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Apple M2 Ultra: everything you need to know about Apple’s most powerful chip

Apple unveiled the most powerful iteration of its silicon during WWDC 2023 — the M2 Ultra chip. Stitching two M2 Max chips together to create one powerhouse, the M2 Ultra is pushing the limits in every way possible.

Is the M2 Ultra really as blazingly fast as it seems? Check out our in-depth guide below to learn everything you need to know about the new chip, including its specs, the PCs it appears in, and what kind of improvements it brings to the table.

Pricing and availability

A woman sits at a desk with the M2 Mac Studio on it.

Apple announced the new chip on June 5 alongside the refreshed Mac Studio and the latest Mac Pro. For the time being, these are the two devices that sport the M2 Ultra. That makes sense — the chip is clearly aimed at professionals, so it definitely belongs in PCs of that sort. We may perhaps one day see it appear in another Apple computer, but so far, trying it out means having to spend a pretty penny.

Both the Mac Studio and the Mac Pro will be available starting on June 13, although preorders are open as of the start of WWDC. While all the Mac Pros sport the M2 Ultra, the Mac Studio is also available with the M2 Max, first seen in the 2023 MacBook Pro.

Apple hasn’t disclosed the exact pricing for the M2 Ultra Mac Studio, but the M2 Max version starts at $1,999. Expect the M2 Ultra model to cost a lot more, though, because the M1 Ultra Mac Studio cost $3,999. The Mac Pro is, unsurprisingly, a much more pricey affair, starting at $6,999 for the cheapest model.


A slide showing the capabilities of Apple's M2 Ultra chip.

True to the previous generation, the M2 Ultra doubles the power of the M2 Max chip to create one beast of a computer. Once again, Apple achieves this through utilizing its UltraFusion architecture, which essentially combines the two chips and lets them work as two interconnected components.

The resulting specifications are pretty outstanding. As you can see on the above slide, the M2 Ultra sports a 24-core CPU and an up to 76-core GPU. It also features 134 billion transistors, a maximum of 192GB of unified memory, and a massive 800GB/s of bandwidth.

This is a significant upgrade over the M2 Max. The chip that came first and is now further down the ladder maxes out at a 12-core CPU, a 38-core GPU, 67 billion transistors, and 96GB of memory at most. While both chips are intensely powerful, the M2 Ultra has an undeniable lead that will help it power up some of the most demanding workflows a personal computer can be expected to handle.


A slide talking about Apple's new Mac Studio.

This brings us to performance. Both the Mac Pro and the Mac Studio are aimed at professionals, and to that end, Apple revealed some of the expected improvements that the M2 Ultra brings. We’ll have to test this out ourselves eventually, but for now, here’s what Apple promises to deliver with the new chip.

For starters, Apple says that the new Mac Studio with the M2 Ultra chip is now up to three times faster than its predecessor. It’s also up to six times faster than the best iMac equipped with an Intel chip, but that’s an old story by now — Apple is fully moving to its own silicon, after all.

Apple brings up Octane — a program used by 3D artists — to mention that the M2 Ultra Mac Studio can speed up rendering by up to three times. Colorists will see an up to 50% increase in video processing speeds when using DaVinci Resolve. These are situational estimates and will differ based on what you use it for, but the bottom line is that the new Mac Studio is likely to offer a noticeable boost over the previous version.

Both the Mac Studio and the Mac Pro can run 22 streams of 8K ProRes video all at once, and they also support up to 8K resolution with refresh rates of up to 240Hz.

Mac Pro one pager.

Although both sport the M2 Ultra, the Mac Pro is still a whole different story. While the Mac Studio has a very recent predecessor in the 2022 version, the Mac Pro hasn’t seen an update since 2019, and the latest model is still Intel-based. Updating to the M2 Ultra marks a massive leap for the desktop.

Apple claims that video transcoding and 3D simulations will run up to three times faster on the new Mac Pro than on the old Intel version. A perhaps more impressive promise is that the M2 Ultra-powered Mac Pro can ingest 24 4K camera feeds simultaneously and encode them to ProRes at the same time.

All in all, the new Mac Pro is said to be up to three times faster than the best configuration of the Intel-based Mac Pro, and up to seven times faster than the cheapest version of that PC.

We’ll have to wait for the two new Apple PCs to come out before we learn more about their performance, but it seems pretty safe to say that the M2 Ultra will deliver a marked upgrade over the previous version of the chip.

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Monica J. White
Monica is a UK-based freelance writer and self-proclaimed geek. A firm believer in the "PC building is just like expensive…
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