The Mac Studio is the computer everyone wanted the Mac Pro to be.
Apple’s 2019 desktop release was supposed to be the computer that professional Mac users had been waiting for. It was endlessly configurable with powerful Intel processors and AMD graphics chips, and its top-end configuration hovered around $52,000. After the abject failure of the trashcan 2013 Mac Pro, it was poised to be the first Apple machine that could legitimately provide the power that professionals in creative fields — historically, the folks who turn out in droves to buy these Apple machines — really need.
But while it was a gorgeous and powerful computer, it also had some issues. We bought a $16,599 model, and while that wasn’t the most specced-out option, it was one that creative professionals around The Verge and Vox Media felt could handle their heavy editing workloads. We gave that computer to all kinds of artists, producers, and designers. And they didn’t love it. They didn’t feel it was any faster than their years-old setups, and they ran into all the same issues they always did. In particular, not enough software was optimized for that Mac Pro’s approach to high-performance desktop computing, especially when it came to GPUs.
Since then, Apple has committed to making its own Apple Silicon chips, moving away from Intel and AMD. The first line of those chips, the M1 series, has been a smashing success in Mac laptops, the iMac, and the Mac Mini. And now it’s in the new Mac Studio, which comes in configurations with the M1 Max and new M1 Ultra chips. The Studio is Apple’s first professional computer running Apple Silicon, and with it comes a new way of designing chips that makes it easier for apps to access all the performance available.
I’ve, once again, given this device to a host of professionals on The Verge’s team, and the reactions I saw couldn’t be more different from those we saw in 2020. They were impressed. For their workloads, it’s faster than anything they’ve ever used. It’s changed what they can do.
So I’m relieved that I can finally, finally write this in a review: the Mac Studio is the computer professional Mac users have been waiting for.
The Mac Studio is a nice-looking, compact computer. Someone mentioned to me that it looks like two Apple TVs stacked on top of each other, and now I can’t unsee it. You might also see it as a taller Mac Mini — either way, it’s a design Apple fans have seen before.
Like the Mac Mini, the Studio is designed to sit on your desk — it has the exact same footprint, just about twice as tall. It’s not like the Mac Pro that lives on