The all-new Mac Studio is Apple’s most powerful custom silicon standalone desktop computer, surpassing the entry-level M1-based Mac Mini that Apple launched in November 2020.
The Mac Studio starts at $1,999, which lowers the $699 starting price of the Apple silicon-based Mac mini, so whether you need the latest high-end Mac, or is the humble Mac mini good enough for your needs ? Our guide helps answer that question, how to decide which of these desktop Macs is best for you.
Mac Mini and Mac Studio Comparison
The Mac Mini and Mac Studio share some basic features, including a silver aluminum design, Apple Silicon chipset, and two rear USB-A ports. Apple lists similar features of the two devices:
- Apple M1-series chip
- 16-core neural engine
- HDMI port supports multichannel audio output
- two USB-A ports
- 10 Gb Ethernet (optional on Mac Mini)
- 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0
- built in speaker
- silver aluminum design
Although these Macs share some features, the two machines have a lot more in common, including different chips, memory capacities, ports, and external display capabilities.
- M1 chip
- 8-core CPU
- 8-core GPU
- up to 16GB of integrated memory
- up to 2TB storage
- Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 Ports
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- Support for one display up to 6K and one display up to 4K
- $699. starts with
- M1 Max Chip or M1 Ultra Chip
- up to 20-core CPU
- up to 64-core GPU
- up to 128GB of integrated memory
- Storage up to 8TB
- Media engine with two video decode engines, up to four video encode engines, and up to four ProRes encode and decode engines
- Up to six Thunderbolt 4 ports
- 3.5mm headphone jack with support for high-impedance headphones
- Support for up to four Pro Display XDRs and a 4K display
- SDXC Card Slot (UHS-II)
- Starts at $1,999
What about Intel Mac Mini?
Apple continues to sell its older, Intel-based Mac Mini starting at $1,099. This high-end Mac mini model has two additional Thunderbolt ports, up to a six-core Intel Core i7 processor, with Intel UHD Graphics 630, up to 64GB of memory, and support for three 4K displays or one 5K display and one 4K display . , It is also demarcated by its space gray enclosure.
While in theory the Mac Mini is a high-end model, it is effectively an aging 2018 model and is often overtaken by the M1 chip in the Mac Mini. Unless you definitely have more Thunderbolt ports, more memory, the ability to connect to additional external displays, or have a specific need for Intel-based systems, you should buy the M1h model.
The M1 Mac Mini is a more modern device that would be the best option for most users. Not only is the M1 Mac mini clearly more powerful in practice, but it’s also far less expensive than its predecessor, the Intel.
As an older Intel-based machine, the high-end Mac Mini doesn’t compare directly to the Mac Studio, and any potential customers who are convinced they need to connect to more Thunderbolt ports, more memory, or additional external displays can’t afford the Mac Mini. capacity will be required. Better to buy mac studio if they can afford it.
Overall, it’s clear that the Mac Mini and Mac Studio are very different machines for different customer bases. In part, purchasing decisions should be driven by budget, but it’s worth bearing in mind that any savings on a desktop computer can be put toward a good external display like the Apple Studio Display, which starts at $1,599. For example, the Mac Mini paired with the Studio display comes in at $2,298, which is just $300 more than the base model Mac Studio alone with no display.
You should only consider Mac Studio if you have a professional workflow that can take advantage of the sheer power of the M1 Max or M1 Ultra, as well as its wide selection of ports. If you need ‘Mac Studio’, you’ll know you’re looking for a highly powerful machine capable of supporting an intensive workflow.
For some workflows, the ability to upgrade the Mac Mini to 16GB of memory, up to 2TB of storage, and 10Gb of Ethernet can make this a very capable machine. This can be a good option for professionals or “chargers” who have specific needs or who can’t access Mac Studio. Still, Mac Studio has more potential, making it a better long-term option if you can afford it.
For most users, the M1 Mac Mini is still a powerful and versatile machine that can tackle all but the most intense tasks. It still has useful ports like USB-A and Ethernet, which are absent from Apple’s laptops, and boasts excellent performance that surpasses either the −1 MacBook Air or the −1 MacBook Pro.