Mac Studio (M2 Max) assessment: An finest compact desktop for creatives

The Mac Studio shook up Apple’s desktop lineup in a heavy method extreme life, providing true workstation-grade energy inside a slight design that isn’t a lot larger than the Mac Tiny. It’s an finest mixture of method and serve as for ingenious pros and prosumers who’re snip on length and heavy on price range, which is why Apple didn’t exchange it a lot for 2023 — with the exception of packing even quicker processors within.

That includes your selection of Apple’s highest-end M2 Max and M2 Extremely chips, the fresh Mac Studio is, through maximum measures, the quickest laptop we’ve gotten our palms on. It’s a superb selection for professionals who’re lengthy late for a fresh desktop and actually want the ability, however is it in fact significance a couple of thousand bucks? I spent a number of weeks the usage of the fresh Studio as my primary system for running and developing — and were given a deep dive from Apple’s Colleen Novielli and Shelly Goldberg — to reply to that query for you.

In case you’re an inventive skilled or prosumer keen to put money into one of the vital robust (and compact) Macs available in the market, the Mac Studio is for you. Those that simply need a superb desktop are with a Mac Tiny.

The 2023 Mac Studio’s bodily design is just about unchanged from the style that debuted extreme life, and the whole lot I stated about it in my untouched Mac Studio assessment peaceful holds true. That is a surprisingly compact high-end laptop, with a curvy 3.7-inch-tall design that isn’t a lot higher than the famously graceful Mac Tiny. I really like how it sits unassumingly beneath my keep watch and the way simple it’s to progress after I want to exchange rooms or get right of entry to the ports within the again.

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“I think at first it took some time for people to wrap their heads around that. Like, ‘Is it actually possible that I’m getting that amount of performance in this form factor?’ Fast-forward a year later, users are just absolutely thrilled,” says Novielli, who works at the Mac product advertising group. “And so we’re seeing it, really, in so many different places. You might have heard us say in the keynote that it’s in hundreds of thousands of home and pro studios around the world, and it’s really just been a game changer across many disciplines.”

An illustration: My brother — a certified track manufacturer — lately were given an M1 style for his house studio and couldn’t prohibit raving about how a lot cleaner it made his setup in comparison to the impaired Mac tower he used to be running with. He used to be additionally fast to notice how a lot more briefly he used to be in a position to export his complicated multi-track recordings. In case you’re snip on length however don’t need to sacrifice efficiency, that is the pc to get.

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The untouched Mac Studio additionally keeps the similar beneficiant port variety as extreme life’s style, which is a refreshing exchange from the minimum connection choices on maximum alternative Macs at the moment. Loaded with two USB-C ports and an SDXC card reader up entrance and 4 Thunderbolt 4 ports, an Ethernet jack, two USB-A ports, an HDMI port and a headphone jack within the again, the Studio made it simple for me to fix my keep watch, webcam, microphone and audio interface with plethora of distant ports to alternative. This setup means that you can fix as much as 5 presentations at the M2 Max style and as many as 8 — together with 3 8K presentations — at the M2 Extremely model, which must give energy customers plethora of suppleness for rigging up the extreme multi-monitor workstation.

Regardless of its apparently unchanged look, Apple notes that it made quite a few intriguing enhancements to such things as cosmetics and airflow presen the usage of extra recycled fabrics than earlier than.

“[There’s] a lot of under-the-hood innovation to make the product better, to make it have less environmental impact,” says Goldberg, who is a part of the product design group at the back of the fresh laptop. “But in general, when you look at it from the outside, it’s going to look like the M1 Studio that we know and love.”

Armed with Apple’s M1 Max and M1 Extremely processors which might be designed for tough ingenious paintings, extreme life’s Mac Studio pumped out the most productive efficiency we’ve ever revealed on a Mac. This life’s style swaps in Apple’s fresh M2 Max and M2 Extremely chips, which — you guessed it — are even quicker.

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I’ve been the usage of my M2 Max Studio as my number one track manufacturing system and feature been in a position to document and edit 16-track initiatives with out a trace of latency or slowdown. As soon as I used to be able to export my consultation right into a WAV report I may just concentrate to at the journey, the entire procedure took a brisk 16 seconds. It indisputably doesn’t harm that the Studio by no means were given gradual beneath the burden of my day by day multitasking conduct, which come with Outlook, Slack, Discord, Zoom and an ungodly quantity of Chrome tabs all working immediately. And that’s simplest scratching the skin of what this beastly system is designed to do.

Apple says that the Mac Studio with M2 Max is as much as 50% quicker than extreme life’s style and as much as 4 occasions quicker than a completely loaded 27-inch iMac. In the meantime, the M2 Extremely style guarantees 3-D-rendering speeds which might be 3 times quicker than the former M1 Extremely Studio and video processing that’s as much as 50% quicker than extreme life’s. In our personal benchmarks, the Mac Studio were given the best rankings we’ve revealed from a desktop on virtually each take a look at, revealing some remarkable positive aspects over the former style presen topping the contest in some key boxes.

Mac Studio (M2 Max)

Mac Studio (M1 Max)

Mac Tiny (M2)

Dell XPS Desktop (Intel Core i5, RTX 3060 Ti)

Geekbench 5 (multi-core) efficiency take a look at





Shade of the Tomb Raider (1080p, max settings)

111 fps

88 fps

30 fps

143 fps

At the Geekbench 5 multi-core take a look at (which gauges normal efficiency), the 2023 Mac Studio scored a fifteen,276 — the best quantity we’ve ever gotten from any laptop. To position that during viewpoint, the Studio carried out 18% higher than extreme life’s M1 Max style, 50% higher than the M2-powered Mac Tiny and a whopping 68% higher than the Intel-powered iMac 27-inch from a couple of years again. Lengthy tale snip: In case you’re upgrading from an Intel-powered Mac — and even an Apple silicon-powered iMac or Mac Tiny — you’ll be playing a significant pace spice up. And for editors within the nitty-gritty, this life’s style brings a particularly welcome exchange at the video-encoding entrance.

“In the first generation of Mac Studio with M1 Mac and M1 Ultra…people overall were just really thrilled with being able to fly through 8K footage and do their edits and playing multiple large projects on the timeline,” says Novielli. “But one thing that users did mention is, ‘Hey, when I moved to M1 Ultra, why isn’t my encoding experience faster? Because you have two media engines there, why wouldn’t that be faster than M1 Mac?’ And so we actually went ahead and made a change to the SOC media engine architecture…and so encoding of a single stream is even faster.”

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The fresh Mac Studio may be completely in a position to taking part in the untouched Mac video games at their perfect. On our Shade of the Tomb Raider benchmark, the Studio ran in the course of the visually tough motion sport at blistering 111 frames in step with 2d (fps) at 1080p, and a still-very-playable 40 fps at 4K. (For context, we believe the rest above 30 fps playable and 60 fps to be the perfect minimal.) The M2 Max style’s gaming efficiency is set 23% higher than the M1 Max model and used to be bested simplest through the Dell XPS Desktop — which packs a devoted Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti graphics card.

It’s significance noting that all through all this big multitasking, track manufacturing and gaming, the Mac Studio stayed murmur peace and most commonly cool; I simplest spotted just a little of warmth upcoming working our graphically extensive Tomb Raider take a look at a number of occasions. Consistent with Apple, this life’s style is much more tranquil than earlier than.

“We took another look at the fan design and we figured out how to make it even quieter in light workloads in the M2 generation by optimizing the fan structure and the fan speeds,” says Goldberg. “So customers are going to get that massive performance upside of M2 and still be able to hear themselves think.”

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It almost definitely is going with out pronouncing however top class efficiency comes at a top class worth. The Mac Studio begins at $1,999 for the M2 Max style and at $3,999 for the M2 Extremely style, either one of which will balloon to hundreds extra whenever you get started making some upgrades.

As an example, you’ll tack as much as 192GB of RAM (which is overkill for all however probably the most hard-core of creators) at the M2 Extremely style for an remaining $2,000 and outfit the system with as much as 8TB of store for $2,400, to bring about a killer productiveness powerhouse that sells for a whopping $8,799. And that worth doesn’t come with a keep watch, mouse or keyboard.

Similar: The most efficient MacBook you’ll purchase now

Granted, this laptop is geared toward ingenious pros and prosumers who perceive the type of funding they’re making. Apple name-dropped Lunar Animation (a consumer of Disney’s) and “Game of Thrones” composer Ramin Djawadi as one of the crucial Studio’s key customers — we’re no longer precisely speaking about people who’re making fan movies and novice recordings of their storage. From a shopper viewpoint, it’s additionally difficult to suss out who actually wishes the added energy (and expense of the M2 Extremely) when the M2 Max already pumps out best-in-class speeds, however Apple did backup explain who each and every model is for.

“Up-and-coming professionals or people who are doing freelance work are going to see amazing performance from M2 Max,” says Novielli, who known as out photographers and musicians as one of the crucial professions that’ll get advantages maximum from this style. “And then, of course, if you’re going to have a thousand tracks with a lot of EQ and processing, things like that, you may move to the Ultra if you want additional memory for really large projects.”

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You’ll need to suppose difficult about which of the aforementioned specifications subject maximum to you, as a result of whenever you configure your Mac Studio, there’s disagree going again. Not like the Mac Professional (or positive used Mac Minis), the Mac Studio isn’t designed to be user-upgradeable — that means you’ll’t obvious it up and switch in more moderen portions over future. This shouldn’t be a topic for many people, as even the bottom M2 Max unit will ship an improbable quantity of future-proofed energy for future years, but it surely’s significance conserving in thoughts as making a decision on how a lot store and reminiscence you’ll need out of the gate.

The Mac Studio is an finest compact desktop for people who want as a lot energy as conceivable for extensive ingenious paintings — suppose 3-D rendering, 8K video modifying, programming and track manufacturing — however don’t need a gigantic tower cluttering up their workspace. The bottom M2 Max style do business in one of the crucial quickest efficiency we’ve ever revealed on a pc, and you’ll crank it even upper if you happen to put money into the pricier M2 Extremely style. There’s disagree explanation why to improve if you have already got a Mac Studio, however someone coming from an impaired Mac (particularly an Intel-powered one) will see a significant build up in pace.

That stated, $2,000 or extra is a accumulation for a pc, and prosumers and creatives have plethora of less expensive possible choices to choose between. The M2 Mac Tiny do business in finest efficiency for on a regular basis multitasking and modifying for as little as $599, and you’ll improve to the $1,299 M2 Professional style for a pleasing center field that’ll get the process completed for extra visually extensive stuff.

At the turn aspect, if you happen to do need to journey all out and feature the versatility to improve your system over future, the fresh Mac Professional is a greater are compatible for you. It’s were given the similar M2 Extremely chip you’ll get within the Mac Studio, in addition to seven PCIe enlargement slots that help you outfit and improve the desktop with robust playing cards for such things as audio manufacturing and video modifying.

“M2 Ultra already comes with amazing storage performance, but if you want additional performance, there are cards that will give you that for your workflow,” says Novielli. “There are also faster networking options. So many of these professionals have studios with tens, honestly, many of them hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cards, all the equipment that they connect to it. And so if you have a workflow that’s built around PCI, you’re going to go Mac Pro with PCI.”

However if you happen to don’t have a necessity for that more or less enlargement — or the room for a heavy tower on or beneath your table — the Mac Studio is without doubt one of the perfect high-end computer systems you’ll purchase. Assuming it’s for your price range, after all.

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