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Compared: Mac Studio vs. Mac Pro

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Mar 12, 2022

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Apple’s new Mac Studio is the company’s most powerful Apple Silicon machine yet. Here’s how it compares to the Mac Pro, Apple’s most powerful Intel-based Mac yet.

The Mac Studio fills a new slot in Apple’s Mac lineup between the Mac mini and the Mac Pro. While it’s technically in between those devices in the lineup, it outperforms the Mac Pro in several ways.

To see how the Mac Studio can deliver more power for less money, here’s a comparison of the two machines in terms of CPU, graphics capabilities, and other considerations.

Mac Studio vs Mac Pro – Specifications

 Mac Studio (M1 Max)Mac Studio (M1 Ultra)Baseline Mac ProTop Mac Processors10-core M1 Max
20-core M1 Ultra8-core 3.5GHz Intel Xeon W28-core 2.5GHz Intel Xeon W
Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz Memory32GB Unified Memory,
up to 64GB64GB unified memory,
up to 128GB32GB DDR4 ECC 2666MHzUp to 1.5TB of DDR4 EECGraphicsM1 Max 24-core
M1 Ultra 48-core AMD Radeon Pro W5500XAMD Radeon Pro W6900X
Media Encoding/DecodingMedia EngineMedia Engine-Apple AfterburnerStorage Options512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TBPorts4 Thunderbolt 4 ports
2 USB-C ports
2 USB-A ports
10Gb Ethernet
SDXC (UHS-II)
6 Thunderbolt 4 ports
2 USB-A ports
10Gb Ethernet
SDXC (UHS-II)
Two USB 3 ports
Up to 12 Thunderbolt 3 ports
Dual 10Gb Ethernet
8 PCI Express card slots
Two USB 3 ports
Up to 12 Thunderbolt 3 ports
Dual 10Gb Ethernet
8 PCI Express card slots
Connectivity
Wi-Fi 6Wi-Fi 6802.11ac802.11ac
2 10Gb Ethernet PortsBluetooth5.05.05.05.0PriceStarts at $1,999
$7,999$5,999
$45,799

Mac Studio vs Mac Pro – Chips and Performance

The Mac Pro is a modular machine, while Apple's M-series Macs are not.

The Mac Pro is a modular machine, while Apple’s M-series Macs are not.

The Mac Studio is available in multiple configurations, just like the Mac Pro.

Apple’s baseline Mac Studio is equipped with an M1 Max chipset with a 10-core CPU, 24-core GPU and 16-core Neural Engine. The top-tier Mac Studio has an M1 Ultra chip with a 20-core CPU, 64-core GPU, and 32-core Neural Engine.

Apple’s baseline Mac Pro comes with a 3.5GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.0GHz. The premium Mac Pro is configured with a 2.5GHz 28-core Intel Xeon W processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz.

In Geekbench 5 testing, the base model Mac Pro achieved a single-core score of 1,015, while the top-tier Mac Pro had a single-core score of 1,152.

While there are currently no benchmarks for a Mac Studio with an M1 Max, comparable 16-inch MacBook Pro testing showed the chip achieved a single-core score of 1,769. A Mac Studio with an M1 Ultra got a single-core score of 1,793.

The differences become more apparent with multi-core scoring. The base model Mac Pro had a multi-core score of 7993, while the 28-core Mac Pro had a score of 19951.

In comparison, a MacBook Pro with M1 Max had a multi-core score of 12308, while the Mac Studio with an M1 Ultra had a multi-core score of 24,055.

In other words, the best Mac Studio model out there far outperforms the best Mac Pro in single-core and multi-core testing — and for a lot less money and power consumption.

Mac Studio vs Mac Pro – Memory

Apple's Mac Studio is not user configurable.

Apple’s Mac Studio is not user configurable.

Apple’s M-series chips are equipped with what the company calls Unified Memory, which is embedded on the chip. Apple says its Unified Memory technology allows different elements on a chip to access stored information without having to store that information in specific memory pools.

The M1 Max can be configured with either 32GB or 64GB of Unified Memory. If you upgrade to an M1 Ultra chip, you can add up to 128 GB of Unified Memory to the Mac Studio.

Apple’s Mac Pro starts with 32GB of DDR4 ECC memory. The base model runs at 2,666 MHz, while all other options on the Mac Pro use 2,933 MHz RAM modules.

The Mac Pro can be configured with much more memory if desired. Users can add up to 1.5 TB of DDR4 ECC memory to the Mac Pro, although that upgrade costs $25,000.

Mac Studio vs Mac Pro – Graphics

The Mac Pro has a range of GPU options available.

The Mac Pro has a range of GPU options available.

Making a comparison between the Mac Studio and Mac Pro in terms of graphics capabilities is a bit more difficult because at the time of writing, there are no Geekbench 5 Metal benchmarks for the latest Mac model.

However, an M1 Max with a 32-core GPU on the MacBook Pro achieved a Geekbench Metal score of 58950.

In comparison, the lowest tier Mac Pro now ships with an AMD Radeon Pro W5500X, which scored a 41874 in the same test.

Customers can configure the Mac Pro with a wide variety of graphics card options, including the Radeon Pro W6900X. In addition, the Mac Pro can be equipped with a few Radeon Pro W6900X options.

Apple’s M1 Ultra has not yet passed the Geekbench 5 Metal test, but in Apple’s own tests, the chip achieved better graphics performance than the “top discrete GPU” while consuming much less power.

The Mac Studio's Media Engine outperforms the Afterburner card by far.

The Mac Studio’s Media Engine outperforms the Afterburner card by far.

The Mac Pro can be configured with an Afterburner card for $2,000, which Apple promises will speed up workflows with video. The Afterburner card is a PCI-E based accelerator that can handle video codecs such as ProRes and ProRes RAW.

Apple’s M-series chips come with an equivalent called the Media Engine, a silicon-based element that improves performance for video and media work.

On the M1 Max, the Media Engine enables simultaneous streaming of at least seven streams of 8K ProRes content. For an M1 Max, the Media Engine allows the chip to output up to 18 streams of 8K ProRes video.

As Apple noted when it released the MacBook Pro, the M1 Max can handle more streams than a 28-core Mac Pro with an Afterburner card. The M1 Ultra can handle more simultaneous streams than any other chip on the market.

Mac Studio vs Mac Pro – Upgrades and other key features

The Mac Pro is highly modular and configurable.

The Mac Pro is highly modular and configurable.

When it comes to onboard storage, both the Mac Studio and Mac Pro offer the same range of SSD options: 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, and 8TB.

As mentioned, the Mac Studio gets 128 GB of memory, while the Mac Pro can be configured with up to 1.5 TB. However, the Mac Studio’s memory cannot be upgraded by the user, while the Mac Pro’s memory is.

Speaking of user-upgradable, the main draw of the Mac Pro is the fact that it can be configured with additional PCI Express or MPX module cards. The Mac Studio, like other M-series Macs, does not support this level of modularity.

Depending on the graphics card installed, the Mac Pro can use up to 12 displays, six 5K displays, or six Pro Display XDRs. The M1 Ultra can use up to four Pro Display XDRs or 6K displays, with a fifth display up to 4K.

The Mac Studio is also a lot smaller than the Mac Pro, with a form factor that resembles a beefed-up Mac mini. That can be a boon for users with smaller spaces to work with.

Apple’s Mac Studio comes with a range of ports, including four Thunderbolt 4 and two USB-C ports on the Max Max model or six Thunderbolt 4 ports on the M1 Ultra model. It also comes with two USB-A ports, an HDMI port, 10Gb Ethernet and an SDXC card slot.

The Mac Pro can be configured with up to 12 Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C ports, depending on the specific configuration. It also comes with a pair of USB3 ports and dual 10Gb Ethernet ports. PCI Express expansion cards can add additional I/O to the machine.

In the box, the Mac Pro comes with a keyboard and mouse. The Mac Studio, however, does not.

Mac Studio vs Mac Pro – Prices

The Mac Studio delivers great value for money, including robust I/O.

The Mac Studio delivers great value for money, including robust I/O.

There is a big price difference between the two Mac models. The Mac Studio starts at $1,999, while the Mac Pro starts at $5,999.

On the Mac Studio, you pay up to $7,999 for a fully loaded version. That includes the M1 Ultra, 128GB of Unified Memory, and an 8TB SSD.

The best Mac Pro setup costs over $45,000, although it does include 1.5 TB of DDR4 memory. If you opt for a “more realistic” memory configuration, such as 192 GB, you’ll pay in the $25,000 range.

This Mac Pro configuration also includes the 2.5GHz 28-core Intel Xeon W processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz, an Afterburner card, and an 8TB hard drive.

M1 Mac Studio outperforms the Mac Pro in most cases

The Mac Studio delivers far more performance than even the top-of-the-line Mac Pro – all for a lot less money.

Therefore, it is difficult to recommend the Mac Pro except in very specific cases. If you absolutely need an Intel-based machine or can’t live without a Mac with a certain level of configuration, the Mac Pro is the way to go.

For most professional users, the Mac Studio has enough power to handle almost any performance or graphics need. In fact, it surpasses the Mac Pro in several tasks.

Of course, the Mac Pro is also technically an outdated device – and a refresh equipped with an Apple Silicon chip is just over the horizon.

This post Compared: Mac Studio vs. Mac Pro

was original published at “https://appleinsider.com/inside/mac-studio/vs/compared-mac-studio-versus-mac-pro?utm_medium=rss”

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