Mac Studio vs. Mac Pro and Mac Mini: How to choose

Picture: Cliff Joseph / ZDNet

Apple sells extra laptops than desktops, by far. However there is a core group of Mac customers preferring headless (i.e., no display screen) desktop fashions over some other type of Mac. It is for these of us that we take a look at the Mac Mini, the Mac Studio, and the Mac Professional.

These are very completely different machines. The Mac Mini has been my private workhorse (I personal seven of them), as a result of it is small, versatile, and surprisingly highly effective. I all the time need to add my very own screens. I even went as far as to donate my outdated, maxed-out iMac as a result of the dimensions of the factor made it too unwieldy for the place I wished to make use of it.

The Mac Studio is the latest Mac within the Apple line-up and it is highly effective as all heck. In practically all configurations, it is quicker than the now outdated 2019 Mac Professional, for a fraction of the value. The Mac Studio is unquestionably the brand new energy person’s headless Mac.

After which there’s the Mac Professional. It is the final only-Intel machine in Apple’s line-up. Right here, in late 2022, you may take a look at it in two methods. There’s both no motive to purchase it, or there are 1.5 trillion causes (it helps as much as 1.5TB RAM). No different Mac comes near that quantity of RAM.

However hey, let us take a look at the specs, after which I will break down why you may need to purchase every kind of machine.


As you may see, the specs for these fashions are fairly completely different. Needless to say whereas the 2018 Intel Mac Mini remains to be bought, we’re spotlighting the newer 2021 Apple Silicon mannequin. Additionally understand that the 2019 Mac Professional is the one Mac mannequin that also (as of mid-October 2022) doesn’t have an Apple Silicon model.

2022 Mac Studio

2021 Mac Mini

2019 Mac Professional


M1 Max or M1 Extremely


As much as 28-core Intel Xeon W


32GB to 128GB

8GB to 16GB

32GB to 1.5TB


24 to 64 core GPU

8 core GPU

As much as 4 Intel-class GPUs

Enlargement slots



As much as 8 PC Specific enlargement slots

Inner storage

As much as 8TB SSD

256GB to 2TB

As much as 8TB SSD

Laborious drive bays




USB 3 ports




Thunderbolt 3 ports




HDMI ports




Ethernet ports

1 10GB

1 1GB or 1 10GB

2 10GB

SD card slot




Headphone jack









Bluetooth 5.0

Bluetooth 5.0

Bluetooth 5.0

Base Value



$5,999 (no wheels)

Max Value



$52,199 (w/wheels)

It is best to get an M1 Mac Mini if…

Mac Mini on desk with purple glowing background


Product watch warning: This text is being revealed close to the tip of October 2022. Apple is predicted to replace the Mac Mini to an M2 mannequin someday in November. We advocate holding off on a purchase order till after November to see what shakes out.

Additionally, Apple remains to be promoting the 2018 Intel-based model of the Mac mini as an choice. Do not buy it. We count on Apple to drop it from its product line any time now, and it probably solely has 2-3 years of MacOS replace assist left.

1. You need the least costly, but nonetheless highly effective, Mac

The M1 Apple Silicon Mac Mini begins off at $699 and even totally maxed out, does not break $1,800. Even totally geared up, it is one of many least costly Macs you may get.

I do not advocate the most affordable choice, which has 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Whereas that may actually get you by for most elementary work, chances are you’ll end up bumping up towards capability limits if you happen to push the machine even barely.

As an alternative, the candy spot is 16GB RAM and 512GB of quick flash storage. That can add $400 to the value, placing you at $999. However, apart from the base mannequin MacBook Air, which can be $999, it is inexpensive than each different Mac choice.

2. You need to use your personal monitor or TV

The Mac Mini makes a very nice media heart machine. It is tiny and, with its included HDMI port, it hooks up simply to a TV or a PC. We’ve two Mac Minis on two of the inputs of our giant display screen household room TV, which additionally doubles as a piece convention room. They take up little or no area, but present appreciable capabilities.

Additionally: How one can add a second Thunderbolt monitor to your M1 Mac Mini

The Mac Mini takes up much less area than even the MacBook Air, and you are not paying for a display screen. You may connect two screens to a Mac Mini, one utilizing the HDMI port and one utilizing the Thunderbolt/USB C port.

3. You desire a small machine that tucks and stacks simply

The Mac Mini is a tiny powerhouse. At about 1 1/2 inches excessive and just a little beneath eight inches on a facet, it will possibly match virtually anyplace. It could actually cling off of the again of a monitor. It could actually go right into a automotive dashboard. It could actually stack in a server room.

Plus, it has a reasonably respectable variety of ports, so it will possibly join with a comparatively big selection of peripherals.

It is best to get a Mac Studio if…


Photographs: Cliff Joseph / ZDNet

The Mac Studio is the brand new Apple Silicon-based desktop Mac type issue Apple launched within the Spring of 2022. It is the primary fully new Mac mannequin since Apple launched the MacBook Air in 2009. It is the primary fully new desktop Mac mannequin since Apple launched the Mac Professional in 2006.

1. You need ports and extra ports and many exterior shows

Yeah, this has ports. It is obtained 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports and two USB-A ports on the again. Additionally on the again is a 10GB Ethernet port, an HDMI video port, and a headphone jack.

And on the entrance…sure, on the entrance(!)… it has two extra Thunderbolt 3 ports and an SD card slot. ‘Tis a good looking factor.

All these ports are essential, as a result of the Mac Studio can assist as much as 4 Professional Show XDRs (6K decision at 60Hz and over a billion colours) over USB-C, and one 4K show (4K decision at 60Hz and over a billion colours) over HDMI. That is 5 shows without delay.

2. You need energy

The Mac Studio is an M1 collection machine, not an M2 machine. However do not let that dissuade you. That is as a result of whereas the bottom M2 is quicker than the bottom M1, the Mac Studio is available in both M1 Max or M1 Extremely varieties.

Additionally: Apple M1 vs M2: M1 Professional, Max and Extremely are nonetheless extra highly effective — for now

What does that imply? It is all about cores. The Max and Extremely are a lot bigger chips bodily, to allow them to deal with extra circuitry and subsequently extra cores.

The M1 Max variant features a 10-core CPU, a 24-core GPU, a 16-core Neural Engine (assume machine studying and AI) and 400GB/s reminiscence bandwidth. You may configure a model with as much as 32 GPU cores.

The M1 Extremely might be the quickest piece of silicon you are going to see for some time. It has 20 CPU cores, both 48 or 64 GPU cores, a 32-core Neural engine, and 800GB/s reminiscence bandwidth (twice the velocity of the M1 Max).

Additionally: Every part it is advisable to know in regards to the Apple M2 chip

That reminiscence bandwidth is essential if…

3. You need quite a lot of RAM

Proper now, the Mac Studio can assist extra RAM than some other Apple Silicon-based Mac. It begins with 32GB, however will be configured with as much as 128GB.

Sadly, you may’t improve the RAM. If you need all that RAM, you need to pony up the bucks on the time you order it. However nonetheless, with that reminiscence bandwidth, it is a screamer.

It is best to get a Mac Professional if…


Photographs: Apple

1. You in all probability should not

The present transport Mac Professional is a 2019 mannequin primarily based on an Intel chipset. Whereas the 2018 Mac mini can be primarily based on the Intel chipset, the Mac Professional is the one machine that’s solely obtainable on Intel.

That is a lonely place to be, particularly as MacOS migrates completely away from Intel assist. Whereas Macs can simply final a decade or extra, Apple tends to out of date OS assist each 5 years. In the event you purchase a Mac Professional now, you in all probability will not be capable of improve it to the most recent MacOS as soon as three or 4 years move.

Additionally: Introducing my design for an Apple Silicon-based Mac Professional

In June of 2020, Apple introduced its transition to Apple Silicon processors, saying the “first system ships by yr’s finish, starting a two-year transition.” Each different Mac has transitioned to Apple Silicon, however the Mac Professional hasn’t. If Apple’s timeline is to be believed, the Mac Professional would want to have an Apple Silicon mannequin by the tip of December. So, if you happen to purchase this wildly costly machine now, it might be changed in a couple of months.

2. You actually, really want Intel energy or AMD Radeon graphics

In the event you’ve obtained some specialised software program that particularly requires an Intel processor or AMD graphics, there may nonetheless be a motive to purchase the Mac Professional. The 28-core Xeon processors are undoubtedly highly effective, however early benchmarks present that the vastly inexpensive Mac Studio is 20% quicker on multi-core efficiency and 56% quicker on single-core efficiency.

Additionally: This free utility ought to be shipped with each Mac

So, actually, the one good motive to purchase that is in case your code simply will not run on one thing else. Oh, and this…

3. You actually, actually, really want an epic ton of RAM

The Mac Studio will be geared up with as much as 128GB of RAM and tops out practically $50,000 lower than the highest finish Mac Professional. However the Mac Professional can do one thing no different Mac can do. It may be geared up with 1.5TB of RAM. That is 1.5 terabytes of RAM. Terabytes. RAM.

Yeah, you are gonna pay for it to the purpose that your ears will in all probability bleed, however you may get the RAM. So if you happen to’re doing a little form of in-memory database the place all you want is RAM velocity, this machine will do it.

However there could also be a more moderen, higher one coming quickly. Will it assist as a lot RAM? Solely Tim Prepare dinner is aware of for positive. Keep tuned.

You may comply with my day-to-day undertaking updates on social media. You should definitely comply with me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Fb at, on Instagram at, and on YouTube at

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