If rumors are to be believed, Apple has had to scale back its ambitions for the Apple Silicon Mac Pro. A planned performance-boosting “M2 Extreme” chip would have been scrapped, and some of the benefits people normally associate with the Mac Pro – upgradable RAM and graphics – are unlikely to be supported due to Apple Silicon chip design.
Which leaves us, if the most recent rumors are accurate, with a high-end Mac Studio with user-accessible storage slots built into the current neo-cheese-grater Mac Pro tower design.
That doesn’t leave much space between the Mac Studio and the Mac Pro, little enough that the Mac Pro might struggle to justify its continued existence and high price tag. One possible solution, as Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported: Apple could simply skip an M2 generation refresh for the Mac Studio altogether, leaving more of a performance gap between the still M1-based Studio models and a Mac Pro based on M2.
“It wouldn’t make sense for Apple to offer an M2 Ultra Mac Studio and an M2 Ultra Mac Pro at the same time,” Gurman wrote in his newsletter (via MacRumors). “It’s more likely that Apple will never update the Mac Studio or wait for the M3 or M4 generation. At that point, the company may be better able to differentiate the Mac Studio from the Mac Pro.”
While Gurman is generally in a position to know these things, it should be noted that he considers this prediction to be guesswork, rather than attributing it to a specific source at Apple or one of its vendors. It’s certainly not an absolute guarantee that there won’t be an M2 version of the Studio.
Whatever Apple ends up doing, it’s clear that the Apple Silicon era changes nothing for Apple desktop users – it’s always unclear when to expect hardware updates, and it’s hard to predict what you’ll get when they TO DO arrive.
The M2 Mac mini appeared six months after the M2 versions of the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro, although the M1 versions of all three Macs were announced at the same time. The 24-inch iMac (coming on its second birthday) may not have an M2 version at all, and there is still conflicting evidence as to whether Apple is planning a larger Apple Silicon iMac to replace the 27-inch Intel model or the iMac Pro. The new Mac Pro has already blown Apple’s original two-year Intel transition schedule. All of this is considerably less predictable than the iPhone’s September launch schedule (it helps that new iPhones can make or break Apple’s quarterly financial reports and new Macs usually can’t).
This inconsistency is almost certainly justified by the sales figures for Mac computers; Apple doesn’t detail sales of Mac laptops and desktops in its financial reports, but it’s a safe bet that laptops are outselling desktops. Given a limited number of chips and a limited ability to design and manufacture new products, it makes sense to prioritize laptops. This is especially true for Macs with Apple Silicon chips, which, due to their power efficiency, generally work the same whether they’re in a laptop or desktop.
That doesn’t make the long, uncertain wait between refreshes any easier for people who need or prefer a desktop setup. If you decided not to order an M1 Studio recently because you wanted to wait for the latest and greatest model, a new Mac Pro may include features you don’t want or cost more than you want, and the M2 Mac mini (as much as we liked) might not offer everything you’re looking for. You can either get a solid deal on a refurbished Mac Studio M1, or wait and hope that Apple finally decides to release a desktop computer that does exactly what you want.