The Mac Pro is a modular machine, while Apple's M-series Macs are not.




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Apple’s new Mac Studio is the company’s most powerful Apple Silicon machine yet. Here’s how it stacks up against the Mac Pro, Apple’s most powerful Intel-based Mac to date.

The Mac Studio fills a new slot in Apple’s Mac lineup between the Mac mini and the Mac Pro. While it’s technically in between those devices in the lineup, it actually outperforms the Mac Pro across a variety of metrics.

To see how the Mac Studio can deliver more power for less money, here’s a comparison of the two machines as far as CPU, graphics capabilities, and other considerations.

Mac Studio vs Mac Pro – Specifications

Mac Studio (M1 Max) Mac Studio (M1 Ultra) Baseline Mac Pro Top Mac Pro
Processors 10-core M1 Max 20-core M1 Ultra 8-core 3.5GHz Intel Xeon W 28-core 2.5GHz Intel Xeon W
Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz
Memory 32GB Unified Memory,
up to 64GB
64GB Unified Memory,
up to 128GB
32GB DDR4 ECC 2666MHz Up to 1.5TB of DDR4 EEC
Graphics M1 Max 24-core M1 Max 48-core AMD Radeon Pro W5500X AMD Radeon Pro W6900X
Media encoding/decoding Media Engine Media Engine Apple Afterburner
Storage options 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB
Ports 4 Thunderbolt 4 ports
2 USB-C ports
2 USB-A ports
10Gb Ethernet
SDXC (UHS-II)
6 Thunderbolt 4 ports
2 USB-A ports
10Gb Ethernet
SDXC (UHS-II)
Two USB 3 ports
Up to 12 Thunderbolt 3 ports
Dual 10Gb Ethernet
8 PCI Express card slots
Two USB 3 ports
Up to 12 Thunderbolt 3 ports
Dual 10Gb Ethernet
8 PCI Express card slots
Connectivity Wi-Fi 6 Wi-Fi 6 802.11ac 802.11ac
2 10Gb Ethernet Ports
Bluetooth 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0
Price Starts at $1,999 $7,999 $5,999 $45,799

Mac Studio vs Mac Pro – Chips & Performance

The Mac Pro is a modular machine, while Apple’s M-series Macs are not.

The Mac Studio is available in multiple configurations, just like the Mac Pro.

Apple’s baseline Mac Studio is equipped with an M1 Max chipset that has a 10-core CPU, 24-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine. The highest-tier Mac Studio sports an M1 Ultra chip with a 20-core CPU, 64-core GPU, and 32-core Neural Engine.

Apple’s baseline Mac Pro comes with a 3.5GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.0GHz. The top-line Mac Pro is configured with a 2.5GHz 28-core Intel Xeon W processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz.

In Geekbench 5 testing, the base model Mac Pro achieved a single-core score of 1,015, while the top-tier Mac Pro had a single-core score of 1,152.

While there aren’t currently benchmarks for a Mac Studio with an M1 Max, comparable 16-inch MacBook Pro testing found that the chip netted a single-core score of 1,769. A Mac Studio with an M1 Ultra got a single-core score of 1,793.

The differences become more apparent in multi-core scoring. The base model Mac Pro had a multi-core score of 7993, while the 28-core Mac Pro had a score of 19951.

Comparably, a MacBook Pro with M1 Max had a multi-core score of 12308, while the Mac Studio with an M1 Ultra had a multi-core score of 24,055.

In other words, the top Mac Studio model available far outperforms the top Mac Pro in single-core and multi-core testing — and for a lot less money and power consumption.

Mac Studio vs Mac Pro – Memory

Apple's Mac Studio isn't user-configurable.

Apple’s Mac Studio isn’t user-configurable.

Apple’s M-series chips are equipped with what the company calls Unified Memory, which is embedded on the chip. Apple says the Unified Memory technology allows for various elements on a chip to access stored without needing that information to be stored in specific memory pools.

The M1 Max can be configured with either 32GB or 64GB of Unified Memory. If you upgrade to an M1 Ultra chip, you can add up to 128GB of Unified Memory to the Mac Studio.

Apple’s Mac Pro start with 32GB of DDR4 ECC memory. The base model runs at 2,666MHz, while all other options on the Mac Pro use 2,933MHz RAM modules.

The Mac Pro can be configured with a lot more memory, if need be. Users can add up to 1.5TB of DDR4 ECC memory to the Mac Pro, though that upgrade will cost $25,000.

Mac Studio vs Mac Pro – Graphics

The Mac Pro has a range of GPU options available.

The Mac Pro has a range of GPU options available.

Drawing a comparison between the Mac Studio and Mac Pro as far as graphics capability is a bit tougher since, as of writing, there aren’t any Geekbench 5 Metal benchmarks for the newest Mac model.

An M1 Max with a 32-core GPU on the MacBook Pro, however, achieved a Geekbench Metal score of 58950.

Comparably, the lowest-tier Mac Pro now comes with an AMD Radeon Pro W5500X, which scored a 41874 in the same test.

Customers can configure the Mac Pro with a wide range of graphics card options, including the Radeon Pro W6900X. Additionally, the Mac Pro can be equipped with a pair of Radeon Pro W6900X options.

Apple’s M1 Ultra hasn’t been put to the Geekbench 5 Metal test yet, but in Apple’s own testing, the chip achieved better graphics performance than the “highest-end discrete GPU” while using a lot less power.

The Mac Studio's Media Engine outperforms the Afterburner card by a long shot.

The Mac Studio’s Media Engine outperforms the Afterburner card by a long shot.

The Mac Pro can be configured with an Afterburner card for $2,000, which Apple promises will speed up workflows involving video. The Afterburner card is a PCI-E based accelerator that can handle video codecs like ProRes and ProRes RAW.

Apple’s M-series chips come with an equivalent called the Media Engine, which is an on-silicon element that boosts performance for video and media work.

On the M1 Max, the Media Engine allows for simultaneously streaming of at least seven streams of 8K ProRes content. For an M1 Max, the Media Engine allows the chip to run up to 18 streams of 8K ProRes video.

As Apple noted when it released the MacBook Pro, the M1 Max can handle more streams than a 28-core Mac Pro with an Afterburner card. The M1 Ultra can handle more simultaneous streams than any other chip on the market.

Mac Studio vs Mac Pro – Upgrades and other main features

The Mac Pro is highly modular and configurable.

The Mac Pro is highly modular and configurable.

When it comes to onboard storage, both the Mac Studio and the Mac Pro offer the same range of SSD options: 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, and 8TB.

As mentioned earlier, the Mac Studio tops out at 128GB of memory, while the Mac Pro can be configured with up to 1.5TB. The Mac Studio’s memory is not user-upgradable, however, while the Mac Pro’s memory is.

Speaking of user-upgradeable, the Mac Pro’s main draw is the fact that it can be configured with additional PCI Express or MPX Module cards. The Mac Studio, like other M-series Macs, doesn’t support this level of modularity.

Depending on the graphics card installed, the Mac Pro can run up to 12 displays, six 5K displays, or six Pro Display XDRs. The M1 Ultra can run up to four Pro Display XDRs or 6K displays, with a fifth display at up to 4K.

The Mac Studio is also a lot smaller than the Mac Pro, with a form factor akin to a beefed-up Mac mini. That could be a boon for users with smaller spaces to work with.

Apple’s Mac Studio comes with a range of ports, including four Thunderbolt 4 and two USB-C ports on the Max Max model or six Thunderbolt 4 ports on the M1 Ultra model. It also comes with two USB-A ports, an HDMI port, 10Gb Ethernet and an SDXC card slot.

The Mac Pro can be configured with up to 12 Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C ports, depending on the specific configuration. It also comes with a pair of USB3 ports and dual 10Gb Ethernet ports. PCI Express expansion cards can add additional I/O to the machine.

In the box, the Mac Pro comes with a keyboard and mouse. The Mac Studio, however, does not.

Mac Studio vs Mac Pro – Pricing

The Mac Studio delivers a lot of bang for the buck, including a robust I/O.

The Mac Studio delivers a lot of bang for the buck, including a robust I/O.

There’s a stark difference in pricing between the two Mac models. The Mac Studio starts at $1,999, while the Mac Pro starts at $5,999.

On the Mac Studio, the most you’ll pay for a fully loaded version is $7,999. That includes the M1 Ultra, 128GB of Unified Memory, and an 8TB SSD.

The top Mac Pro configuration will cost upward of $45,000 — though this does include 1.5TB of DDR4 memory. If you go with a “more realistic” memory configuration, such as 192GB, you’ll be paying in the range of $25,000.

This Mac Pro configuration also includes the 2.5GHz 28-core Intel Xeon W processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz, an Afterburner card, and an 8TB hard drive.

M1 Mac Studio outperforms the Mac Pro in most cases

The Mac Studio delivers a lot more performance than even the top-tier Mac Pro — and all for a lot less money.

Because of that, it’s hard to recommend the Mac Pro except in very specific use cases. If you absolutely need an Intel-based machine or you can’t do without a Mac that has some level of configuration, then the Mac Pro will be your best choice.

For most professional users, the Mac Studio has enough power to handle virtually any performance or graphics need. In fact, it outclasses the Mac Pro in multiple tasks.

Of course, the Mac Pro is also technically an aging device — and a refresh equipped with an Apple Silicon chip is just over the horizon.



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