone|
The Mac Studio is aimed at people who need the best performance and features that money can buy. This model costs $8,800 in the US. That's a lot of money.
💰💲 Mac Mini Pricing & Specs:
|Mac Mini M2||8 Core||10 Core||8GB Unified||256GB||$599|
|Mac Mini M2 Pro||10 Core||16 Core||16GB Unified||512GB||$1299|
|Mac Mini M2 Pro||12 Core||19 Core||16GB Unified||1TB||$1799|
The base model comes with the M2 chip, 8 GB of memory and 256 GB of storage. It can handle office work and some creative tasks with ease. For more demanding users, there is the M2 Pro variant, which boosts the performance and efficiency of the Mac Mini. It has a 19-core GPU instead of a 16-core GPU and a 1 TB SSD. The price difference is significant, though. The base model costs $600, while the M2 Pro model costs $1,800 in the US.
→ M2 Pro Mac Mini Pros & Cons
|✅ Pros||❌ Cons|
|Affordable option||Less powerful than Mac Studio|
|Suitable for office work, creative tasks||Lower GPU core count|
|Base model budget-friendly||Limited storage options|
|Low noise level & temps||USB 3.2 Gen 1|
|Optional 10G port for enhanced connectivity||Not ideal for heavy-duty workload|
|Cost-effective choice for moderate creative needs||Limited by less advanced hardware|
📐📏 Design, Build Quality & Size:
The design of the Mac Studio is based on the Mac Mini, but with some differences. The Mac Studio is taller by 2.3 inches, because it has a more powerful cooling system.
It has perforations (small tiny holes) at the bottom and dual fans at the top to keep the M2 chip and other components cool.
The Mac Mini, on the other hand, has a smaller heatsink for cooling that works well enough.
Both Macs are made of CNC aluminium and have a premium feel and look. Apple is known for its high-quality hardware and elegant design. The Mac Studio and the Mac Mini have a sleek and minimalistic aesthetic that fits any desk. The Mac Studio does not take up more space than the Mac Mini, which is convenient for users who want to switch between them.
The Mac Studio has more ports than the Mac Mini, but not by much. The back of both Macs has the same layout: Two USB-A ports, audio out, HDMI, Four Thunderbolt 4 ports and an RJ45 port. The Mac Studio comes with a 10G port by default, while the Mac Mini can have it as an option.
The front of the Mac Studio has an SDXC card reader and two more Thunderbolt 4 ports. This is convenient for transferring files from cameras and other devices. However, some media formats like CFexpress are not supported.
*One thing that is disappointing is that both Macs use USB 3.2 Gen 1 instead of Gen 2.
This means that they have half the speed of the latest standard. For machines that are supposed to be future-proof, this is a letdown.
Mac Studio M2 Ultra vs M2 Pro Mac Mini - Performance
The most important aspect of these Macs is the performance. The Mac Studio has the M2 Ultra chip, which is twice as powerful as the M2 Pro chip in the Mac Mini. But how much difference does that make in real-world tasks? Is it worth paying four times more for the Mac Studio than for the Mac Mini?
🌍 3D Rendering:
One of the areas where the Mac Studio shines is 3D rendering. The M2 Ultra chip can handle complex and demanding tasks with ease. To test this, some standard benchmarks were used, such as Cinebench and Blender. The results showed that the Mac Studio was almost twice as fast as the Mac Mini with the M2 Pro chip. That's impressive, but not surprising.
But what about some real-world applications, such as Houdini and Autodesk Maya? These are popular tools for 3D modeling and VFX, and they require a lot of processing power. The Mac Studio did not disappoint. It was able to run these applications smoothly and render them quickly. The difference with the Mac Mini was huge. For example, Autodesk Maya took much longer to render on the Mac Mini than on the Mac Studio. So for anyone who works with 3D rendering and VFX, the Mac Studio with the M2 Ultra chip is a great option.
📷 🎥 Photo & Video Editing:
Another area where the Mac Studio excels is photo and video editing. The M2 Ultra chip can handle large and complex files with speed and efficiency. For example, it took less than 20 seconds to export 100 RAW files to JPEG from a Canon EOS R camera. That's incredibly fast.
For video editors who use Adobe Premiere, the Mac Studio with the M2 Ultra chip is a dream come true. It can play back 4K footage smoothly and render complex timelines quickly. It uses the CPU, the GPU and the media encoder to deliver a seamless editing experience. The Mac Mini with the M2 Pro chip cannot compete with that.
However, for users who prefer DaVinci Resolve Studio, the difference between the Mac Studio and the Mac Mini is not that big. It took only a minute longer to render a video on the Mac Mini than on the Mac Studio. That's not worth paying $7,000 more for the Mac Studio. So for this application, the Mac Mini might be a better choice.
💾 SSD Performance:
The last thing to mention is the SSD performance. The Mac Studio has an 8 TB drive that offers good read and write speeds. However, it could have been better. It uses a Gen 4 SSD, which has half the bandwidth of a Gen 5 SSD. This might be due to the architecture of the M2 chip, which limits the SSD speed. Maybe the next generation of Macs will have a Gen 5 SSD for faster storage performance.
🌡️ Temperatures & Power Draw:
One of the benefits of these Macs is the low noise level. Both the Mac Studio and the Mac Mini are very quiet, even when running heavy tasks. The surface temperatures are also low. They don't get hot to the touch.
The power consumption is another interesting aspect. The Mac Studio with the M2 Ultra chip uses twice as much power as the Mac Mini with the M2 Pro chip. It draws 100 watts under heavy workloads.
However, under low workloads, both Macs use the same amount of power. This shows how efficient these chips are. They can save power when they don't need it and use it when they do. This is similar to what we have seen on laptops with these chips.
In this article we compared the Mac Studio with the M2 Ultra chip and the Mac Mini with the M2 Pro chip. The results showed that the Mac Studio is much faster and more powerful than the Mac Mini in some applications, such as Adobe Lightroom, Premiere Pro, Autodesk Maya and Houdini. However, the Mac Studio is also much more expensive and not for everyone.
The Mac Studio is designed for creative professionals who need the best performance and features that Apple can offer. It is a compact and elegant device that can handle any creative challenge. It is an investment that can help turn imagination into reality.
The Mac Mini, on the other hand, is a great option for anyone who wants a reliable and affordable Mac. It can do most creative tasks with ease and efficiency. It is a bargain for its price and size.
I hope this article has been helpful and enjoyable. There is a lot to explore with the Mac Studio and it is interesting to see what it can do. It is also possible to have some fun with it and try some gaming on it, since Apple has released its game portal API. Any ideas or requests for what to try next are welcome in the comments below.
Image Credit: Hardware Canucks
What is the difference between the Mac Studio and the Mac Mini?
The Mac Studio is a more powerful and expensive option designed for professional studios, while the Mac Mini is a budget-friendly choice for creative professionals.
How much does the Mac Studio cost?
The Mac Studio starts at $2,000.
What is the M2 Ultra chip?
The M2 Ultra chip is a powerful processor in the Mac Studio that combines two M2 Max chips into one, providing double the performance and features.
How does the Mac Studio compare to the Mac Mini in terms of price?
The Mac Studio is much more expensive than the Mac Mini, costing around $7,000 more for similar specifications.
Can the Mac Mini handle photo and video editing?
Yes, the Mac Mini is suitable for photo and video editing tasks, although it may not perform as well as the Mac Studio in some applications.
What is the difference between the M2 Pro and M2 Ultra chips?
The M2 Ultra chip in the Mac Studio is more powerful than the M2 Pro chip in the Mac Mini, offering better performance and capabilities.
What ports does the Mac Studio have?
The Mac Studio has more ports than the Mac Mini, including USB-A, audio out, HDMI, Thunderbolt 4, and an RJ45 port. It also features an SDXD card reader and additional Thunderbolt 4 ports on the front.
How does the Mac Studio perform in 3D rendering?
The Mac Studio is excellent for 3D rendering tasks, providing fast and efficient performance compared to the Mac Mini.
Does the Mac Studio have better SSD performance than the Mac Mini?
While the Mac Studio has good SSD performance, it uses a Gen 4 SSD, which has slower speeds compared to the Gen 5 SSD that the Mac Mini lacks.
How efficient are the Mac Studio and Mac Mini in terms of power consumption?
Both Macs are energy-efficient, with the Mac Studio using more power under heavy workloads but the same amount as the Mac Mini under low workloads.