Apple Mac Studio M2 Ultra review: Can you handle all that power?

The best Mac for professional workers is Mac Studio.
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Apple Mac Studio M2 Ultra review: Can you handle all that power?  - W3Tekno
Our Verdict
Reasons To Buy
  • Plenty of ports
  • Compact design
  • Exceptionally quick
  • Quiet even when under pressure
  • Reasons To Avoid
  • In a price range for pros and companies only
  • Apple excels at creating powerful devices that fit neatly and efficiently into small spaces. This is also the case with the Mac Studio M2 Ultra 2023. This machine is an upgrade from the previous year, and although there are no changes to the design, they've managed to make it even better. There are a few minor design changes, such as updating Bluetooth from 5.0 to 5.30 and the current version can handle a better display thanks to an improved HMDI port.

    However, it is the processor inside that has caused the most change. The M1 Max and M1 Ultra could be configured for Mac Studio 2022. But the M2 Max and M2 Ultra, updated this year, have raised the bar. I had the chance to test the Mac Studio M2 Ultra with a massive 128 GB of RAM, 24 core CPU, 60 core GPU and more than enough 4 TB of storage. For a few weeks, I used this computer in place of my Macbook Pro to do all my usual tasks like writing documents, editing images and videos. I also ran a few benchmark tests to check how well it performed.

    Apple Mac Studio M2 Ultra

    It's hard to imagine choosing this machine over the new Mac Pro, which was released on the same day as this machine and is one of Apple's most powerful products ever, especially when you consider the price, which we'll discuss later. The Mac Studio is the ideal small computer that, although designed for professional consumers, is arguably sufficient for professionals who need something powerful to tackle even the most demanding creative jobs.

    Key Specs
    CPU24‑core CPU
    Graphics60-core GPU
    RAM128GB
    ScreenN/A
    Storage4TB
    PortsSix Thunderbolt 4 ports, one SDXC card slot, two USB-A ports, one HDMI port, one 10Gb Ethernet port, one 3.5 mm headphone jack
    Size3.7 x 7.7 x 7.7 inches
    Weight7.9 pounds

    Design

    Apple Mac Studio M2 Ultra

    Just by looking at it, you can immediately tell that this device is an Apple product. Last year's model hasn't changed in terms of design. Although it has a modest exterior, the inside is full of wonders. It is a single aluminum structure with dimensions of 7.7 x 7.7 and 3.7 inches. Due to its small size, if you have a limited amount of space, you won't have to worry about finding room for this machine despite its incredible power.

    Two Thunderbolt 4 ports and an SDXC card slot are located on the front of the device. The front-facing ports are a great design choice as it makes it quite simple to plug in your camera or charge devices. There's also an LED light on the front so you can see if the machine is on, because trust me, it's so quiet you won't hear it running.

    On the back of the device are four Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB-A connectors, an HDMI port, a 10Gb Ethernet port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There's also a power button on the back. Because it lays completely flat, it can be a bit tricky, especially if your Mac Studio is leaning against a wall or tucked into a corner.

    As with the iMac, the Mac Studio's power supply is integrated into the chassis, so there's no ugly power brick protruding from the chassis; instead, all that's left is a simple power connector that can be discreetly hidden.

    Despite its expensive price, this device doesn't offer any extras. Apple is counting on you already being fully integrated into their ecosystem and having a keyboard and mouse. However, there are also no HDMI or USB-C ports, so make sure you have those before your Studio is delivered, because without them you won't be able to connect the device to your display.

    Although weighing in at 7.9 pounds, it's not the lightest device, but it's still small enough to fit in a bag and be taken to the workplace or anywhere you need to work.

    Features

    Apple Mac Studio M2 Ultra

    I think the size of this machine is one of its best features. Given its incredible features, even if it's not as small as the Mac mini, the Mac Studio packs a lot into a very small container.

    It's also incredibly decorated, with more ports than you can imagine. There are six Thunderbolt 4 connectors, an SDXC card slot, two USB-A ports, an HDMI port, a 10Gb Ethernet port and a 3.5mm headphone socket to top it all off. This is perfect if you prefer to use a lot of displays because there won't be any competition for space. Photographers won't have to bother with card readers either because there's plenty of room to put their cables and an extra SDXC card port on the front that makes it easy to transfer images from the camera to Photoshop.

    Another feature to emphasize is setup. Macs are already simple to set up, but this made it even simpler. As soon as I turned on the computer, it started looking for my wireless keyboard and mouse. No more trying to set it up using a wired version before returning to the convenience of wireless. Also, thanks to the extreme speed of this machine, data and document transfer was almost instantaneous. My home office is very close to the kitchen, so I might as well be in the kitchen, and I don't think I've ever used a computer this fast before, because in the time it took me to go to the Mac Studio kitchen, grab a drink and come back, all my files and settings were ready to go.

    Speaking of speed, because it's so fast, it makes sense that the M2 Ultra is touted as the "most powerful chip" ever developed for a personal computer. Two M2 Max chips are combined to create the M2 Ultra, which is twice as powerful.

    This CPU provides incredible performance, especially for graphics-intensive tasks. The M2 Ultra includes a 24-core CPU processor and supports memory bandwidth up to 800 GB/s, 192 GB of combined memory and up to 76 GPU cores.

    However, it's worth emphasizing that you need to make sure you choose the appropriate amount of RAM when purchasing your PC, as it is not user-accessible and cannot be upgraded after purchase.

    Performance

    Apple Mac Studio M2 Ultra

    If you've read thus far, you won't be surprised to learn that the Mac Studio performs quite well, especially when it comes to creative tasks.

    I don't believe I've ever been able to utilize a computer to run Photoshop and Lightroom together with many open web tabs and YouTube tutorials without even the slightest latency or stutter.

    I uploaded high-resolution Raw photos to Photoshop and Lightroom, then applied filters and made changes on the fly. I never had to wait for anything to load. I worked a lot with photos on this computer, and the amount of time I saved by not having to wait for things to load or update was incredible. Given how fast it is, anyone involved in graphic design, image or video editing will find this expenditure worthwhile.

    This PC performed very well in all benchmark tests, scoring 2,646 for single-core workloads and 21,735 for multi-core workloads in Geekbench 6.

    As for video, the Handbrake test revealed that it took just over two minutes to convert a 12-minute 4K movie to 1080p. While the Mac Studio isn't a device you'd buy specifically for gaming, my tests on Shadow of the Tomb Raider yielded 68 frames per second in 4K and 135 frames per second in 1080p.

    Up to eight 4K monitors, six 6K displays or three 8K displays can run at 60Hz on the M2 Ultra. If you don't have a good sound system setup but often use your computer for music, you should spend money on a good set of headphones or speakers. If you want to use the built-in speaker in Mac Studio to listen to music, you'll quickly notice that it doesn't have any power. It's okay, but it's quite tinny and only tolerable if you only want to watch the occasional YouTube video while you work.

    Benchmark Test
    Geekbench 6Single-core: 2,646; Multi-core: 21,735
    Handbrake 1.412öminute video from 4k to 1080dp; 2 minutes 18 seconds
    Cinebench R20Single-core: 1,755; Multi-core: 27,095

    Prices And Availability

    The Mac Studio M2 Ultra is available in several different configurations, so the price ranges from $3,999 / £4,199 to $8,799 / £8,999.

    The Apple M2 Ultra I tested costs $5,799/£5,999 and features a 24-core CPU, 60-core GPU, 32-core Neural Engine, 128GB of unified memory and 4TB SSD storage.

    Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro can be added for $299 (or £199) and $199 (or £199) respectively.

    With the M2 Ultra, you can choose from 64, 128 or 192GB of combined memory and 1TB to 8TB of storage.

    If you want to lower the cost a bit, you can choose the M2 Max. The M2 Max starts at $1,999 / £2,099 for the configuration with a 12-core CPU, 30-core GPU, 16-core neural engine, 32 GB of unified memory and 512 GB SSD storage.

    The top-end M2 features a 12-core CPU, 38-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine, 96 GB of unified memory and 8 GB of SSD storage ($4,999 / £5,499).

    While both versions are expensive compared to the top-end Mac Studio, it's an investment and you probably won't need a new computer for a while. And let's face it, this is not a computer for the typical user; most of the people considering buying Mac Studio will be professionals who want the extra capacity to complete their upcoming big creative work. Especially when compared to the high-end Mac Book Pro 16, which costs $3,499/£3,799 and features an M2 Max chip, 12 Core CPU, 38 Core GPU, 32GB of Unified Memory and 1TB SSD Storage.

    Ranging from $599/£649 for the base model with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD storage to $1,299/£1,399 with 16GB combined memory and 512GB storage, the Mac mini is another option if you want something portable without a screen.

    SHOULD I BUY THE MAC STUDIO M2 ULTRA 2023?

    Mac Studio is an ideal purchase if you're a creative worker who spends 90% of your day working on challenging projects.

    And I believe you should see this device as an investment rather than a cost - it's not something you'll need to replace next year when a better model comes out; in fact, it's not something you'll need to replace for several years.

    The first generation Mac Studio can fulfill all your needs if you want a powerful computer but want to save money. You can read our review of this computer here.

    Despite Apple's claims that this device is designed for professionals, after using it and seeing how powerful it is, I can tell you that it is in fact designed for professionals and is no ordinary tool. Mac Studio is completely overkill for the average user like me who spends most of his time creating documents, editing images and occasionally watching videos. If you're still looking for a small computer that's cheap and has good features, the Mac mini is definitely a better option.

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