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Apple M2 Ultra vs Apple M1 Ultra: Is newer always better?

The Apple M2 Ultra was announced at WWDC 2023 and looks to be the most powerful Apple Silicon chip yet.

Apple unveiled its most powerful M2 chip at the latest WWDC keynote. The M2 Ultra is the latest chip in the M2 family, boasting an incredible number of CPU and GPU cores. It is currently featured in both the Mac Studio (2023) and Mac Pro (2023).

With all that in mind, we wanted to cast our minds back and see how the latest chip compared to the M1 Ultra, which debuted in 2022 inside the Mac Studio (2022). Keep reading to find out all the critical differences between these two chips so you can decide which is better for you.

M2 Ultra has more transistors

The M2 Ultra consists of 134 billion transistors built on a 5-nanometer process. Generally speaking, more transistors translates to an increased performance overall. 

The M1 Ultra boasts 114 billion transistors, which is 20 billion less than its successor. While 114 billion transistors are still nothing to sniff at, Apple claims that its latest chip (the M2 Ultra) doubles the performance of its predecessor, making it the better option for those looking for the best raw performance power. 

M1 Ultra has less memory capacity

The Apple M2 Ultra comes with up to a groundbreaking 192GB of unified memory capacity, while the M1 Ultra comes with up to 128GB.

Both options are extremely high in terms of unified memory, but the M2 Ultra will be the better option for creative professionals that need to load up large media files quickly. This is because more unified memory allows for more data to be stored and accessed at a faster rate, with more applications being able to run simultaneously.

M2 Ultra chip
Image Credit (Apple)

M2 Ultra has a faster CPU and GPU

The M2 Ultra comes with some jaw-dropping specifications. It boasts up to a 24-core CPU and up to a 76-core GPU. The M1 Ultra comes with up to a 20-core CPU and a 64-core GPU.

Apple claims that the CPU in the M2 Ultra is 20% faster than its predecessor and that the GPU is 30% faster. While both chips do sport the same 16-core Neural Engine, the M2 Ultra’s Neural Engine is also 30% faster.

Due to the increased core count on the M2 Ultra, it’s no surprise that the performance has been boosted to such a high degree, making it the better alternative for those looking to engage in intensive graphical workloads.

M1 Ultra is more affordable

The M2 and M1 Ultra chips can be found in two different generations of the Mac Studio, with the M2 Ultra chipset featuring in the next generation 2023 model. The latest Mac Studio has a starting price of $4199/£4199 when paired with the M2 Ultra, making it one of the most expensive Mac desktops currently available. 

The M1 Ultra came with the Mac Studio (2022). The starting price for the base M1 Ultra configuration started at $3999/£3999, making it slightly more accessible. Given its age, you’re more likely to find the 2022 iteration of the Mac Studio with a major discount, especially when second hand.

It’s worth noting that both models can be configured to have prices over $7000/£7000, meaning that even if you do opt for the last generation Mac Studio, it will still cost a pretty penny. 

Mac Studio update
Image Credit (Apple)

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