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There's been some snark in the tech community lately about Apple products using the "Pro" naming convention a little too liberally. For example, the differences between the MacBook Air and Pro mostly come down to a fan that rarely gets used. That's why it's ironic that out of all the Apple products, the Mac Studio is the one that does not get the Pro branding. This machine, particularly the M2 Ultra version I'm testing, is for real creative pros, like producers at NBC who have been using a 2022 Mac Studio to create Saturday Night Live intros every week for the past year, or Los Angeles-based Air Studio, which uses the same computer to mix Hollywood movie soundtracks.

For me, an online writer and small-time YouTuber, there's nothing I do that will even use half of this machine's power. The videos I edit usually use up to four 4K/30 tracks, but the M2 Ultra Mac Studio is capable of running 22 streams of 8K footage simultaneously. It's absolute overkill for most people. But I suppose if the Mac Studio's price (starting at $2,000 for the M2 Max version or $4,000 for the M2 Ultra variant) is fine for you to spend, then why wouldn't you want more power? It never hurts to future-proof your computer purchase or give yourself significant overhead room.

Realistically speaking, if you do care about saving money when you can, you're probably better off just getting a M2 Pro or Max MacBook Pro. It'll likely be powerful enough for you unless you're one of those aforementioned true creative professionals, and it works fine as a desk-bound machine or on the go.

The 2023 Mac Studio is Apple's second-gen product in this line. There was a Mac Studio released last year, which our editor-in-chief Rich Woods gave high marks.

About this review: Apple loaned me the M2 Ultra Mac Studio for review. Apple did not have input on this article.

Apple Mac Studio (2023)
For real pros
9 / 10

The 2023 Mac Studio with either M2 Max or M2 Ultra is Apple's second most powerful computer behind only the Mac Pro. Its smaller size and lower price make it arguably a better option than the latter. 

32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 192GB
30-38-core GPU (M2 Max); 60-76-core GPU (M2 Ultra)
Apple M2 Max (12-core CPU with 8 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores), Apple M2 Ultra (24-core CPU with 16 performance cores and 8 efficiency cores)
512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB PCIe SSD
6x USB-C (Thunderbolt 4), 1x HDMI, 1x cloverleaf power, 1x 10Gb ethernet, 2x USB 3.1 Gen 2, 1x 3.5mm headphone port, 1x SD card reader
3.7 x 7.7 x 7.7 inches (9.5 x 19.7 x 19.7cm)
10Gb Ethernet, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3
  • Beautiful, minimal design
  • Extremely efficient and powerful
  • Lots of ports
  • Internal components ar enot upgradeable
  • Pricey compared to similarly powered Windows machines
  • Lacks the portability of a MacBook Pro

Design and hardware

Beautiful outside, powerful inside

Mac Studio with M2 Ultra

The Mac Studio's hardware is typically Apple. It's minimal yet stylish, with a unibody aluminum casing without obvious seams. The only moving part (on the outside) is the clickable power button. Otherwise, the Mac Studio, standing at 3.7 inches tall with a 7.7-inch circumference and weighing 7.9 pounds, is a dense and curvy block. It felt big and chunky for someone like me who uses almost exclusively portable computers, but once I remembered this is a desk-bound computer, that has more power than 99% of personal computers in the real world, it's actually impressively petite.

Mac Studio with M2 Ultra weighs 7.7lbs

Most Apple products are lacking in ports, but the Mac Studio is thankfully not one of them. It offers six USB-C ports, all Thunderbolt 4, a pair of USB-A ports, an HDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack, 10GB Ethernet port, and an SD card slot. The card slot and two of the four USB-C ports are located on the front of the machine, which is great. I remember being frustrated at using the iMac and needing to reach behind it to plug in cables. Little touches show off Apple's impeccable hardware craftsmanship, like the way some of the 2,000-plus perforations (aka tiny holes) in the back for ventilation actually curve around the corners.


Inside, the machine packs speakers, a large thermal system, memory, SSD, and the Apple Silicon of your choice. I got an almost completely highest-tier model, with the M2 Ultra chip and 128GB of unified memory, a 24-core CPU, a 76-core GPU, and 4TB of storage that retails for $6,800. There's room for more memory and storage (up to 198GB unified memory and 8TB of storage), which would bump this machine up to $8,800. For comparison: the base model with M2 Max that's priced at $2,000 comes with 32GB of unified memory, 512GB of storage, and a 12-core CPU and 16-core GPU.

Mac Studio plugged into a Pro Display XDR
Mac Studio plugged into a Pro Display XDR

The Mac Studio does not work on its own — you need to plug it into at least a screen and one input device. The M2 Ultra machine supports up to two separate 8K displays or eight 4K screens at the same time. For testing, I was only able to plug it into a 5K Apple Pro Display XDR, but I have seen in person the Mac Studio outputting content to two 8K displays at once and running smoothly.


Fast, furious, efficient


To be honest, when Apple offered this machine for me to test, I almost turned it down and asked for the 15-inch MacBook Air instead. I just wasn't sure how I could test it, since I lack the skills to take advantage of all its capabilities. I don't know how to create 3D graphics, I don't shoot 8K video footage, and I have no knowledge of making digital music.

My main job duties include typing words into a content management system, touching up photos in Adobe Lightroom, and participating in video calls. For my side hustle, I run a small YouTube channel where I film and edit all footage. My videos are definitely better than amateur quality, but I wouldn't call them highly cinematic professional work either. I only color grade my footage sometimes, I don't do any audio mixing, and I shoot exclusively in 4K/30FPS. For all my work, the M2 Max MacBook has been more than enough. I can rarely even get that machine's fans to turn on.

So how can I possibly push this machine? I suppose I shouldn't be so hard on myself, because I am pretty sure most tech reviewers for online publications also don't do enough to push this machine.

So here's what I did. I ran benchmarks, of course. And I did my usual 8K video export test using footage I shot just for these types of tests. I scrubbed through the timeline with the 8K footage to see if there's any lag. Then I played Resident Evil Village with Metal Performance HUD enabled to track framerates per second. The Mac Studio scored high marks in all of them.

Benchmark scores

Geekbench 6



Mac Studio with M2 Ultra (2023)

1,914 (single-core); 18,609 (multi-core)

1,743 (single-core); 28,730 (multi-core)


Mac Studio with M1 Ultra (2022)

Did not test

1,894 (single-core); 24,095 (multi-core)

Did not test

MacBook Pro with M2 Max

2,770 (single-core); 14,451 (multi-core)

1,645 (single-core); 14,751 (multi-core)


Just like with the M1 Ultra Mac Studio, the clear benefit of the M2 Ultra is multithread performance, and the multi-core numbers are very impressive. It's worth noting the M2 Ultra isn't a big step up from the M1 Ultra, but even that chip was so powerful to be only for 1% of users, according to XDA's editor-in-chief Rich Woods. For gaming, I tested Resident Evil Village, which was optimized for Apple silicon. Playing at the highest graphical setting and with Metal FX turned on (Apple's API to optimize GPU performance), the game's framerate hovered over 130FPS most of the time, and only dipped into the 80s during more intense scenes. I am not sure whether Apple can ever catch up to Windows in terms of gaming, but Apple's definitely making a push at getting some AAA titles to run natively on the Mac, though they'd need to do better than bring over years-old titles.

For my 8K video test, I put four 60-second long 8K footage on a timeline and exported. Here's how the new Mac Studio fared. We can see that the M2 Ultra Mac Studio is crazy fast, particularly with Apple's own Final Cut Pro.

8K video export time

Final Cut Pro

Adobe Premiere Pro

Mac Studio with M2 Ultra (2023)



Mac Studio with M1 Ultra (2022)

Did not test


MacBook Pro with M2 Max



Once I finished trying to find ways to "test" the machine, I began using it as a normal work machine, and it's here where the machine impressed me the most. The 8K video export time was fast, but as I said, I don't shoot 8K footage, so I don't care. Instead, I was blown away by how fast the export times were for smaller videos. I exported one of my usual 12-minute 4K/30FPS videos in under two minutes. I made a 58-second vertical video for TikTok and Instagram, and Final Cut Pro rendered it in under six seconds. It happened so fast that I didn't know the job was finished, I thought I forgot to hit the right button to begin the export.

It's not just about power with Apple silicon, but efficiency too. Throughout any of my benchmark or video export tests, the Mac Studio's fan never turned on. Or at least, I didn't hear anything. I even placed a microphone next to the machine and didn't hear anything. The chassis remained cold to the touch for most of the testing, only getting a bit warm during Resident Evil Village gaming.


It's a Mac...

Mac Studio and MacBook Pro side by side

There's really not much to talk about with software, as the Mac Studio runs on the exact same macOS Ventura that's on most Macs right now. I am one of those rare people who prefer to use an Android phone but are all in on MacOS. The software here is obviously fast and lag-free, and I enjoy the little touches, like using my MacBook Pro as a secondary monitor of sorts thanks to Universal Control, which lets me bring my mouse cursor from the Mac Studio to the MacBook Pro. The fact that Apple knows whether the MacBook is on the Mac Studio's right or left side is impressive. There's also no setup, as long as both machines are connected to the same Wi-Fi and Apple account, Universal Control works.

I like that all my MacBook home screen files carried over to the Mac Studio home screen too due to iCloud. I am excited to upgrade to macOS Sonoma when it becomes available and make use of the interactive widgets, especially since I have a much larger screen on my desktop than on a laptop.

Should you buy the Mac Studio (2023)?

Mac Studio with M2 ultra

You should buy the Mac Studio (2023) if:

  • You are a creative professional seeking a very powerful desk-bound machine
  • You're OK with the price
  • You're an Apple fan and want the best of what Apple has to offer

You should not buy the Mac Studio (2023) if:

  • You don't really do any type of creative work
  • You already own an M1 or M2 MacBook that can be plugged into a desk-bound monitor
  • You are a Windows person
  • You care about getting the best value

You'll notice that this is the rare "good review" of a product that has more cons than pros. The reason is that the Mac Studio, particularly the M2 Ultra version, is just too powerful for most people. If your computer usage involves mostly typing words or web browsing (and that's majority of people), it's really hard to recommend — unless you really don't mind spending the money. If the idea of paying anywhere between $3,000–$8,000 is not a big deal, then by all means, get this machine and you won't have to worry about slow computer performance for at least a good six or seven years.

The only other group of people I'd recommend getting this are, again, the actual creative professionals, or those aspiring to be. If you make 3D graphics, create professional music, or cut feature-length films, then this is the machine for you. Other people who aren't particularly rich or creative pros should just get the 15-inch MacBook Air with M2 or the M2 Pro MacBook Pro instead. Either of those machines will serve you well, and they can be desk-bound machines just fine.

Apple Mac Studio (2023)
For real pros

The 2023 Mac Studio with either M2 Max or M2 Ultra is Apple's second most powerful computer behind only the Mac Pro. Its smaller size and lower price make it arguably a better option than the latter.