- The Mac Studio is more expensive than the Mac Mini, but it also has more power and storage.
- The Mac Studio offers up to 64GB of unified memory with M1 Max or 128GB with M1 Ultra chip
- The Mac Mini offers up to 16GB of unified memory.
The Mac mini and Mac Studio desktop computers are both efficient machines that you can use for everything from editing videos and creating presentations to watching movies, hosting video calls, and powering through late-night gaming binges.
But one of these machines, the Mac Studio, comes with a significantly higher price tag. That higher price tag also brings considerably more power and storage space. How to decide between the mini and the Studio? It comes down to how much you are willing to spend on your desktop and how much power you need from your machine.
Mac Mini vs. Mac Studio: Side-by-Side Comparison
|Characteristic||Mac mini||Mac Studio|
|Price||Starts at $699||Starts at $1,999|
|Chip||M1 chip||M1 Max or M1 Ultra chip|
|CPU||8-core CPU||10-core CPU with M1 Max or 20-core CPU with M1 Ultra chip|
|GPU||8-core GPU||up to a 32-core GPU with M1 Max or up to a 64-core GPU with M1 Ultra chip|
|Storage||up to 16GB of unified memory||up to 64GB of unified memory with M1 Max or 128GB with M1 Ultra chip|
- Apple-designed M1 chip for a giant leap in CPU, GPU, and machine learning performance
- 8-core CPU packs up to 3x faster performance to fly through workflows quicker than ever*
- 8-core GPU with up to 6x faster graphics for graphics-intensive apps and games*
- 16-core Neural Engine for advanced machine learning
- 8GB of unified memory so everything you do is fast and fluid
Mac Mini vs. Mac Studio: What’s the Difference?
The big difference between the Mac Studio and Mac mini? It’s in the silicon chips that power these desktops.
The Mac mini is fueled by Apple’s M1 chip, a chip that when it was introduced earned headlines for its power. Because of this chip, the Mac mini has always performed like a bigger machine, one capable of faster speeds than its small size would indicate. Of course, Apple has since introduced more powerful chips. But the mini still boasts impressive processing speeds.
The Mac Studio boasts even more processing power, and can easily compete with some of Apple’s MacBook products. That’s because it is powered by the M1 Max chip, which provides a CPU performance that is 70% faster than that of the Mac mini.
The M1 chip of the Mac mini is an 8-core CPU. That provides processing speeds that are solid for most computer users. If you are using your desktop for basic gaming, watching movies, surfing social media, writing reports, and creating presentations, the Mac mini should have more than enough processing speed.
The Mac Studio’s M1 Max chip is a 10-core CPU. But that’s just for the Studio’s base model. You can upgrade to a Mac Studio powered by the 20-core M1 Ultra chip. The Ultra chip is made up of two M1 Max chips connected together. The software recognizes these combined chips as one single unit.
Apple has yet to compare the performance of the M1 Ultra to the CPU performance of the M1-powered mini. But a Mac Studio fueled by the M1 Ultra chip should provide twice the CPU performance of the base Mac Studio version.
It’s clear that the Mac Studio, in either version, boasts more processing power than the Mac mini. You’ll have to determine, though, if you need this extra power. The Mac Studio is targeted toward professionals who need extra power for photo and video editing, illustrating, and other creative uses. This makes the Studio a bit of a niche product: This desktop provides more processing power than most users will need.
How important is the graphics performance of your desktop? If you consider it essential that your machine delivers the crispest graphics, the Mac Studio might make sense. If you’re a more casual gamer and user, though, the graphics performance of the Mac mini is probably enough.
According to Apple, the M1 Max chip in the basic Mac Studio delivers GPU performance that is four times as powerful as you’d get in the mini with its standard M1 chip. And if you’re really into graphics performance? You can upgrade to the Mac Studio with the M1 Ultra chip. Apple says that the GPU performance of this Studio model will deliver GPU performance that is eight times faster than what you’d get with the mini.
Again, though, the question is whether you need this performance. The Studio, remember, is targeted at creative professionals who need their desktops for intense video and illustration needs. If you are such a professional, you might consider investing in the Mac Studio with the M1 Max chip. The Studio with the M1 Ultra chip is probably only necessary for those pros tackling the most advanced video and design work.
How much RAM do you need with your Mac? That again depends on how you use your machine.
The base M1 Mac mini comes with 8GB of unified memory, pretty good for its price point. You can boost the mini’s memory, though, by configuring it with 16GB of RAM. Paying for this upgrade makes sense if you are constantly running several programs at once. The increased RAM will keep your desktop from clogging even if you forget to close all those programs you’re running in the background.
The Mac Studio boasts even more memory. The base model comes with 32GB of unified memory, which should be more than adequate for all but the most intensive of users. If you need the maximum amount of memory, you can upgrade your Mac Studio so that it boasts an impressive 128GB of unified memory. Do you need that much memory? Most users won’t. But if you do, the option is there.
Are you frequently transferring files to your desktop? Are some of these files large? The Mac Studio could be a wise investment.
This isn’t to say that the Mac mini lacks transfer options. The mini comes with two USB 4 ports and a pair of USB-A ports. The drawback here? The mini’s USB 4 ports support the Thunderbolt 3 transfer standard. That standard is a bit outdated today, with faster options available to users seeking more speed when transferring files.
One such option? You can find it with the Mac Studio. The base version of the Studio comes with four USB 4 ports that are enabled with the Thunderbolt 4 transfer option. As that higher number should tell you, these USB 4 ports allow for faster file transfers.
The Mac Studio also comes with two USB-C ports and two USB-A ports. As usual, you’ll get more if you upgrade to the Mac Studio with the M1 Ultra chip. With this version of the Studio, you’ll get six USB 4 ports enabled with Thunderbolt 4 and two USB-A ports.
Both the Studio and mini come with HDMI and Ethernet ports, too. The mini supports Gigabit LAN. The Studio, though, supports speeds of 10 Gigabits. The Studio also comes with an SDXC card slot for you. This feature makes it easier to transfer videos and photos to your machine.
If you want multiple displays with your desktop, both the mini and Studio have options. With the mini, you can connect a 6K ProDisplay XDR and a 4K monitor at the same time. If that’s not enough? With the Studio, you can connect four 6K displays and a 4K monitor at the same time.
One more key feature to consider? Price. The Mac mini is the clear winner here, coming in with a starting price point of just $699. The Mac Studio starts at a higher $1,999.
You shouldn’t base your buying decision on price alone, though. You will get more speed, better performance, and more graphics power with the Mac Studio. You’ll just have to determine if the higher price tag is worth the better performance.
- Apple M1 Max or M1 Ultra chip for a giant leap in CPU, GPU, and machine learning performance
- Up to 20-core CPU packs up to 3.8x faster performance to push the boundaries of what’s possible on Mac
- Up to 64-core GPU with up to 4.5x faster performance for graphics-intensive pro workflows like 3D rendering
- Up to 32-core Neural Engine for advanced machine learning
- Up to 128GB of unified memory makes everything you do fast and fluid
Mac Minis vs. Mac Studio: Need-to-Know Facts
- Both of these desktops are relatively new, with Apple introducing the Mac mini in 2020 and the Mac studio in 2022.
- Both desktops offer plenty of power for most users. The Mac Studio, though, features Apple’s more powerful M1 Max or MI Ultra chip, depending on the model you purchase. Not all users will need this enhanced power, but creative professionals specializing in illustration, video editing, and other tasks might prefer the Studio.
- The mini and Studio also offer enough graphics power for most users. The GPU speed of the Studio, though, is far more impressive than what you’ll get with the mini. The highest-end Mac Studio comes with a 64-core GPU, compared to the 8-core GPU that comes with the mini.
- Memory isn’t a problem for either the mini or Studio, either. The Mac Studio, though, comes with a maximum of 128GB of unified memory if you choose the highest-end model with the M1 Ultra chip. The mini offers a maximum of 16GB of unified memory.
- The mini is far more affordable, with a price tag of $699. The Mac Studio starts at a more budget-busting $1,999.
Mac mini vs. Mac Studio: Which one is better?
The Mac Studio and mini are both powerful and efficient desktops, both of which will serve the needs of most computer users. The difference? Power and price. The Mac Studio is a more powerful version of the mini, fueled by Apple’s newest chips. This means that the Studio boasts faster processing speeds, better graphics capabilities, and more memory.
The Studio, though, also costs significantly more, especially if you choose the model equipped with Apple’s M1 Ultra chip. The question? Do you need all the power that the Studio offers? Or is the lower-priced mini powerful enough for your needs? Unless you’re a professional working in the creative arts or some other field that requires intense video editing and digital illustration duties, the odds are that a mini will be machine enough for you.
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