Forget M3 Max, Apple's Mac Studio and Mac Pro are tipped for a super-fast M3 Ultra upgrade this year

Mac Studio M2 on a wooden desk in an office
(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / Future)

When you're in the market for the best Mac that money can buy and don't need to be able to take it with you, there are two places to look. Whether you're interested in picking up a new Mac Studio or a Mac Pro, you're going to get a computer that will make light work of just about anything that you throw at it. But that doesn't mean that there isn't always room for improvement.

When you're someone shopping at the highest end of the Mac market you're looking for a machine that can shave seconds off a workflow, whether that's editing batches of photos or huge video files, time can very much be money. That makes the multi-thousand-dollar Mac Pro a viable option, while the smaller Mac Studio is the go-to for people who don't need the expansion options afforded by the tower Mac. But if you've had a look at the range-topping M3 Max chip and found it lacking, there might be some very good news on the way — it's thought that an M3 Ultra chip is on the horizon.

We've seen reports previously that claim Apple intends to launch an updated Mac Studio later this year, and now that has been backed up by an additional report that adds the Mac Pro to the mix. If the report is accurate we can expect M3 Ultra Mac Studio and Mac Pro models to arrive later this year.

All the cores

This is all according to a new report by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, writing in the weekly Power On newsletter that was back this weekend following a holiday hiatus.  Gurman was responding to a question about Apple's plans for the Mac Studio specifically when he said that a new model is likely to launch in the second half of 2024.

Expanding, Gurman said that he expects that the new machine will use an updated version of the M3 chip that is yet to be announced — a chip that is most likely to be the M3 Ultra, replacing the M2 Ultra that is already in use. If that's the case, we can expect Apple to continue its form for doubling the Max variant's core count to create a mighty impressive figure.

Assuming that happens, the M3 Ultra could pack as many as 80 GPU cores married with up to 32 CPU cores, both figures that would make the M3 Ultra the fastest chip that Apple has ever had TSMC build.

With all of this in mind, it seems likely that Apple will announce the updated Mac Studio and its stablemate the Mac Pro at WWDC, an event that has historically taken place in June. That might only just break into Gurman's second half of the year, but it would mimic 2023's Mac Studio announcement. 

Mac Pro for another year

The news that Apple will likely unveil a new Mac Pro might come as a surprise to some. The machine has long been one that received sporadic refreshes, but that now seems to be a story of the past following its switch to Apple silicon.

However, it still isn't clear what the long-term future of the Mac Pro will be. The Mac Studio offers the same capabilities in a smaller package sans the expandability options the Mac Pro's case affords buyers. And with the Mac Pro no longer offering buyers the chance to add GPUs, switch RAM, and more, its place in the lineup has become limited somewhat.

All of that being said, Gurman suggests the Mac Pro will get another update this year — whether it will be the last, who knows at this point.

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Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.