Mac Studio review roundup: Incredible speed, that not everybody needs

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited March 2022
The first reviews of Apple's Mac Studio are starting to appear, with the new machine getting praised for its speed, on top of questions about who it's for.

Initial reviewes of the Mac Studio are here
Initial reviewes of the Mac Studio are here


First announced at the Apple event on March 8, the Mac Studio starts at $1,999 - although certain configurations are already available for up to $400 less. The first ones should arrive with customers on March 18, although one arrived early.

Just ahead of the official delivery date, the first reviews of the Mac Studio have been released. Coming from a mix of technology and news journalists, YouTubers, and professionals, the reviews consistently show up the same points.



The Six Colors review says the Mac Studio "fills a very specific ecological niche to perfection." Apple went with function over form by offering ports in the front of the device and plenty of ports in the back. While those who are satisfied by the M1 will never need this computer, people who have been waiting for an option between the Mac mini and Mac Pro finally have one.

Wired describes the Mac Studio as "a near-perfect middle ground" for those seeking a desktop for creative work. The reviewer is surprised by the number of ports and is happy that there is no need for dongles to attach accessories. And, the performance of the Mac Studio leaves them asking what the point of the Mac Pro is.

There are plenty of port options for the Mac Studio
There are plenty of port options for the Mac Studio


Engadget praises Apple for finally offering a desktop that can go toe-to-toe with PC workstations under $5,000. The headphone jack placement in the back isn't ideal, and the Magic Keyboard and Mouse leave a lot to be desired. However, they say if you want a powerful Mac desktop and are fine with the lack of upgradability, the Mac Studio will serve you well for years.

Tom's Guide calls the Mac Studio "expensive for what you get, especially at the high end." It is a great Mac for creatives, families, and students since it has more power than the Mac mini for less money than the Mac Pro.





YouTube producer iPhonedo put a maxed-out Mac Studio with M1 Ultra to the test. Scrubbing through RAW 8K video produced no noticeable lag and the fans were never audible during use. He passed an 85GB ProRES video file through Compressor and what took the M1 Max MacBook Pro four and a half hours took the Mac Studio with M1 Ultra only two and a half hours.

Early reviews of the Studio Display were also released early Thursday. Many praised the quality display, though the price is still high depending on your needs.

The Mac Studio fills a gap in Apple's desktop lineup. It also raises the question, though, of how to decide which desktop Mac to buy.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,425member
    'The new Macs are so fast you wouldn't know what to do to strain them" 

    The Mac press 

    Me.   "Let me encode some AV1 8k footage on this.  How fast can you compress HEVC 10 bit to mkv?" 

    The computers are fast but lets not ac like there aren't workflows for the jimmys and joes that won't stress 
    the constraints of the Mac Studio bandwidth. 
    thtindieshackwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 28
    Wesley HilliardWesley Hilliard Posts: 205member, administrator, moderator, editor
    "Let me encode some AV1 8k footage on this.  How fast can you compress HEVC 10 bit to mkv?" 
    iPhonedo does exactly this in the video and we mention the test in our roundup. :)
    fastasleepjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 28
    Tom's Guide calls the Mac Studio "expensive for what you get, especially at the high end." 

    Sufferers of ADS* just can't help themselves. "Macs are too expensive, squawk! Apple tax, squawk!"

    *Apple Derangement Syndrome


    edited March 2022 StrangeDayslkruppJWSCjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 28
    'The new Macs are so fast you wouldn't know what to do to strain them" 

    The Mac press 

    Me.   "Let me encode some AV1 8k footage on this.  How fast can you compress HEVC 10 bit to mkv?" 

    The computers are fast but lets not ac like there aren't workflows for the jimmys and joes that won't stress 
    the constraints of the Mac Studio bandwidth. 
    I bet I could crash it in a few minutes with one of the 3D electromagnetic simulations I have tried to run in the past. 128GB of main memory is a drop in the bucket for those simulations.
  • Reply 5 of 28
    ApplePoorApplePoor Posts: 286member
    Buy a main frame then.

    This is not a device claiming to be a main frame but a relatively inexpensive impressively powerful work station.
    williamlondonjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 28
    The Verge - a very pro Apple site - did mention this (in an otherwise glowing review):

    It was a different story with graphics performance, however. Apple, in its keynote, claimed that the M1 Ultra would outperform Nvidia’s RTX 3090. I have no idea where Apple’s getting that from. We ran Geekbench Compute, which tests the power of a system’s GPU, on both the Mac Studio and a gaming PC with an RTX 3090, a Core i9-10900, and 64GB of RAM. And the Mac Studio got… destroyed. It got less than half the score that the RTX 3090 did on that test — not only is it not beating Nvidia’s chip, but it’s not even coming close.

    https://www.theverge.com/22981815/apple-mac-studio-m1-ultra-max-review
    edited March 2022 bala1234williamlondonxyzzy01
  • Reply 7 of 28
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,410member
    The Mac Studio is a classic case of disruption because it creates a lot of uncomfortable questions around products higher in the food chain in Apple's product portfolio. It's totally fair to now question, at least for a sizeable subset of Mac Pro customers, "Where does the Mac Pro fit?" While the fully detailed answer is still TBD,  Apple has already answered this question in principle and set the stage when they announced during the Mac Studio rollout that "Mac Pro is next."

    I find it hard to envision how Apple could have staged the rollout of the Studio any more perfectly, at least considering resource limitations and the plethora of other people, development, and supply chain challenges that have existed over the past nearly two years. I guess if they had the new Mac Pro right there this month and ready to order, like they did with the Mac Studio, and it blew our socks off again, after having had the Mac Studio announcement blow our socks off already, we'd be in fruity nirvana. But that would be a stretch, even for Apple. Going into the Mac Studio announcement "Peek" event I totally expected Apple to announce that a new super Mac was coming. I did not for a minute think that they would not only announce a new super Mac product line, but have it available for ordering the same week. That is, in my mind, a phenomenal achievement. 

    So here we are now, with Apple over-delivering on an awesome new Mac, while at the same time promising that the apex predator in the Apple food chain, the Mac Pro, is queued up next for its Apple Silicon fueled metamorphosis. Any current questions, confusion, or doubts about where Mac Studio fits in the Mac hierarchy are temporary. The Mac Pro is still going to be the top dog at Apple. We'll just have to wait a little while longer to see it appear on center stage. Once it arrives, the current questions about where the Mac Studio fits in the Mac hierarchy will be answered.

    What's more important here is that we'll soon be at a point where we can compare the full hierarchy of Mac offerings from the first generation of Apple Silicon (or Post-Intel) Apple Macs to their predecessors from Apple's previous generation of Macs. The improvements are impressive across the board. There is simply no way that the Apple could have achieved such impressive improvements had they stayed the course with Intel, even when you factor in where Intel is today after seeing what Apple was up to with the M1. It's way beyond impressive. They've re-based expectations around price vs performance and performance vs power efficiency for an entire industry, and have done it in record time during a very challenging period of time. Say what you want about Apple and Tim Cook, but the Apple Silicon transition has been an amazing thing to witness.
    StrangeDaysAlex_Vfastasleeprundhvidjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 28
    Incredible speed? Really...

    Blender 3.1 Benchmark. Blender Benchmark is superior to Cinebench IMHO as it tests multiple scenes with various complexity across CPU and GPU.

    M1 Ultra - 1132
    M1 Max  - 706

    RTX 3090 5552

    I guess Apple wasn't using this benchmark suite for their performance graphs.
    bala1234williamlondon
  • Reply 9 of 28
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 2,004member
    Computers are starting to become more like cars.  More than enough power that you no longer have to think about it. 

    As a young adult, a compact car with 60-100 hp was normal.  They worked perfectly well.  But you had to think about having enough room to merge, whether you had time to turn before the oncoming cars were too close to be safe, or whether you have enough space to pass quickly, etc.  and you couldn’t go up mountain roads without lag and struggle.  

    Now, your basic cars generally start around 140-150hp and go up from there.  A 2022 Civic is 158-180hp per Google.  My wife’s 2019 VW Jetta is 147 hp and is quite zippy (as long as not in econo mode).  Much easier now to merge, pass quickly, go up mountain roads, etc.  Most people don’t “need” 150hp cars for daily use.  But it makes things a lot smoother and easier and you don’t have to worry or think about what you are doing (in terms of having enough power to quickly and safely do it). 

    Computers are similar today.  More than power to do most anything a normal non-pro would need to do without having to wait, or struggle, etc.  you just do it and move on.  This is why all the comments about “too powerful” for normal folks are ignorant and meaningless.  They enable the use of the computer as a tool instead of a toy or hobby or annoying time sucker you have to deal with.


    edited March 2022 StrangeDayskayessmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 28
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,912member
    The Verge - a very pro Apple site - did mention this (in an otherwise glowing review):
    Verge is not a very-pro-Apple site. Their editor is a silly man constantly charging Apple of being user-hostile, and w/ every new product decision makes a number of silly claims that eventually are forgotten as absurd. Like AirPods, or when he mocked the original Apple Watch in a lol moment online


    edited March 2022 thtwilliamlondonfastasleepmacplusplusjony0argonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 28
    thttht Posts: 5,494member
    dewme said:
    The Mac Studio is a classic case of disruption because it creates a lot of uncomfortable questions around products higher in the food chain in Apple's product portfolio. It's totally fair to now question, at least for a sizeable subset of Mac Pro customers, "Where does the Mac Pro fit?" While the fully detailed answer is still TBD,  Apple has already answered this question in principle and set the stage when they announced during the Mac Studio rollout that "Mac Pro is next." 
    You have to be careful about reading or listening to popular media reviewers. They have this weird product journalism school tick of asking who or what this product is for. It's a good question, it's just that popular media reviewers actually are unwilling, don't know, or do know and answer is too boring to put in print or video.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 28
    aderutteraderutter Posts: 609member
    Incredible speed? Really...

    Blender 3.1 Benchmark. Blender Benchmark is superior to Cinebench IMHO as it tests multiple scenes with various complexity across CPU and GPU.

    M1 Ultra - 1132
    M1 Max  - 706

    RTX 3090 5552

    I guess Apple wasn't using this benchmark suite for their performance graphs.

    It’s also very biased against Apple Silicon as other GPUs prefer small tiles but ASi prefers larger tiles.

    Better to compare Redshift rendering times imho.
    williamlondonmacplusplusjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 28
    'The new Macs are so fast you wouldn't know what to do to strain them" 

    The Mac press 

    Me.   "Let me encode some AV1 8k footage on this.  How fast can you compress HEVC 10 bit to mkv?" 

    The computers are fast but lets not ac like there aren't workflows for the jimmys and joes that won't stress 
    the constraints of the Mac Studio bandwidth. 
    I bet I could crash it in a few minutes with one of the 3D electromagnetic simulations I have tried to run in the past. 128GB of main memory is a drop in the bucket for those simulations.
    I would presume you would run these on a cluster of Linux servers, but memory is probably the largest engineering difficulty in pulling off a Mac Pro. Apple will likely have to introduce some kind of dual DRAM structure, with 128GB or 256GB of DRAM on package that somehow operates as a subset or a cache with a 1TB or larger (but slower) extended DRAM pool. Perhaps this could simply operate as a really fast page cache, but that would still be a lot slower than kernel mapped DRAM. Or maybe some of the system's DRAM would simply be slower, in which case Apple will have to figure out which pages will be faster and which slower. Extended DRAM that operates as a file cache might be easy enough, but that's not going to work for large simulations. 
    edited March 2022 watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 28
    aderutter said:
    Incredible speed? Really...

    Blender 3.1 Benchmark. Blender Benchmark is superior to Cinebench IMHO as it tests multiple scenes with various complexity across CPU and GPU.

    M1 Ultra - 1132
    M1 Max  - 706

    RTX 3090 5552

    I guess Apple wasn't using this benchmark suite for their performance graphs.

    It’s also very biased against Apple Silicon as other GPUs prefer small tiles but ASi prefers larger tiles.

    Better to compare Redshift rendering times imho.
    You clearly are speaking from a position of ignorance as Blender doesn't use tiles anymore CyclesX is a progressive renderer.

    Redshift is not at all well optimised on Ampere hardware, so use that if it makes you think Apple Silicon is closer in performance but it isn't, Apple Silicon GPU performance is woeful for 3D rendering. Looking at these representative benchmarks not even the Mac Pro will get close to an 18 month old GPU. With the replacement coming at the end of the year which promises 2x the performance of the 3090 unless Apple has something coming like massively more GPU cores then the Mac Pro will be yet another dud for 3D work.
    williamlondonxyzzy01crowley
  • Reply 15 of 28
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,557member
    With all the claims of inferiority made by the ‘experts’ here it’s a wonder anyone uses Apple hardware, right? I mean, according to these ‘experts’, Apple exceeds at nothing, is always two years behind every curve, lacks pro features, and is overpriced to boot. Why would any ‘pro’ user select Apple hardware? 
    williamlondonMicDorseyrundhvidjony0
  • Reply 16 of 28
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,410member
    lkrupp said:
    With all the claims of inferiority made by the ‘experts’ here it’s a wonder anyone uses Apple hardware, right? I mean, according to these ‘experts’, Apple exceeds at nothing, is always two years behind every curve, lacks pro features, and is overpriced to boot. Why would any ‘pro’ user select Apple hardware? 

    It's awful, ain't it, that Apple can't seem to do anything right! Cough ... cough ...

    It's more than a tiny bit ironic that a few folks are obsessing over a benchmark result in what was a gushingly positive review of the Mac Studio. It's been a very long time since I've seen anything like this stated in a product review:

    What I did see was a host of professionals being shocked by how much they could get done on this machine. They were using the same software they use every day, but they were doing things with it they’ve never been able to do before. - The Verge

    This is from real people who do real work with real computers you can buy off the shelf. Real work. For real money. We're not talking about tinkerers or modders who do crazy things like stuffing dry ice in their pants CPU coolers to achieve outrageous benchmark numbers to post to their many dozen Facebook followers. These are Apple computers that your Mom & Dad can buy and setup themselves and know that they'll still be working wonderfully years from now, long after the dry ice from their son's musty basement lair has fully sublimated into the atmosphere.

    At the end of the day, I can talk your ear off about benchmarks and export times. But to me, personally, the best thing about this computer is that it works. I did not see anything crash or not work the way it was supposed to. - The Verge

    These comments aren't even close to being a glass half-empty versus glass half-full perspective. It's a massive recognition that the glass is nearly full to the brim. Pretty damn good for a version 1.0 product if you ask me.
    williamlondonmuthuk_vanalingambala1234jony0argonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 28
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,425member
    Incredible speed? Really...

    Blender 3.1 Benchmark. Blender Benchmark is superior to Cinebench IMHO as it tests multiple scenes with various complexity across CPU and GPU.

    M1 Ultra - 1132
    M1 Max  - 706

    RTX 3090 5552

    I guess Apple wasn't using this benchmark suite for their performance graphs.
    The Metal backend and Apple Silicon compatibility for Blender *just* came out and it's documented that it still has a ways to go with optimization. I don't think this is a fair test. 
    williamlondonmacplusplusjony0entropysargonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 28
    Incredible speed? Really...

    Blender 3.1 Benchmark. Blender Benchmark is superior to Cinebench IMHO as it tests multiple scenes with various complexity across CPU and GPU.

    M1 Ultra - 1132
    M1 Max  - 706

    RTX 3090 5552

    I guess Apple wasn't using this benchmark suite for their performance graphs.
    The Metal backend and Apple Silicon compatibility for Blender *just* came out and it's documented that it still has a ways to go with optimization. I don't think this is a fair test. 
    That Metal backend was developed solely by Apple so it is very much a fair test.
    williamlondoncrowley
  • Reply 19 of 28
    lkrupp said:
    With all the claims of inferiority made by the ‘experts’ here it’s a wonder anyone uses Apple hardware, right? I mean, according to these ‘experts’, Apple exceeds at nothing, is always two years behind every curve, lacks pro features, and is overpriced to boot. Why would any ‘pro’ user select Apple hardware? 
    What makes an 'export'? Is it someone who has bashed nearly 10,000 posts in a forum?

    Speaking as someone who has been in the creative industry for over 25 years and has owned a succession Power Macs and Mac Pros during that period from my point of view and I suspect many other 3D artists wanting to come back to the Mac will look at the performance of the Studio's GPUs will give it a hard pass.

    Apple has one more chance with the Mac Pro to deliver the necessary GPU performance, maybe with their own custom GPU and if they can deliver that then they have a chance to get many former Mac based 3D artists back who were lost after Apple's Mac Pro releases went to rat shit in 2013 and became a laughing stock.

    Professionals have different needs to fanboys who enjoy Macs vicariously through the medium of web forums, Professionals need performance which exceeds their preference for an operating system which is why so many had to reluctantly move on from their beloved Mac Pros. With Apple Silicon Apple has sewn up the video editing market, you'd be a fool to choose anything but a Mac for video work but 3D is one area that brute GPU performance is an absolute necessity and based on the Studio benchmarks Apple is still way off.
    muthuk_vanalingambala1234williamlondoncrowleyargonaut
  • Reply 20 of 28
    Plenty of speed unless you need GPU compute or ray tracing in which case, you can do better with a gaming laptop.
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