Apple has finally completed its two-year transition to Apple silicon with the release of the new and upgraded Mac Pro with M2 Ultra. While it’s great to see that Mac Pro received an upgrade after almost four years, it makes the whole lineup of desktop-class Macs a little confusing, primarily due to the fact that the M2 Ultra is also available with the upgraded Mac Studio.
If you’re looking forward to buying a new Mac but can’t decide between the two, I can help you make an informed decision. Below I have put together an in-depth comparison comparing the M2 Ultra Mac Studio with the Mac Pro 2023 to find out which one’s the better choice for you. So, let’s get to it!
M2 Ultra Mac Studio vs. Mac Pro 2023 – Design and form factor
In terms of their design, both the M2 Ultra Mac Studio and the Mac Pro 2023 look exactly the same as their predecessors, with solid chassis built out of machined aluminum.
The Mac Studio still looks like two Mac Minis stacked over each other, and the Mac Pro still looks like a glorified cheese grater.
The weird analogies aside, the M2 Ultra Mac Studio is a small, compact desktop computer that is 19.70 cm (7.7 inches) wide and 9.50 cm (3.7 inches) tall with a total weight of 3.62 kg (7.97 pounds). You can easily place it on a desk under your display or tuck it away in a corner.
The Mac Pro 2023, on the other hand, is a much larger machine that you can place over or under a desk. It measures 52.9 cm (20.8 inches) in height, 21.8 cm (8.58 inches) in width, and 45 cm (17.7 inches) in depth at a weight of 16.86 kg (37.2 pounds). Moreover, you can also opt for a server-mounted configuration that offers similar dimensions but in a different form factor.
M2 Ultra Mac Studio vs. Mac Pro 2023 – Performance
Both the M2 Ultra Mac Studio and Mac Pro 2023 significantly outperform their predecessors.
However, you get similar performance across the board when you compare them against each other. If we ignore the M2 Max Mac Studio, both the new Macs offer the same variants of M2 Ultra with a 24-core CPU, 76-core or 60-core GPU, and a 32-core Neural Engine.
Apple says that the 24-core CPU found inside the M2 Ultra consists of 16 high-performance cores and 8 high-efficiency cores that deliver up to 20 percent faster performance than M1 Ultra. Meanwhile, the GPU cores boast up to 30 percent performance gains compared to the M1 Ultra.
As far as the memory is concerned, the M2 Ultra now supports up to 192GB of Unified memory compared to 128GB on the M1 Ultra while still delivering a bandwidth of 800GB/s. Moreover, the upgraded media engine in M2 Ultra supports up to 22 streams of 8K ProRes 422 video versus 18 on the M1 Ultra.
M2 Ultra Mac Studio vs. Mac Pro 2023 – Ports and connectivity
The M2 Ultra Mac Studio comes equipped with four Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB-A ports alongside a single HDMI, and a 10 Gigabit Ethernet port on the rear. Meanwhile, there are two additional Thunderbolt 4 ports on the front, alongside an SDXC slot, to ensure that all your connectivity needs are met.
For those in need of even more ports, the Apple silicon Mac Pro offers eight Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB-A ports, and two HDMI ports, along with dual 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports and Wi-Fi 6E for super-fast networking. Moreover, the Mac Pro has seven PCIe Gen 4 slots to further expand the I/O.
Regardless of which device you choose, both the M2 Ultra Mac Studio and the Mac Pro 2023 support up to eight 4K displays, six 6K displays, or three 8K displays. This makes either Mac ideal for running a multi-monitor setup.
M2 Ultra Mac Studio vs. Mac Pro 2023 – Upgradability
From an upgradability standpoint, the Mac Pro 2023 is a better choice on paper thanks to its PCIe slots for add-in boards and the ability to upgrade the storage down the line with SSD upgrade kits offered by Apple. However, on the downside, the prices of these upgrade kits are outrageously high.
Furthermore, just like the Mac Studio, the Mac Pro now comes with unified memory that’s integrated into the M2 Ultra. This means there’s no scope for upgrading the RAM down the line, and you’ll be stuck with what you get at the time of purchase.
As far as the upgradability of the M2 Ultra Mac Studio is concerned, you’ll again have to live with the specs you configured at the time of its purchase with zero scopes for upgrades down the line. While you can still access and unscrew the SSDs, Apple doesn’t offer any SSD upgrade kits for them.
M2 Ultra Mac Studio vs. Mac Pro 2023 – Pricing
The Mac Studio is a great option for those who want value for their money. The base M2 Ultra Mac Studio with 24-core CPU, 60-core GPU, and 32-core Neural Engine, along with 64GB of Unified memory and 1TB SSD, is available for $3,999. Whereas a maxed-out M2 Ultra Mac Studio with a 76-core GPU, 192GB of Unified memory, and 8TB SSD storage is available for $8,799.
In comparison, the base Apple silicon Mac Pro that offers the same specs as the base M2 Ultra Mac Studio, including the 24-core CPU, 60-core GPU, 64GB of Unified memory, and 1TB SSD, starts at a much higher price point of $6,999. Meanwhile, the highest-end variant, with the 76-core GPU, 192GB of Unified memory, and 8TB SSD storage, is priced at $11,999.
It’s worth noting that the Mac Pro comes with a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and either a Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad, while these accessories need to be purchased separately for the Mac Studio. Even then, the base model of the Mac Pro is more expensive than a maxed-out Mac Studio.
It can be overwhelming to wrap your head around the pricing of each and every possible configuration. Therefore, I suggest taking a look at the spec configurator available at apple.com to get a better idea of their pricing.
M2 Ultra Mac Studio vs. Mac Pro 2023 – Which one should you buy?
All things considered, both the new Mac Studio and Mac Pro 2023 are excellent choices of Macs for professionals who need the computing power offered by the M2 Ultra. But, if I had to recommend a Mac to anyone, I would easily recommend the M2 Ultra Mac Studio any day over the Mac Pro 2023.
For what it’s worth, the M2 Ultra Mac Studio has everything that you would look for in a powerful Mac that can fly through almost any task you throw at it. Plus, you won’t be missing out on any performance because both Macs have the same powerful M2 Ultra at its core.
On the other hand, the Mac Pro 2023 does offer more ports, support for PCIe Gen 4, and scope for upgradability, but the higher price for these features is not justifiable. Yes, the PCIe slots can be useful for pro users, but it’s a niche use case that won’t affect regular users who just want a very powerful Mac.
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