With the ongoing success of Apple’s move to in-house silicon, starting with the M1 chip, Apple expands its M2 chip lineup with the Apple M2 Ultra, a workstation-level SoC powering the Mac Studio and the Mac Pro.
The Apple M2 Ultra chip is a powerhouse of a processor, taking the efficiency and performance of the Apple M2 Max chip and effectively doubling it, providing a professional desktop SoC that’s capable of tackling many of the most demanding workloads for creative professionals looking for something more than what the MacBook Pro or Mac Studio with M1 Ultra can provide.
Here's everything we know so far.
Apple M2 Ultra chip: Cut to the chase
- What is it? Apple's next generation of workstation-level Mac processors
- How much does it cost? The chip doesn't sell on its own, it depends on the price of the device it powers.
- When is it out? It was announced at WWDC 2023 on June 5, 2023
Apple M2 Ultra: Release date
The upgraded Mac Studio and Mac Pro both now feature the M2 Ultra chip. Orders started on June 5, 2023 and both can now be bought.
Apple M2 Ultra: Price
The Apple M2 Ultra isn't sold on its own, but comes installed in either the Mac Studio or the Mac Pro. The Mac Studio with M2 Ultra starts at $3,999 / AU$6,599 (about £3,250), which is the the same starting price as the M1 Ultra model before it.
You can customize the chip somewhat since M2 Max chips, from which the M2 Ultra is fashioned, has options for 30-core and 38-core GPUs. This means that you can select a 60-core GPU or a 76-core GPU model, with the latter costing an extra $1,000 (about £800/AU$1,500).
For the Mac Pro, prices start at $6,999 / AU$11,999 (about £5,600) for the 60-core GPU version of the M2 Ultra, with the 76-core version costing an extra $1,000 to start.
Apple M2 Ultra: specs and performance
In terms of specs and performance, the M2 Ultra is two M2 Max chips tied together with high-speed data interconnects so that the two chips effectively act as one.
This gives the M2 Ultra a CPU with 24 cores, and a GPU with either 60 cores or 76 cores. The M2 Max has a max memory capacity of 96GB, so this gives the M2 Ultra double that capacity, or 192GB max.
In terms of performance, that's a harder thing to pin down without testing it for ourselves, but given the video encoding performance of the M2 Max, the rendering pipelines, and the neural engine, we expect that creative content apps like Adobe Suite, Da Vinci, Final Cut Pro, and many others will have substantially improved performance over the M2 Max and M1 Ultra.
According to Apple, the M2 Ultra has about 20% better CPU performance, 30% percent better GPU performance, and 40% better neural engine performance than the M1 Ultra. We haven't had the priviledge of testing the M1 Ultra for ourselves, so the best we can say is that there will definitely be improved performance for the same price as the M1 Ultra, but not so much better that it's worth buying a whole new device if you already have an M1 Ultra Mac Studio.
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John (He/Him) is the Components Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY.
Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.
You can find him online on Threads @johnloeffler.
Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 (just like everyone else).