Apple brings M1 Ultra to new Mac Studio
The Mac Studio is Apple’s latest Mac for creative pros who need more power, extensive connectivity and modularity. It starts at $1,999.
This brand new Mac is reminiscent of the G4 Cube of 2000, from the top it looks like the original Apple TV, and may remind some of the 2013 Mac Pro, but it’s probably going to be considered a Mac mini on steroids.
Inside the Mac Studio you’ll find an M1 Max or an M1 Ultra – Apple’s latest variation of the M1 chip.
The M1 Ultra combines two M1 Max chips on the same die for double the CPU, GPU, and RAM, without increasing latency, bandwidth or power consumption.
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Mac Studio release date
Apple has revealed that the Mac Studio will go on sale on 18 March 2022, but you can order now.
Mac Studio price
There are two varieties of Mac Studio and various build-to-order options.
First up is the Mac Studio with M1 Max which costs £1,999/$1,999 and offers the following:
- 10-core CPU, 24-core GPU, 32GB Unified Memory, 512GB storage, two USB-C ports and an SDXD card reader on the front and four Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB-A ports, a HDMI port 10Gb Ethernet and 3.5mm headphone jack on the back.
There are also various build to order options for the M1 Max model including:
- The M1 Max with 32-core GPU for an additional £200/$200.
- 64GB unified memory for an additional £400/$400.
- Up to 8TB SSD for an additional £2,200/$2,200.
The Mac Studio with M1 Ultra costs £3,999/$3,999 and offers:
- 20-core CPU, 48-core GPU, 64GB Unified Memory, 1TB storage, two Thunderbolt 4 ports and an SDXD card reader on the front and four Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB-A ports, a HDMI port 10Gb Ethernet and 3.5mm headphone jack on the back.
There are also various build to order options for the M1 Ultra including:
- The M1 Ultra with 20-core CPU and 48-core GPU for an additional £1,000/$1,000.
- 128GB unified memory for an additional £800/$800.
- Up to 8TB SSD for an additional £2,200/$2,200.
You can also add the M1 Ultra to the entry-level version. So you could for example max the £1,999/$1,999 model out with the following:
- The M1 Ultra with 20-core CPU and 64-core GPU for an additional £2,400/$2,400.
- You could also add 128GB unified memory for an additional £1,200/$1,200.
With those additions your £1,999/$1,999 model would cost £5,599/$5,599, rather than the £5,799/$5,799 the other model would cost with the same specs. Perhaps because of the other changes inside and outside.
Many expected the Mac Studio to replace the Mac mini which still featured an Intel chip in the line up. However, that Mac mini is still on sale, for now, and still costs £1,099/$1,099.
It is no real surprise that this new product category should get a higher price. The good news is that there is a version which doesn’t have a price costs less than £2,000/$2,000 – which makes it look like a better deal than the MacBook Pro models, with the M1 Max MacBook Pro costing more than £3,000/$3,000.
If you want to buy one of the current Mac mini models and you want a bargain, check out our round up of the best Mac mini deals.
What is Mac Studio?
It seems that Apple is carving out a new Studio product category designed for professionals who are based in studios. The Studio name is hence designed, we assume, to indicate that this is a device for creative pros, not just someone who wants pro features.
Apple promises “outrageous performance, extensive connectivity and new capabilities in an unbelievably compact form” and says it will “transform any space into a studio”.
Mac Studio design
The Mac Studio reminds us of a cross between the Mac mini, the G4 Cube and the 2013 Mac Pro. It’s also similar to the Apple TV when it first arrived.
As you can see from the image above it measures a compact 3.7in by 7.7in.
Ian Zelbo tweeted (on 7 March 2022) what he claimed to be images of this new Mac Studio – as well as an image of the new monitor that could arrive alongside it. We have to say he was spot on.
— ian (@ianzelbo) March 7, 2022
Mac Studio spec
We expected that Apple was going to do something astounding with the M1 Max to achieve an even faster Mac, but the solution is nonetheless pretty astonishing.
The expectation was that the new desktop for creative pros would combine either two M1 Pro or two M1 Max, allowing the new Macs to offer twice as many processor cores and twice as many graphics cores, and twice as much RAM. This is essentially what Apple has done, although not in such simplistic terms.
The M1 Max offers a 10-core CPU (just as the M1 Pro does). The M1 Ultra on the other hand can double this up and achieve a 20-core CPU with 16 high performance cores and 4 high efficiency cores.
For more information about the new processor read Everything you need to know about Apple’s M1 Pro, M1 Max and M1 Ultra chips.
Until now the M1 Max was Apple’s chief GPU offering. The M1 Max GPU offers up to 32-cores (although there is also a 24-core option, which is being used as standard here).
The Ultra will combine two M1 Max to achieve twice as many GPU cores. So a 64-core GPU is possible.
With such features could this be considered a Mac Pro mini. Do we still need a Mac Pro? Read about Apple’s plans for the Mac Pro.
The M1 Max chip can support 64GB RAM, so, with by doubling it up with the M1 Ultra Apple is able to offer twice that much RAM. This means 128GB RAM in a Mac Studio is possible.
Apple’s chips use a unified memory architecture, which ensures that all components – be it the graphics unit, the main CPU or the various auxiliary processors – have immediate access to the same RAM. As a result loss of performance due to the reshaping of memory access cannot occur.
Inside the Mac Studio enclosure is a thermal system designed to keep things cool and quiet. Part of the design of the Mac Studio is lots of tiny perforations, a blower pulls air into the system through these holes, and then the air moves over the components cooling them while being guided to a thermal module.
Apple claims that the sound from this is “so minimal for most workloads you’ll hardly hear it”. Hopefully that will be quiet enough for sound engineers and the like.
Ports & Peripherals
It’s no surprise that the Mac Studio features a good collection of ports.
You can see some of the ports in the image above – but there are even more on the front, including a card reader.
Like the Mac mini and the 24in iMac the Mac Studio also offers USB-3 ports, which is good for those with older devices, and also there is an HDMI 2.0 port.
You can also expect 802.11ac Wi‑Fi and the option for 10Gb Ethernet in the new model.
It’s not clear if Apple will ship a keyboard and mouse with the Mac Studio. Apple doesn’t ship the Mac mini with an Apple keyboard.
Find out about all the new products coming in 2022 here: Every new Apple product coming in 2022.