For the longest time, budget buyers of Apple who wanted performance have had to suffer. With the Mac Mini at $699 for cost-conscious individuals and Mac Pro at $5,999 for extreme enthusiasts, there was no middle ground. Enters the: Mac Studio at $1,999, promising the compact form factor of the Mac Mini and the performance of the Mac Pro. The Mini and Pro entered the market in 2005 and 2006, respectively, when the business magnate and inventor Steve Jobs was still heading Apple. After a gap of 17 years from the first Mac Mini, its bigger brother, the Mac Studio – both in form and raw power with the M1 chip has come to excite Apple fanboys again.
All these three products target different Apple buyers with varying work and budgets. If writing documents, making PowerPoints, sending emails, and doing light office tasks are your jam, then the Mac Mini is for you. However, if you’re looking to render high-budget movie-like graphics, program multi-page applications, or anything with general complexity, then the Mac Pro is more fitted for professional needs. Between these two stands the new Mac Studio, which helps in processing videos, playing games, designing, and more than basic tasks.
But all this is making it too simple. If you are looking for a new Mac desktop, you need to know the nitty-gritty well before getting stuck with a model you don’t want.
A comprehensive spec-focused breakdown has been created here with an easy-to-follow chart.
|Apple M1 Ultra/Max with (up till) 20 core CPU
|Apple M1 with (up till) 8 core CPU
|Intel Xeon W with (up till) 28-core CPU
|(Upwards of) 8TB
|(Upwards of) 2TB
|(Upwards of) 8TB
|(Up till) 64-core GPU
|(Up till) 8-core GPU
|(Up till) two AMD Radeon Pro W6800X Duo GPUs
|(Up till) 128GB
|(Up till) 16GB
|(Up till) 1.5TB
|Size and weight
|7.7 x 7.7 x 3.7 inches; (Up till) 7.9 pounds
|7.7 x 7.7 x 1.4 inches; 2.6 pounds
|20.8 x 8.6 x 17.7 inches; 39.7 pounds
|· Four Thunderbolt 4 ports (M1 Max)
· Alternatively, Six Thunderbolt 4 ports (M1 Ultra)
· Two USB-A ports, two USB-C ports (M1 Max)
· 10Gb Ethernet
SDXC card slot
|· Two Thunderbolt
· Alternatively, USB 4 ports
· two USB-A ports
|· (Up till) 12 Thunderbolt 3 ports
· two USB 3 ports
· Dual 10Gb
· Eight PCI Express expansion slots
|Keyboard and mouse
|Magic Keyboard (includes) Numeric Keyboard; Magic Mouse Alternatively, Magic Trackpad
Appearance and Size: What looks Better?
If you place the Mac Studio, Mini, and Pro against one another, you might confuse the first two if you look at them from the top. This similarity is because the Mac Studio and Mac Mini are 7.7 x 7.7 in width. The Mac Studio and Mac Mini are identical squares, rounded boxes with perfectly non-sharp edges. However, the Studio is much thicker and taller than the Mini. The Mac Studio and Mac Mini are 3.7 and 1.4 inches, respectively. Owing to the difference in height, in terms of weight, the Studio is 7.9 pounds while the Mini is 2.6 pounds.
In contrast to both, the Mac Pro has the most resemblance to a traditional tower PC when it comes to design. It has its own set of numbers which doesn’t resemble any of the two models discussed. Its width and height are 20.8 x 8.6 x 17.7 inches. It also ways the most as it packs a punch at 39.7 pounds. It has unique vents at the back, which fans say makes it look like a tall cheese grater. With its large size, It is meant to stay on your desk for long work hours.
Unlike the Mac Studio and Mac Mini, which are fully closed, the Mac Pro has multiple cooling vents, which are genuinely needed for its high-performing components. Apple representatives have claimed that Mac Pro’s unique design makes sure that overall performance and maximized airflow are promised. If you’re comparing all three, the cutest and most eye-catching is the Mac Mini. It is incredibly portable, just like the Studio, and fits most backpacks when traveling.
Configuration: Which is the Biggest Beast?
The spec sheet for all three devices varies immensely; however, if you’re looking for a desktop PC above everything else, go for the Mac Pro. It is the oldest and still runs on an Intel chip instead of an Apple silicon solution which can be compatible with lots of outside software. CPU starts from low-powered 8-cores processors and goes up to 28-core beast processors.
In addition, these tower PCs will provide you with light tasks-focused AMD Radeon Pro GPUs like the 580X and can shoot up to W6900X if you’re not worried about spending more. Its memory configuration goes up to 1.5 terabytes and starts from 32 GB. However, memory does not play a big part in supporting Intel’s 24 to 28- core processors, as they can independently work with minimal storage.
In opposition to this, the Mac Mini gives you a choice between the Intel processors and the M1 chips of Apple. For this Mac, you can choose between the Intel i5 or the i7 core. While the configurations are nothing to joke about, the Mac Mini has always been the favorite choice of individuals looking for something lighter on performance. The M1 chip has an integrated 8-core GPU and CPU with an option to go up to a 16-core neural engine.
However, in contrast to the Mac Pro, the Mac Mini only has a starting internal memory capacity that starts from 8 GB and can be configured only up to 64 GB. However, this can be expanded through external memory integration that can go up from 512 GB to 2 terabytes, which is 500GB more than the Pro if you’re going for the top variant.
The Mac Studio is the newest Apple PC in town, with the highest specifications in the most miniature form. With this product, Apple has fully been dedicated to only focusing on M1 Max and Ultra chips being used. These chips play a crucial part in Apple’s cost-cutting approach as everything is created in-house, ensuring a much more optimized experience. The Max chip promises a selection of 10 to 32 cores with 16-core Neural Engine CPUs per your pick. Alternatively, you can choose an Ultra chip that is double, i.e., 20 to 60 cores CPUs alongside 32-core Neural Engine.
The Studio has a unified memory with the M1 chips. The M1 Max starts from 64 GB and goes up to 128 GB. In contrast, for the M1 Ultra, the storage starts from 512 GB, soaring up to 1 terabyte.
Price Willingness: How Much Do You Want to Shell Out?
Apple prices have always been high; however, some of the prices here have become exorbitant. An example of this is the Mac Pro, last updated in 2019. This tower-like desktop starts at $5499, which can seem harmless compared to other high-end Windows computers.
However, if you want the best of the best processors, memory, storage, and graphics, your eyes will fill up with water as the Mac Pro goes up to a whopping $51,799. However, you get a complete experience here as pre-installed software, the inclusion of an Apple keyboard, mouse, and everything that an entire desktop requires is included.
Now, coming to a lower-tier offering, the crowd’s favorite take has always been the Mac Mini which has had its last iteration in 2020, and since then, Apple fanboys have been wanting more. The cheapest Apple Mini starts at $699, and the most expensive Mini version only goes up to $899.
The Mini seems like a considerable saving compared to the Mac Pro and is a no-brainer for people on a tight budget. But there are add-on costs for the Mini if you want pre-installed software, a unified SSD, and memory embedded in the set. Furthermore, if you want to go with upgrades, then the Mac Mini with 10GB ethernet option, higher storage, and memory, the price can shoot further to $1799.
The Mac Studio comes to take the crown in the middle at a starting price of $1999, promising mammoth performance while delivering the cute Mini form. The game-changing M1 chip has enabled Apple to make this price point possible for its users. The Mac Studio comes in two variables with M1 Max and M1 Ultra chips, with a starting price of $1999 and $3999, respectively. The Ultra promises double the performance than that of the M1 Max chip. Through our testing, we can attest that it delivers on this potential. If you want to supercharge the Mac Studio even further with a higher SSD and memory, the price can shoot up to $7999.
Purpose of Purchase: Make the Right Choose for Your Needs
Apple has been very strategic with its products, and the Mini, Pro, and Studio are nothing less. The Mac Minis are primarily intended for work and education. Therefore, if you’re someone who browses the web, accesses email, watches personal multimedia, listens to music, and plays games, the Mac Mini is primarily for you. It is for budget-focused individuals who want something small to carry around multiple locations. It also lets you connect to the television or monitor through an HDMI or VGA port that can directly help cast videos and quickly browse content for the family.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Mac Pro is a workstation creature that offers nothing but powerful performance. If you’re heavily into video editing or image processing, you will get no other desktop that can give you a seamless experience better than the Mac Pro.
You can even do 3D heavy tasks such as creating games, programming applications, and any creative professional jobs that require high-end processing. It also supports virtual reality and scientific application software. From everything in the market, it is the fastest device. No other device in the market beats the Pro in sheer render speeds.
The Mac Studio is the most premium small-factored workstation available to buy right now. The high-end performance ensures promise in Apple-focused software such as Final Cut Pro for editing. Similarly, you can dabble in podcast creation through Logic Pro as the Studio can also easily handle multitrack audio.
It has been designed for quiet operations with unique thermal architecture; however, it looks like the Mac Mini in most aspects. It also offers a 12-array selection of ports with openings for HDMI, microSD, and more. It can also support all of the software and applications mentioned for the Mac Pro but not at an extreme tier.
Simply put, the Studio stands up a notch from the Mini and tries to bring the experience of the Pro to audiences who have wanted more for paying less. Nevertheless, the Studio is not for extreme professionals as it is closed-ended, while Pro is still open-ended, which lets customization, which is rare for Apple products. However, if you’re a user who does not care about fancy software or crazy performance, then the Mac Mini is the way to go. Apple has been able to hone in on its target audience and create precise products that service every premium user.
If you’re still confused, here’s the gist: in terms of price to power value, Mac Studio is at the top. However, for extreme power, that sport goes to the Mac Pro. And finally, for casual users, the Mac Mini will suffice. So, what are you waiting for? Apple has not left any more reasons to not buy in Mac!