Apple Mac Studio M2 Ultra vs M2 Pro Mac Mini – Mind Blowing Difference

We have the New Mac Studio, and it’s been updated with the second-generation M2 DNA so that you can now configure it with either an M2 Max or an M2 Ultra chip. Now I’ve got the specked-out model here with the M2 Ultra, 192 gigabytes of unified memory, and eight terabytes of storage inside a chassis. That’s a lot of power packed inside, and I wanted to do a comparison to the M2 Pro Mac Mini, which is basically two and a half times smaller than the studio.

The price difference alone between M2 Ultra vs. M2 Pro two custom specs is close to, wait for it, seven thousand dollars. The Mac Studio is the most expensive piece of technology. It’s Apple’s state-of-the-art hardware that showcases the best of what their custom silicon can offer for high-level advanced production mass production studios that require that horsepower. So on one hand, we have the M2 Pro inside the Mac Mini, which has proved itself to be an extremely reliable machine for creative professionals. And then, on the other hand, we’ve got the M2 Ultra inside the Mac Studio.

M2 Ultra Explained!

Now let’s talk about this chip because there’s some cool engineering behind this processor. Essentially, they’ve packaged this architecture by interconnecting the die of two M2 Max chips to create a unified SOC. So you get up to 134 billion transistors, a 24-core CPU, a 76-core GPU, and up to 192 gigabytes of unified memory support. So it allowed them to quickly scale the performance by 2x compared to the M2 Max.

Mac Studio Specs and Price

M2 Ultra Mac studio

Now the base Mac Studio is priced at two thousand dollars, which gets you the M2 Max with 32 gigabytes of memory and half a terabyte of storage. The M2 Ultra is unfortunately two times the price of the M2 Max spec, but you get twice the storage and memory. And, there are two for the Ultra, one with a 60-core GPU and another with a 76-core GPU. And I don’t understand is the price difference between those two variants. It’s a $1000 which honestly feels like a rip-off. I mean, who would pay 63 dollars per core to get an extra 16 cores? Then again, this is Apple that charges $400 a set of wheels for their Mac Pro, so it’s not surprising to see this here either. Now, as the spec that I have over here is priced at $8800 which is like 12G’s, it’s a lot of money, but for people who are shopping for a Mac Studio, know exactly what they’re getting into.

Mac Mini Specs and Price

M2 Pro Mack Mini Specs and Price

The Mac Mini, which is probably one of the best value-oriented Macs that you can buy right now. The base M2 starts at just $600 with 8 gigs of memory and 256 gigabytes of storage. It’s a great all-around machine for office productivity and some creative tasks. The two pro variants cost around thirteen hundred dollars, which essentially supercharges this Mac Mini with incredible performance and power efficiency. My spec does come with a 19-core GPU instead of a 16-core GPU and a terabyte SSD, and it costs around 1800 dollars.

New Mac Studio vs Mac Mini Design and Build Quality

New Mack Studio M2 Ultra vs Mack Mini M2 Pro

So, I’ve got a pretty specked-out Mac Mini going head-to-head with a specked-out Mac Studio. The real question is what kind of performance improvements and quality of life upgrades do you get between these two Macs?

Apple essentially took the same chassis of the Mac Mini and increased the height by an extra 2.3 inches to accommodate a beefier cooling system to keep temperatures under control because they’re working with a massive SOC here. So you can see the perforation at the bottom that draws in cool air into the components inside, like the power supply, the logic board hosting the M2 Chip, and the massive dual fans at the top exhaust all that hot air at the back. Whereas the Mac Mini has a teeny-tiny heatsink that just gets the job done.

I should also mention that the build quality of these Macs is just absolutely incredible. There’s just no denying the fact that Apple makes some of the best hardware in the market, milled in a single block of CNC aluminum. These things look and feel gorgeous. There’s just something about Apple products that exudes a sense of sophistication and minimalistic aesthetic. The Mac Studio takes the same amount of space as the Mac Mini did when I was testing that, so I like that consistency factor.

Read More: M2 MacBook Air Review 9 Month Later

Mac Studio M2 Ultra vs Mac Mini M2 Pro Ports

M2 Ultra Mac Studio Ports

The other thing I should mention is that with the Mac Studio, you get access to a few more ports, but it isn’t that much more compared to the M2 Pro Mac Mini. At the back, the layout is pretty much the same with two USB Type-A ports, audio output, HDMI that can drive up to 8K at 60 hertz or 4K at 240 hertz, four Thunderbolt 4 ports, and an RJ45 port. An the Mac Studio, by default, comes with a 10g port, but that can be added to the Mac Mini for an extra hundred dollars.

Now, a thoughtful integration into the Mac Studio is the built-in SDXD card reader at the front and a few more Thunderbolt 4 ports. This just makes it easier to transfer footage from my camera to this Mac without looking around for adapters. And I guess if you’re in a studio environment, it’s a huge bonus, except if you’re using media forms like CF Express, then you’re out of luck. I should also mention that for some reason, Apple is still using USB 3.2 Gen 1, 5 gigabits per second, instead of Gen 2, 10 gigabits per second.

Mac Studio M2 Ultra vs Mac Mini M2 Pro Performance

M2 Ultra Mack Studio vs M2 Pro Mac Mini Performance

I’m excited to share with you guys, and that is the performance. Now, obviously, this Mac Studio will overtake this Mac Mini in almost every test, but the question is by how much? Considering you can buy four of these Mac Minis for the price of this specked-out Mac Studio.

3D Rendering

CoresMac Mini
M2 Pro | 16GB Ram | 1TB SSD
Mac Studio
M2 Ultra | 192 GB Ram | 8TB SSD
10 Minute Stress test
Mac Mini M2 Pro vs Mac Studio M2 Ultra CINEBENCH R23 Score

The M2 Ultra can deliver almost double the performance of the M2 Pro, and that makes sense considering how well they have scaled this architecture. I was hoping for slightly better single-core results, but needless to say, things are off to a pretty good start.

Mac Mini
M2 Pro | 16GB Ram | 1TB SSD
Mac Studio
M2 Ultra | 192 GB Ram | 8TB SSD
BMW Scene2 Min 21 Sec1 Min 14 Second
Classroom Scene5 Min 42 Sec2 Min 48 Second
Mac Mini M2 Pro vs Studio M2 Ultra Blender Score

Then we have Blender, where I took two of these standard benchmarking scenes, and as you can see, the M2 Ultra takes half the time of the M2 Pro to complete those tasks. that might not sound like a lot, but in reality, time is money, especially for professionals who rely on these machines to get their work done.

Mac Mini
M2 Pro | 16GB Ram | 1TB SSD
Mac Studio
M2 Ultra | 192 GB Ram | 8TB SSD
Grain Test File Render
5 Min 29 Sec3 Min 32 Second
AutoDesk Maya
Arnold Render Benchmark
20 Min 46 Sec7 Min 48 Second
Mac Mini M2 Pro vs Studio M2 Ultra 3D Rendering Score

And I testing out Houdini and Autodesk Maya. These are some of the industry-leading 3D modeling and VFX applications, and this is where you really start to see Apple unleashing the true processing power of the M2 Ultra. Keep in mind that these tests involve simulating complex visual effects, and while they do run flawlessly in real-time, the render time with Autodesk Maya is absolutely insane on the Mac Studio. The difference is almost night and day. So if you’re into that sort of work, the Mac Studio with the M2 Ultra is looking like a viable option.

Photo and Video Editing

Mac Mini
M2 Pro | 16GB Ram | 1TB SSD
Mac Studio
M2 Ultra | 192 GB Ram | 8TB SSD
Adobe Lightroom
100 Raw .CR3 to JPEG Export
54 Seconds19 Seconds
Mac Mini M2 Pro vs Studio M2 Ultra Photo Editing

Now, what about photo editing? Well, once again, the M2 Ultra loves to keep impressed. The Ultra exported 100 RAW files of JPEG input quality taken from my Canon EOS R in less than 20 seconds. I’ve never witnessed anything that’s faster than this.

Mac Mini
M2 Pro | 16GB Ram | 1TB SSD
Mac Studio
M2 Ultra | 192 GB Ram | 8TB SSD
Adobe Premiere
13 min 4k .mp4 to 4k H.264
8 min 35 sec2 min 30 sec
Davinci Resolve Studio
10 min 4k .mp4 to 4k H.265 Export
3 min 14 sec2 min 17 sec
4k .mp4 to 1080p .mkv Conversion
5 min 14 sec2 min 52 Ssec
Mac Mini M2 Pro vs Mac Studio M2 Ultra Video Editing + Transcoding

Moving on to video editing and transcoding performance. If you’re deeply invested in the Adobe ecosystem, this Mac Studio with the M2 Ultra is the ultimate workhorse for your needs. 4K playback performance is buttery smooth, and rendering complex timelines is a piece of cake. There’s just no competition in this form factor. The CPU, and the GPU, built-in media encoder, all work in conjunction to give you a smooth editing experience, no matter how complex your timeline looks. I was hoping for better results with DaVinci Resolve Studio because a minute of difference between the M2 Pro and the M2 Ultra isn’t all that much, considering the seven thousand dollar price difference. The ROI is just not there for this particular application. Finally, I wanted to quickly breeze over.

SSD Performance

Mac Mini
M2 Pro | 16GB Ram | 1TB SSD
Mac Studio
M2 Ultra | 192 GB Ram | 8TB SSD
Amorphous DiskMark
6437 / 63097130 / 7950
AJA Test
5K RED | 64Gb File Size | 10bit YUV
4884 / 38656392 / 6546
Mini M2 Pro vs Mac Studio M2 Ultra SDD Performance (read/write)

The built-in SSDs. The eight terabyte drive inside this Mac Studio delivers respectable read and write performance. Though I was hoping for Apple to implement a Gen 5 SSD for almost double the bandwidth that you see here. But I think this is more of an architectural limitation than anything else. Maybe we’ll see that with the M3 that brings that to the horizon.

Fan Noise, Surface Temperatures, and Power Draw

M2 Ultra Studio vs M2 Pro Mac Mini Surface Temperatures

If you’re wondering about fan noise, well, both these Macs are incredibly silent, even under longer and heavier workloads. I honestly didn’t hear anything other than my six terabyte spinning hard drive sitting right next to it. And the surface temperatures are even impressive. It got barely warm to the touch. I was also curious to see what kind of power draw I was on the M2 Ultra, and to my surprise, it takes about twice the amount of power as the M2 Pro at 100 watts under heavier workloads. Love power consumption is the same on both these Macs, and that just goes to show the exceptional power efficiency of these chips. We’ve seen that on laptops, and the same story applies to their desktop lineup.

Final Thought

If you’re wondering how much faster the M2 Ultra is compared to the M2 Pro, it’s very dependent on the type of application. I saw huge benefits in Adobe Lightroom, Premiere Pro, Autodesk Maya, and Houdini. And while there’s a small difference in gaming performance, I didn’t really have any expectations because this isn’t necessarily what these Macs are made for.

Now, I’m sure you wondering, should you get this Mac Studio? if you have the budget for it and you’re a content creator, a studio owner, or someone who’s just looking to get the best of the best, then absolutely, Mac Studio is worth the investment. It’s got the power, the performance, the build quality, the aesthetics, and everything else that you would expect from a premium Apple product. On the other hand, if you’re on a tighter budget, but you still want excellent performance, then the M2 Pro Mac Mini is still an incredible option. It’s a fraction of the price, it’s compact, and it’s powerful. It’s perfect for someone who needs a reliable machine for their work.

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