Hello, tech enthusiasts! You’ve come to the right place because I am about to save you time and money… and because time IS money, that really means you’ll be saving money-squared!
Today topic is Apple’s Mac Studio desktop computer launched in March of 2022 and I’m going to tell you 5 reasons you should NOT buy the Mac Studio.
What is the Mac Studio?
First, let’s briefly talk about what the Mac Studio is. The Mac Studio is a desktop computer that sits in between the Mac mini and the Mac Pro in Apple’s computer line-up. By launching the Studio Monitor alongside it, Apple is actually intending to replace the higher end 27-inch iMac line with the Mac Studio.
The Mac Studio comes in 2 flavors: one powered by the M1 Max chip that was first introduced in the 14” and 16” MacBook Pros, and one even more powerful version using the M1 Ultra chip, which is essentially 2 M1 Max chips fused together.
The M1 Max version has a 10-core CPU with a 24 or 32-core GPU, either 32GB or 64GB of memory, and between 512GB and 8TB of storage. The M1 Ultra version has a 20-core CPU with a 48 or 64-core GPU, 64GB or 128GB of memory, and between 1TB and 8TB of storage.
Both versions have a variety of ports on the back, including 4 Thunderbolt 4, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, 2 USB-A, 1 HDMI, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. On the front, there’s an SD card slot along with 2 USB-C ports for the M1 Max version or 2 more Thunderbolt 4 ports for the M1 Ultra version.
Alright, enough talk about specs, why should you NOT buy it?
1. You are not a content creator
The Mac Studio is a computer targeted for creative professionals, also known as content creators. According to statistics, there are about 50 million content creators in the world, which seems like a lot. Until you realize that there are 7.75 billion people in the world, which means that fewer than 1% are actually content creators. Therefore, you are probably not one of them, and the Mac Studio is not for you.
If you look at the specs, the Mac Studio comes in 2 primary flavors, running either the M1 Max chipset or the M1 Ultra, which is essentially 2 M1 Max chips put together. There is, unfortunately, no M1 Pro option like with the Macbook Pro 14” and 16” laptops.
That means the lowest configuration you can get is the M1 Max Mac Studio, which is also the higher configuration for the Macbook Pro. And let’s face it, you probably don’t need that much power.
2. It’s too expensive
The M1 Max version of the Mac Studio starts at $2000 USD while the M1 Ultra version starts at a whopping $4000. If you aren’t using it for business purposes, then this is simply way too much money. If there were an M1 Pro version offered at a more reasonable price, that COULD be a better value, but alas there is not.
3. It has an HDMI 2.0 port
Despite it being 2022, the Mac Studio’s HDMI port is ONLY HDMI 2.0 and not HDMI 2.1, which means you cannot hook it up to a 120Hz 4K TV like the popular LG C1 or C2 series and expect to get full resolution, high-refresh rate, HDR output. Unfortunately this seems to be true across the M1 Mac lineup, not just on the Mac Studio, but as a high-end desktop computer, this is a great disappointment.
Now in fairness, I should point out that you can get high refresh rate 4K monitors connected to M1 Macs using a USB-C to DisplayPort adapter, but most TVs don’t support DisplayPort, so the inability to do this over HDMI makes it a non-starter.
4. It has Wi-Fi 6, not 6E
Continuing on the path of not supporting the latest standards, the Mac Studio only has Wi-Fi 6 support and not Wi-Fi 6E. Regardless of if you think Wi-Fi 6E’s ability to operate on the 6 GHz spectrum is a significant advantage over Wi-Fi 6 or not, it just seems silly to not support the latest standard on a new product this expensive. So much for future-proofing.
5. It’s not silent at idle
The last reason also happens to be the most upsetting: the Mac Studio is way too noisy. And I’m not talking about when its at full load; many reports say it’s actually got a really good cooling system that keeps temperatures low without needing to spin up the fans much with heavy workloads.
The problem is the noise at idle. First off, for some unknown reason, Apple decided to have the default idle fan speed to be extremely audible at around 1300 rpm or so, despite the reported minimum allowed fan speed being 1100 rpm. You can use software like Macs Fan Control to set the fan speed that low, which helps a ton with the noise. But it doesn’t eliminate it completely.
What’s worse, there are many reports of electrical whine/noise as well, which fan control won’t be able to solve.
All of this is quite perplexing because Apple released the 14" and 16" Macbook Pros with M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, and they somehow managed to have them be completely silent at idle… in a laptop form factor! With less potentially cooling than a Mac Studio!
Sigh… I don’t know what else to say about this one.
What should you buy instead?
So what if you really gotta have a desktop Mac? What should you buy?
The answer is the Mac mini with M1 chip, or wait for the M2 chip. The Mac mini is great little machine that comes in a much better price point. The base version starts at $699 USD, but sales often bring it below $600. That means you can buy THREE Mac minis for the price of a single Mac Studio.
Sure, the Mac Studio has the M1 Max chip with a 10-core CPU, 24-core GPU, and a 16-core neural engine, but 3 M1 Mac minis come with a total of 24-cores of CPU, 24-cores of GPU, and 48-cores of neural engine goodness. How can you say no to that value?