Mac Studio M2 Max 2023 Review
In June 2023, Apple introduced an upgraded version of its Mac Studio, equipped with the powerful M2 chip, as part of its renewed lineup of desktop computers. Over the course of several weeks, we thoroughly tested this new iteration.
While the Apple Vision Pro took center stage during the June 2023 keynote, the company also unveiled three new Macs. While the return of the Mac Pro delighted major Hollywood studios and the MacBook Air expanded to a 15-inch display, the Mac Studio received a subtle refresh.
The differentiating factor in the 2023 Mac Studio lies solely in its chip. It now embraces the M2 chip in either the M2 Max or M2 Ultra variant, delivering even greater computational prowess.
Our test subject was the Mac Studio M2 Max (featuring a 12-core CPU, 38-core GPU), boasting 64 GB of RAM and a generous 2 TB of SSD storage. This powerhouse came with a price tag of 3,779 euros, with Apple’s options remaining as expensive as ever. The base price for the Mac Studio M2 Max stood at 2,399 euros (M2 Max with a 12-core CPU, 30-core GPU, 32 GB of unified memory, and a 512 GB SSD).
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Design-wise, the Mac Studio remains identical to the previous M1 Max/Ultra version we tested last year. Its 2.7 kg aluminum cube exudes elegance and minimalism, blending seamlessly with any desktop decor. Contrary to its impressive performance capabilities, the Mac Studio maintains a relatively unimposing physical presence.
The ports and connectors also mirror those of its predecessor. This includes an SDXC card reader (version 4.0, compatible with UHS-I and UHS-II cards), two front-facing USB-C ports (USB3 compatible, with speeds of 10 Gbit/s on our test model and Thunderbolt 4 speeds of 40 Gbit/s on the M2 Ultra version), four Thunderbolt 4 ports, a 10 Gbit Ethernet port, two USB-A 3.1 Gen 2 (5 Gbit/s) ports, and an HDMI port at the back.
Thanks to this extensive connectivity, the Mac Studio can support up to five screens: four 6K 60 Hz screens via Thunderbolt 4 and one 4K 60 Hz screen via HDMI. Alternatively, users can opt for a combination of two 6K 60 Hz monitors and one 8K 60 Hz monitor or two 6K 60 Hz monitors and two 4K 240 Hz monitors. Mac Studios equipped with the M2 Ultra chip can accommodate up to eight 4K monitors.
Unlike the Mac Pro, the Mac Studio is not designed for upgrades or component replacements. The configuration choices you make are final.
Unleashing the Power of Mac Studio M2 Max / Mac Studio at M2 Max speed
To assess the capabilities of the M2 Max chip, the standout feature of the 2023 Mac Studio, we put it to the test against the M1 Max in various benchmarks conducted in our 01Lab. It’s worth noting that the Mac Studio we tested falls within the more affordable range. Consequently, our model, with its enhanced specifications, offers even more power, though the figures already provide an excellent glimpse into the machine’s potential.
On Geekbench, the M2 Max CPU demonstrates a performance increase of around 10% in single-core tasks. This percentage climbs to 20.5% in multicore performance and approaches nearly 30% in computing tasks. Apple has certainly lived up to its promises.
In Cinebench, a more demanding benchmarking tool, the performance difference remains consistent. Our lab recorded an improvement of approximately 20%, achieved without any noticeable increase in heat or noise.
These improvements translate into significantly faster tasks, particularly in resource-intensive programs like Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro X, Xcode, After Effects, and Premiere Pro. For example, the Mac Studio M2 Max is 48% faster than the M1 Max in After Effects, while exports in Final Cut Pro take nearly half the time.
- In summary, the new Mac Studio is an absolute powerhouse.
Our Verdict on the Mac Studio M2 2023 Review
With the inclusion of the M2 Max and M2 Ultra chips in the Mac Studio lineup, Apple takes a significant leap forward. Although the machine itself remains unchanged, the integration of these chips enables even more advanced usage scenarios, catering to the needs of professionals who found the initial Mac Studio somewhat restrictive.
Now bolstered with additional power, the Mac Studio M2 bears resemblance to the Mac Pro, somewhat blurring the distinction within Apple’s desktop range. To recap, the iMac embodies the perfect all-in-one computer for families, the Mac mini excels as a desktop solution for remote work, and the Mac Studio M2 caters to demanding professionals, freelancers, and creatives. On the other hand, the Mac Pro stands alone, tailored for the vast industries of cinema, architecture, and design.
There is no longer any debate about positioning the Mac Studio as an ultra-powerful consumer product. It is now unequivocally aimed at professionals, while the Mac mini with the M2 chip more than suffices for other users.