24-inch iMac vs Mac Studio: Which Apple computer should you buy?

24-inch iMac vs Mac Studio: Which Apple computer should you buy?

Apple recently expanded its Mac lineup during the Peek Performance virtual event. The latest addition to the family is the Mac Studio. This beast is powered by either the M1 Max or M1 Ultra chip. Developers have been optimizing their apps for Apple silicon, and macOS Monterey works best on machines with these processors. As a result, people are getting more tempted to buy newer Macs. However, a common question typically crosses our minds when we decide to buy a new product. Which model should I buy? We’re here to help you with the selection process — this is the 24-inch iMac vs Mac Studio: two Apple powerhouses head-to-head.

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24-inch iMac vs Mac Studio: Specifications

24-inch iMac Mac Studio
Processor
  • Apple M1 (8-core CPU)
  • Apple M1 Max (10-core CPU)
  • Apple M1 Ultra (20-core CPU)
Graphics
  • Apple M1 (7-core GPU)
  • Apple M1 (8-core GPU)
  • Apple M1 Max (24-core GPU)
  • Apple M1 Max (32-core GPU)
  • Apple M1 Ultra (48-core GPU)
  • Apple M1 Ultra (64-core GPU)
Memory
  • 8GB
  • 16GB
  • 32GB
  • 64GB
  • 128GB
Storage
  • 512GB
  • 1TB
  • 2TB
  • 512GB
  • 1TB
  • 2TB
  • 4TB
  • 8TB
Display 24-inch 4.5K Retina display, 4480 x 2520, 500 nits, True Tone, DCI-P3 [None]
Webcam 1080p [None]
Ports
  • Two Thunderbolt 4
  • Two USB 3
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Back (All models):
    • Four Thunderbolt 4
    • Two USB-A ports
    • HDMI
    • 10Gb Ethernet
    • 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • Front (M1 Max):
    • Two USB-C ports
    • SDXC card slot
  • Front (M1 Ultra):
    • Two Thunderbolt 4 ports
    • SDXC card slot
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Bluetooth 5.0
Size 54.7 x 46.1 x 14.7 cm 19.7 x 19.7 x 9.5 cm
Weight 4.46 kg (varies by model) 2.7 kg (varies by model)
Colors
  • Blue
  • Green
  • Pink
  • Silver
  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Purple
  • Silver
Price Starts at $1,299 Starts at $1,999

Design

Apple 24-inch iMac colors

Design is a very subjective matter, and comparing it is especially tougher when two devices belong to different categories. For starters, the 24-inch iMac is an all-in-one (AiO) desktop computer, while the Mac Studio would require you to buy accessories separately. With your iMac purchase, you get the necessary keyboard and mouse. In the Mac Studio’s case, you’d need to get your own set, in addition to a monitor. Both Macs feature futuristic, minimalistic designs that don’t look ancient or out of place on your desk.

Mac Studio top

It’s worth noting, though, that the 24-inch iMac is available in seven vivid colors to choose from. On the other hand, the Mac Studio is only available in Silver. Ultimately, design shouldn’t be the main factor when choosing which of the two to buy — as each of them targets a certain category of people (with different needs).

Rear view of Apple Mac Studio

When it comes to choosing your next computer, an important aspect to take into consideration is the number and types of ports. Assuming your workflow isn’t completely wireless, you will likely need a wide variety of them. In this battle, the clear winner is the Mac Studio, as it features a higher number and wider variety of types — as the specifications table reflects. If you don’t plan on connecting any non-USB-C wired accessories, then the iMac should work for you just fine.

Display

Apple's 2021 iMac in blue with matching accessories.

2021 iMac in blue with color-matched Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse.

The iMac includes a 24-inch 4.5K Retina display with a 4480-by-2520 resolution. The Mac Studio, obviously, doesn’t have a built-in display or webcam. If you’d rather build your own setup by personally buying the accessories, then the display (or lack thereof) shouldn’t be an issue for you. Many people aren’t sure which brands or models to choose — in this case, the iMac includes everything they need to get started. The Mac Studio is aimed at power users who are familiar with the different options available out there.

Perfomance

Apple M1 Max and M1 Ultra chips

When it comes to performance, we have a very, very clear winner here. The Mac Studio is powered by either the M1 Max or M1 Ultra chips. On the contrary, the 24-inch iMac has the original M1 chip. While this SoC packs plenty of might, the Max and Ultra variants of it are obviously more capable. Additionally, the entry model of the Mac Studio has 32GB of RAM (and can go up to 128GB), while the iMac can’t surpass 16GB even when maxed out. Similarly, the iMac can’t have more than 2TB of storage, while the Mac Studio can handle up to 8TB. If you need your new computer for basic needs, then the iMac packs more than enough power. However, if you plan on heavily editing video, photos, audio, and 3D renders, etc. then aim at the Mac Studio.

24-inch iMac vs Mac Studio: Which should you buy?

Which Mac you should buy completely depends on you. We’ve only broken down the specifications of each of the two models to help you decide. The final decision shouldn’t be hard to make — as one of them is aimed at those who want an AiO desktop, while the other is for those who are looking for a computer with super powers. It’s also worth noting that the iMac starts at $1,299 in the US and includes the essential accessories. On the other hand, the Mac Studio starts at $1,999 in the US and requires you to buy a monitor, keyboard, and mouse of your own. So if you’re on a limited budget, then the iMac is the more affordable option.

    The iMac is the perfect option for those who want an all-in-one desktop computer. It is powered by the Apple M1 chip.
    The Mac Studio is ideal for those who want extraordinary computing powers in a small form factor. It is powered by either the Apple M1 Max or the all-new M1 Ultra chip.

Which of the two Macs do you plan on buying, and why? Let us know in the comments section below.

About author

Mahmoud Itani
Mahmoud Itani

Mahmoud is an Istanbul-based Beiruti who has always sought freedom through writing. His hobbies include keeping up with tech news, writing articles about Apple devices & services, crocheting, meditating, and composing poetry. You’ll likely find him jogging at a park, swimming in open water, brainstorming at a coffeehouse, or merely lost in nature. He can be reached on Twitter @Mahmoudzitani or via [email protected]

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