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New Mac Studio and Studio Display Change Mac Buying Calculus

At its Peek Performance event, Apple unveiled an entirely new Mac model: the headless Mac Studio, powered by either an M1 Max or the new M1 Ultra chip, and meant to be paired with a new 27-inch Studio Display that has next to nothing in common with Apple’s similarly named screens from the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The Mac Studio/Studio Display combination renders the immensely popular 27-inch iMac obsolete, and Apple dropped it from the lineup. The company also said that it has only one more model to bring to Apple silicon—the Mac Pro—but that’s an announcement “for another day.”

These moves radically change the calculus for putting together a Mac system that meets a wide variety of needs. Apple may not have addressed all of the requests in “Apple: Design Macs for Other Types of Professionals” (5 March 2022), but trimming the iMac line to just the 24-inch model makes it clear that professionals should move on from the 27-inch iMac and instead focus on pairing the Mac that best meets their needs with a Studio Display.

M1 Ultra Doubles the M1 Max

Rumors kept suggesting that today’s Mac would be powered by an M2 chip, but Apple proved once again that you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet by instead introducing the final member of the M1 family: the M1 Ultra.

One of the traditional ways of increasing performance is to connect two chips together, but that results in slowdowns due to the interconnect and requires developers to code their apps specifically for the two-chip combination. To avoid that, Apple designed its M1 Max chip with something that hadn’t previously been mentioned—the UltraFusion architecture that offers 2.5 terabytes per second of interprocessor bandwidth, supposedly more than four times the competition. Equally important is the fact that the M1 Ultra looks to developers like a single chip, eliminating the need for custom coding.

In essence, then, the M1 Ultra specs just double those of the M1 Max, which features a 10-core CPU, a 24- or 32-core GPU, and a 16-core Neural Engine. Thus, the M1 Ultra boasts a 20-core CPU, a 48- or 64-core GPU, and a 32-core Neural Engine. And where the M1 Max offers either 32 or 64 GB of unified memory, the M1 Ultra doubles that to 64 or 128 GB. Although I’d guess that the M1 Ultra won’t quite be twice as fast as the comparable M1 Max due to the need for the UltraFusion interconnect, I’m willing to bet that the performance will still be insanely fast.

M1 Ultra spec card

Don’t assume that you need the M1 Ultra. The vast majority of Mac users have been happy with the performance of the M1, with the M1 Pro and M1 Max offering more power to those who work with audio, video, and photos. The M1 Ultra provides even more headroom to ensure that no one can claim that a Mac lacks the power for some task.

M1 chip family

Mac Studio Expands the Mac mini

But we’re not chip geeks, so let’s move on to where the M1 Ultra will be used: Apple’s new Mac Studio. It looks like an overinflated Mac mini—it has the same 7.7-inch (19.7 cm) square outline, but where the Mac mini is 1.4 inches (3.6 cm) high, the Mac Studio is a bulky 3.7 inches (9.5 cm) high. Much of that vertical space is occupied by fans necessary to keep the M1 Max or M1 Ultra chips cool, but Apple says the Mac Studio makes minimal noise.

Mac Studio front and back

The Mac Studio also improves on the Mac mini’s set of connections. On the back, it sports four Thunderbolt 4 ports, a 10-gigabit Ethernet port, two USB-A ports, an HDMI port, and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 is built in, along with Bluetooth 5.0. You can drive up to five displays, including four 6K Pro Display XDRs over Thunderbolt and a 4K display over HDMI. That’s not likely, given both the $20,000 cost of all those displays and the difficulty of seeing controls on such a large monitor array.

Apple finally put ports on the front too. The M1 Max model of the Mac Studio features two USB-C ports (up to 10 Gbps), and the M1 Ultra model replaces those with two Thunderbolt 4 ports. Both models feature an SDXC card slot.

Inside, you can choose from four processor possibilities: two with the M1 Max and two with the M1 Ultra. The M1 Max models start at $1999 (with a 512 GB SSD) and the M1 Ultra models at an eye-watering $3999 (with a 1 TB SSD).

  • M1 Max with 10-core CPU, 24-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
  • M1 Max with 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
  • M1 Ultra with 20-core CPU, 48-core GPU, 32-core Neural Engine
  • M1 Ultra with 20-core CPU, 64-core GPU, 32-core Neural Engine

The M1 Max models give you choices of 32 GB or 64 GB (add $400) of unified memory, whereas with the M1 Ultra, your memory choices become 64 GB or 128 GB ($800). Storage starts at 512 GB, with options of 1 TB ($200), 2 TB ($600), 4 TB ($1200), and 8 TB ($2400).

Mac Studio spec card

Finally, although it’s probably not a major part of a buying decision, it’s good to see the level to which Apple is emphasizing sustainability and the environment in its manufacturing.

Mac Studio environment spec card

The Mac Studio is available to order now, with shipments starting on 18 March 2022, though within minutes after the Apple event ended, those dates extended into April.

You won’t get a keyboard, mouse, or trackpad with the Mac Studio, but if you order one, Apple prompts to see if you want to replace your existing input devices. Apple also introduced a new silver-and-black Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and Numeric Keypad ($199), Magic Mouse ($99), and Magic Trackpad ($149) designed to complement the design of the Studio Display.

New Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse, and Magic Trackpad in silver and black

Studio Display: Pricey, but Impressive

For many of us, I’ve saved the best for last. Lots of Mac users have long lamented the lack of an Apple-designed 5K display, given the quality of the 5K Retina display built into the 27-inch iMac since 2014. Apple’s 2019 introduction of the 6K Pro Display XDR showed that the company was still interested in making displays, but at a $5000 starting price—with another $1000 for the Pro Stand—only high-end video professionals could afford it. The new Studio Display isn’t cheap at $1599, but it will undoubtedly sell vastly more units than the Pro Display XDR has.

To start, the Studio Display is a 27-inch 5K Retina display with a native resolution of 5120-by-2800, the same as the now-discontinued 27-inch iMac. It also supports P3 wide color and True Tone technology, and it’s configurable with nano-texture glass for less reflectivity for an additional $300. The Studio Display bests the iMac in brightness: 600 nits to 500 nits.

Studio Display spec card

Another improvement comes in adjustability. The 27-inch iMac’s ergonomics were terrible, limited only to tilt. By default, the Studio Display is the same, offering a stand with 30º of tilt (-5º to 25º). But for an extra $400, you can buy a tilt and height-adjustable stand that adds 4.1 inches (105 mm) of height adjustability as well. It would be a lot cheaper to stack up some books instead, but still, it’s nice to have the option. A VESA mount adapter is also a standard option for no additional cost if you’d prefer to attach the Studio Display to a wall or desk mount, stand, or articulating arm. Even better, when you use the VESA mount, you can rotate the Studio Display to portrait orientation. The stand/mount options are not interchangeable, so you can’t swap one for another later, although you can reportedly pay an Apple Authorized Service Provider to do it.

Studio Display stands and portrait orientation

What is most interesting about the Studio Display is that it’s powered by an A13 Bionic chip, which Apple uses to manage the display’s impressive audio and video capabilities. The 1080p FaceTime camera that Apple added to the M1-based Macs may have been a slight step up from the previous 720p camera, but the Studio Display blows it out of the water with a 12-megapixel Ultra Wide camera with 122º field of view. That camera finally brings to the Mac Center Stage, Apple’s auto-framing technology that has previously been restricted to iPads (see “Center Stage Keeps You in the Video Chat Frame,” 23 September 2021).

Backing up that camera for videoconferencing is a three-mic array with directional beamforming and a high-fidelity six-speaker system with four woofers and two tweeters. Apple says it’s the best sound system ever built into a Mac or display, and it even supports spatial audio when playing music or video with Dolby Atmos. Plus, you can use “Hey Siri” with it.

In terms of ports, the Studio Display offers one Thunderbolt 3 port to connect to a Mac—complete with 96-watt charging—and three USB-C ports for connecting peripherals.

In many ways, a Studio Display combined with any M1-based Mac addresses a number of the requests I made in “Apple: Design Macs for Other Types of Professionals.” The Studio Display meets the desire for an affordable (if just) standalone Retina display and provides better ergonomics, including the option to rotate the screen. More ports might be nice, but at least it provides 96-watt charging. And while there’s no Face ID support, it does boast a significantly better camera for videoconferencing, with Center Stage. Color me impressed… and interested.

As with the Mac Studio, the Studio Display is available to order now, with shipments starting on 18 March 2022, though those dates are also already extending into April for the less common build-to-order options.

Changing the Calculus

The 27-inch iMac has been such a bastion of the Mac lineup—and the computer I’ve used nonstop for almost 8 years—that I couldn’t even conceive of Apple dropping it. But drop it Apple did, replacing it with the Studio Display and your choice of M1-based Mac. Which Mac? The Mac Studio may be the most obvious option, but even the MacBook Air, Mac mini, or one of the MacBook Pros would easily best the performance of the most recent 27-inch iMac.

So if a 27-inch iMac no longer holds the sweet spot where performance and screen size/quality intersect, I may have to rethink my usual strategy of combining an inexpensive laptop Mac with a high-performance desktop Mac with dual displays. I don’t think I’d sell all my current gear to get there quickly, but the combination of a pair of Studio Displays and a 14-inch M1 Pro-based MacBook Pro (the least expensive, smallest laptop that can run two external displays) would cost $5612 after taxes. That sounds like a lot, but when I look at the cost of my current 2020 27-inch iMac and M1-based MacBook Air, plus the Thunderbolt Display I bought in 2014, it comes out to a shockingly similar $5587. (My original 2014 27-inch iMac was $620 more expensive yet.) In essence, I’d be paying more for screens and less for computers but getting the same level of overall functionality, given that I only ever use one of my Macs at a time.

But that’s just me. A Studio Display paired with an M1 Ultra-based Mac Studio puts not just the old iMac Pro but also the current Mac Pro to shame. For those who prefer to separate their Mac and their display, combining a Studio Display with a Mac mini is also a good option, though you could save a good bit with a 24-inch iMac. And of course, the Studio Display is perfect for the classic combination of a high-powered laptop Mac that connects to a large monitor when working at a desk. For a full rundown of the options available to those who were waiting for an Apple silicon 27-inch iMac, see “Which Mac Will Replace the 27-iMac for You?” (12 March 2022).

At the end of the day, I’m giving my nod to the Studio Display as the most interesting Mac announcement of the event… and perhaps of the year. With it, Apple has opened up many more possibilities for professional Mac users of all stripes.

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Comments About New Mac Studio and Studio Display Change Mac Buying Calculus

Notable Replies

  1. Although I’d guess that the M1 Ultra won’t quite be twice as fast as the comparable M1 Max due to the need for the UltraFusion interconnect, I’m willing to bet that the performance will still be insanely fast.

    Actually first benchmarks show the Ultra performs indeed just as a scaled up Max. That’s what UltraFusion and excellent thermal management get you. Good luck, Intel. ;)

    In terms of ports, the Studio Display offers one Thunderbolt 3 port to connect to a Mac—complete with 96-watt charging—and three USB-C ports for connecting peripherals. Perhaps I don’t entirely understand the variables involved in divvying up the available bandwidth, but that feels a little stingy. Even my 27-inch Thunderbolt Display offered three USB-A ports, a Thunderbolt 2 port, a FireWire 800 port, and an Ethernet jack.

    I agree it feels that way, but the 5K display is pushing very roughly 26.5 Gbps (w/o compression) alone. That’s a whole lot more bandwidth than your old Thunderbolt Display. But the TB pipe used only gained a total of 20 Gbps in the meantime. Also, 3x USB-C is 3 times more than those old 2x USB-A. By comparison FW800 and Gigabit are nothing.

    I’m actually rather curious how much bandwidth can be detected through those 3 USB-C when the display is run at 60 Hz and its native resolution. It’s not going to be 3x 10 Gbps that’s for sure.

    That sounds like a lot, but when I look at the cost of my current 2020 27-inch iMac and M1-based MacBook Air, plus the Thunderbolt Display I bought in 2014, it comes out to a shockingly similar $5587.

    And in today’s money that’s actually over $6600.

    I’m a big fan of the MBP plus screen & dock solution. It’s what my main workstation looks like at work.

    But I also think if Apple were to introduce an M1 Pro replacement of the Intel Mac mini, this would present a much less expensive option for folks who just need a desktop Mac. Take such a ~$1200 M1 Pro mini and add a Studio display for a total of ~$2800. That’s comparable to what you would have laid out for a high-end 27" iMac. And way below iMac Pro cost.

    In your example you also make a point out of getting two Studio Displays and that excludes the M1 (assuming we forget about DisplayLink). For those OTOH who just want a single good 5K screen, the great M1 performance could make even the low-end mini viable. And then you’re looking at ~$2300 for the mini+Studio Display combo which is squarely in 27" iMac territory.

  2. With the “disappearance” of the 27" iMac, I wonder whether Apple can/would/will come out with a firmware/software tweak which will let us use our 27" iMacs as screens for the Mac Studio?

    Luna, Duet?

    That would mean I could get a higher specced Mac Studio now and Studio Display down the track.

  3. @ Simon… apparently the AMD Threadripper 3990, a 2yr old CPU, can still compete.

    While I am not happy with Apple’s calculated pricing tiers, I’ve considered selling off my MacMini and MacPro Late2013 to which I would then get a 64GB/1TB Mac Studio @ $2599. I already have a 27" 4K display and would rather spend the new 5k display money on a bandsaw :slight_smile:

    But I am rather disappointed that unlike the 24" M1 IMac line, there is no color options for the new Display or the Mac Studio. A black option (they do it with the trackpad and mouse!) would have been welcome. How does Apple promote a creative pro’s computer but it appears…sterile?

  4. Well barely. And at more than 3x as many cores. :laughing:

    With a correspondin wattage and heat issues. Plus it’s expensive. So the M1 in the MP will have it beat by about 100% at likely far lower wattage and at best at equal cost.

    Seriously, Apple has outdone itself with the Ultra. This is a game changer. And the fact that this happened less than two years after the first M1 came out is impressive. Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA are in for a ride. So are we. :)

  5. LOL, now this is cute. :laughing:

    No biggie, you can always sell of your $2k height-adjustable Studio Display and buy a new one when you want to get a VESA to rotate.

    Tags: money grab, greed, derangement. :wink:

  6. Adam’s example of dual monitor setup makes sense, but the replacement for a current 27" iMac user with a higher end CPU setup is missing. I think this is the big hole currently.

    The M1, while amazing, has two big gaps for me. The 16GB ram limit and the lack of media engine, hardware H.264 encoding/decoding. Even if not a video creative, lots of people watch movies, take video of their kids etc. Even every photo taken with an iPhone is technically H.264 video when live photos is turned on.

    So I too hope that the mac mini might gain a higher end M1 Pro option, otherwise for me the only option is the MBP for what I’d be looking for. And even a high end mini for $1200 is much less than the minimum of $2.5-3 for a 14" MBP with a mid-range setup (10/16 cores, 32GB ram).

    I fear that Apple might not go there though, right now the Mac Mini, iMac, and MBAir are are clearly student/consumer models, and M1 only. With the Mac Studio starting with the M1 Max, a M1 Pro in a Mac mini might blur the lines. Another option to maintain the consumer/pro line: a Mac Studio with M1 Pro for $1500 (could even drop to Gig-E) would be very attractive to me, given the better port access etc.

    [Tangental thought, With WFH, I wonder if there’s been a notable trend towards more desktops and if it will continue. I know my own need for laptop has decreased.]

  7. I don’t think Apple will add the M1Max to the MacMini. It would steal sales from the MacStudio M1Max. Where the M1Ultra MacStudio will fill the gap of those not justifying the MacPro premium. That gap, the Macpro, was hinted at, where I can see a M2Pro, M2Ultra or Dual M1Ultras.

    Now, in the future, when Apple releases M2 chips (or similar), I can see that an M2 MacMini could be par with M1Max, with perhaps a 32GB/64GB Unified Memory capability. But not if it would take sales from the Mac Studio.
    Just disappointed that Apple, which showed much “diversity” in their marketing video, didn’t give us more colour options on the cases of the display and Mac Studio box. If taking away the 27" iMac, but giving us 24" iMac in colours… Why no Space Gray Studio and display? Or Black? (maybe that would look like a REALLY XXL Apple TV? :laughing:

  8. I agree the M1 Max wouldn’t end up in the Mac Mini for lots of reasons (product differentiation, thermal etc). I think the possibility discussed was if the M1 Pro could/would be added to the Mini.

    Right now there is no M1 Pro desktop option available.

  9. Adam wrote: “For those who prefer to separate their Mac and their display, combining a Studio Display with a Mac mini isn’t that much more than a 24-inch iMac”

    This is the purchase point I have been mulling over ever since Simon, I think, woke me up to the waste it is to throw out the iMac monitor to get better CPU performance. Perhaps I am confused about specs and not considering ports/connectivity etc. But…

    When I configure an M1 iMac with 16 GB and 1 TB, plus Numeric/Touch ID keyboard, it’s $2,129.

    Configuring a similar Mini and Studio Display (adding a mouse and keyboard) the price is $3,156.

    That’s a $1000, or nearly 50%, higher price than the iMac. Of course for this you get a 27" 5K monitor with better camera and sound, as opposed to the 24" 4.5K iMac.

    (And, though it makes no difference to me, isn’t the Studio Display actually thicker than the iMac?)

    Am I missing something?

  10. I think that’s about right. The only way to get a Studio Display & Mac mini combo to get close price-wise to the 24" M1 iMac or the old 27" Intel iMac is by choosing a low-end config. M1 8/256 is $599.

    But spec out that M1 Mac mini and add quality KB/mouse, and you’re really closing in on the ~$2800 range. I think people need to realize you’re paying a premium for the Studio Display and the old 27" iMac was indeed good value for its time. But its Intel stinks compared to the new M1x.

  11. Yeah, that was muddled thinking on my part at the end of a very long day. You’re right, and the 24-inch iMac is quite a bit cheaper, though of course, not as large or as capable. But $1000 difference? Probably not worth it for most people.

  12. You know, I would really not expect a “low-end” Mac Studio. This an expensive case with lots of cooling for just an M1 Pro.

    But that said, I’m perhaps not as concerned about blur as you are. I think in the past Apple has been very selective about this. I agree they usually are concerned about it, but at other times they seem to not really care at all: the iMac Pro blurred the MP and the iMac. The iPad lineup has been almost exclusively blur for years. The 13" low-end MBP is super blur between MBA and “real MBP” (high-end 13" before, low-end 14" now). It’s really not clear to me where they draw the line. Or recall the old 4-core i7 Mac mini “server”. That was a lot of blur considering the old MP being sold at the same time.

    We know they are keeping the Intel Mac mini alive due to need. I would image that need doesn’t just go away with Intel alone. Less expensive headless and/or rack-mountable number crunchers will still be required in M1 territory. Sure, the Mac Studio would be great at that too, but I would estimate an M1 Pro Mac mini gets you many more flops per cubic foot than a Mac Studio.

  13. Agreed. The only clear advantage (price-wise) here is that you can keep using that monitor as you upgrade the computer in the future.

    For example, I bought my current display (a Dell 2405 FPW) almost 20 years ago (replacing a CRT display on my 2002 PowerMac). I have kept on using it since then through two subsequent computers (a 2011 Mac mini and a 2018 Mini) and it’s still working great.

    Assuming Apple’s Studio Display is of similar high quality, you should be able to keep using it for the next 15-20 years, as you upgrade the computers that connect to it. Which translates into savings if you would otherwise be using iMacs as the computer - since each successive system doesn’t need a new display.

    So instead of comparing a single purchase (e.g. a $2200 iMac vs $3200 for a Mac mini and display), consider the comparison against 20 years of computing (let’s say 4 computers - if you upgrade every 5 years).

    With this comparison (using today’s prices and assuming that the replacements over time cost the same), you’re looking at:

    • iMac solution: $2100 (8-core M1, 16G RAM, 1TB storage) * 4 = $8400
    • Mini solution: $1600 (display) + $300 (keyboard with TouchID and Magic Mouse) + $1300 (8-core M1, 16G RAM, 1TB storage) * 4 = $7100

    Of course, this assumes you will be able to keep using the display for 20 years. Apple’s display longevity may not end up being the same as my experience with my Dell display. I think the biggest risk is if some future generation Mac stops using Thunderbolt as a display interface or if the Thunderbolt interface 15 years from now isn’t backward compatible with TB3 (and adapters are not available).

  14. I’ve been waiting for a more capable M1 Mac mini to use as our server. I just ordered a M1 Max Mac Studio. I’ve also been waiting for an affordable 32 inch 5k+, preferably 6k, display. I love the new Studio Display’s specs, but I need a 32 inch version. The Pro Display XDR is double what I can afford. I’m hoping they’ll release a 32 inch Studio Display sometime soon.

  15. I’m curious what kind of load you’re putting on your ‘mini as server.’ I’ve had a low end Mini as a file server for years, and never noticed any particular computational load on it. The lag was with disk arrays and the external connection to same. A low end M1 server and some USB-C drives seems to be just fine as a file server.

    Now for a long time I ran a larger set of OS X Server services, including DNS, LDAP, VPN, etc Even with that additional load, I can’t say that my Intel servers ever showed much load. (And I -really miss- the product that OS X Server became, in terms of ease of configuration for small/home office needs!! I started with Tiger Server, back when OS X Server cost $1k, and was a real PITA to configure…)

  16. You could get two studio displays for about half of what the XDR costs. At least 50% more screen real estate.

  17. On other Apple forums, most people find the price of the Studio display ridiculous, because it’s the same 5K as the 5.5 year old LG 5K’s, yet Apple are asking a ridiculous $1600 for it.

    Along with the silly stand issues and the minimal length 1m cable (extra $130/160 for 1.8m/3m ones!).

    And given they’re removing the standard 27" iMac, surely this “Studio” display has to also be used by non-techie people (with a lower end headless Mac), not just the mid-tier professionals (with a Studio mac) they seem to be attempting to market it as. Making the pricing for it very much overpriced.

    I have to agree with them. This is clearly a more expensive option over 27" iMac ones, and is very obviously Apple driving up average prices overall. What’s new, I guess, but it isn’t going down well at all.

  18. I agree the Studio Display is expensive. Combine it with even the cheapest Mac mini and you’re already beyond the $1799 entry-level 27" iMac in terms of price. So, yes, no doubt it’s expensive and Apple is once again introducing something to get more people to pey them more money.

    But I disagree about the comparison with the LG 5K. The LG sucked. I never understood why it got trumped up so much by the Mac press. Perhaps because it was the only 5K display that didn’t come with a built-in iMac. I don’t care if the Studio Display is the same panel or not cheap compared to the LG. The LG sucked. This thing rocks. No comparison.

  19. I haven’t rechecked the specs, but I believe I saw that the screen is essentially the same as 2020 27" iMac. However, in addition to the screen, the Studio Display incorporates the following elements:

    1. Supposedly a better microphone cluster
    2. A camera upgrade to the iPad front camera
    3. An upgraded speaker system supposedly capable of reproducing Spatial Audio (we’ll see if that’s true when it’s reviewed). If it’s that good, goodbye to desktop speakers.
  20. LG buys advertising.

  21. Way back in the 80-90s, my dad and I used to joke about how expensive Macs were. And then how keyboards and mice were sold separately for a mint. Because back then it was unheard of that a PC would be sold without a keyboard. Or keyboard/mouse later on.

    We first got started on the Mac on PowerBooks, so didn’t need external keyboard/mouse. When he first got started on a desktop, the Power Macintosh G3 had by then come with keyboard and mouse in the box. In fact, some of the later Power Macintoshes came with the round mouse.

    I see that Apple is reverting to their no mouse/keyboard for their non-screen Macs. This is not a complaint. Just an observation. The shipping box would be tiny.

  22. Its ironic that I was just working on a 27" imac (2012 8Gb/1TB SSD) to update for Catalina, its last supported OS and noticed how nice it ran, compared to the 21.5" models I’ve been replacing at work. But now, I get to start putting in 24"M1 iMacs (less screen size) in as replacements for the 27" deprecated models and think, its not the same cost wise to replace with similar 27". A 27" Studio Display would be $500 under my budget per desktop. Leaving me $500 for … ? Its double that for a M1 MacMini. Or less available if I opt for the tilt-Studio mount. Replacing 27" iMacs reality just hit. Like everything else, its going to cost more for same size and features. (A M1 MacMini 16/1TB is $1300…the Tilt stand version $2000. Total for the replacement equivalent is now $3300. For my work, its $1000 over my allocated budget for replacement. :money_mouth_face:
    (I had to edit as I am rushing out the house…so much for remote from home)

  23. I have two LG 5K’s and was hoping for an (affordable) Apple display. But this is not it. I didn’t expect it to be cheap either, but at least in line with reality for 5.5 year old technology in the LG’s (or 8 years old, if you talk about the first Retina 27" iMacs). Sure speakers, mic, camera are better, but for $1600 (or £1500 GBP) it’s simply not worth it.

    Outside the extras above, the LG’s are not as good in terms of aesthetics, but the screen is exactly the same, and the keyboard shortcut integration is exactly the same. It got talked about as it was the one Apple sold and supported (even with support articles) all over their sales campaigns. And there was nothing viable that competed (the few other 5K’s ever released in limited numbers were flawed in one way or another; needed two cables, no Mac integration, etc.).

    For an example of the overpricing. I bought my two LG’s each for £884 (£1768 for both) direct from Apple in late 2016. They came with a 2m TB cable, a hydraulic-type straight-up-down stand, plus a hidden neat vesa mount point (I later mounted mine on a dual arm accordingly).

    Yet here Apple are releasing the same technology some 5.5 years later for $1600 minimum. They are then offering three options that have to be chosen at time of purchase(!?), so extra $300 nano, $400 height stand (or take either the plain stand or vesa version). They then only include a 1m cable that won’t be long enough for getting even on a stand under a desk, then charge $130 1.8m / $160 3m extra. So a maxed out one is just under $2.5K ($2460) for the nano version, or $2160 non-nano version. And you still can’t ever vesa mount the thing in future!

    And what about the other other point I previously mentioned: the marketing is off.
    Apple markets it aiming at pro’s who need a more affordable option, but then by withdrawing the 27" standard iMac, they’re effectively doing the opposite; aiming at the mom+pops who if they want an all-Apple setup, will have to buy the “Studio” display. It’s entirely incongruous with the price point & marketing direction. Weird.

  24. I don’t see how you’d claim you need a $2k Studio display to replace a 27" iMac. The 27" iMac had the same silly limited stand as the $1600 Studio.

    If you previously bought a 27" iMac for ~$2.5k, plain and simple that means you now have $900 left for a Mac mini.

    If that’s not enough to get the specs you want, you have essentially two options:
    • 24" M1 iMac
    • get a cheaper display (quality 4Ks go for ~$600)
    So yeah, this Apple price hike means you get less for more (sound familiar? iPhone? iPad? Bueller?). But it also means that if you can afford what they’re offering right now, you’re getting some really sweet kit. :slight_smile:

  25. No doubt a third-party may manage to find a way to do some kind of option to get from the stand/height stand to vesa somehow. But then would that have the stand hanging off the back on the vesa arms. Lol!

    And have you seen Apple’s vesa mounting ‘solution’. It covers most of their logo in the process, seemingly. Who designs these awful solutions…

    Basically something like these, when on an arm: ugly!
    studio-display-vesa-witb-202203_FMT_WHH d studio-display-vesa-witb-202203_FMT_WHH(1) 3

  26. Well, I can’t wait to get one.

    Working out how is the main thing.

  27. I was excited at the announcement of the Studio Display and Mac Studio. Then I started to price out the upgraded RAM and storage (64 GB and 4 TB). Pretty soon I was at $3600. And no ability to upgrade either RAM or internal storage in the future.

    So I’m back to where I was before. I’m using a 2010 MacPro and had planned to upgrade to the 2019 MacPro – until I saw the entry level price of $6000. So I stayed with the old MacPro hoping for something better in the future.

    I understand that Apple does not build upgradeable Macs anymore (MacPro excepted). I do not want to buy a system that cannot be upgraded. When I purchased my MacPro in 2010 it was with minimal RAM and HD space. Since then I have upgraded RAM, larger HDs, then small SSDs to larger SSDs, added PCIe cards for faster SSD, swapped out the GPU to allow it to run Mojave, swapped out the CPU for more and faster cores. I currently have 12 TB of internal storage (3 SSD, 2 HD) with boot drives for Snow Leopard, Sierra, and Mojave. I really don’t know how much I have spent on these upgrades – probably as much as a modern MacPro costs. But I did it a bit at a time when it was needed.

    So, after a day of swooning over the Mac Studio and Studio Display I will continue to use my MacPro (2010) and my 20" Apple Cinema Display. After all, they work just fine for email, web browsing, Office, Lightroom, Photoshop, DaVinci Resolve, a handful of scientific applications, 32-bit apps, and more. Who needs a new computer? Apparently, I don’t.

  28. $3999 eye watering? It is pricey, but how does it compare to other pcs of similar performance? Geekbench in excess of 24000, impressive graphics, fast and secure SSD, and great build and thermals? Probably quite well.

    I’m having trouble finding comparables. I’d love to see some though

  29. I’m seriously curious about this comment…especially for Lightroom use. The LG gets plenty of good reviews by folks on photography forums so I’m wondering if others here agree with it or have good experiences with the LG.

    Since Apple doesn’t make the panel…it wouldn’t really surprise me if this the same panel as the LG albeit with slightly brighter output. Yes…it’s got the camera and spatial audio and etc…but for a lot of uses those are irrelevant. Wondering if there’s any real downside to the LG over the Studio display for Lightroom use…obviously nobody has one to compare yet but I’m assuming the Studio will be basically equivalent to the 27 iMac image quality wise so perhaps somebody has or has used an LG alongside a 27 iMac.

    I’m not opposed to the Studio for image usage…and can afford the extra $$…but the added features are useless to me so if image quality isn’t better than the LG then the extra cost isn’t worth it.

  30. I know. I know.
    But this is what users want.
    Personally, I have a LG 4K 27" USB-C that I got in 2020 for $500 before the pandemic buyers started sucking up resources. Added a Logitech Brio and using my old speakers (Monsoons… who remembers those? with magnplanar drivers and sub).

    Irony: I’ve replaced one 27" iMac a month ago with a 24" M1 and they haven’t complained…which is a SHOCK! :open_mouth:

    (uh oh…rumors flying now of some M2 MacMini maybe in June…)

  31. There are many different flavors of pros, and I think that Studio is aiming a level down from the high end Pro but above prosumer. Or maybe a prosumer who would like a monitor with really good built in speakers, but that’s probably a tiny market segment. The “my Rolex is better than your Seiko” crowd seems to make more sense. The Studio monitor line could end up as successful as the 14k gold encrusted edition of the first model of Apple Watch:

  32. Yes, strange isn’t it.

  33. Apple has clearly moved towards a model where upgradeability post-purchase is considered an upper level professional characteristic that one has to pay a lot for.

    Remember that desktops are a small fraction of the Macs that Apple sells. It’s predominantly laptops.

  34. The ex-MacWorld staffers at Six Colors have published 2 somewhat conflicting articles related to the 'what replaces the 27" iMac in the Mac lineup:

    First, from Dan Moran:

    Second, from Jason Snell on the MacWorld site:

  35. When did a built-in display become a mandatory part of the definition of “consumer desktop”? It wasn’t that long ago that the term simply meant “desktop system that doesn’t cost too much”.

    I think the mini is absolutely a consumer desktop. And I think you could make the argument that the lower-end configurations of the Mac Studio also qualify.

  36. The market for consumer desktops is way beyond saturated. The profits and profit margins just aren’t there.

  37. One other thing I haven’t seen any mention of regarding the Studio Display is multi-computer support. One of the reasons I originally bought a $1k Dell 24" monitor in the 2000s was the built in multi-source switching. Remember when KVMs were hundreds of dollars, and a computer that booted when not hooked up to a monitor would get cranky in weird ways? The new Dell 32" I bought in 2019 also supports multiple inputs, so great for a laptop work computer and personal desktop etc.

    I’m assuming the Studio display has no such support, which is another downside, especially now that they are separating out the monitor from the computer. Then again…it only has one input, so not sure how switching would work.

  38. Agree. Two inputs would have been a killer feature that would’ve made it fly off the shelves. But I don’t think you can do it with Thunderbolt input, versus DP or HDMI ones.

  39. I hope there are some decent videos online showing the display on Vesa mount arms, so we can see how they work with Apple’s new display.

  40. There isn’t generally a lot of load, but I do sometimes use the machine for Xcode builds. I was mainly wanting a 32GB device. My previous two mini servers started with small RAM and drives, and got upgraded along the way. This machine doesn’t provide that option, so I am potentially over-buying to future-proof my purchase. If Apple decides to release a 32GB mini at some point, I’ll repurpose this machines as a workstation.

  41. I thought about this, but I really need a single monitor that can display as large a Xcode window as possible. A 3008 x 1682 window on a 6k display would be so much nicer to work in than my current 2560 x 1440. And, I might be able to push that up to a bit bigger. if I could get closer to 3300 x 1850 I’d be in heaven.

  42. Remember that desktops are a small fraction of the Macs that Apple sells. It’s predominantly laptops.

    That’s what I figure too. But hasn’t that been the case for a long time?

  43. I think the reservation of modularity for the Pro line is born of experience, most users buy their machine and never modify them. The laptop has turned us all into dongle users…

    What modularity means… that’s another matter. I wonder if that’s modularity within an Apple world only, a set of optional addons that they offer which could scale or add features over time. I’ve been suspecting they would look at a new bus which would be a spine for modules they add on. Or whether third party cards and such can be slotted in. Who knows… perhaps both. Back in the day, every computer was such.

    My Studio Display is on order… awaiting a delivery date.

    I have to find a way to switch it and a set of peripherals between my Max laptop and my 2019 iMac.

  44. Sure, which is why Apple’s desktop offerings have tended to have gaps in them for a while. The Studio, rather than filling one in an existing lineup, shifted the gap higher up.

  45. TBH, I’m not expecting too much upgradability or expandability from the new MP either.

    We won’t see socketed CPU or RAM. (Edit: daughter cards – well maybe…) We’ll again see soldered flash. I doubt we’ll see RAM slots. Heck, I doubt we’ll even see a PCIe slot. Perhaps a couple internal drive bays or some Apple proprietary slot to add excessively expensive flash storage cards. That’s what I’d expect.

    Apple was never big on internal expansion in the more recent future. And they were rarely really good at it. When we had drive bays, there often was a lack of power or cooling or some other half baked shenaningan that made it cumbersome. When we had card slots, there were often few good cards available and they were expensive as heck and often left unsupported by subsequent OS updates. It was always a solution that felt like superglue, duct tape, and bale wire. Not something I would associate with modern OCD Apple and its clean Apple Silicon platform.

  46. Claim w/o data and lacking citation.

    The fact that Apple ran a highly successful iMac line for two decades tells me they made a boatload of money off of it.

    Maybe in junk PC land that statement is true, but that Apple found a way to make a pretty penny off of consumer desktops? There is zero doubt about that. Perhaps they think they won’t in the future, but they certainly have in the past. And they certainly made much more off of it so far than they have made on all these silly vanity projects they seem so obsessed with lately like TV and crappy arcade game bundles.

  47. if I could get closer to 3300 x 1850 I’d be in heaven.

    What about something like the Alienware QD-OLED? That has a resolution of 3440 x 1440. Not quite your ideal resolution, but pretty close. I haven’t researched it, but I imagine there are other displays of similar resolution that have different panels and features.

  48. You might also want to head over to Amazon, do a search for desktops, and keep and eye on the number of PCs that have their prices marked down.

  49. Thunderbolt allows hot swapping, so if a monitor had two TB inputs, would just need a button to switch between…but not familiar with TB well enough to know if the monitor could maintain the illusion to the non-selected computer that it was hooked up to a monitor so it didn’t instantly go to sleep (closed laptop for example).

    And not even sure there are any thunderbolt KVMs that support 5K resolution. So think the option is “move the cable”.

  50. Please keep it civil, folks.

  51. Yes, the Studio Display has only a single input. This has, unfortunately, been an Apple tradition since at least the first Studio Displays around '98 (if not longer).

  52. As I already wrote above: just because that might be the case in junk PC land, doesn’t mean it holds for Apple. And Apple does not publish such information.

    What we know is that Apple made a tremendous amount of profit with iMac for two decades. They obviously assume they can make similar profits with mini+Studio or they wouldn’t do it. They make plenty on the desktop or they wouldn’t do it. They don’t give two hoots about what Dell and friends need to do to make money over in Windows land. And they certainly don’t base their lineup on whatever pops up when you search for this or that on Amazon. :laughing:

  53. The probable reason they don’t “publish such information” is that except for the new top of the line XDR, which was released about a year ago, Apple hasn’t manufactured a freestanding display for quite a few years.

  54. Has anyone actually seen a hands on review of these? The big gap between these and the old in person announcements is there’s no ‘and then we were led to another area…” coverage.

  55. I’m pretty sure that review units are in the reviewers’ hands now and any reviews are embargoed until a day or two before the release to stores on Friday, March 18. If I were a betting man, I would bet we’ll be seeing reviews on sites like Daring Fireball, the Verge, Ars Technica, the WSJ (with a Joanna Stern video), and Macworld either fairly late on Wednesday or early Thursday.

    I’d note that John Gruber at Daring Fireball was been really quiet this week (just a few short comments).

    For what it’s worth, I ordered a few days ago with delivery of the display in early April and the box in mid-Aprtil. If reviews are terrible, I can always cancel before shipping. I’ve already figured out how I’ll be changing my desk as well as the strategy migrating from my iMac.

  56. @aforkosh posted a link up there to Dan Moren’s great piece which nicely sums up where we are now with the Mac lineup. And that there is a gap.

    He breaks it down this way. There’s two affordable desktops: $699 mini and $1299 24" iMac. Meanwhile there’s three more powerful options: $1999 and $399 Studio plus the $5999 MP and for each of those add $400-$2k for the display depending on where you stand on the scale from junk 4K to Studio with decent stand. So realistically speaking, there is nothing between $1299 and $2399.

    And what’s missing right in there is the “prosumer” option. Those folks perhaps need more than the M1 (external displays, 16-GB RAM ceiling) so a MBA plus screen is not a viable alternative either.

    The M1 Pro brings exactly that to the table. Now perhaps, Apple is just waiting to update the M1 mini and 24" iMac with the M2 and it’s likely the M2 will offer support for more TB busses (displays) and 32-GB RAM ceiling. Then a $699 Mac mini plus perhaps a USB/TB hub for more ports can fill that void. Certainly not as elegant as a high-end M1 Pro mini, but viable.

    Ironically, such an option again underlines this lack of a more affordable Apple display. Say you’re targeting that gap in terms of funds to spend. So once you deduct ~$1k for either an alleged M1 Pro high-end mini or $699 for a future M2 mini, you’d be left with ~$900-$1200 and that simply does not buy you a Studio Display. Not even if you opt for the silly stand.

    I was never a 27" iMac fan, but darn if this whole exercise hasn’t reiterated what a great value it presented. :slight_smile:

  57. After some due consideration…I’ve decided to go with the Studio instead of the M1 mini as well. As I noted in another reply…I’m also interested in going to a single Lightroom catalog for home and travel and original was going to do that with my 14 inch MBP…but instead I’m going to put LR catalog on an external TB drive and just move that to the laptop for travel.

    I can’t remember whether it was here, on Ugly Hedgehog photo forum, or the Backcountry Gallery forum but there was some talk about spending the kid’s inheritance or not. That really doesn’t apply for me here…but when I priced out the Studio with 2TB vs the M1 mini with 16 GB and 2TB there’s only a $1000 difference…and that’s pretty much negligible considering the extra performance the Max will get over the M1 nothing.

  58. Let’s be consistent. You can’t put the mini at $699 – it doesn’t come with a monitor either. So if you’re going with that evaluation, the Mac line really starts at $1099 (mini plus inexpensive monitor).

    And I want to questions the unexamined assumption that there has to be a separate model for each space. Breaking down the price range for each desktop (bare bones to fully-hardware maxed – I just went to the Apple store and selected all the max hardware choices), it looks like this:

    Mini: $699 to $1799
    iMac 24: $1299 to $2658
    Studio: $1999 to $7999
    Pro: $5999 to $54,448

    A couple of points:

    1. Lots of overlap there
    2. In fact, the iMac 24 peters out just at the moment when a Studio + inexpensive monitor starts to show up (ie, $2400 and up range)
    3. I’m pretty all the cars I’ve ever purchased combined came in at a lower price than the fully kitted out Mac Pro. Whew.
  59. That’s certainly correct, but I don’t see where the supposed inconsistency lies.

    Nobody ever argued you could get the full package starting $699. In fact, we know any package (apart from the iMac) will also likely require another ~$200 for KB/mouse and we just ignore that for sake of keeping the argument simple.

    No, the point was that no matter if you go for 24" iMac or for a mini plus cheap display, you end up around $1200 whereas the low-end Studio plus any cheapo 4K is going to run you $2399. That is the gap Moren is talking about and I think it’s a valid point.

    Now you might argue, well the previous 27" iMac was also about $2399. And while true that negates that the 27" iMac came with a great 5K display, whereas that $2399 Mac Studio bundle will come with a junk display. OTOH if you add a good 5K display (i.e. the Apple StudioDisplay) to that Mac Studio you are now looking at $3700 at the very least. That is far beyond previous 27" iMac territory.

    Now sure, the new display is awesome and the Mac Studio will blow any 27" iMac out of the water no doubt, but the point is not really value here, it’s that there just is nothing left for the prosumer on the Mac desktop right now below $4k. And that used to be different. Don’t get me wrong, this is not the end of the world and the new kit is awesome sweetness, but this gap is real and deserves to be acknowledged, at least until Apple closes it, hopefully as soon as WWDC. :)

  60. Fair enough – I misread your comment.

    The rest of my point stands though – you’re assuming that there has to be a model in every space, and Apple is filling a large part of those spaces with configurations:

  61. I don’t see the point of that.

    Of course you can make a mini $1800 by spec’ing it out with a large disk and RAM and 10G Ethernet, but that doesn’t change that you still can’t have a desktop setup with support for 32 GB RAM or two displays below $2399. Indeed, as you say, you can spec up all these machines, but the point is you can’t spec down a Studio to get it to ~$1400.

  62. I think @ace essentially makes the same point in his latest piece. If you get a Mac Studio with Studio Display combo, you’re essentially laying out $500-$700 more than you would have with the 27" iMac. Of course the Studio is better and a separate screen is advantageous to most, but that doesn’t really do anything for the buyer who just doesn’t have those $500-$700 left.

    For me personally, I’m surprised at how expensive my ideal setups have become.
    Portable: 14" Pro 10/16/16 32/1TB $2899 + $1999 Studio Display → $4898
    Desktop: Max Studio 10/24/16 32/1TB $2199 + $1999 Studio Display → $4198

    Yikes. Good thing there’s Apple stock in my retirement portfolio. :wink:

  63. A Mac mini supports two displays.

    The discussion is all in what you prioritize. In the $1000-$2300 range, you can get a fully-specced out mini, a midrange iMac 24, or a barebones Studio. I get that they don’t have all the features you think are critical, but that’s kind of what happens when you spend less money.

  64. The ultimate point after all this analysis, is that there is a slot for a Mini (M1 or M2) with the Pro chip, given this slot remains empty for the Pro chip in the desktop range (vs. the laptop range; obviously laptops cannot contain the Ultimate chip’s cooling):

    Mini (Plain), $0.7K+
    Mini (Pro), $1.2K+ Studio (Max), $2K+
    Studio (Ultimate), $4K+

    Then no doubt Apple will effectively do the super-pro offerings, maybe something like:

    Mac Pro (Ultimate Dual), $8K+ — two Ultimate chips.
    Mac Pro (Ultimate Octo), $16K+ — two Ultimate Dual chips (two stacked somehow for best option).

    And those are the starting prices on the MP’s, so clearly they’ll have massive extras to bump that price:

    • memory upto: 256GB Dual / 512GB Octo
    • storage upto: 16TB SSD (maybe more) + HDD space
    • ports: eight TBolt + dual 40 GbE + others (many TB’s needed to handle upto six XDR’s)*

    [* For the handful of commercial buyers who would likely afford such a setup, lol!]

    Given the stand may seemingly be upgradable somehow, I’m interested in seeing whether the Nano option is any good on these early reviews. (I have decent blinds, but it’d still be interesting to know! ;-) )

  65. There’s been attention given to the consumer, proconsumer, and professional in the Mac Studio discussions. But there are many businesses using the 27" iMac Intel both at the counter and behind the counter and deploying these because of the large screen size, appearance and serviceability. I do not think that businesses will be interested in purchasing the separate component style Display and Mac Studio for obvious reasons.

    I guess businesses can keep purchasing the 27" iMac Intel or go to the smaller 24" iMac. Business would need to have some assurances that the 27" iMac Intel would continue to be supported by OS and security upgrades.

    Apple has always been a bit blind, irregular and missing when it comes to businesses use of its desktop products. The neglect by Apple to have a 27" M1 Max desktop is symptomatic.

  66. I’d guess that most of those business can do most of what they do just fine on a 24" iMac.

  67. I’d guess that you must be a programmer.

  68. So then tell us, what does an AIO at a counter do where the extra 3" is critical? I get that more is always more, but what specifically at a counter AIO can you not do at 24"?

  69. I think Apple’s absolutely going to do a higher end Mac mini (they’re still selling the high end Intel mini so there’s clearly demand). That backs up my point that they’re filling slots with configurations rather than new models.

  70. Maybe a receptionist who wants larger windows and/or doesn’t want to have to flick between them, but rather see them all at the same time. Even three app windows can fill a screen if you have each with a fair amount of info shown at a time…

    eg. Fanstatical has a three-month overview that’s good for seeking available appointment spots, which can take a fair amount of screen real estate. Many use Finder windows in list view with large directories to see various data content considerations or look inside many folders concurrently. Others want two Mail windows so they can work in the inbox, while looking in or filing to another folder/mailbox, instead of having to continually flick between them. Lots of reasons for multi-windows even for basic users, often for basic observation tasks.

    EDIT: I should also add that in some places the new colour 24" iMacs may not be seen as “businesslike” in looks by bosses, so they prefer the more constrained looks of the bigger machines. But TBH, I think a Mini with the Studio Display would cover that now though, and might even be easier long term, as you can replace the Mini for a new one, or if one needs fixing, take it to a service centre a lot easier than a whole iMac of any size, lol!
    But sure, as ever, some may still prefer the sleek AIO-ness of the iMacs.

  71. When I think about computers behind counters in businesses, it’s really unusual to see Macs at all, and the third-party monitors I see (since I can’t really tell much about the computer) are generally pretty small. 27-inch is unusual, which leads me to believe that most businesses aren’t spending much on those machines. To an extent, I think it’s also helpful that they’re not too big, since they often sit between the counter person and the customer and there’s often paperwork and other stuff that needs desk space.

    So if a business does want to go all Apple, the 24-inch iMac seems pretty perfect to me. It’s cheap, plenty powerful, and comes in silver for those businesses (ie, not art galleries or architectural firms) that would feel colors are unprofessional. But of course, if there is a need to go all Apple and large-screen, the Studio Display and Mac mini is the next step up from the 24-inch iMac. Definitely more expensive than the low-end 27-inch iMac and the 24-inch iMac, but that’s today’s tradeoff.

  72. It’s interesting – I’ve started seeing a lot more iPads behind business counters.

  73. Very useful article, thanks!

    I’m evaluating the new Studio Display. I retired in 2020 during the pandemic. As a former professor, retirement means continuing to write, just doing it at home (and the pandemic sealed that deal). I was always a high end laptop guy. During the pandemic I bought an HP monitor and used it with my MBP. When the M1 Mac mini came out, I realized I could switch entirely to desktop. My son is a graphic designer, and I often hand down my computers to him when I buy a new one.

    The HP 27" is good. I bought a Logitech video cam because my writing and research now involves Zoom meetings with people from around the world. I also bought some cheap Creative speakers. Not great, but cheap.

    Now I’m looking at the Studio Display. My 75 year old eyes can use the best display possible, and I spend hours a day writing. The video cam is certainly better, speakers probably light years better (I also listen to music sometimes while I write). Maybe it’s just me being decadent, but I’m seriously thinking of buying the Studio Display. I would again hand down the LP display to my son.

    So, my (self-indulgent, probably) reasoning is: better display for my eyes, better cam for the many zoom sessions, way better speakers, less cable clutter.

    No need for the Mac Studio, my writing and graphic work (I design diagrams and a lot of photo-based figures for my publications) don’t require that much horsepower. Self-indulgence does have a limit.

  74. Had one of the two old 2013 vintage 27" monitors fail that are connected to my 2013 MacPro (128GB ram and 2TB SSD from OWC). The OWC SSD does not allow me to upgrade to latest MacOS so original Apple 1TB has to be installed so Apple can block the firmware to limit it to version 12 of the OS. Then reinstall 2TB SSD.

    Then this event happened.

    Ordered a new Apple 27" monitor and a mini Ultra with 128GB of Ram and a 4TB SSD. Will try to see old monitor with an adapter until resources allow for a se4cond new one.

  75. And The Verge has an excellent review of the Mac Studio, for which they gave it to a bunch of different people in their office.

    Jason Snell also has a review of the Studio Display that’s kinder to the webcam but still identifies some issues with Center Stage.

  76. I thought an interesting take away from The Verge was that they considered $1600 for this display (despite camera weirdness and the refusal to just assume a supposed update was going to fix it all) was justified, while $1300 for the “finicky” LG (their words) was overpriced.

    Edit: I might be getting my reviews mixed up. Think they might have actually said this in the Mac Studio review, not the actual Studio Display review.

  77. I really enjoyed The Verge review, despite a bunch of people trying to hella out-cool each other with overt almost parody-level displays of Bay Areasim. But seriously, the review was really interesting. My main takeaways were:

    • The Ultra is a CPU monster (unlike its GPU). Nothing else comes close to its performance/Watt. And even if you couldn’t care less about power bill or environment, nothing else that’s so small and quiet will come anywhere close. If you do want to come close, you’ll be getting big, heavy, and loud.
    • For most people the Max version will suffice. You have to have a very CPU-limited, extensive, and highly multithreaded workflow to benefit from the Ultra for an extra $2k.
    • The GPU performance of the Ultra is good, but still far from excellent, let alone best-of-class (in contrast to its CPU performance).
    • The Xeon Mac Pro is now officially a dog.
    • Some people have a rather odd obsession with SD cards.
    • The Max Studio is a really awesome computer and the whole packagee (including software) is ready to go and well rounded.
  78. A great Youtuber called Constant Geekery worked out the likely way this may work for the Mac Pro. Rather than their die-interconnect called UltraFusion (to connect the two Max chips to make a single Ultra), they may decide to connect more than one Ultra together using a socket-interconnect. Exact section here (rewind a couple of sections for background context):

    Seems one likely solution, given the Mac Pro has to be more than the Studio, yet no more (larger) chips are in the pipeline.

  79. I actually cancelled my Apple Studio Display order after the reviews were published, and I am mostly relieved. It does not seem to improve much upon my LG 5K and the other peripherals I already have:

    • It is indeed virtually the same as the LG 5K when it comes to display quality.
    • Perception of display brightness does not increase linearly with measurement, so I will probably not perceive 600 nits as being 20% brighter than 500 nits. (Not mentioned in reviews I think, but my own observation.)
    • The LG 5K is still in production! (See Notes below)
    • I use an RX100 + Elgato Cam Link 4K as webcam, and the 12MP webcam in the Studio Display will not improve upon it. Plus, I don’t think the latter makes the whole 12MP available as output.
    • While the Studio Display has very nice speakers, my MBP 14 speakers sound pretty good, and I can get better audio on the Sennheiser HD650 + DAC/Amp stack.
    • I plan to add a condenser mic + interface to my setup so probably no improvement there as well.
    • While I am about to use up all the ports on the CalDigit Element TB4 hub, I can add another one for much less than the Studio Display costs.
    • I can detach the LG 5K fairly easily from the VESA mounting plate which is securely attached to the monitor arm. It looks to be a lot of work if I were to detach the Studio Display from the monitor arm.

    I look forward to accounts from new owners though, and also what Apple has in store in the future!

    • WSJ: “Though it’s sold out now at various retailers, an LG spokesman told me the company expects it back in stock next month.”
    • I think another tool that can vastly improve webcam image quality is a proper lighting setup.
  80. I get where you’re coming from with the display. Makes sense to me. If the LG has been stable for you, there appears little reason to upgrade to the Studio when you already have good speakers/camera in place.

    Just be careful that if you run lots of heavy bandwidth stuff across those, you might want to plug them into separate TB4 ports on your Mac instead of daisy chaining them off each other.

    The latter of course works great and it is super convenient in terms of a “dock setup” (love the Element Hub myself :heart_eyes:) , but if you’re pushing massive b/w over TB, you want to be sure that you make use of the separately available 40 Gbps on each of the built-in ports (there’s no internal sharing going on) rather than having all high-b/w peripherals go over a single 40 Gbps pipe.

  81. Me too. Likely just keeping my two LG 5K’s. Although, it is tempting as they are selling used for nearly the same as I paid for them (best price used £850, new bought for £884), lol! So I could in theory sell the two LG’s and only have to top-up around one amount extra for a second Apple one.

  82. Maybe Apple should cut the price on the Mac Pro. I still want one because it can be upgraded after purchase.

    Makes sense if you already have a 5K monitor. For those of us using older/smaller monitors it looks like a good deal. I’m still using my 2006 20" Apple Cinema Display. I certainly got long-term value from that display.

  83. Gruber agreed with The Verge about the camera, calling it “crushingly disappointing.” Again, Apple promised a fix, and given the A13, I see no reason the company won’t be able to deliver, but it seems like a major miscalculation to have shipped when reviewers were going to savage the camera.

  84. During their video, The Verge showed this summary. The Ultra’s GPU doesn’t perform as well as the leading 3rd-party GPU because the latter can draw much more power and performs better up there. The Ultra is more efficient (-200 W at same power), but it still can’t go as far.

    That chart also allows for some extrapolation. If you assume that Apple’s UltraFusion is so good that it allows GPU performance to scale linearly (and per that chart Max to Ultra seems to indicate that), and you further assume that Apple can use the same tech to possibly allow for multiple Ultras to be installed in the upcoming M1 Mac Pro, you can see that’s it’s going to require at least 1.5 Ultras to match the Threadripper system with its 2 RTX 2080 Ti or about 2-3 Ultras to match the RTX 3090 system, in terms of GPU performance alone.

    Now, while M1’s GPU performance is definitely more efficient than anything the high-end competition has to offer right now, that doesn’t mean it goes as far as that competition. If you have no boundaries on wattage you’ll get farther with an RTX 3090 than with an M1 Ultra right now. So if Apple wants to best the RTX 3090 in terms of GPU performance, their new Mac Pro is going to require at least 2 Ultras, perhaps 3-4 by then. But that doesn’t seem entirely implausible either. :slight_smile: Daughter cards anyone? I like that this is starting to feel like the 90s again. :wink:

  85. Indeed; my calculus is more of a marginal analysis “what extra do I get from my existing base by spending an extra $1,600”. I agree that the Studio Display looks fairly priced vis-à-vis the LG 5K. These displays are durable and worth the investment.

    Having said that, I admit I’d probably cave if Apple does offer a large Mini-LED display. The IDEs look incredible in high-contrast theme (black background, bright text) on the MBP Mini LED display. I like the pure black so much that I just used black background on the MBP, and I could not tell if the display is on or off (which may or may not be a good thing). Now if we can scale that to 27" or 32" at a reasonable price…

    That reminds me - Apple did offer a discount when the LG 5K first went on sale in late 2016, didn’t they? Having outlived the butterfly keyboard and overheating i9 MBPs, the 5K does look like an incredible value to me.

    Meanwhile, the Mac Studio with M1 Ultra seems to offer incredible value for money for those who can leverage its capabilities. The whole machine costs not much more than a standalone Xeon 24-core or 28-core - e.g. the Platinum 8160 I use at work - and fits into a drawer instead of a 2U rack - yet the M1 Ultra just wipes the floor with the Xeon - with no obvious bottleneck on RAM/storage throughput which may constrain Intel systems. I’d be very worried if I am Intel.

  86. One can imagine that Apple could make an Apple Silicon graphics card that is nothing but GPU and memory and connects to the presumed M2 based SoC through some sort of bus on an Apple Silicon based Mac Pro in the same case they’re using now for the Xeon version.

  87. I think that could potentially be very interesting if that bus were something like UltraFusion rather than PCIe.

  88. I just noticed that Apple included a Logitech MX Master 3 in the Mac Studio promo shot, instead of the Magic Mouse - wondering about the signalling given that Apple usually sweats the details in such shots.

  89. The Apple Event talked up the video and sound qualities of the Studio Display in web conferencing. But reports are saying that the new Studio Display’s webcam captures lots of noise and washed-out picture. How can this happen?

    Does Apple doing any testing of its hardware before releasing product onto the market? Did no one in Apple test the new Studio Display say by using zoom before its release?

    Apple is reportedly saying it has a software fix on the way. Talk about shutting the gate after the horse has bolted. From past experience with Apple doing fixes quickly, hold buying a Studio Display until the fixes work, or buy another display.

  90. From Gruber who was told that:

    the image quality problems really are a software problem, not hardware — a bug introduced at the last minute —

    That seems plausible, given that I imagine that yes, Apple does test out how well the products work.

  91. I am in Australia and Macs, including 27" size, are at counters in big end businesses here. The screen size is appreciated. Marketing people like the style and appearance particularly the backside facing the customer/client. The IT facility people (not programmers) like the single component fit.

    The new Studio Display is too expensive for a workstation.

    Apple has never understood the business use of computers and I know that from the inside.

  92. Thank you all for this illuminating discussion. I will replace my 2014 27" at some point as it will not upgrade beyond Big Sur. However, I see no feature of Monterey that makes it worth switching so I’ll keep waiting. Frankly, it has been Microsoft’s decisions to end support for Office on older Macs that has dictated my hardware purchases in the past.
    I’d love to go to a mini + Studio Display but if I had to decide today I’d buy the 24", I don’t do anything that absolutely requires the extra display area.

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