What configurations are available for the Mac Studio?
Apple’s Mac Studio is looking to be one of the best Macs you can buy. It’s the most powerful Apple Silicon Mac yet, and it can even go head-to-head with the much more expensive Mac Pro. But if you’re considering buying the Mac Studio, there are a few configuration options you can choose from, and prices vary significantly, too.
There are two main components to consider in the Mac Studio: The SoC (system-on-a-chip) – which includes the CPU, GPU, and RAM, plus other components – and the storage. These are the two biggest things that will affect the price of the Mac Studio. It starts at $1,999, but it can go as high as $7,999. Let’s take a look at the prices depending on the SoC and storage,
Processor configuration: CPU, GPU, and RAM
Because the CPU, GPU, and RAM are all part of the same major component, we’ll take a look at how they affect pricing collectively, then we’ll consider storage upgrades separately since they’re mostly independent of the SoC. The exception is that the Apple M1 Ultra comes with a 1TB SSD as the minimum, instead of 512GB.
|Processor||CPU||GPU||Unified memory (RAM)||Base storage||Price|
|Apple M1 Max||10-core CPU (8 performance, 2 efficient)||24-core GPU||32GB||512GB||$1,999|
|Apple M1 Max||10-core CPU (8 performance, 2 efficient)||24-core GPU||64GB||512GB||$2,399|
|Apple M1 Max||10-core CPU (8 performance, 2 efficient)||32-core GPU||32GB||512GB||$2,199|
|Apple M1 Max||10-core CPU (8 performance, 2 efficient)||32-core GPU||64GB||512GB||$2,599|
|Apple M1 Ultra||20-core CPU (16 performance, 4 efficient)||48-core GPU||64GB||1TB||$3,999|
|Apple M1 Ultra||20-core CPU (16 performance, 4 efficient)||48-core GPU||128GB||1TB||$4,799|
|Apple M1 Ultra||20-core CPU (16 performance, 4 efficient)||64-core GPU||64GB||1TB||$4,999|
|Apple M1 Ultra||20-core CPU (16 performance, 4 efficient)||64-core GPU||128GB||1TB||$5,799|
As you can see, the CPU only differs between the M1 Max and the M1 Ultra. All variants of the M1 Max have a 10-core CPU, and all variants of the M1 Ultra have a 20-core CPU, because it’s essentially two M1 Max’s linked together. The CPU handles most day-to-day tasks, but a powerful CPU is also very important in creative workloads like video editing and rendering. It’s also worth noting that the M1 Ultra has double the neural engine cores for artificial intelligence, and two media engines to accelerate certain creative workloads.
The GPU has a few more variations, with some models having certain GPU cores disabled. A higher-end GPU will help with 3D rendering, video editing, and other creative workloads as well as gaming if you dare to do that on a Mac.
Finally, the unified memory comes in three versions. The base model comes with 32GB, which is already a lot, but this is exclusive to the Apple M1 Max. Then you can upgrade to 64GB with either the M1 Max or M1 Ultra. Finally, the 128GB configuration is exclusive to the M1 Ultra. This memory is shared by the CPU and GPU, and that essentially means the Mac Studio has the largest video memory of any computer right now. This can be hugely important for loading in large amounts of assets, such as video and image layers, audio tracks, or databases. More RAM means complex projects with lots of assets can load more quickly and be more responsive. Plus, the M1 Ultra has double the memory bandwidth of the M1 Max, reaching 800GB/s, so it’s incredibly fast to load assets from this memory.
Mac Studio storage
The Mac Studio also has a handful of storage configurations ranging from 512GB to 8TB. The SSD storage is soldered onto the motherboard, so it’s important to choose the right configuration at checkout since you won’t be able to upgrade later. Though you can use external storage devices, too. These are the storage configurations available.
|512GB||n/a (base price)|
|1TB||$200 (included with M1 Ultra)|
These are the same storage configurations found in the latest MacBook Pro models, and also the same maximum as what you can get on the Mac Pro (without MPX modules). Prices for SSD storage are steep, and if you don’t need ultra-fast speeds, it may be worth it to buy an external SSD for your Mac Studio. It’s likely cheaper to expand your storage that way, plus you can always expand more and more over time.
If you’re convinced to buy the new Mac Studio, you can do so below. At writing time, only Apple has all the Mac Studio configurations available, so you may prefer that option. If this is your first time buying a Mac with an Apple M1 series processor, check out the best apps for Apple Silicon Macs. These should help you take advantage of all the power of the processor inside the Mac Studio.