Apple filled a gaping hole in its product lineup Tuesday by announcing the Mac Studio, a powerful desktop that runs on the company’s new M1 Ultra chip, which debuted the same day.
Available March 18, the Mac Studio starts at $1,999. Schools and educational buyers receive a $200 discount.
Whereas the Mac mini with M1 is meant as an entry-level solution for everyday consumers and the Mac Pro is for professionals, the Mac Studio is meant for content creators—those who need strong performance and graphics but don’t have wads of cash to throw at a Mac Pro. Mac Studio uses Apple Silicon and is expected to replace the high-end mini, whose previous versions ran on Intel chips, Apple said Tuesday.
The Mac Studio is considerably smaller than the Mac Pro and its cube-shaped design seems to be inspired by Apple’s Power Mac G4 Cube, an acclaimed computer that failed commercially after it launched in 2000. To be clear, the Studio, while not as compact as the mini, is a very small computer for the performance it promises. The machine, which Apple says is built from a single aluminum extrusion, has a square footprint of 7.7 inches and a height of 3.7 inches.
On the inside is a unique fan design that Apple claims will keep the Studio quiet under most workloads. As for ports, there are four Thunderbolt 4 ports for connecting display and peripherals, an Ethernet port, two USB ports, an HDMI, and a high-impedance headphone/mic jack. On the front are two USB-C ports (with M1 Ultra config, these are Thunderbolt 4) and a full SD card slot. Connectivity includes Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 6.
As for the specs, the Mac Studio can be equipped with either an M1 Max or the new 20-core M1 Ultra processor—the latter being Apple’s most powerful chip. Paired with this Apple Silicon is up to 128 of RAM (or 64GB with M1 Max) and storage options that go up to 8TB.
According to Apple, the Mac Studio with M1 Max is 50% faster than the 16-core Mac Pro and has 3.4x better graphics. When you opt for the M1 Ultra chip, the Max Studio is 3.8x faster than the 27-inch iMac and 60% faster than the Mac Pro with a 28-core Xeon processor. Back to graphics: the Studio is 80% more powerful than the Mac Pro. In practical terms, Apple says it can run 18 streams of 8K ProRes 422 videos.
Apple also claims the Mac Studio is more efficient than competitors and requires 1,000 kilowatt-hours of energy less than a high-end PC desktop.