Apple Mac Studio (M1 Max) Review: Compact Powerhouse

Apple Mac Studio (M1 Max) Review: Compact Powerhouse

Written by Mark Williams, In Gadgets, Published On
January 4, 2024
, 131 Views

Apple has introduced a powerful new desktop computer called the Mac Studio aimed at creative professionals who need robust performance but don’t require the complete tower design of the Mac Pro.

Creative professionals have long used Apple’s Mac desktop and laptop computers, but the Mac Studio (starts at $1,999, $3,199 as tested) may represent its most significant step toward creators. This towering Mac mini-sized system is a powerhouse. It’s the most influential Apple Silicon Mac we’ve seen, and we only tested the M1 Max model, not the twice-as-powerful M1 Ultra. It has power to rival desktop workstations, a size that makes some of the most potent mini PCs feel chunky, and an unexpectedly rich port collection from the famously minimalist Apple.

The Mac Studio comes packed into a compact body reminiscent of the Mac mini but delivers speed and capability exceeding most consumer desktops. This article will examine the key features, design, performance benchmarks, pros and cons, and frequently asked questions about the Mac Studio based on our hands-on review.

Key Features Of Apple Mac Studio (M1 Max)

Apple Mac Studio (M1 Max) a

Feature Details
Processor Choice of M1 Max (10-core CPU, up to 32-core GPU) or M1 Ultra (20-core CPU, up to 64-core GPU)
Memory Up to 128GB
Storage Up to 8TB SSD
Ports 4 Thunderbolt 4 ports, 10Gb Ethernet, 2 USB-A ports, HDMI, SDXC card reader
Size 7.7 x 7.7 x 3.7 inches
Weight Starting at 5.9 lbs

What Is In The Box?

  1. Apple Mac Studio (M1 Max): The Mac Studio with the M1 Max processor is the main component.
  2. Power cord: The Mac Studio usually comes with a power cord.
  3. Manual: Mac Studio setup and instruction manuals.
  4. Keyboard: The package may include an Apple Magic Keyboard, depending on the configuration.
  5. Mouse or Trackpad: The box may feature an Apple Magic Mouse or Trackpad, depending on the setup.
  6. Power Adapter: Macintosh Studio-compatible power adaptor.
  7. Apple stickers: Apple usually provides stickers in the packaging.

Industrial Design and Cooling

The all-aluminium unibody design and substantial rear airflow keep the powerful components inside the Mac Studio cool despite its compact footprint resembling a taller Mac mini. The Studio’s back includes over 2000 tiny perforations and a double-sided blower fan that takes cool air from below and exhausts heat. This copper heatsink-based cooling mechanism accounts for most of the M1 Max and M1 Ultra’s height and 2-pound weight differential. Mac Studio’s ample ventilation and ports resemble Apple’s PowerMac G4 Cube without a transparent case.

Display and Sound

Apple Mac Studio (M1 Max) a

The Mac system works with Apple’s new 5K 27-inch Display, which has 14.7 million pixels for outstanding display. The Studio Display has a 5120 x 2880 Retina screen with a P3 broad colour gamut and 600 nits of LED brightness. True Tone adjusts the colour temperature automatically as ambient lighting changes on the monitor. A13 Bionic chip for Dolby Atmos powers the Studio Display’s six-speaker system, which delivers powerful speaker sound and spatial audio. A 12MP ultra-wide camera supports center-stage and provides outstanding video conferencing.

Performance

According to us, the M1 Max system fared well in media tests like video transcoding and 3D rendering but lagged behind top Windows workstations. Mac Studio transcoded a 4K film in 95 seconds in Handbrake, matching Intel’s NUC 12 Extreme desktop kit’s 94 seconds. Studio developed a tough 3D image in Cinebench in over 15 minutes, lagging Intel NUC 12 and Corsair One i300 by a few minutes. With its strong GPU, even poor games look good. At 1080p, the Mac Studio averaged 117fps in Rise of the Tomb Raider, outperforming dedicated computers—benchmarks and availability limit Mac games. The M1 Max’s benchmarks show excellent media creation and graphics but software limitations.

Pros and Cons of the Mac Studio

Apple Mac Studio (M1 Max) a

Pros Cons
Impressive performance from M1 Max processor It doesn’t outperform the M1 Max MacBook Pro by much
Stunning industrial design No keyboard or mouse is included
Lots of ports Not user-upgradable after purchase

Should I Buy Apple Mac Studio (M1 Max)?

The Apple Mac Studio delivers workstation-class performance in a compact and stylish chassis that pairs with Apple’s new Studio Display. Creative professionals focused on video editing, 3D modelling, and graphics design can benefit tremendously from the Mac Studio. At the same time, average users will likely find it overpowered and too expensive. However, for the selective niche of power-hungry Mac die-hards, the Mac Studio hits a sweet spot and represents one of Apple’s most proficient desktops yet.

FAQs

How much does the Mac Studio cost?

The Mac Studio starts at $1,999 for the M1 Max model and $3,999 for the M1 Ultra configuration. Fully loaded versions can cost up to $7,999.

Can I upgrade the Mac Studio later on?

Unfortunately, the Mac Studio is not user-upgradable after purchase for memory, storage, or other internals. You must select your configuration in the initial order.

Does the Mac Studio run iOS apps?

The Mac Studio runs on the macOS operating system, so it cannot natively run iPhone or iPad apps. It can, however, run older Mac Intel apps under emulation through Rosetta 2.

Is the Mac Studio good for gaming?

The Mac Studio can handle intense games thanks to its powerful GPU options. However, macOS simply doesn’t have native support for most AAA game titles, which limits its overall gaming utility.

How long will Apple support the Mac Studio?

It’s unclear as of now. Apple has supported previous desktops like the Mac mini across multiple generations but discontinued others after a few years. We’ll have to wait and see what Apple’s long-term Mac Studio strategy entails.

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