Mac Mini M2 Pro vs Mac Studio M1 Max

Say you have $2,000 that you need to spend on a quality desktop computer from Apple. Which one would you choose? The recently launched but beefed up Mac Mini M2 Pro or the base Mac Studio? Posted by erwinkarim on 8:47 AM, January 24, 2023 Last updated on 8:46 AM, January 26, 2023 Filed in: mac studio, mac mini, m2 pro, m1 max, comparison,

Table of Contents

When reviewing the Mac Mini, MKBHD, a top Youtube tech review went on record that the Mac Min M2 Pro is faster in both single and multicore performance than the $5,999 Mac Pro. What a time to be alive to how fast things change in tech.


Screen grab from MKBHD where the CPU performance of the M2 Pro outpaces a base Mac Pro.

While the M2 Pro Mac Mini starts at $1,299, you can easily spec the unit to match the $1,999 price of a base Mac Studio featuring a M1 Max. This begs the question, which one is the better at the same price and is the M1 Max is still relevant in this equation? Read on to find out.

Spec

For this challenge, we put the budget at $2,000 so we spec up the M2 Pro Mac Mini and basically take the base M1 Max Mac Studio. The table below is basically what you would get if you have $2,000 to spend on a Mac Mini or Mac Studio, essentially almost identical machines.

Spec Mac Mini Mac Studio
Price $1,999
CPU M2 Pro (12 CPU core, 19 GPU core, 16 Neural cores) M1 Max (10 CPU, 24 CPU core, 16 Neural cores)
Memory 32 GB
Storage 512 GB
Ports 1x HDMI 2.1, 4x Thunderbolt 4, 2x USB-A, power, Ethernet port (10G optional), 3.5mm powered headphone jack. 1x HDMI 2, 4x Thunderbolt 4, 2x USB-C, 2x USB-A, SDXC slot, 10G Ethernet, 3.5mm headphone jack.
WiFi / Bluetooth Wi-Fi 6E / Bluetooth 5.3 Wi-Fi 6 / Bluetooth 5.0
Dimension 1.41" x 7.75" x 7.75" 3.7" x 7.7" x 7.7"
Weight (lbs) 2.8 5.9

For M2 Pro Mac Mini

Here are the advantages of the M2 Pro Mac Mini:


Better CPU performance: … The M2 Pro has more computing power than a Mac Studio. Let that sink in.


Supports 8K display: … The HDMI port on the Mac Mini has been upgraded to HDMI 2.1 so it can actually supports 8K 60Hz displays or 4K 240Hz display.


Better future-proofing: … The details are small, but Apple upgraded the Wi-Fi module, the Bluetooth module and the HDMI ports on the M2 Pro Mac Mini just to ensure a little more future-proofing.


Smaller footprint: … The Mac Mini has about the same width and length of the Mac Studio but is shorter. Not to say the Mac Studio is a large computer, but if you really care about space, like putting a few of those in a server rack, it’s good to know that the Mac Mini is smaller.

For M1 Max Studio

Here the the advantages of the Mac Studio:


More graphics performance: … Although the graphic cores on the M2 Pro is faster, the M1 Max has more cores so overall graphic performance is still a notch higher than the M2 Pro. If your workflow is more GPU-bound (like video editing and 3D rendering), than the M1 Max will perform better.


More Encode engines: … In Apple literature, the M2 Pro can handle multiple streams of 8K or 4K ProRes. The M1 Max has two Media Engines which can handle 7x 8K ProRes streams or 40x 4K ProRes streams, a feat still unmatch by the M2 Pro.


Better cooling: … Owing to the larger size, the Mac Studio has a larger heat sink (which was designed around the M1 Ultra) so for sustained performance, the M1 Max in the Mac Studio can handle it better.


Higher Display count: … The Mac Mini can support up to 3 displays at once. Or only 1 if you plug in an 8K display. The Mac Studio on the other than can support 4x 6K displays plus 1x 4K display. You loose out on the 8K display support but you can support more displays than the Mac Mini.

Conclusion

To know which is the right one for you is to check your workflow. If your workflow is mostly CPU-bound like programming and music production then the M2 Pro is a better choice. If your workflow is mostly GPU-bound like video editing, making 3D models, and such, then the M1 Max in the Mac Studio is a better choice.

Plug

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Base Pro
iPhones iPhone 14 / iPhone 14 Plus - (Amazon) iPhone 14 Pro / iPhone 14 Pro Max - (Amazon)
Watch Apple Watch SE (Amazon) / Apple Watch Series 8 (Amazon) Apple Watch Ultra (Amazon)
AirPods AirPods (Amazon) AirPods Pro (Amazon) / AirPods Max (Amazon)
iPad iPad (Amazon) / iPad Mini (Amazon) iPad Air (Amazon) / iPad Pro (Amazon)
Laptops MacBook Air (Amazon) MacBook Pro (M2 Pro: Amazon)
Desktop Mac Mini (Amazon) / iMac (Amazon) Mac Studio / Mac Pro
Displays Studio Display (Amazon) Pro Display XDR (Amazon)

Other Ecosystem Items

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Tags: mac studio, mac mini, m2 pro, m1 max, comparison,