Hands-On With the M2 Ultra Mac Studio

Apple at WWDC surprised us with the M2 Ultra chip, which is the key feature in the new second-generation Mac Studio. We thought we’d compare it to the first-generation ‌Mac Studio‌ with M1 Ultra chip to see whether it’s worth upgrading.

Compared to the base ‌M1 Ultra‌, the base ‌M2‌ Ultra has a 24-core CPU (up from 20 cores) and a 60-core GPU (up from 48 cores). It has the same 64GB unified memory and 32-core Neural Engine.

In a real world Final Cut Pro export test with 4K footage, a 13 minute clip exported in five and a half minutes on the ‌M1 Ultra‌ machine, and just over three minutes on the ‌M2‌ Ultra. An export of an hour-long video took almost seventeen minutes on the ‌M1 Ultra‌ ‌Mac Studio‌, and just eight and a half minutes on the ‌M2‌ Ultra.

Over time, the ‌M2‌ Ultra is going to save a lot of exporting time for video editing, and other GPU-intensive tasks will likely see the same time savings.

The ‌Mac Studio‌ with ‌M2‌ Ultra we tested is equipped with an upgraded 2TB SSD, and on the BlackMagic Disk Speed Tests, we got read speeds of 5,455 and write speeds of 5,100. With a 1TB SSD on the ‌M1 Ultra‌ machine, we were seeing read speeds of 1,853 and write speeds of 5,092, so SSD speeds are up on the higher end at a minimum.

If you’ve already got an ‌M1 Ultra‌ ‌Mac Studio‌, it may be worth upgrading if you want to save time on video exports and similar tasks, but if you’re not going to take advantage of the increased GPU speeds, it won’t be worth the $3,999 starting price for the entry-level ‌M2‌ Ultra ‌Mac Studio‌. The ‌M2‌ Ultra ‌Mac Studio‌ is unquestionably the best desktop machine that Apple sells in terms of price and performance for professionals.

There is an ‌M2‌ Mac Pro, but it is priced starting at $6,999 for the same performance but with PCIe slots. What do you think of the ‌M2‌ Ultra chip? Let us know in the comments below.

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