Apple Mac Studio and Studio Display Review: A Desktop Combo for Creators Looking to Step Up

A full setup of the Mac Studio, Studio Show and new keyboard/touchpad.   


Dan Ackerman/CNET

It is uncommon that Apple launches a completely new product line, however that is what we’ve got within the Mac Studio, a brand new desktop positioned someplace within the enormous gulf between the Mac Mini and Mac Professional. 

The Mac Studio that I examined impressed me however did not shock me. Internally, it is similar to the 16-inch MacBook Professional I examined and reviewed in late 2021. Each methods function Apple’s M1 Max chip, a CPU/GPU combo that is in all new Macs and a few iPads. Each methods goal creators of every kind, however particularly filmmakers, video editors, audio producers and coders. The most important distinction is that the MacBook Professional is a high-end laptop computer meant for journey and as an all-in-one answer, whereas the Mac Studio is a compact desktop and extra more likely to stay tethered to 1 place, linked to a show, keyboard and mouse. 

Like

  • Strongest M1 Mac to this point
  • A number of ports and connections, together with entrance ports

Do not Like

  • Not upgradable after buy
  • Like different M1 Macs, no exterior GPU help

Mere months in the past, the M1 Max chip was the reach-for-the-stars, top-end Apple chip, outperforming the unique M1 and the in-between M1 Professional. It was a part of Apple’s practically full evolution from Intel chips to its personal designs, generally referred to as Apple Silicon. Now, the M1 Max has moved all the way down to change into the middle-of-the-road model, as a result of now you can get the much more highly effective M1 Extremely chip within the Mac Studio. 

My first inclination was to jot down off the $2,000 M1 Max model of the Studio as not bold sufficient, and the $4,000 M1 Extremely model as too costly for a non-upgradable desktop. That viewers might be ready for a brand new Mac Professional desktop for upgradability and future-proofing. 


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However chatting with different creatives, I heard the alternative — that the M1 Max Mac Studio (strive saying that 5 instances quick) is precisely what a growing filmmaker or music producer would possibly need. My colleague Patrick Holland informed me that again in his filmmaking days, “The Mac Studio would have been ideally suited for me. It is $1,500 lower than the 16-inch MacBook Professional. It is sufficiently small that I may journey with it and plug it right into a ton of shows, TVs and even cameras. However most significantly, the Mac Studio would have meant that I did not have to ‘design a pc’ for my workflows.” 

The Mac Studio is paired with one other brand-new product, Apple’s new 27-inch Studio Show. It has a chip inside, too — on this case the A13, as seen within the iPhone 11. That allows on-board options like Middle Stage and spatial audio. Its solely comparability throughout the Appleverse proper now is the professional-level Professional Show XDR, a 32-inch show that begins at $5K, plus an additional $1,000 if you would like its sold-separately stand. At $1,599, the Studio Show seems like an affordable ask for a pro-level show, even when stand and display screen choices can drive up the value. 

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The Mac Mini (left) subsequent to the Mac Studio.

We have solely examined the M1 Max model of the Mac Studio to date, not the M1 Extremely model. That model has a much bigger, heavier warmth sink (that weighs about two kilos extra), as a result of the M1 Extremely is actually two M1 Max chips joined collectively. Even within the M1 Max model, the case is virtually half-filled with followers and cooling gear. 

Apart from the look — a gently rounded sq. with an Apple brand on prime — there’s not a lot widespread floor between the Mac Studio and the Mac Mini. In actual fact, I’ve described the Studio as two Mac Minis stacked up, however it’s truly taller than that, at 3.7 inches, vs. 1.4 inches for the Mini. If something, the value distinction ought to inform you it is a completely different class: $700 for the entry degree M1 Mac Mini vs. $2,000 and $4,000 for the 2 Studio base fashions. I might prefer to see an M1 Professional chip model of the Mac Studio — that is perhaps a good higher in-between degree for budget-conscious creatives seeking to step up. 

Mac Studio and Mac Studio Display

An underside view of the Mac Studio. 


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Upgrades add up 

The configuration we examined is a number of steps up from the bottom mannequin. It provides 64GB of RAM, 2TB storage and the model of the M1 Max chip with 32 GPU cores (vs. 24 GPU cores for the bottom mannequin). That every one provides as much as $3,199. Select your choices rigorously, because the Mac Studio is not internally upgradable after the actual fact. 

That is most likely the largest sticking level for a sure model of artistic skilled. The enchantment of the Mac Professional desktop, or actually any tower desktop PC, is its upgradability. In some circumstances that simply means with the ability to swap out a graphics card. In different circumstances, the whole lot from the ability provide to the CPU to the followers. 

When you recover from that hurdle, should you do, a comparably configured 16-inch MacBook Professional is $4,300. The value distinction accounts for the display screen, keyboard and touchpad that you do not get with the Mac Studio. 

Mac Studio and Mac Studio Display

The brand new equipment look nice, however are offered individually. 


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Notice that the keyboard and mouse or touchpad will not be included within the field. In the event you do not have already got a set, there are new gray-and-silver variations of Apple’s enter equipment to go together with the Studio. The Magic Keyboard, with a quantity pad and Contact ID, is $200. The Magic Mouse is $100 and the Magic Touchpad (which appears nice in darkish grey) is $150. As a long-time Apple consumer (and even longer-time PC consumer), the Magic Touchpad is one among my all-time favourite pc enter gadgets. The Magic Mouse is one among my least favourite. Then once more, I predicted the approaching demise of the pc mouse again in 2010, so what do I do know? 

Entrance loaded

The most important innovation of the Mac Studio could also be one among its easiest. Take a few of the connections and put ’em on the entrance face. The Mini, for instance, has USB-C/Thunderbolt, Ethernet, audio and different ports on the again. The Mac Studio has an analogous setup, with 4 USB-C/Thunderbolt ports, a 10GB ethernet port, two USB-A ports, HDMI and an audio jack on the again. However there are additionally two USB-C ports and an SD card slot on the entrance, a transfer certain to enchantment to photographers, videographers and others who hate digging across the again of a system to plug something in. On the M1 Extremely model of the system, these entrance ports are Thunderbolt as properly. 

From its nadir, when some MacBooks included solely a single USB-C for energy, equipment, output, the whole lot, we’re nearly in a golden age of Mac ports now. The most recent MacBook Professional laptops have HDMI and SD card ports (once more), for instance. 

Mac Studio and Mac Studio Display

Loads of ports on the again of the Mac Studio. 


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Acquainted however quick 

I wasn’t anticipating something radically completely different in our fundamental benchmark testing when in comparison with the 16-inch MacBook Professional we examined final yr. Each methods have M1 Max chips with 10 CPU cores and 32 GPU cores. Each embody 64GB of RAM. 

I am not a full-time high-end artistic professional, however particularly through the Covid period I have been taking pictures and infrequently modifying my very own movies, normally in 4K. I additionally do some design and structure work in Illustrator and Photoshop and slightly recording and mixing in Logic Professional. I generally design 3D printed objects in a CAD program, too. 

As anticipated, the M1 Max Mac Studio carried out equally in our testing to the M1 Max MacBook Professional. That evaluate features a deeper dive into the variations between the M1 Professional and M1 Max chips, as does this M1 household efficiency comparability. The Mac Studio model was marginally sooner in lots of checks, maybe as a result of if its higher cooling. 

Mac Studio Efficiency

GeekBench Multicore
Mac Studio, M1 Max 12871
MacBook Professional, 16-inch, M1 Max 12627
MacBook Professional, 14-inch, M1 Professional 12529
27-inch iMac, Intel Core i9 (2020) 10140
MacBook Professional, 13-inch, M1 (2020) 7457
Razer Blade 14 ( 3.3GHz AMD Ryzen 5900HX, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080) 7277
(Increased scores are higher)
Cinebench R23 multicore
Mac Studio, M1 Max 12839
MacBook Professional, 16-inch, M1 Max 12365
MacBook Professional, 14-inch, M1 Professional 12302
Razer Blade 14 ( 3.3GHz AMD Ryzen 5900HX, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080) 11769
MacBook Professional, 13-inch, M1 (2020) 7772
(Increased scores are higher)
GeekBench Metallic
Mac Studio, M1 Max 68638
MacBook Professional, 16-inch, M1 Max 65923
MacBook Professional, 14-inch, M1 Professional 42765
iMac 24-inch, M1 22021
MacBook Professional, 13-inch, M1 (2020) 21667
(Increased scores are higher)
3D Mark Wild Life Excessive Limitless
Mac Studio, M1 Max 20297
Razer Blade 14 ( 3.3GHz AMD Ryzen 5900HX, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080) 20199
MacBook Professional, 16-inch, M1 Max 20169
Asus Zephyrus GX701 (Core i7-8750H, Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q) 16628
MacBook Professional, 14-inch, M1 Professional 10383
MacBook Professional, 13-inch, M1 (2020) 4918
iPhone 13 Professional Max (A15 Bionic) 2660

Focus 

The Mac Studio is being pitched hand-in-hand with the Apple Studio Show, the primary new Apple show for the reason that Professional Show XDR. It is a lower-cost various for the XDR in some methods, however does not cowl all the identical floor. I requested our show guru Lori Grunin to weigh in on the Studio Show as properly. 

At $1,600, the Studio Show is definitely extra attainable than the $5,000-and-up XDR. However it’s additionally lacking some key options you may want. Particularly, it is a typical standard-definition IPS monitor with an undisclosed backlight tech, not HDR just like the 1,600-nit XDR show, which makes use of a Mini LED backlight. The Studio Show does not even help HDR content material, regardless of its 600-nit peak brightness. 

Mac Studio and Mac Studio Display

The Studio Show. 


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Each Apple shows prime out at 60Hz refresh charges, though different Apple merchandise, just like the iPad Professional and a few MacBook Professional fashions, have ProMotion, Apple’s variable refresh price expertise that goes as much as 120Hz.The XDR is 2 years previous, in order that’s comprehensible; it is a huge disappointment within the Studio. Just like the XDR, the Studio Show’s controls are all in software program, so, as an example, if you wish to disable it or energy it down it’s a must to unplug it, and it is mainly unusable with something apart from a Mac, until you desire a non-smart show with no controls.

We have not completed our formal testing but, however eyeballing the Studio Show and XDR facet by facet exhibits wonderful consistency between the colours within the reference modes. There appeared to be barely higher element within the darkest shadows in images on the XDR, comprehensible given the broader tonal vary. We’ll provide a full benchmarked separate evaluate of the Studio Show quickly.

The brand new Studio Show nonetheless has a number of distinctive methods courtesy of the built-in A13 chip. The audio system help spatial audio and the built-in webcam helps Middle Stage, which lets the digicam zoom and pan (not bodily, all throughout the authentic 12MP digicam picture) to maintain faces centered and visual. 

Mac Studio and Mac Studio Display

The ports on the again of the Studio Show. 


Dan Ackerman/CNET

I performed round with Middle Stage in FaceTime, however it works Zoom and some different apps as properly. Prior to now, it has been restricted to iPads, however I preferred it on the Studio Show. With three folks ducking out and in of body, Middle Stage did an affordable job of maintaining with us, widening the picture when all three of us have been in-frame and zooming in when it was simply me. The true trick right here is the 122-degree discipline of view from the digicam, which supplies it further area to work in. You possibly can see the distortion of that lens should you pressure the Middle Stage view to its widest, the place the peerlessly straight pillar subsequent to me seems bowed.

Middle Stage auto-adjusting the body. Notice the softness of the picture is generally from the gif compression, not the supply. However it’s nonetheless not so good as the present MacBook Professional cameras. 


Dan Ackerman/CNET

Different Macs and even iPads can connect with the Studio Show, however will want an OS replace to iPadOS 15.4. or MacOS 12.3 to make use of the Middle Stage and different A13 options. Apple says it really works with MacBook Professional laptops from 2016 and later, and MacBook Air and Mac Mini methods from 2018 and later. 

The in-betweeners

It is clear that Apple would love you to consider the Mac Studio and Studio Show as a wonderfully matched pair of gadgets. In the event you’re constructing a mid/high-end video manufacturing or different artistic workspace, that is an interesting mixture that solves a whole lot of issues in a single bundle. Collectively, it is a minimal funding of $3,500, and doubtless extra. The peak-adjustable stand for the Studio Show seems like a must have, particularly should you use a number of displays and wish them positioned at related heights, which provides one other $400 to the entire. The Studio additionally has a $300 Nano-texture glass possibility that cuts down on display screen reflection. Reflections on the usual display screen weren’t overpowering, and shiny screens do make the whole lot look higher — however they are often distracting for some forms of work.

Mac Studio and Mac Studio Display

The setup will value a minimal of $3,500.


Dan Ackerman/CNET

By a sure lens, the monetary facet works out. A comparable MacBook Professional can value $1,000 extra, making the M1 Max model of the Mac Studio appear extra fairly priced. The Studio Show does not have each high-end function you may want, however it’s proper round the place some comparable prosumer shows sit, though in addition they can come cheaper as a result of they do not toss within the audio system and webcam. As an example, HP’s new Z27xs G3 Dreamcolor monitor, a 4K color-accurate show with related specs plus HDR help, is lower than half the value. Do not forget that the $5,000 XDR could appear costly subsequent to even high-end client shows, however it’s thought of very affordable in comparison with true skilled fashions. 

I am reserving judgment on the M1 Extremely model of the Mac Studio till we are able to check one. I am additionally leaving room in my artistic professional considering for the long-promised Mac Professional replace. That system appears to vary radically with every new era, from the unique tower to the black tube model to the present huge cheese grater design. Will the following Mac Professional, teased on the very finish of the Mac Studio introductory webcast, comply with within the Studio’s footsteps and seem like an elongated Mac Mini? And the way will it handle the difficulty of discrete graphics playing cards and upgradable elements, each must-have options for a lot of of these highest-end consumers? The GPU concern is particularly vital, as M1 methods do not presently help any AMD/Nvidia GPUs (so for instance, you’ll be able to’t hook up a Black Magic eGPU to an Apple Silicon MacBook or Mac Studio). 

That leaves us again right here, with the Mac Studio and Studio Show. It is someplace in-between the longer term Mac Professional and customary M1 Macs, and it will most likely enchantment to individuals who discover their work or their funds are equally in-between these two extremes. 

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