How the new Mac Studio fills a crucial gap in Apple's desktop lineup

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited March 15
Apple's Mac Studio slots into an under serviced user-base. Here's how the new computer fills a gap that Apple's had in its product lineup for 15 years.

Mac Studio with the Studio Display
Mac Studio with the Studio Display


This new headless Mac -- one that lacks a built-in display -- joins an increasingly powerful Mac lineup. Here's why we think it was a necessary addition and why we're so excited about its arrival.

A hole in Apple's lineup

Apple has had a glaring hole in its Mac lineup for some time now that lacks the granularity as Apple's other product lines.

For iPad, Apple offers a wide array of choices with various features and performance. On the low end is the basic iPad, followed by iPad mini, the new iPad Air, then the 11-inch iPad Pro, and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

The same goes for the portable Mac lineup with the MacBook Air, entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, 14-inch MacBook Pro, and 16-inch MacBook Pro.

If you turn to the desktop lineup, your options are more limited. You have a choice between the Mac mini -- currently only available with the M1 chip or a lone Intel option, the M1-based 24-inch iMac, or the Mac Pro.





There used to be a massive hole in this lineup with a big gap between price points and performance. The hole was more apparent if you look solely at headless Macs with only the $699 Mac mini and $5,999 Mac Pro as the options.

Mac Studio with the Studio Display
Mac Studio with the Studio Display


Buying a Mac without a built-in display gives users much more control. Rather than being stuck with the built-in panel, users can choose what resolution and refresh rate they want to pay for, what stand to use, what brand, what finish, or fulfill any color calibration requirements they may have.

This also helps long-term. Should you upgrade your Mac or should the Mac keel over, the Mac can be replaced independently of the display. The converse also holds true should the display break or warrant an upgrade.

There's certainly a case to be made for Apple to add a new 27-inch iMac to its lineup, but it wouldn't have met the need of many users that the Mac Studio caters to.

And, it's not clear if that form-factor is ever returning. We'll see.

Performance, ports, and price

The Mac Pro comes to market with a healthy array of ports, performance, and price.

A Mac Studio can be purchased for $1,999 with a capable M1 Max SoC, or you can jump up to $3,999 for an M1 Ultra.

Mac Studio ports
Mac Studio ports


For ports, Apple is not shorting users. The new model brings 10Gb Ethernet for wired connectivity, and two USB-A ports. While the M1 Max version has four Thunderbolt and front-mounted USB 3.2 type-C ports, the M1 Ultra version has six Thunderbolt ports.

Like we've said before, this isn't the mythical minitower that the devout have been clamoring for, for over 20 years. It doesn't have PCI-E, nor vast user expandability.

It's not far from that ideal, though, and offers blistering performance in a small package.

Where to buy

Apple's new Mac Studio is available for purchase at a variety of Apple resellers, with a starting price tag of $1,999. You can compare the latest prices and deals in our Mac Studio Price Guide or jump to one of these popular resellers. Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 41
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,604member
    I accept there is a gap being mostly filled in with the Mac Studio, but there is still a bit of space at the bottom edge, right where a Mac mini with an M1 Pro in it should be.
    doozydozenargonautradarthekatmattinozwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 41
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,734member
    Some people have been pointing out this gap for 15 years and were endlessly flamed for it. It’s nice to see those folks vindicated. And more importantly, it’s great to see apple doing such a consistently wonderful job of advancing the Mac platform. If apple maintains this momentum I think they can gain some serious market share 
    muthuk_vanalingammobirdwilliamlondonAlex_VMplsPdewmedoozydozenargonautavon b7killroy
  • Reply 3 of 41
    blastdoor said:
    Some people have been pointing out this gap for 15 years and were endlessly flamed for it. It’s nice to see those folks vindicated. And more importantly, it’s great to see apple doing such a consistently wonderful job of advancing the Mac platform. If apple maintains this momentum I think they can gain some serious market share 
    I honestly don’t believe that Apple is all that concerned about desktop PC market share anymore, given that the majority of their profits come from the mobile space (phones, tablets, and laptops). Still, the Mac Studio is a great machine. Glad I held off on buying a Mac Mini for my multimedia studio. 
    edited March 15 watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 41
    Not sure where the 15 years comes from. You could make an argument about 10 years, as the aluminum Mac Pros were coming to an end in 2012. The Studio line is essentially the return of the aluminum pro desktop, minus the tower design. 
    williamlondonsandorwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 41
    HedwareHedware Posts: 26member
    How’s this for an nonsensical statement “ There's certainly a case to be made for Apple to add a new 27-inch iMac to its lineup, but it wouldn't have met the need of many users that the Mac Studio caters to.”

    Ok there’s some (no evidence for many) that want something like the Mac Studio and its component style. But the history of strong sales of the integrated 27” iMac makes a strong case for a demand for a M1 27” iMac and probably a higher demand than for Mac Studio. The business market was a strong buyer of 27” iMacs for its appearance and easy upkeep and no cables. Apple writers seem to be ignorant of business when they make statements such as the foregoing one. 
    foregoneconclusionmac_dogrobin huberwilliamlondonSpitbathStationGreyfotoformatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 41
    entropys said:
    … there is still a bit of space at the bottom edge, right where a Mac mini with an M1 Pro in it should be.
    Yes. At this writing, the M1-based Mac mini models have starting prices of $699 and $899. Ignoring the iMac for the moment (since it currently has only an M1 processor), customers who want a desktop Mac with at least an M1 Pro processor have to jump all the way up to the Mac Studio, with its models having $1999 (M1 Max) and $3999 (M1 Ultra) starting prices. We need an M1 Pro desktop model.

    I would very much like to see M1 Pro-based Mac mini models with starting prices of, say, $1299 and $1499 (or $1399 and $1599 — whatever Apple needs to do to make its traditionally high margins without gouging us too much). That gap from consumer-grade Mac mini to the pro-grade Mac Studio is a canyon that needs filling.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 41
    csimmons said:
    I honestly don’t believe that Apple is all that concerned about desktop PC market share anymore, given that the majority of their profits come from the mobile space (phones, tablets, and laptops). Still, the Mac Studio is a great machine. Glad I held off on buying a Mac Mini for my multimedia studio. 
    I disagree. While their emphasis is certainly first and foremost on mobile devices (among which I would not include laptops), Apple clearly sees value in the Mac platform. Not so much for what it adds to the bottom line but rather as a valuable component of their curated walled garden approach. People still use PCs whether desktop or laptop, Apple definitely wants you using a Mac as the hub of your home and home office activities. I feel like Apple also recognizes the importance of keeping happy (eventually, finally...) the many creative professionals who prefer the Mac platform and act as brand ambassadors, whether they do so consciously or not. I work at a TV show's studio, we've been WFH for almost exactly two years now. The office was 100% Mac, as WFH we can choose platform but all of us are Mac except for one editor. Apple clearly puts a lot of thought into product placement for the Mac, we all see this when watching TV or films. That also tells me Apple values the Mac even if it's not the supersexy blockbuster profit generator that iPhone or Services are.
    argonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 41
    Like we've said before, this isn't the mythical minitower that the devout have been clamoring for, for over 20 years. It doesn't have PCI-E, nor vast user expandability.

    Doesn’t Thunderbolt does offer vast user expandability?

    williamlondondewmeargonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 41
    sbdudesbdude Posts: 158member

    Doesn’t Thunderbolt does offer vast user expandability?

    At the cost of desktop space, sure. The m1, however, does not support eGPU.
    williamlondonsandorwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 41
    neilmneilm Posts: 956member
    Hedware said:
    How’s this for an nonsensical statement “ There's certainly a case to be made for Apple to add a new 27-inch iMac to its lineup, but it wouldn't have met the need of many users that the Mac Studio caters to.”

    Ok there’s some (no evidence for many) that want something like the Mac Studio and its component style. But the history of strong sales of the integrated 27” iMac makes a strong case for a demand for a M1 27” iMac and probably a higher demand than for Mac Studio. The business market was a strong buyer of 27” iMacs for its appearance and easy upkeep and no cables. Apple writers seem to be ignorant of business when they make statements such as the foregoing one. 

    There's still a big hole in Apple's lineup, but it's now a different hole.

    We have a small fleet of 27" 5K iMacs used as graphic design workstations. Each of these cost in total about $3 grand plus/minus, configured with either 32GB or 40GB RAM and a 512GB SSD. Replacing any of these with a 32GB/512GB Mac Studio Max, a Studio Display, plus keyboard and mouse, will now run about $4 grand. Yes, performance would be substantially improved, however because for 2D graphics work (mostly Adobe CC apps) we're really not performance constrained, there would be no payback from the faster, but much more expensive Studio Max. (Note that the M1 Mac Mini isn't an option due to its 16GB RAM limitation.)

    We also have an iMac Pro 10-core Xeon W with 64GB/1TB for which we paid about $7500 in 2019. It's used for video editing. If I had to replace this with a 64GB/1TB Mac Studio Ultra and Studio Display, plus keyboard and mouse, it would come in at under $6 grand. So in this case I'd be paying way less and getting substantially higher performance for video tasks that will benefit from that.


    Alex_VSpitbathwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 41
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,639member
    Hedware said:
    How’s this for an nonsensical statement “ There's certainly a case to be made for Apple to add a new 27-inch iMac to its lineup, but it wouldn't have met the need of many users that the Mac Studio caters to.”

    Ok there’s some (no evidence for many) that want something like the Mac Studio and its component style. But the history of strong sales of the integrated 27” iMac makes a strong case for a demand for a M1 27” iMac and probably a higher demand than for Mac Studio. The business market was a strong buyer of 27” iMacs for its appearance and easy upkeep and no cables. Apple writers seem to be ignorant of business when they make statements such as the foregoing one. 
    Agree. What’s so problematic about an iMac in two sizes? The only thing I can think of is this. I have heard that the Studio screen is basically the same one that came in the previous 27” iMac. Could it be that due to supply constraints Apple has redirected all of them to the new Studio? One thing is for sure, I am not downgrading screen size on our two older 27” iMacs in order to get the M1. Nor will I spend extra to get the Mini/Studio combo. 
    williamlondonSpitbathwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 41
    One reason is good monitor becoming more expensive. Apple is hard pressed at producing all-in-one computer at a reasonable price. 
  • Reply 13 of 41
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,590member
    Hedware said:
    How’s this for an nonsensical statement “ There's certainly a case to be made for Apple to add a new 27-inch iMac to its lineup, but it wouldn't have met the need of many users that the Mac Studio caters to.”

    Ok there’s some (no evidence for many) that want something like the Mac Studio and its component style. But the history of strong sales of the integrated 27” iMac makes a strong case for a demand for a M1 27” iMac and probably a higher demand than for Mac Studio. The business market was a strong buyer of 27” iMacs for its appearance and easy upkeep and no cables. Apple writers seem to be ignorant of business when they make statements such as the foregoing one. 
    A 27" iMac with M1 & M1 Pro options would be great.  Let the Mac Studio take care of the market that needs the capability of M1 Max and M1 Ultra
    Spitbathfotoformatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 41
    I think the people complaining about the holes in the current lineup are missing the bigger picture - Just 1 week ago, there was a huge hole in Apple's Mac lineup and this article addresses that fairly well. Can Apple do even better? Sure, they can. But they also need to foresee growth in the Mac market (based on their market research), to be able to commit to more Mac models (particularly the 27 inch iMac that many people in this forum complain about or the Mac Mini with M1 Pro). If they do not foresee significant growth in Mac sales, they might settle down with the current lineup and dedicate their efforts towards other products.
  • Reply 15 of 41
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,734member
    csimmons said:
    blastdoor said:
    Some people have been pointing out this gap for 15 years and were endlessly flamed for it. It’s nice to see those folks vindicated. And more importantly, it’s great to see apple doing such a consistently wonderful job of advancing the Mac platform. If apple maintains this momentum I think they can gain some serious market share 
    I honestly don’t believe that Apple is all that concerned about desktop PC market share anymore, given that the majority of their profits come from the mobile space (phones, tablets, and laptops). Still, the Mac Studio is a great machine. Glad I held off on buying a Mac Mini for my multimedia studio. 
    I honestly believe Apple is concerned about growing in every single market where they sell a product. Apple has reached a point where it's not possible to drive growth with a single hit product. They need to grow every product line. Furthermore, I think Apple recognizes that growth in one product segment facilitates growth in other product segments -- ie, somebody who buys a Mac Studio will be more likely to buy an iPhone, Apple services, etc. And the corollary is -- if Apple loses a Mac customer, they are at greater risk of losing an iPhone etc customer, too. 

    And finally, I suspect Apple recognizes that there are some customers who are much more important than others, not only because they buy a lot of Apple products, but because they evangelize Apple products to others (and support other Apple users). Those are the 'pro' users, and at the tippy top of that group are the Mac Pro users. I think this explains why there's still a Mac Pro. The corollary to losing these folks is that they then become anti-evangelists who discourage others from buying Apple products. 

    So bottom line -- I think Apple management is now pretty darned smart about this stuff, much more so than at some times in the past. 
    muthuk_vanalingamthtanoyllawatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 41
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,990member
    While I think the 27” iMac is now gone, I think they will come out with a 30”+ version instead.  I would rather have a larger AIO with external monitors connected to it than the Mac studio. 

    Maybe the Mac Studio was a product born out of supply constraints with the LCD panels?


    Don’t get me wrong, the studio is. An amazing piece of tech.  If I were to buy one, I would bolt it under my desk.
    edited March 15 watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 41
    boboliciousbobolicious Posts: 1,005member
    Is there more profit in this than the iMac... ?

    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 41
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,692member
    csimmons said:

    I honestly don’t believe that Apple is all that concerned about desktop PC market share anymore ...
    Sure, that's why they just invested in a multi-year effort with Apple Silicon and all these new Macs using it, because they aren't all that concerned about it. 🙄
    rotateleftbytewatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 41
    Any thoughts on using a Mac Studio as a Server for small business?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 41
    dr. xdr. x Posts: 276member
    I wonder how this compares or differs with the Power Mac G4 Cube released in 2000?
    watto_cobra
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