Mac Studio

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Has anyone looked at or paid attention to the Mac Studio?

I think I may have found my next desktop, and a replacement for most purposes for my faithful Mac Pro.

This is quite an impressive computer, to say the least. It basically has the footprint of the Mac Mini, but is about 3x as tall, and has ports!

ARM CPUs already run quite cool relative to their performance, and the Mac Studio case leaves room for a lot of heat sink and the ability to move some serious air, even though report are that it runs quite quiet. That means that it can take a beating without having to throttle to stay cool.

I'm eying the base spec M1 Ultra. The Ultra is basically two M1 Max CPUs joined together, and has 20 CPU cores and 48 GPU cores. The Ultra models start with 64GB RAM(my big complaint about my M1 MBP is the base 8gb RAM) and 1tb storage. Given the option, I'd downgrade that and use fast external, but Apple won't let you do that.

In any case, I haven't ordered yet, but will update here when I do.

It's an exciting time to be a Mac user!
 
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Never knew about this! (I ought to go out moreo_O)
For those needing a more powerful machine I think it's great
but for people like me it would be overkill even in the basic form.
As usual Apple provides excellent hardware quality!
 
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That really seems to address a part of the market I thought was underserved by Apple: A machine capable of kicking a substantial amount of tail (specs are impressive; and I am still wide-eyed with wonder at what they're doing - and purporting to be able to do via their benchmarks - with ARM chips relative to Xeons' performance), that is sans built-in monitor and also not a bazillion dollars in a full-size form factor.
 

bunnspecial

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Yes, this is a computer that I think those of us who follow Macs said "we needed this all along."

Let's face it that the Mac Pro is overkill for most people, especially now that they start at $6K for pretty basic specs and go way up from there to spec them nicely. Granted for a while $3500 was the entry price for the Mac Pro, but a lot of people like me waited until they were a generation old and hitting the secondary market before getting them. My first Mac Pro was a 1,1(2006) that I bought in 2014, and I got a lot of mileage out of that one even though it was "old" then(and it's still moderately capable, although I'd have a hard time using it given my 2012 Macbook Pro is faster at some things, at least 90% as good at others, and uses a heck of a lot less power).

This is a PowerMac G4 Cube in spirit, but with a couple of key differences. The Cube used the same basic hardware as the G4 tower of the same age, but shoved it into a case a fraction of the size tower and then, of all the stupid things, thought it could be passively cooled(and G4s were/are HOT processors). The size and thermals also meant that there was a limit to how powerful of a GPU you could put in, and that really became an issue around OS X 10.4 when Apple started really started leveraging GPUs to render the desktop and offload a lot of work from the CPU.

The Mini came along as a small form factor desktop. The first Mini was awful-a 7447 CPU coupled with a Radeon 9200(which falls apart in OS X 10.4/10.5) and with only one RAM slot realistically a 1gb RAM cap(I think they can handle 2gb, but 2gb sticks that are otherwise compatible are virtually impossible to find). The Mini came into its own in the Intel era, although it's always been somewhat handicapped by using laptop components(the larger case and better cooling let them perform a lot better than they ever would in a laptop, but CPU and GPU options have still been a bit limited). The current Mini is basically the M1 Macbook Pro, which is a great computer in its own right(I'm typing this from the MBP) but still doesn't show off everything the ARM architecture is capable of.

The Studio, IMO, fills a need for a lot of people. We don't have an ARM Mac Pro yet, but at the same time I'd venture to guess that a lot of people who(for example) need the computing power of a Mac Pro don't need PCIe cards. They might need more RAM than is available in a Mini, but not the ludicrous amounts that can be stuffed into a Mac Pro. If you need things like that, there's no substitute for the Mac Pro, but I'd guess the number of people who buy them and even install something other than a GPU or say 128gb RAM is small.

The Studio in its base form is the same family as the high end laptops, but again with a lot more cooling than a laptop. The M1 Ultra is just almost over the top, and IIRC Geekbench was reporting the highest single core performance ever recorded from Ultra Studios(not to mention that you back up nutty single core performance with at least 20 cores).

There's been a lot of speculation in the last several years that the Mac had become Apple's red headed stepchild. The Trashcan Mac Pro was the start of a lot of the discussion, but things like the 2016 Macbook Pro redesign(with the same design language and philosophy as the terrible MacBook Retina) have not won a lot of fans. The current generation Mac Pro and thee 16" MBP gave a lot of hope, but I think a lot of us who are Mac enthusiasts is that the Mac is back. Not only do we have computer CPUs that are insanely fast while using less power and running cooler than basically anything else on the market, but they've quit obsessing over making everything thinner at the cost of anything else and actually start giving us products that work for a lot of people.

The ARM Mac Pro should be over the top, although the Studio, as I said, will do what a lot of people need without the size and expense of the MP.
 
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If I were in the market now, the Studio is the one I'd opt for, over the 27" iMac I got a couple years ago. The base $2K 32/512 configuration is surprisingly generous esp. coming from Apple, and will serve most users. I'd still double the storage to 1TB for the extra $200, though.

The price of the display would be harder to swallow, and supports the notion that with the 27" iMac, you were kinda buying the 5K monitor, and getting a computer thrown in for cheap. But, there are plenty of monitor options on the market, and they can still continue to serve, and not be discarded as part of an AIO, like the iMac. But, since the Studio Display contains its own A13, and runs iOS, imagine if they put tvOS on it and allowed it to serve double duty as a smart TV as well. That would make the price much more palatable.

It's good that Apple has refocused on the Mac again. The years of neglect were more than speculation, but born out by the fact that the iMac tapered edge design first appeared in 2012, and was finally retired, unchanged when the Studio appeared recently. And that design was just an evolution of earlier aluminum iMacs that first appeared in 2007. The Macbook Air has also seen little change since introduction, but is supposed to see a redesign when the next generation appears. The MBPs were given more attention, but not all of it was good, with the loss of ports and the butterfly keyboard, and for some, the touch bar an unwelcome element.

I see it as a return to more practicality, functionality, and back to doing the things that made the Mac truly mainstream, when Apple was in the early stages of building toward being a trillion dollar company. How that correlates to the departure of a certain industrial designer who obsessed over thinness and form over function is an interesting question to ponder.

It will also be interesting to see how the second-generation M series processors scale in performance. A M2 Mac mini might present an interesting alternative to the Studio for most users, despite being the entry-level model.
 
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The M1 Macs are praised for being fast and economical. The M1 Pro, Max and Ultra processors are also impressive. However, there are increasing indications that the interfaces that the Mac provides for external peripherals are sometimes a step backwards and are often less powerful than the counterparts on older Intel Macs. Even the brand new Mac Studio seems to have fundamental problems with the USB ports. We have listed the most well-known problems here and are also looking forward to your feedback.
 
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