Which New Mac Is the Right One for Creators?


Apple is back to form with a focus on powerful new M1 machines designed for video editors, 3D artists, and motion designers.

It’s no shock to say that Apple abandoned creators for about a decade, and in a marketing sham, they just threw the word “pro” on everything expecting users to pay a premium for “upgraded” features.

Up until 2020, pretty much every creative thought Apple was dead. Aside from their mobile devices, motion designers and 3D artists were all moving to PC for GPU rendering speeds, video editors had long abandoned Final Cut Pro for alternatives, and creative studios, in general, were holding on to their older iMacs vs. upgrading to newer machines that weren’t worth the upgrade.

I even boosted my old iMac by using an external SSD as the boot drive vs. buying a new device that was not worth the upgrade price.

Everything changed when Apple revealed they’d been working on their silicon, and the introduction of the M1 chip changed everything for their computer business. There hasn’t been this much genuine excitement for new Mac products in quite some time.

Starting with the return of the Mac Pro in 2019, to 2021’s MacBook Pro and iMac, and now the new 2022 Mac Studio, there are finally several options for creators to get a new beefy computer.

So, which one should you go with? Let’s go over the best options.


Mac Pro

Screenshot of the Mac Pro
The Mac Pro. Image via Apple.

For a brief moment, the Mac Pro was the new flagship Mac. The biggest draw is the swappable components. This is the most “PC” styled Mac in that you can easily open it up and swap or add components. We even wondered if it would be the creator’s new dream machine.

If I had the cash, I still wouldn’t get a Mac Pro today. I would hold off and see what happens when an M1 Mac Pro is released, likely in the near future. The downside is the incredibly high price point, and now the smaller and more affordable M1 Macs are already giving this machine a run for its money.

This is the most configurable and upgradeable Mac, with options for an 8-core to a 28-core processor, up to 1.5TB of memory, and multiple AMD Radeon GPU options.

A Mac Pro tower starts at $4,999, and a rack version starts at $6,499. Max this out with all the upgrades, and you’re looking at over $50,000. Plus, you’ll still need a monitor.

The Mac Pro is a competent machine, but you’re still best off just holding out a little longer or going with one of the newer M1 Macs.

In terms of connections, the Mac Pro has:

  • Up to twelve 4K displays, six 5K displays, or six Pro displays XDR
  • Up to twelve Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
  • Two USB 3 ports
  • Dual 10Gb ethernet
  • 3.5mm audio jack

Mac Studio

Top-down screenshot of the Mac Studio
The Mac Studio. Image via Apple.

The Mac Studio is the newest desktop computer, practically a Mac Mini on steroids. It not only packs the M1 chip, but has multiple options with the M1 Max and M1 Ultra chip.

For creators needing a powerful Mac that they can hook up to their current displays and accessories, it’s hard to beat the new Mac Studio. However, if you want to add the newest Mac Studio Display, you’ll need to shell out an extra $1500.

As of right now, this is my personal choice for the best Mac desktop. I already have a studio monitor display for my PC and can easily set up to swap between a Mac and PC on one large display.

The Mac Studio starts at $1,999 and, in certain cases, can already beat the Mac Pro in speed. You can get up to a 20-core CPU and up to 64-core GPU. Storage tops out at an 8TB SSD.

This machine has plenty of ports, as well:

  • Up to four Pro Display XDR and one 4K monitor
  • Four to six Thunderbolt 4 ports
  • Two USB-A ports
  • Two USB-C ports (M1 Max version only)
  • HDMI
  • SDXC card slot
  • 3.5mm audio jack

iMac

Screenshot of the colorful M1 iMacs
The M1 iMacs. Image via Apple.

The all-in-one machine for creators. The M1 iMacs have a 24″ display and are razor-thin in design. This model is also available in seven different color finishes.

The 24″ iMac comes with the M1 chip, 16GB memory, and up to 2TB of storage. If you don’t have the budget to upgrade to high-end peripherals like studio-quality monitors, then the iMac is undoubtedly one of the best options for you as a creator.

It’s still a relatively mobile machine should you need to take it on location, but it’s best-suited for a desktop studio space. The LED screen is a 4.5K Retina display with 500 nits brightness. There’s a built-in 1080p FaceTime HD camera, three-mic array, six-speaker system, and support for spatial audio.

In terms of connections:

  • Two Thunderbolt (USB 4) ports
  • Two USB 3 ports
  • Gigabit ethernet
  • 3.5mm audio jack

The 24″ M1 iMac starts at $1,299. This was my original choice for a desktop machine until the release of the Mac Studio.


MacBook Pro

Screenshot of the 2021 M1 MacBook Pro
The 2021 M1 MacBook Pro. Image via Apple.

The “Pro” is finally back and worthy of the title. Gone are the gimmick touchbar and terrible keyboard, and the speed and power are ready to tackle any project for the creator on-the-go.

Also, the sexy Space Gray color scheme is back. The 2021 M1 MacBook Pros are available with either 14″ or 16″ displays.

The MacBook Pro includes either the M1 Pro or M1 Max chip, a 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU, and up to 8TB of storage. Apple claims the battery life lasts up to twenty-one hours on a single full charge.

The Liquid Retina XDR screen is available in two sizes, with refresh rates up to 120Hz. The built-in FaceTime camera provides a 1080p HD image and features a three-mic array. Also back on the laptop is the much-needed audio jack for pro audio monitoring.

Included ports:

  • Up to three Pro Display XDR and a 4K monitor
  • Three Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports
  • HDMI port
  • SDXC card slot
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • MagSafe 3 charger

The M1 MacBook Pro starts at $1,999 (14″) and $2,499 (16″) and is still one of the absolute best laptops on the market that should last you a few years in heavy rendering.

For the creator that’s constantly on-the-go, you really can’t beat this machine. It’s still one of the absolute best computers Apple makes.


What About the Rest?

The Mac line goes far beyond this with other options like the MacBook Air, which honestly pairs nicely if you have one of these other machines one your heavy-duty computer. You may consider older model iMacs, MacBooks, or a Mac Mini to save costs, but you’re sacrificing much-needed power.

For the demands of today’s creators running multiple Adobe CC apps, DaVinci Resolve, FCP, Cinema 4D, Blender, or countless other creative apps simultaneously, the older machines will struggle to keep up with the rendering demands of modern projects.


Keep those creative juices flowing with these gems:

Cover image via Apple.





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