Apple Mac Studio M1 Ultra test: Apple’s great feats

The finish of Mac Studio is exemplary.

The Mac Studio is a nearly identical copy of the Mac Mini in terms of design, even though it’s decidedly taller to integrate the M1 Ultra chip and a new ventilation system. We find an anodized aluminum frame with rounded edges over which the Apple logo looms. The build quality and finish, as always with Apple, is impeccable. This Mac Studio weighs 3.6kg with the M1 Ultra and 2.7kg with the M1 Max; therefore it remains fully transportable. At just 9.5 cm high and 19.7 cm wide on the sides, it fits seamlessly into a bag and takes up far less space on (or under) a desk than a classic PC case.

Mac Studio is much thicker than Mac Mini.

Mac Studio is much thicker than Mac Mini.

Connectivity is also somewhat different as the M1 Ultra version has an SDXC (UHS II) card reader and two Thunderbolt 4 ports on the front panel, compared to the classic two USB-C 3.2 ports for the M1 Max version. On the back this time around are four Thunderbolt 4 ports, a very high-speed 10Gbps Ethernet port, two USB-A 3.2 ports, an HDMI 2.0 port, and a headphone output. Finally, we connect to networks thanks to Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.



Connection at the back.


The front of the computer.

Under the case is a vent that serves as an air intake for ventilation, the flow of which is removed from the back, above the connectors. Apple has once again become a master at managing the temperature and silence of its computers. Ventilation is not audible in office automation and we had to run several resource-intensive programs at the same time to make it really start. Even so, the result is impressive, as our sound level meter (50 cm from the computer) showed only 33.7 dB, which is barely noticeable.

under the computer.

Unlike the Mac Mini, opening the Mac M1 on your own is very difficult. In any case, we cannot upgrade the computer since everything is welded to the motherboard, including RAM and SSD. We’re aware of Apple’s reluctance to let users (and unofficial repairmen) tweak their computers – too bad for a machine’s maintainability.

Undoubtedly, it was this component that everyone was waiting for after the manufacturer’s loud statements during the presentation of Mac Studio and their M1 Ultra. It must be said that the M1 Max convinced us of frankly successful portable machines such as the MacBook Pro 14 and 16. Here, however, the problem is not the same, as Apple comes to communicate with dedicated desktop processors and graphics cards. , much more efficient and not limited to battery use. Our Mac Studio test is a very high-end model that features an M1 Ultra with 20 CPU cores and 64 GPU cores (recall there’s a 48 GPU core version), an impressive 128GB of combined memory, and an SSD. 2 TB.

In fact, the results are good, but perhaps not as desirable. We tested this new chip on the same software as our processor testing routine, with photo and video processing in Photoshop, Premiere and HandBrake, and 3D rendering in Blender.

According to our tests, the M1 Ultra outperforms the most powerful 11th Gen Intel processors and sits between the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X and Ryzen 9 5900X. Overall, we can recall that the M1 Ultra offers performance equivalent to the Intel Core i5-12600K, even if the results vary greatly depending on the application. For example, the M1 Ultra performs well in Cinebench R23, much better than this Core i5 processor (24,218 vs. 17,211), and remains noticeably faster in Blender, but the rest of the benchmarks speak in Intel’s favour.

The whole point of the SoC M1 is that it also consists of GPU cores, which allow for faster processing times for some compatible applications. Blender has just been updated to version 3.1 and therefore now takes M1 hardware acceleration into account. In this software, the M1 Ultra lags behind Nvidia’s GeForce RTX graphics cards. Under Adobe Premiere it was slightly slower than the RTX 3060 Ti and on par with the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT. However, in Photoshop it is much faster than its competitors. We were also able to take control of Mac Studio in Lightroom, which now runs perfectly smooth, while a video editing project (demo) in Final Cut running 18 simultaneous 8K video streams is also completely smooth.

Optimization issue?

However, it’s worth noting that not all applications are yet optimized for the sheer number of cores on the M1 Ultra processor. It will probably be several weeks or months before this happens, and then the results can change significantly. In addition, we do not test Apple’s own software such as Logic Pro or Final Cut, which cannot be tested on a PC, and we cannot evaluate the performance of this M1 Ultra compared to, for example, the M1 Pro and Max. It is undoubtedly especially well optimized for this software, and users working in the Apple ecosystem will be able to take advantage of this chip.

Apple offers a much more compact computer here than most PC cases, with particularly quiet operation. Added to this is much more limited power consumption: with heavy CPU usage in Blender, our power meter shows a consumption of around 83W and 125W when the GPU part is activated. Suffice it to say, we’re a long way from AMD’s 232W Ryzen 7 5800X, or worse, Intel’s Core i5-12600K’s 320W, especially when you add the consumption of a discrete graphics card. . !

Strengths

  • Exemplary finish.

  • Overall good performance.

  • Compact body.

  • Ultra quiet.

  • Low power consumption.

  • Full connection.

  • Excellent quality headphone output.

Vulnerable points

  • Net performance lags behind competing high-end CPUs and GPUs.

  • Difficult to dismantle and scale.

Conclusion

5 stars from LesNumériques.com

How does assessment work?

With the Mac Studio and its M1 Ultra, Apple has another particularly interesting machine. Its performance is good, especially in hardware-accelerated applications, although the latest generation of high-end AMD and Intel processors and Nvidia RTX 30-series graphics cards tend to be faster. However, future optimization of 3D rendering and video processing software may narrow the existing gap. The feat mainly lies in its compact format, silent operation and controlled power consumption, which are currently unrivaled.

Additional Notes

  • Construction

  • Representation

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