Apple Introduces Mac Studio


Apple today introduced Mac Studio and Studio Display, an entirely new Mac desktop and display designed to give users everything they need to build the studio of their dreams. A breakthrough in personal computing, Mac Studio is powered by M1 Max and the new M1 Ultra, the world’s most powerful chip for a personal computer. It is the first computer to deliver an unprecedented level of performance, an extensive array of connectivity, and completely new capabilities in an unbelievably compact design that sits within arm’s reach on the desk.

I see the Mac Studio as the spiritual successor to the 2013 Mac Pro. It is meant to be small and compact enough to sit on the desk, not under the desk. It has a lot of IO ports for attaching external storage, additional displays and other peripherals, but it is not a user-expandable machine. The 2013 Mac Pro was compact, if only because Apple gambled on a future of GPU-oriented computation that never really panned out. Fast forward to the present day, and there is no need for trickery; it is the sheer efficiency of Apple Silicon enables the Mac Studio to boast top-tier performance in CPU and GPU benchmarks, all housed in an enclosure even smaller than the 2013 Mac Pro.

However, whereas that Mac Pro made a statement, the Mac Studio is wholly perfunctory in its design. The Mac Pro is a cooler object; a perfect cylinder in shape, a shiny reflective casing, it even had backlit USB ports that illuminated when an accelerometer detected the machine had been turned around. The Mac Studio is a boring box with rounded corners, and has no party tricks to speak of. The trashcan was a truly wild, out-there, design. Apple was admittedly less ambitious with the 2019 Mac Pro which resembles a traditional tower workstation, but that too leaves more of a lasting impression than the Mac Studio thanks to its unique lattice of milled circular vent holes.

In truth, the Mac Studio is basically just a fat Mac mini. Compared to a Mac Pro, or the 2021 MacBook Pro, or the colourful M1 iMac, the Mac Studio industrial design doesn’t offer much to get excited about — save from the philosophical milestone that is front-facing IO. That’s a bit of a shame because the introduction of a brand new model of Mac is precisely the best time to do something entirely new. But Apple opted to played it safe this time, perhaps because the failings of recent attempts to be more adventurous — like the butterfly keyboard — are still fresh in their minds. The Mac Studio contains radical innards in a plain exterior. That being said, in all other respects, the Mac Studio looks set to be a home run, so any feelings of disappointment will ultimately be fleeting.