Here's a roundup of early reviews on the powerful new desktop computer and the new 27-inch Studio Display that Apple has released to pair with it.
There are very legitimate reasons that the Mac Studio is the wrong computer for all kinds of people. And as a reviewer scoring this product, I care so much less about those than I do about the sheer reliability of this device: the smoothness as you scrub the timeline, the snap of windows opening and closing, the wonder in people’s voices as they say “Wow, this is fast.” UltraFusion is not a kooky new idea that Apple is wasting our time with. It’s real. Companies have been trying to mush two GPUs into one for over a decade, and Apple finally did it. This computer is a historic achievement. And using it feels like a privilege.
Unlike the iMac Pro, it’s easy to tell who the Mac Studio is for: People who demand power, ports and reasonably priced hardware. It's taken a while, but now Apple finally has a Mac desktop that can go toe-to-toe with PC workstations under $5,000.
That leaves us back here, with the Mac Studio and Studio Display. It's somewhere in-between the future Mac Pro and standard M1 Macs, and it'll probably appeal to people who find their work or their budget are similarly in-between those two extremes.
The Mac Studio can deliver more power than any Apple computer on the market save the Mac Pro, and it packs it all into a quiet, well-designed chassis that looks good on a desk. I enjoy using it for work and play, and if I was in the market for a Mac desktop myself, this is the one I would want. As much as I love seeing Apple silicon put to good use in MacBooks, where its power efficiency helps deliver some of the best battery life in the business, the Mac Studio with M1 Ultra proves that Apple’s chips have the chops to compete with the best desktop PC silicon from Intel and AMD. Of course, since this is Apple we’re talking about you’ll pay for the privilege. The Mac Studio’s $1,999 starting price isn’t too bad, but remember that just gets you an entry-level model – you don’t get the M1 Ultra and 128GB of RAM in our review unit for that price. The powerhouse Apple sent us costs just over $6k, and you can buy an awful lot of PC (plus a nice monitor too) for that kind of money.
Apple is no doubt kicking itself for missing the beginning of the work from home push. If the new iMac and Mac Studio would have been available in early or mid-2020, the company would have made a killing. But, then, for many folks there may never be a return to the office. For most users, I would still go with the iMac. If you edit video, music or other resource-intensive creative pursuits and have a larger budget, however, this is a terrific machine. The Mac Pro is the last question mark in the line at the moment, but the new Studio is plenty of machine for most prospective buyers.
If you don’t need this kind of power for advanced professional uses, something more affordable, like the Mac mini, is a better choice. But, if you do need this power, the fact that Apple has made a PC the size of the Mac Studio so capable is very impressive indeed. It also remained incredibly quiet while we used it, even during intensive workloads.
The worst thing I can say about the Studio is that it prioritizes function over form, which is a deeply strange criticism of a modern Apple product. The second-worst thing is that there is still a gap between the least expensive Studio and the most capable Mac mini. It would be nice to see a product that’s not much faster than the mini but does support more displays and offer more ports on the back (and, ideally, on the front). That hypothetical Mac may be coming sooner rather than later. In the meantime, the Studio is an excellent workhorse and a great Apple Silicon upgrade path for a lot of people still using older Intel iMacs, Mac minis, and Mac Pros.