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The New M1 Ultra Mac Studio Review Should you get one?

The Mac Studio is here and it's geared toward a very specific demographic and it's right in the name, Studio. Apple has designed the Machine from the inside out to cater to creators like me and their workspaces. Along with the Mac Studio, Apple released their new 5K 27 inch Studio display. Now some of you may be angry that Apple released two products instead of just an updated iMac Pro but I'm not. I think that this combo gives you more flexibility and may even help you save money depending on your setup.


As a content creator and professional video editor, I was curious to see how the new Studio and Studio display would fit into my current setup and workflow, especially since this is Apple's least expensive Pro desktop now that the iMac pro is gone. Today I'm going to walk you through my take on both devices, my thought process on whether or not I would consider them and how they relate to my day-to-day workflow.

Now in order for me to explain my thought process I need to give you some background on who I am and my current workstation. So I've been professionally video editing for nearly a decade now, I started in TV development where I edited sizzle reels which are basically trailers for TV shows that production companies want to sell, then after that I headed over to some local studios where I edited a bunch of digital content and then before I came over to Techronicle, for the last three years I was on Youtube editing nearly all of my videos.

I'm a Final Cut 10 editor and I know some of you are laughing. A lot of people don't take me seriously for it but I think it's incredibly fast and efficient for my workflow, I've edited on most of the editing software from Premiere to Avid to Davinci Resolve and this one has been best and fastest. Final Cut 10 only works on Mac OS, so when the Mac Studio was announced it instantly caught my eye.

Let me tell you about my current setup. First and foremost, I will always prioritize my at-home editing station because it's where I edit the most and I've built an ideal workplace. I've got my Standing Desk, My ergonomic chair and on the desk I've got my 2021, 14-inch Macbook Pro with the M1 Pro chip. It's connected to a 27-inch LG ultrafine 5k monitor I've got some nice speakers that way I can blast my edits and easily mix projects. I'm using a Thunderbolt 3 dock, to connect all of my devices to my laptop through a single cable.

I decided to go with the 14-inch when it came out in late 2021 because at the time, it felt like my best option. An Intel powered Mac Pro desktop would have been overkill for my editing needs not to mention way too expensive for my budget. But had the Mac Studio come out alongside the new Macbook Pros, I probably would have opted to go for that instead. Here's why.

My M1 pro 14 inch costs about $2500 and that's with one Terabyte upgraded storage. The base model of the Mac Studio which has the more powerful M1 Max chip starts at two thousand dollars, $2000 and would have cost another two hundred dollars, $200 for the same one terabyte upgrade so $2200, That's a big difference.

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So the fact that I already own a great 5K display, keyboard and mouse means I wouldn't need to buy anything else to make it work. It would have been an easy decision to grab the Mac Studio for my home office and I'd use my older 2016 16-inch Macbook pro which I already owned at the time as an on-the-go editing system. Now obviously if you don't already have a monitor and the peripherals, then the Mac Studio may not be as good a deal as it would be for me but if laying out the money for a monitor isn't a deal breaker, there's the Studio display which starts at $1600 and some other less expensive monitors all of which I'll get into in just a bit.


It is instantly obvious that the Mac Studio was created for Pros, just by the ports that we have in the front. Ports are back baby, so we've got two USB Cs in the front for the ultra model their thunderbolt fours and an SD card reader. Now having these in the front while it seems so simple is such a beautiful luxury to have when you're running around the house shooting content and you just want to quickly upload footage to the computer. I have that with my thunderbolt 4 dock at home and now you got that here with this. You can also charge your devices with the ports in the front or connect a hard drive to easily transfer footage.

Apple is finally giving us form over function

We saw it with the Macbook pros this fall and we're seeing it here again. Now that Johnny Ive their former chief design officer is gone, we're getting these ports. Speaking of ports on the back, we've got four thunderbolt 4 ports and those are going to be more than enough for connecting monitors and hard drives. This device kind of acts like my thunderbolt dock that I have at home it allows me to connect everything I need my speakers, my monitor, my hard drives right in the back and it keeps it nice and clean on my desk with less wires. I also love the minimal size of this thing; this is like small enough for me to put in my carry-on luggage and believe it or not I have travelled with desktop computers in the past. I used to have a 5K iMac and I literally would put it in its box and travel around with it because I didn't have a laptop at the time, so I would take my projects on the go with this huge box. Now with this I could see myself putting this in my luggage my carry-on and taking it on the go and then all I need is a portable monitor, bring my keyboard and mouse and then you're gonna see me at the delta lounge editing on this thing.

Let's talk power

Ultimately the only people who should consider the Mac Studio should be people who are running intensive software. If you don't need power but still want an Apple desktop, I say check out the Mac mini or the 24 inch iMac. Now I'm not what you would call a power user, most of the sizzle reels I've edited use ripped 1080p footage plus some multi-layered graphics and my tech videos are shot in 4K, two camera angles at most and have some simple graphics. Both of these workflows run just fine on my M1 pro 14-inch using Final Cut and playing the Cut at better quality.


With that said the Mac Studio would speed up my workflow a ton. Taking a look at Techronicle's benchmarks, even the Mac Studios base level M1 Max would outperform my current and more expensive 14 inch laptop on top of that. The Mac Studio has an intricate cooling system which takes up the top half of its internals. Because of that the M1 Max actually performs slightly better in the Mac Studio than on the Macbook Pro.

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I spent a few days editing on this Mac Studio which has the M1 Max chip and the speed boost was obvious. Editing with unrendered footage and graphics was more snappy than my Macbook pro and I was surprised by how much faster and seamless the Cut played over intensive graphics. I didn't even need to render my Cut before playback.

Exporting Cuts was also significantly faster for my workflow. I don't see the need for power beyond the M1 Max. I won't be coming close to editing the 18 streams of 8K video which Apple says the M1 ultra can handle. The base model would be just fine for me.

Let's talk about the Mac M1 Ultra Studio Display

When it was first announced, I was very excited but since then my excitement has kind of faded. First off it goes for sixteen hundred dollars $1600 which is significantly less than Apple's Pro XDR display which starts at five thousand dollars $5000 and another one thousand dollars $1000 for the stand! So thank you Apple for releasing a monitor with a more realistic price for the average consumer. But even at sixteen hundred dollars I don't think the Studio display offers enough value especially when you compare to other monitors on the market.

Yes the Studio display includes a stand which is a great start, can't believe I'm saying that but it doesn't have height adjustment by default and using it, the screen felt too low and I found myself craning my neck and having bad posture. I'd have to use a shelf to prop this screen up to feel more comfortable.

Personally I would swap out the stand for the visa mount which comes at no extra cost and I'd attach it to a monitor arm. There is the option to get a stand with height adjustment like on the pro XDR but that costs an extra four hundred dollars $400, if you regret not getting it initially Apple can replace that later on.

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All that said, there are other monitors that offer nearly the same visual quality as the Studio display at a fraction the cost and believe it or not with height adjustment. As far as 5K goes, I love my 27 inch LG Ultra Fine which is $1300 and also comes in a 24 inch model for $800. The main differences here are that the LG monitor is made of plastic and its peak brightness is 500 NITS versus the 600 NITS of the Studio display.

There are also lots of other 4K monitors which would work just fine for me, personally including the Dell Ultra Sharp which is about $600 and it's almost the same specs just a lower resolution and a peak brightness of 320 NITS and you may be saying but just in the Studio display has great speakers and that's true for a monitor. 


It has a six speaker system which Apple says these are by far the highest fidelity speakers we've ever created for the Mac. The speakers sound great but as a video creator I'm nitpicky. I prefer much better sound quality in my edit bay and I'd still opt to use my professional speakers, If you're not editing with video then these speakers will probably be fine for your audio needs.

Conclusion- Should I Buy the New M1 Ultra Mac Studio?

If you're a pro user, the M1 Ultra Mac Studio may be a great option but if your workflow is similar to mine, you probably don't need anything stronger than the base model M1 Max model. If you already have an editing laptop, but you're looking for your next upgrade, this could be a great option for you. Keep your older laptop as an on-the-go Machine and when necessary you can edit in low-res proxy files which is super easy to create on Final Cut 10 at least. Personally I'm happy with my current 14-inch Macbook Pro and I don't need a Mac Studio in addition to it just yet but I kind of really want one if I didn't already have the 14-inch I'd go for the Mac Studio at home and have a less expensive Macbook Pro or Macbook Air for travel and proxy editing. If you want to learn more, stay connected for our full review of the Mac Studio which we will post son and for more content like this be sure to subscribe our RSS Feed. Thank You for reading.

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