Mac Mini vs. Mac Studio: 6 Key Differences

Abdul Wahab Asif
6 min readJul 14, 2023

If you are in the market for a compact desktop Mac with superb performance, Mac Mini and Mac Studio are strong contenders. While Mac Studio is the cheapest way to obtain the most powerful performance in the Mac lineup with its M2‌ Max and M2 Ultra chipsets, Mac Mini’s M2 and M2 Pro chips provide power far beyond the needs of most Mac users. This guide dives deep into their key features to help you find out which one fits your workflow needs.

Design

The Mac Mini and Mac Studio have two distinct sizes that cater to different workspaces, though both models feature a boxy aluminum design with silver being the only available finish.

The Mac Mini and Mac Studio maintain almost the same depth and width. The Mac Studio is slightly wider at a width of 7.7 inches, compared to the Mac Mini’s 7.75-inch width. The Mac Studio is also deeper at a 7.7-inch depth, whereas the Mac Mini offers a depth of 7.75 inches. However, the Mac Studio is almost three times taller than the Mac Mini, at a height of 3.7 inches, while the Mac Mini stands at a height of just 1.41 inches.

Mac studio design

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Moreover, the Mac Mini weighs 2.6 and 2.8 pounds with its M2 and M2 Pro variants respectively. The Mac Studio weighs around twice as much as its M2 Max and M2 Ultra configurations measure 5.9 pounds and 7.9 pounds respectively.

The reason M2 Ultra Mac Studio weighs 2 pounds more than its M2 Max variant is its extra larger copper thermal module instead of the regular aluminum heatsink in the M2 Max Mac Studio. This copper heatsink helps it effectively handle the increased heat generated by the two M2 Max chips working in tandem.

Performance

The performance of your Mac Mini or Mac Studio will depend on the Apple silicon processor configuration that you purchase. The Mac Mini is available with the M2 and M2 Pro chips, while the Mac Studio comes with the M2 Max and M2 Ultra options. Here are the specs of each chip to help you compare the performance of the two models:

  • M2 (Mac Mini): It packs an 8-core CPU (four performance and four efficiency cores) with a 10-core GPU.
  • M2 Pro (Mac Mini): It offers a 12-core CPU (eight performance and four efficiency cores) besides up to a 19-core GPU.
  • M2 Max (Mac Studio): This chip also features a 12-core CPU (eight performance and four efficiency cores) but stands out with up to a 38-core GPU.
  • M2 Ultra (Mac Studio): It offers a 24-core CPU (sixteen performance and eight efficiency cores) with up to a 76-core GPU.

These specs indicate that the Mac Studio’s M2 Max and M2 Ultra chips offer superior processing power and graphics capabilities compared to the Mac Mini’s M2 and M2 Pro options. So, it’s clear that tasks like video editing and 3D rendering will be much smoother with the Mac Studio.

Mac studio performance

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Despite the Mac Studio’s impressive specs, the Mac Mini remains a compelling option. Its M2 and M2 Pro chips still deliver substantial processing power with their numerous CPU and GPU cores. Mac Mini chips also benefit from their 16-core Neural Engine, taking their machine-learning capabilities to the next level.

RAM

RAM or memory plays a big role in your Mac’s performance by providing storage for ongoing tasks. The Mac Studio offers higher memory options for power users as it lets you choose between 32GB (M2 Max), 64GB, 96GB (M2 Max with 38-core GPU), 128GB (M2 Ultra), and 192GB (M2 Ultra) RAM.

On the other hand, the Mac Mini provides memory options of 8GB (M2), 16GB, 24GB (M2), and 32GB (M2 Pro). Though you get higher memory capacities with the Mac Studio offers higher memory capacities, the Mac Mini supports enough memory for most everyday tasks like web browsing and even moderate creative workloads. It’s worth noting that neither Mac Mini nor Mac Studio allows upgrading memory down the road, so be sure to choose a future-proof configuration while ordering.

Storage

Both the Mac Mini and the Mac Studio offer versatile storage options to fit your storage needs. The Mac Mini offers storage options from 256GB to 8TB, including 256GB 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, and 8TB. However, the 256GB storage option is limited to the M2 Mac Mini, whereas the 4TB and 8TB options are only available with the M2 Pro Mac Mini. On the other hand, the Mac Studio lets you choose a storage space between 512GB and 8TB, though the 512GB only comes with its M2 Max variant.

Mac mini storage

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Ports and Connectivity

Both the Mac Mini and Mac Studio provide Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax) and Bluetooth 5.3 support for fast and reliable wireless connections. Both models also include a 2.1 HDMI and a 10Gb Ethernet port, though you can choose between the Gigabit Ethernet and the 10Gb Ethernet port with the Mac Mini.

That said, the Mac Studio stands out by featuring four and six Thunderbolt 4 ports with its M2 Max and M2 Ultra configurations respectively. On the other hand, the Mac Mini only offers two Thunderbolt 4 ports with the M2 chip and four Thunderbolt 4 ports with the M2 Pro variant.

Mac mini ports and connectivity

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Both the Mac Studio and certain configurations of the Mac Mini offer two USB-A ports to connect legacy USB devices. The Mac Studio with the M2 Max variant includes two USB-C ports too for added support for modern USB-C devices. You also get an SDXC slot with the Mac Studio to seamlessly connect your memory cards to your computer.

Furthermore, the Mac Mini supports up to two displays with the M2 chip or three displays with the M2 Pro chip. Whereas, the Mac Studio natively supports up to eight 4K displays, six 6K displays, or three 8K displays with all configurations.

Price

With the Mac Mini starting at $599 and Mac Studio at $1,999, these computers have a significant $1,400 price difference. The base variant of the M2 Pro Mac Mini with 16GB of RAM and 512GB costs $1,299, but the Mac Studio still costs $700 more.

Spec-wise, the base model of the Mac Studio and the M2 Pro Mac Mini pack 32-core and 16-core GPU respectively, though you can pay $300 extra for an upgraded 19-core GPU with the M2 Pro Mac Mini.

This upgrade also levels up its 10-core CPU to a 12-core one, the same as you get with the M2 Max Mac Studio. By adding 32GB unified memory to this Mac Mini variant, you can have almost the same configuration as the base Mac Studio for the same price of $1,999, but the GPU cores will be less.

How to Choose: Mac Mini or Mac Studio

When deciding between the Mac Mini and the Mac Studio, considering your specific needs and budget is the key. For most users, the Mac Mini remains an excellent choice, thanks to its affordable price, small form factor, and impressive performance, particularly with the M2 Pro variant.

Mac mini vs mac studio: how to choose

Image source: Unsplash

On the other hand, if you want an incredibly powerful Mac with exceptional graphics power, the upgraded variants of the Mac Studio are a great option. Starting from a 38-core GPU up to 76 cores, the Mac Studio caters to the most demanding creative needs, though at a higher price than the Mac Mini.

Read more Mac articles by Abdul Wahab here.

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Abdul Wahab Asif

Tech content writer & blogger with a knack for writing expert Mac, iOS, and Windows articles for leading tech blogs.