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M1 Mac Studio. Is it really that good?

In the last couple of years, Apple has been issuing one big announcement after another making the computer world super excited. In March 2022 they introduced a new Studio Mac with M1 Ultra on board. That has challenged other players on the market and raised the bar even higher.

Why M1 Ultra is different? 

The ‌M1‌ Ultra is essentially two ‌M1 Max‌ chips that have been connected together very nicely which allowed to minimize cross-talk performance losses. It doesn’t double the performance of the ‌M1 Max‌, but Apple is getting very close to that goal.

In addition to the 20-core CPU, there is also a 64-core GPU. There are two things we are most excited about with this GPU. First, the 128GB amount of memory available for GPU operations is huge. The best that discrete GPUs can offer today is 48GB, and that is only in the high-end professional segment. Second, sending input data to GPU cores and collecting results from GPU are not limited by PCIe throughput, but occur at much higher speeds thanks to unified M1 memory.

New Mac Studio compared to other top hardware

If you consider the price, size, noise, and power consumption, the speed M1 Ultra can achieve is simply impressive. It has made it into our top 5 performers in both CPU and GPU charts. A quick disclaimer: although we are trying to keep our ratings sufficiently representative and test many popular chips, we are unable to test every CPU and GPU in existence. With that in mind, M1 Ultra so far lost only to AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X in our CPU-only mode tests. The AMD chip costs $3,500 on its own, so by the time you build a whole desktop the costs will likely exceed $6,500, which is roughly $2,200 more expensive than a new Apple Studio computer with M1 Ultra.

CPU Best speed
(Frames/Sec)
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X 48.7
Apple Silicon M1 Ultra
(20-core CPU, 64-core GPU, RAM 128GB)
38.2
Intel Core i9-10980XE 33.8
Intel Xeon W-3245 31.3
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 27.8

GPU performance is also impressive but does not quite match NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 as was initially suggested by Apple. NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 is capable of rendering 67.1 FullHD frames per second (FPS), while M1 Ultra gives us 52 FPS. Again, keep in mind the cost of M1 Ultra and a desktop that would be capable of giving you those 67 FPS.

GPU Best speed
(Frames/Sec)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 67.1
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 59.7
AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT 58.9
Apple Silicon M1 Ultra
(20-core CPU, 64-core GPU, RAM 128GB)
52.0
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 42.9

M1 Ultra vs M1, M1 Pro and M1 Max computers

As Neat Video is capable of utilizing both CPU and GPU simultaneously in its calculations, we have also run another test and measured the combined speed of CPU and GPU in Neat Video filtration. We normally do not publish the results of such tests due to a huge number of possible CPU and GPU combinations. This argument, however, does not apply to M1 computers as they are shipped with fused CPU/GPU chips that cannot be replaced individually. So here we go:

FullHD test

  CPU
Best speed
(Frames/Sec)
GPU
Best speed
(Frames/Sec)
CPU+GPU
Best speed
(Frames/Sec)
Apple Silicon M1 Ultra
(20-core CPU, 64-core GPU, RAM 128GB)
38.2 52.056.0
Apple Silicon M1 Max
(CPU 10-core and GPU 32-core, RAM 34GB)
22.536.5 35.1
Apple Silicon M1 Pro
(CPU 10-core and GPU 16-core, RAM 16GB)
22.5 20.632.0
Apple Silicon M1
(CPU 8-core and GPU 8-core, RAM 8GB)
14.0 8.015.2

 

4K test

  CPU
Best speed
(Frames/Sec)
GPU
Best speed
(Frames/Sec)
CPU+GPU
Best speed
(Frames/Sec)
Apple Silicon M1 Ultra
(20-core CPU, 64-core GPU, RAM 128GB)
10.119.6 16.7
Apple Silicon M1 Max
(CPU 10-core and GPU 32-core, RAM 34GB)
5.76 10.711.6
Apple Silicon M1 Pro
(CPU 10-core and GPU 16-core, RAM 16GB)
5.6 4.88.3
Apple Silicon M1
(CPU 8-core and GPU 8-core, RAM 8GB)
3.5 1.83.7

Conclusion

Even though Mac has not yet been able to conquer the world as the fastest computer, it has definitely got very close with its new M1 Ultra. If your main video editing application is capable of working on macOS and you are looking for a new working horse, we would absolutely recommend considering Studio Mac with M1 Ultra. It’s small, efficient, quiet and, if you compare the performance to the price, not crazily expensive.