Did Apple truly nail it with the Mac Studio? The M1 Max chip alone seems to give it loads more power than your average user could need and it comes with specific optimizations for video editing. It doesn’t even seem to have nearly the same premium cost as the most recent Mac Pro.
If you want to see how it holds up you are gonna have to put it up against something else, and that is where Keith Knittel has been investigating. He took a base model M1 Max Mac Studio and compared it to a custom-built PC for video editing.
As always, we are going to have to look at the core specs before we get started.
- Intel i9 9900K 5GHz CPU
- NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti
- 32GB RAM
- M1 Max (10-Core) CPU
- 24-Core GPU
- 32GB Unified Memory
Keith does point out that many of the advantages gained from Apple Silicon come from the tight integration between macOS and the hardware. Software developers can take full advantage of the chips since they can tune everything to work with very few different parts which scale wonderfully.
PCs can’t quite pull this off as well as you can build a machine with a variety of different parts from different vendors that sometimes don’t perfectly work with each other. The potential raw power of PCs and upgradeability do help though.
Beyond that, what matters at the end of the day is the user experience. Nobody actually cares about what is in a computer as long as they get smooth performance for whatever they are trying to do. Video editing does tend to push requirements for performance up a notch.
Using a standard 8-minute Premiere Pro test project the Mac Studio took around 30 seconds while the export took 2 minutes and 38 seconds. That’s the best result he has seen so far from any test. Playback and scrubbing was also practically perfect in full quality. There were some frame drops on the second playthrough and with reverse playback.
Opening the same file on the PC took 23 seconds, which is 7 seconds faster than the Mac Studio. Export time was 4 minutes 10 seconds on the PC. That compares more directly to the M1 Pro-equipped MacBook Pro. Full quality playback was no problem. Fast-forwarding did start stuttering after a minute, though dropping quality to half supported 2x fast forwarding. The problem was that rewinding wouldn’t play back at all.
You can likely pick up some more current parts for a PC today and get performance equivalent to the Mac Studio. The real question is what you want from a machine. The Mac Studio is a plug-and-play device that you can’t upgrade and will likely give you solid performance. But that’s it, no upgrading or tweaking is possible.
A PC gives you a lot more to work with and experience and understanding of the machine if you build it yourself. You can also just add more storage, upgrade memory, or even replace core components like a CPU or graphics card when something better comes out for cheaper than buying a brand-new computer.
What do you prefer? I’m on Apple and planning on sticking with it, but I’ve also built a few PCs over the years.
[source: Keith Knittel]