A few days ago, I explained why I’m fearful for the Mac Studio this year.

From the comfort and completely uninformed position of an Armchair Apple Commentator, it appears as though Apple’s current M-based flagship Mac is hanging on for dear life.

Unlike the MacBook Pro, it hasn’t received an M2 chip update yet, and the promise of an elusive new Mac Pro further threatens the Mac Studio’s appeal.

But the biggest problem comes from a different quarter entirely – the Mac mini.

We now have a super-powered Apple silicon Mac mini which can be specced with up to 19-cores of graphics capability, 32GB of unified memory, and 8TB of storage.

It’s more than enough for most people and, since I’ve started covering the new M2 stuff, there’s one question that has dominated the comments section.

Which one should you go for – the M2 Pro Mac mini or a Mac Studio?

Let’s work it out.

M2 Pro Mac mini vs Mac Studio: Pricing and specs

There’s a £600 between the base model Mac mini and its Mac Studio counterpart. Whether you’re buying this machine for personal reasons or as an investment for your business productivity, that isn’t an inconsequential amount of money.

Do you really get £600 of value if you switch up to the Mac Studio? I can’t tell you that I’m afraid, because it’s linked directly to whatever you do with it, but I can show you where the differences lie.

The base spec M2 Pro Mac mini comes with a 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, and a 16-core Neural Engine. No one knows what the latter does, but it matches what the base M1 Max Mac Studio offers, as does the CPU. The difference lies in the number of GPU cores – you get 24 with the Mac Studio.

The Mac mini comes with 16GB of unified memory as standard, whereas the Mac Studio starts at 32GB. They both kick off proceedings with 512GB of SSD storage.

To get the M2 Pro Mac mini as close to the base model Mac Studio as possible, you have to upgrade the M2 chip to the 12-core CPU/19-core GPU variant and up the unified memory to 32GB. That increases the price to £2,099 – £100 more than the base model Mac Studio.

Confused? Yeah, that’s how they get you.

M2 Pro vs M1 Max benchmarks

If you know me, you’ll know I rarely turn to benchmarks to prove a point, but the M2 Pro Mac mini versus Mac Studio debate is an exception.

I must reiterate that benchmarks never tell the whole story and should never be relied upon as an accurate reading of a Mac’s performance. However, initial benchmark reports for the M2 Pro reveal a chip that can, apparently, more than hold its weight against the M1 Max.

Single core performance for the M2 Pro clocks in at 1,952 on Geekbench, and multi-core performance at 15,013. By comparison, the M1 Max typically scores 1,727 and 12,643, respectively.

I have no idea what those numbers mean, but the M2 Pro’s are higher and higher is better. That’s impressive – and it also suggests that the £600 premium for a Mac Studio is highly questionable.

M2 Pro Mac mini vs Mac Studio: Maxing them out

There’s one massive difference between the M2 Pro Mac mini and the Mac Studio, and that lies in how far you can max out the specs.

Top out the M2 Pro Mac mini, and you’ll end up with a 12-core CPU, 19-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine, 32GB of unified memory and 8TB of storage for £4,599.

Tick every box during the Mac Studio checkout process and you’ll receive a computer with 20 CPU cores, 64 GPU cores, a 32-core Neural Engine, 128GB of unified memory, and 8TB of SSD storage for the princely sum of £7,999.

That £3,400 premium nets you a ridiculously powerful Mac whose M1 Ultra chip puts it in another league compared to the maxed-out M2 Pro Mac mini. In fact, it’s worth keeping in mind that the Mac Studio does start to pull away from the new super-powered Mac mini as soon as you start increasing the spec.

M2 Pro Mac mini vs Mac Studio: The other stuff

There are some other differences between these two machines that need to be kept in mind.

The Mac Studio has twice the memory bandwidth of the M2 Pro Mac mini (400GB/s versus 200GB/s). It also has double the video and ProRes encode engines. You can also drive up to four Pro Display XDRs and one 4K display via the Mac Studio, versus the three capable via the M2 Pro Mac mini.

Both sport four Thunderbolt 4 ports (six on the M1 Ultra Mac Studio) and two USB-A ports. However, the Mac Studio benefits from a built-in SD card slot residing on the front of the machine; something the new Mac mini is sorely lacking.

The Mac mini beats the Mac Studio in a couple of curious areas, though. It has WiFi 6E, versus the Mac Studio’s WiFi 6, and the Mac mini has a high-impedance headphone jack – something that’s weirdly missing from the Mac Studio.


If there’s one area of competition that barely registers during this fight, it’s dimensions and convenience. These are both incredibly easy Macs to live with and can be slotted onto virtually any desk without issue.

Regardless, I couldn’t help but smile to myself when I encountered Apple’s marketing slogan for the Mac Studio while researching this guide.

“Stunningly compact,” they tell us.

And it really is. But it isn’t quite as compact as the Mac mini, is it, Tim?

This is a tough comparison, but I think I’ve come to an inevitable conclusion. If you don’t need any of the monstrous specs that are offered by the Mac Studio when you start ticking boxes during the configuration process, the M2 Pro Mac mini is a far better buy.

This is for one very simple reason. If you’re not fussed about those top-end specs, you’re probably not working relentlessly to the clock – and if that’s the case, the M2 Pro Mac mini will more than suffice.

The Mac Studio remains the machine for businesses and creative professionals for whom every single second counts. But with such a high premium for that performance, and with the M2 Pro Mac mini outperforming its definitive form factor, is it really worth spending all that money?

Couldn’t you just make a coffee while you wait those extra minutes of rendering time?

One thing is for sure – you need a very good reason to buy a Mac Studio now.

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