The Apple Mac Studio is finally here, packing a lot of power in a tiny package. The Studio has become the first Mac desktop to feature the company’s silicon chip under the hood, making it a total beast when it comes to handling tasks and putting it in line with the best graphics cards out there like the Nvidia GeForce 3090.
Apple’s new mini-computer can be configurable with an M1 Ultra under the hood, the most powerful M1 chip Apple’s ever made. The new chip is expected to deliver twice the performance compared to the base model with the M1 Max chip.
The Studio sports the design hint from the Mac mini on the outside, but on the inside, it turns out to be a horsepower that targets artists, musicians, videographers, and professional creatives.
However, the double performance means extra money. In fact, the Mac Studio is not cheap even when it comes to the base model with the M1 Max chip. So the question is whether the M1 Ultra is worth it or not. In this article, we decided to put the M1 Ultra against its sibling, the M1 Max to help you make a better choice.
First, What’s Different?
|Apple M1 Max
|Apple M1 Ultra
|Total CPU cores
|24 or 32
|Maximum Memory Supported
|Peak Memory Supported
|MacBook Pro 14,16, Mac Studio
With the M1 Ultra, Apple simply ties together two M1 Max processors and chipsets via a 2.5TB/sec direct connection. That means two processors are running at the same time for double performance. That explains why the Studio model with the M1 Ultra features up to 4 thunderbolt ports.
The M1 Ultra chip features a larger number of CPU and GPU cores compared to its M1 Max counterpart. This allows the new chip to perform better when it comes to handling heavy tasks like video rendering or editing. However, this might make it hotter, given that it features horsepower in a tiny aluminum chassis.
According to Apple, the M1 Ultra model has a bigger heatsink and fan system to cool down the entire machine. We could not take the machine apart and see for ourselves. But the device ran quietly under heavy sessions like video editing with Final Cut Pro and 4K video rendering. Of course, the exterior of the machine got a little warmer but it did not compromise on its overall performance.
The M1 Ultra is two M1 Max chips tied together. Theoretically, the performance should be doubled, but it does not seem to be true all the time. Of course, the Mac Studio with the M1 Ultra is a beast that crushes every obstacle, but it still has some compromises when being rivaled against the best graphics cards out there. We decided to run a Geekbench test and the results were pretty surprising. The single-core performance is nearly the same across all four of Apple’s computer chips.
But the difference really stood out when it comes to multi-core performance. The M1 Ultra chip earned a score of 26,000 which doubled that of the M1 Max counterpart.
We also put the M1 Ultra against some of the best gaming laptops on the market. Apple’s Silicon chip really outperformed its rivals in our Benchmark test.
|Mac Studio (M1 Ultra)
|Alienware Aurora R13 (*)
|HP Omen 45L (**)
|Geekbench 5.4 multi-core CPU
|Geekbench 5.4 single-core CPU
|Handbrake video encode test
- Intel Core i7-12700KF, GeForce RTX 3080, 32GB RAM
- ** Core i9-12900K, GeForce RTX 3090, 64GB RAM
One of the questions we got asked a lot is whether the M1 Ultra outperforms the Nvidia RTX 3090. We decided to put the two to the test and the results would not surprise us. In fact, the M1 Ultra could not stand in line with Nvidia’s high-end GPU as the performance was about half that of the 3090 during Geekbench 5 graphics tests.
Mac Studio (M1 Ultra) vs Mac Pro
During our Geekbench 5 graphics tests (pic above), the M1 Ultra easily outperformed the Mac Pro machine with a 16-core Intel Xeon processor but costs much less.
According to Apple, the Mac Studio with the M1 Ultra chip is up to 90% faster than the Mac Pro (16-core CPU) and 60& faster than the 28-core model. In terms of graphics, the Mac Studio with the M1 Ultra chip is 80% faster than the Mac Pro with the Radeon Pro W6900X GPU. This seems surprising given that the M1 Ultra Mac Studio with 128GB of RAM is priced at $5,599 while the Mac Pro (28-core CPU) costs at least $26,399.
Is the M1 Ultra chip worth it?
The M1 Ultra is a big upgrade when compared to the M1 Max. Both chips can easily handle heavy tasks like photo editing or video and music production without even reaching body temperature.
Based on our initial testing, we did not notice a huge leap between the two. However, the difference really stands out when it comes to multi-tasking and speed, as the M1 Ultra took less time to render videos at 5K resolution.
That does not seem fair when comparing the M1 Ultra with the RTX 3090. However, we were surprised that the M1 Ultra was a little bit far behind the 3090 given that the entry-level Mac Studio with M1 Ultra costs $4,000, which is twice the price compared to that of the base Studio with M1 Max chip.
So, Should You Buy It?
Yes, if you are now in the market for a new Mac with modern hardware and more power to handle your tasks and do not care about games. The M1 Ultra is really worth it if you want something more powerful than anything Apple’s ever made.