The all-new Mac Studio is Apple’s most powerful standalone silicon desktop computer, surpassing the entry-level Mac mini powered by the M1 that Apple launched in November 2020.
Mac Studio starts at $1,999, making a starting price of $699 for the silicon-based Apple Mac mini. Do you need the latest Mac version, or is the humble Mac mini enough for your needs? Our guide helps answer the question of how to decide which of these two desktop Mac computers is best for you.
Comparison between Mac mini and Mac Studio
Mac mini and Mac Studio share some basic features, including a silver aluminum design, silicon Apple chips, and two rear USB-A ports. Apple lists these same features for the two devices:
- Apple M1 chip
- 16-core neural engine
- HDMI port supports multi-channel audio output
- 2 USB-A ports
- 10Gb 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 have a much larger contrast than they do in common, including different chips, memory capacities, ports, and external display capabilities.
- M1 شريحة chip
- Octa core processor
- Octa-core GPU
- Unified memory up to 16GB
- Storage capacity up to 2 TB
- 2 Thunderbolt / USB 4
- 3.5 mm headphone jack
- Support one screen up to 6K and one screen up to 4K
- Starting at $699
- M1 Max chip or M1 Ultra . chip
- Up to 20 CPU cores
- Up to 64 GPU cores
- Unified memory up to 128GB
- Storage capacity up to 8TB
- Media engine with two video decoding engines, up to four video decoding engines, up to four ProRes encoding and decoding engines
- Up to six Thunderbolt 4 ports
- 3.5mm headphone jack with support for high-impedance headphones
- Support for up to four Pro Display XDR displays and one 4K display
- SDXC Card Slot (UHS-II)
- Starting at $199
How about an intel mac mini?
Apple continues to sell its older Intel-based Mac mini, starting at $1,099. This high-end Mac mini model features two additional Thunderbolt ports, up to a 6-core Intel Core i7 processor with Intel UHD Graphics 630, up to 64GB of memory, and support for up to three 4K displays or one 5K display and one 4K display. Its boundaries are also demarcated by the gray space enclosure.
Although theoretically a high-end Mac mini, it is an obsolete model of 2018 and is often overtaken by the M1 chip in the Mac mini. Unless you definitely need more Thunderbolt ports, more memory, the ability to connect to additional external monitors, or have a specific need for an Intel-based system, you should buy the M1 model.
M1 Mac mini is a more modern device and would be the best choice for the vast majority of users. Not only is the M1 “Mac Mini” significantly more powerful in practice, it’s also less expensive than its Intel predecessor.
Being an older Intel-based device, the high-end Mac mini doesn’t compare directly to the Mac Studio, and any potential customers who trust that they need more Thunderbolt ports, more memory, or the ability to connect to additional external monitors would be much better than buying a “Mac” Studio” if they can afford it.
In general, it is clear that “Mac mini” and “Mac Studio” are two completely different devices intended for different customer bases. To some extent, buying decisions should be driven by budget, but it’s worth bearing in mind that any savings on the desktop computer itself can be put into a good external monitor like the Apple Studio Display, which starts at $1,599. For example, a “Mac mini” paired with a Studio display comes in at $2,298, which is only $300 more than the only base model “Mac Studio” without a display.
You shouldn’t consider “Mac Studio” unless you have a professional workflow that can take advantage of the extreme power of the M1 Max or M1 Ultra, as well as a wide selection of ports. If you need Mac Studio, you will probably know that you are looking for a very powerful hardware capable of supporting an extensive workflow.
For some workflows, the ability to upgrade your Mac mini to up to 16GB of memory, up to 2TB of storage, and 10GbE can make it a capable machine. This might be a good option for professionals or “product consumers” who have special needs or can’t extend their reach to Mac Studio. However, Mac Studio has more potential, which makes it a better option in the long run if you can afford it.
For most users, the M1 Mac mini is still a powerful and versatile machine that can handle all but the most intense tasks. It still has useful ports like USB-A and Ethernet, which are absent from Apple’s laptops, and has excellent performance that outperforms the M1 MacBook Air or the M1 MacBook Pro.