Mac Studio with M3 Ultra could be on the way — but the Mac Pro could miss out

Mac Studio on a desk
(Image credit: Future)

So far, Apple’s M3 chipset has only appeared in the iMac and MacBook Pro. With the latter, you can configure a model with M3 Pro or M3 Max if you wish, but these won’t be the fastest Apple chips for too much longer if a new report from TrendForce is to be believed.

Referencing the Chinese outlet ICsmart, which in turn cites “a Korean agency,” the report suggests that the M3 Ultra “might make its debut in the upgraded Mac Studio around mid-year.”

If that’s correct, then reading between the lines, that’s almost certain to be WWDC 2024. Apple’s developer-focused annual event has previously seen hardware launches including the HomePod, first iPhone SE and, crucially, the M2 Ultra Mac Studio last year. While it could be scheduled for any point in 2024, it hasn’t fallen outside of June since 2006.

The chips will apparently be the first to be made via the more cost-effective N3E process. But for the consumer, the main thing to note is that these are set to be seriously powerful. How powerful? Back in November, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman crunched the numbers, floating the idea of an “outrageous” amount of speed. 

“If the company continues to double both the CPU and graphics configurations with the Ultra, we’re looking at a Mac chip that tops out at an outrageous 32 CPU cores and 80 graphics cores,” he wrote. “And as Apple steps up the memory, you could imagine an option with 256 gigabytes.”

To put that in perspective, the most powerful configuration of M3 Max MacBook Pro you can buy has 16 CPU cores and 40 graphics cores with 128GB of RAM. Of course, that would set you back at least $4,999 (and more if you wanted to add to the 1TB of storage included by default). 

While both TrendForce and ICsmart’s reports are light on details, one interesting omission from both is any mention of the Mac Pro, the other Apple desktop currently configurable with M2 Ultra chips. 

That could be an oversight, or it could be a sign that Apple is losing interest in its priciest desktop. After all, before it got the M2 Ultra chip last year, it hadn’t been updated since 2019 and was the only computer Apple sold that still used Intel CPUs. It’s possible Apple won’t update it for a bit longer — or maybe at all if the Mac Studio works well enough for power users and the company decides to phase it out.

We should find out more in the next few months, as we expect pre-WWDC leaks to pick up steam. 

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.