With the introduction of the Mac Studio, the overall Mac desktop has received a heave long hoped for past many Mac users. Apple now has four shipping desktop products: the Mac mini, the Mac Studio, the iMac, and the Mac Pro. In this article, we’ll explore how to choose which car is right for you.
To exist sure, Apple’s mobile Mac offerings in the grade of the
far outsell desktop Macs. If you’re in the market for a Mac laptop, one of those is the mode to become. But if y’all’re primarily using your estimator at your desk, you may non want to pay the extra price for the built-in Retina display, battery, trackpad, and keyboard.
That cost can be considerable. Accept, for example, the 16-inch MacBook Pro equipped with a 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU, 32GB unified retentivity, and 1TB SSD storage. That configuration lists for $3,499. The identically configured Mac Studio (which adds a 10Gb Ethernet port, one more Thunderbolt 4 port, two more USB C ports, and two USB A ports, but doesn’t accept the brandish, battery, keyboard, or trackpad) costs $two,399 — more than than a m dollars less expensive.
Migrating to M1 Macs: How I’m upgrading my small armada of older Apple desktops and laptops
I utilise both. I have an M1 MacBook Air which works great for basic day-to-day piece of work. But I use a desktop Intel Mac mini with a 38-inch monitor and three other 27-inch monitors connected to a ton of devices on my desk. That auto is never going anywhere, and I want information technology ready for my desk only right. And so a desktop machine is the platonic choice.
We’ll start past either choosing or eliminating the two easiest to narrate models: the iMac and Mac Pro.
Practise you want an all-in-one auto?
Apple’due south current iMac offering is a beautiful machine, offered in 7 gorgeous colors. When you buy it, you get a 24-inch 4.5K Retina display with the computer integrated into information technology.
But at that place are limits. The iMac no longer comes in a 27-inch version and while the 24-inch machine is quite lovely, information technology’s a relatively minor brandish for production work. Yep, you can add a second display, simply information technology kind of spoils the slim, color-counterbalanced aesthetic.
It’s also only bachelor with the base M1 processor, which means you max out on performance and only 16GB RAM. Equally for ports, the base model only has ii Thunderbolt three, only the slightly college terminate model comes with two Thunderbolt 3 and ii USB C ports. You tin also connect Ethernet through a jack mounted on the power dongle.
If you want simple, beautiful, functional, simply somewhat inflexible, the 24-inch iMac is a good choice. I had an older-model iMac for a long fourth dimension, but I constitute I outgrew the display before I outgrew the Mac within the display. You lot’ll need to make up one’s mind how long you can live with a modest 24-inch display.
Practice you want gobs of Intel power and are willing to pay big bucks for it?
So hither’s the thing. The writing is on the wall for the 2019 Mac Pro that’southward currently shipping. In Apple’s March 2022 event, the company said it had one more than motorcar to update, the Mac Pro, but said it was a topic for a future result. Obsolescence is conspicuously planned for this machine.
That said, there are things this Mac Pro does that naught else does. It’s the only remaining Mac with slots and bays. It’s the only Mac that tin calibration to ane.5TB(!) of RAM. Information technology’s the only Mac running Xeon processors, and only one of two running Intel processors. It’s the only Mac that can be ordered with rack mounting rail.
Only it’s also wildly expensive, ranging from a base of $half-dozen,000 to over $52,000 fully equipped (non counting the $400 wheels). And, at its Mac Studio launch event terminal week, Apple tree pointed out that the considerably less expensive Mac Studio outperforms the Mac Pro in a diverseness of benchmarks.
Introducing my design for an Apple Silicon-based Mac Pro
The only reason to buy the Mac Pro at present is if you lot already have Mac Pros in play and you need to keep running with the same solution stack. Basically, unless you already knew you lot needed a Mac Pro, and why, before reading this article, you shouldn’t buy a Mac Pro at this time. It’s better to wait and detect out what new hotness Apple has on tap.
Do you want a skilful, solid, basic auto that’due south generally under $one,000?
Up until the Mac Studio was announced, I could honestly say that I constitute the
M1 Mac mini
to be my go-to machine for a lot of tasks. Information technology’s small (only taking upwards 7.7 past 7.7 inches on a surface), and less than an inch and a half high. It has a fairly good array of ports, including Thunderbolt, USB C, HDMI, and Ethernet.
And, for a Mac, information technology’s inexpensive. The base M1 unit of measurement starts at $699 with 8GB RAM and 256GB flash storage. That’s really quite a functional machine, but if you’re going to be stressing information technology at all, I’d recommend punching it upward to 16GB RAM for $899. You tin can always add fast external storage via the Thunderbolt 3/USB C ports.
Over the years, I’ve bought quite a few Mac minis and they have definitely paid for themselves. I institute that my Intel Mac minis (which I’ve after replaced) each had a total cost of buying ranging from $128 to $264 per year (depending on the configuration).
While the M1 Mac mini is the future of the model, Apple is however selling the 2018 Intel-based Mac mini. The still-sold Intel Mac mini has considerably more capacity (especially in terms of RAM) than the M1 Mac minis. It as well runs Steam games better, but that requires a large eGPU investment and information technology’due south flirting with obsolescence. I await Apple to finish selling them this year.
Mac Studio vs Intel Mac Mini: Which is the improve deal?
Until recently, some folks were withal buying the aging Intel Mac mini model from Apple simply for access to 32 and 64GB RAM. With the advent of the Mac Studio, the RAM limitations of the M1 are no longer an outcome for those needing a lot of RAM. I did a full commodity comparing those ii machines.
The M1 Mac mini is a very nice car. If y’all already have a monitor, it’due south a very easy option. My married woman has her office Mac mini paired with
a $269 43-inch TCL Roku 4K Idiot box
. That gives her monitor and speakers when using her Mac, and a total smart TV with Roku when doing other piece of work in her office.
If you’re not doing any farthermost pro work, the Mac mini is almost always my default desktop recommendation.
Practise you lot desire more than, but at a cost that’s attainable to most pros?
The Mac Studio is as shut to the machine pro users wanted equally information technology’s possible for Apple to get. It doesn’t let for upgradeable RAM or internal storage, just that lack of slots means data can stay within the SoC (system on a chip) and motility much, much faster between retentiveness and processor.
Apple Silicon, Rosetta, M1, M2, SoC: Why these terms matter to every computer buyer
As I said before, “The introduction of the Mac Studio changes the calculus of buying desktop Macs. The base model outperforms the Mac Pro yet is priced similar a well-equipped Mac mini. The fully-equipped model is priced simply a flake higher than a base Mac Pro yet has the ability to rival a Mac Pro configuration costing vi times more.”
This is the machine to buy if you’re an farthermost pro but don’t want to spend tens of thousands of dollars. I go into depth about the Mac Studio’s configuration capabilities here, but suffice it to say that the Mac Studio may well be the Goldilocks machine for most farthermost pro Mac users. It’s “merely right.”
How to make up one’s mind
Here are some of the choices y’all might make, and which machine best fits based on your needs.
If you desire a built-in display, but don’t heed limiting it to 24 inches, consider an
If you demand native Intel, you’re looking at the
Intel Mac mini.
Exist aware that both of these are likely to be discontinued soon and Os back up will probably finish in 2-4 years.
If you’re okay with 16GB RAM or less, you’re looking at the
depending on whether you desire the built-in brandish or not.
If y’all need 32-128GB RAM, the
is platonic. Merely choose the configuration now that has all the RAM y’all might e’er need, because there’s no upgrading in one case the machine ships from the manufacturing plant.
If y’all need 128GB-1.5TB RAM, it’s the
old Mac Pro.
Keep in mind a new Mac Pro will probably be announced this twelvemonth, and the old 2019 Mac Pro is extremely pricey.
If you want to pay less than $1,000 for a versatile machine, it’s the
If you want a quiet machine that volition fit well-nigh anywhere, it’s the
If you want ports and an SDXC carte slot on the forepart (finally!), information technology’s the
If you lot’re composing 8K video in Final Cutting, it’south the
If you’re composing one or ii streams of HD or 4K multicam video in Final Cut, it’s the
. Or, if y’all have the budget,
the Mac Studio.
If y’all’re doing AR, VR, high-stop video, 3D modeling, scientific applications, or anything else that needs a ton of processor power, it’s the
with M1 Ultra.
If you want a Mac mini, but only want a fleck more than RAM and a bit more than processing ability at a good price, it’s the
with M1 Max.
Overall, my elevator pitch would be this: If you must have an aesthetically appealing all-in-one auto colour-compatible with your workspace, become the
If you want an inexpensive, versatile automobile, go the
If you want a powerful, capable machine for pro-level and extreme pro work, go the
At this signal, unless yous accept very specific needs, avoid the Mac Pro and the Intel Mac mini.
What near you? Are you because a desktop Mac? What are you lot thinking of choosing? Are y’all planning on upgrading any of your existing machines? Let united states know in the comments beneath.
You tin can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Exist sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.