Apple announced the Mac Studio during their March 2022 “Peek Performance” event alongside the M1 Ultra SoC, designed for creative professionals who need a lot of I/O and processing power.
I ordered one for myself on 17 April 2022 and it arrived on 7 July 2022. The specifications are as follows:
- M1 Ultra (20-core CPU, 48-core GPU, 32-core Neural Engine)
- 64 GB RAM
- 2TB SSD
Originally I had no intention of getting the Mac Studio given my use case. Even though I’m mostly desk-bound, I did like the idea of having a versatile machine that I can also bring with me. Therefore, my plan was to get the M1 Max MacBook Pro.
However, there had been several issues with using a MacBook as a desktop that got me to re-think.
I have been dealing with bloated batteries on my constantly plugged-in MacBooks for long enough that I decided not to go through that again.
Secondly, laptops do not necessarily have very good thermal dissipation and that killed the components faster; it is especially so in Singapore where the ambient temperature are averaging 30-32 degrees Celsius. Constant exposure to such heat also contributes to battery swelling.
Now that I have the Mac Studio and have been using it for a few weeks now, I have a better perspective of who the machine is for.
Here are 5 reasons why you probably don’t need it.
The high price tag
In the eyes of most people, Apple products have never been cheap. There are cheap Windows PC and laptops that could perform the same if not better.
Its base M1 Max model (10-core CPU, 24-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine, 32GB RAM, 512GB SSD) cost a whopping SG$2899. For similar price, you could get a rather powerful desktop PC (e.g. this or this ) from Aftershock that allows you to do the standard administrative and/or office task, browse the web, watch videos and video games.
If you are getting the base M1 Ultra model (20-core CPU, 48-core GPU, 32-core Neural Engine, 64GB RAM, 1TB SSD), it will set you back SG$5899. For that kind of money, you can get a very powerful gaming PC with Core i9, 32GB RAM and a RTX 3080 that allows you to do everything the Mac can do and provide you with sufficient computing power for the next 3 to 4 years.
Untapped processing power
Based on the performance benchmark and review done on Apple M1 series of SoC, the results shows that it matches, if not beat, vast majority of system running Intel or AMD CPU while consuming much lesser power.
With that in mind, the Mac Studio is designed for professionals who need that kind of computing power such as those involved in video production, music production or crunching through large datasets.
For most of us using our computers for general tasks such as working with documents, browsing the web, online shopping and/or watching videos, the cost/benefit ratio of getting a Mac Studio is not justifiable.
For all the tasks mentioned, the M1 chip found the MacBook Air is more than enough for everything mentioned. And the cheapest M1 MacBoon Air from Apple is SG$1500. Buying from elsewhere could give you an even lower price.
Even software engineers don’t need all that power provided by Mac Studio. And if they need servers to run their applications, they could easily spin one up on Amazon, Google or Microsoft’s Cloud Platform. Even if they need to run docker containers on their development machine, the 14inch MacBook Pro with M1 Pro (10-core CPU, 16-core GPU) and 32GB ram would suffice.
You are always on the go
The Mac Studio is a desktop computer. If your work requires you to be on the move often, the Mac Studio does not make any sense. A MacBook Air/Pro will make a better option.
Yes, you can bring the Mac Studio with you as it is compact enough but you will also need to bring the display with you. And you will also need to find a place with a power outlet.
No display or peripherals
When you buy the Mac Studio, all you get is the computer. You have to get keyboard, mouse and monitor separately.
If you prefer to have something that comes together in a single package like a laptop, then this machine is not for you. If you have severe space constraint that prevent you from playing host to a monitor, keyboard and mouse, this machine is also not for you.
Even with the issues stemming from using a MacBook Pro as a desktop replacement, they still don’t make a compelling case for me to get such an expensive machine. In fact, I will not recommend it for vast majority of people.
So, what was my reason?
There are two reasons why I got the Mac Studio:
- I can afford it
- I want the greatest and biggest that is within my budget