Apple’s announcement of the M2 generation Mac Studio at WWDC in June basically makes the M2 Pro Mac mini they launched just 5 months ago in January almost completely pointless. Well, ok, not the base model, but if you were looking to get an upgraded M2 Pro mini, you should set your eyes on the Mac Studio instead. Here’s why.
M2 Pro Mac mini
The M2 Pro Mac mini starts at $1300. For that price, you get the M2 Pro chip with 10 CPU cores and 16 GPU cores, along with 16GB of memory and 512GB of storage. The M2 Max Mac Studio starts at the same $2000 price point as the M1 version did, this time giving you the M2 Max chip with 12 CPU cores and 30 GPU cores, 32GB of memory, and the same 512GB of storage.
I made a video previously predicting that the M2 Max Mac Studio could start as high as $2500, but should have had a minimum price of $2200. The logic wasn’t wrong, but Apple simply decided to drop their prices with the new Macs launched in June. We can see that from the M2 MacBook Air dropping by $100 as well to make the new 15-inch version start at a more reasonable price point.
Lower Prices without Lower Prices?
But wait, you say! How could Apple have dropped the price of the Mac Studio if it’s exactly the same price as the M1 version? The answer is it’s all relative, in this case, compared to the M2 Pro Mac mini.
Because the M2 Max Mac Studio didn’t exist when Apple launched the M2 Pro Mac mini, they priced it a a bit high, at least when you consider the upgrade pricing. However, it was still ok as the M2 Pro CPU performance outshined the M1 Max. Now, things have changed with the M2 Max Mac Studio, but Apple didn’t adjust the pricing of the mini to accommodate, which creates this awkward situation.
Mac mini Upgrade Pricing
You see, if we upgrade the M2 Pro mini’s 2 aspects that are clearly lower tier than the base Mac Studio, that would mean paying $300 extra for the M2 Pro chip with 12-core CPU and 19-core GPU, and $400 to go from 16GB to 32GB of unified memory. All of a sudden, the price is now the SAME as the Mac Studio at $2000.
Mac Studio Superiority
However, while you get the same amount of memory and storage, you clearly get a worse chip. The upgraded M2 Pro and base M2 Max both have 12 CPU cores, but the M2 Max has an extra 11 GPU cores!
And that’s not all! The M2 Max has double the memory bandwidth at 400GB/s compared to the M2 Pro’s 200GB/s. The Max’s media engine also has 2 video encoders versus just 1 on the M2 Pro.
Beyond the chip itself, the Mac Studio also has more and better ports. The backs of both machines are similarly configured, but the Studio has 10Gb Ethernet as standard, while it’s a $100 upgrade on the Mac mini. The front of the Mac mini is blank, while the Mac Studio has 2 additional USB-C ports and an SD card reader.
The M2 Pro mini had an advantage with an HDMI 2.1 port over the M1 Max Mac Studio that just had HDMI 2.0, but now that is no longer the case. In fact, the Studio supports up to 5 displays, compared with just 3 on the mini.
With Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 as well, the M2-generation Studio no longer has any of the previous weaknesses compared to the M2 Pro mini.
Value is Clear
Instead, for exactly the same price, going with the Mac Studio gets you all of this for FREE:
- M2 Max chip with 11 extra GPU cores, double the memory bandwidth, and double the video encoders
- Support for 2 extra displays
- 2 extra USB-C ports and an SD card reader
- A beefier cooling system that could keep the machine much quieter under load, at the cost of a taller case
Which one is a better value seems pretty clear cut. With the M2 Max Mac Studio, there is no reason to get an upgraded M2 Pro Mac mini anymore.
That last bonus of better cooling and silence under load is something I’ll be testing out once my base model Mac Studio arrives, so stay tuned! The original Mac Studio launched to many cries of being loud and issues like whining noises, so we’ll see if Apple has made improvements.