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Apple's new Mac Studio desktop computer will begin arriving to customers this Friday. Ahead of the launch, TechCrunch's Matthew Panzarino spoke with a trio of senior Apple employees about the company's process of designing the Mac Studio.

mac-studio-lifestyle-shot.jpeg

Just like the Mac Pro tower released in late 2019, the Mac Studio was born as a result of Apple's Pro Workflows Team that was created shortly after the company apologized to pro users and ensured that it remains committed to the Mac.

"We look very much at Mac Studio for what it is, a completely new Mac product line," said Tom Boger, vice president of Mac and iPad product marketing at Apple. "Our philosophy was not at all to take a Mac mini and scale it up, it was 'we know we're working on this M1 chip and we want to bring it to those users who want performance and conductivity and a modular system. And let's allow it to live right on people's desks so it's within easy reach."

Xander Soren, director of product marketing for the Pro Apps team at Apple, told Panzarino that creative and pro users expressed a clear desire for a so-called "modular" system that sat between the iMac and the Mac Pro in Apple's desktop lineup.

"I think the way we look at it is we're happy to provide multiple ways for our users to work," added Boger. "So you could decide to have a MacBook Pro with an M1 Max chip in it and you could decide to have a setup in your studio where you bring the MacBook Pro back and forth. And if that's the way that you choose to work, great. But we also have users that prefer to have that desktop that always lives on their desk."

Apple said that it listened to customer feedback to decide which ports to offer on the Mac Studio, and it also designed the computer to ensure that all of those ports were easily accessible on both the front and back of the machine.

"We've got IO right on the front, and even if you need to get to the back, you just spin it around," said Boger. "It's relatively light; it's very small; it fits under most displays at 3.7 inches high. We're really giving users something they've never had before. They've always had to trade off. If I wanted a smaller form factor computer, I had to trade off performance. And what we wanted to do was give people something where you don't have to do that."

Shelly Goldberg, senior director of Mac and iPad product design at Apple, said the Mac Studio was a fun challenge in terms of fitting the powerful performance of the M1 Ultra chip into a more compact form factor with optimal thermal management.

"…The team did hundreds of thermal simulations for the airflow to try to figure out what's the best pattern of airflow through the system to try to optimize for performance and acoustics and ultimately, we came up with the the design that we have which has the inlet on the bottom coming in through over 2,000 machined holes that are all machined at [a specific] angle that rotates as you go around the perimeter," said Goldberg.

As for the Studio Display, Boger said Apple aimed for a "great, very accessible, very mainstream display for all of our Mac users."

"It's a great display if you want to hook up to the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini, Mac Studio, Mac Pro, whatever," said Boger. "And we know that there's still users out there that are using Intel-based Macs and so putting A13 in there processes the audio for Spatial Audio and makes the magic of Center Stage happen."

Notably, many reviewers found the Studio Display's webcam quality to be unsatisfactory, leading Apple to issue a statement indicating that it will be making unspecified improvements in a future software update. No timeframe was provided for the update.

We've rounded up reviews of both the Mac Studio and Studio Display for a closer look at both products ahead of their Friday launch.

Article Link: Apple Executives Discuss How Mac Studio Fills the Gap Between iMac and Mac Pro
 
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Realityck

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Nov 9, 2015
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Xander Soren, director of product marketing for the Pro Apps team at Apple, told Panzarino that creative and pro users expressed a clear desire for a so-called "modular" system that sat between the iMac and the Mac Pro in Apple's desktop lineup.
Sure it fills the gap between the iMac and Mac Pro. But what good is that comparison if Apple stops selling the less expensive 27” iMac?
 

performa_6400

macrumors regular
Dec 10, 2020
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Sure it fills the gap between the iMac and Mac Pro. But what good is that comparison if Apple stops selling the 27” iMac?
The only thing I can think of is more money for Apple.

Graphic design, web, photography, app studios, etc. that built themselves using the 27" iMac now have some tricky decisions to make. It doubles the price of a workstation if they upgrade to the new mac studio with having to buy the monitor, keyboard, and mouse separately.
 
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commander.data

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Nov 10, 2006
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Apple said that it listened to customer feedback to decide which ports to offer on the Mac Studio, and it also designed the computer to ensure that all of those ports were easily accessible on both the front and back of the machine.
If Apple listened to customers on what ports to offer, are we really to believe that USB-A ports on the front to accommodate USB-A flash drives which are still ubiquitous was not a common customer request? A desktop really should have room for at least one front-facing USB-A port.
 

lysingur

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Dec 30, 2013
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I give Apple props for being able to pack such powerful specs into such a small form factor. Other than that, Mac Studio is pretty conventional. The only thing that fills the gap between iMac and Mac Pro is Mac Studio's price. It has the same level of upgradeability as an iMac, i.e., close to non-existent, and has none of the wow-factor of the Mac Pro's beautiful aluminum housing and connectivity options.
 

Soba

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May 28, 2003
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What do they mean when they say modular? It looks pretty singular to me, but I might be misunderstanding the definition...
According to the article,

"Modular, in this sense, consisting of the Mac Studio offering two levels of M1 chip and a paired Studio Display."

I don't think you're misunderstanding the definition; it seems that they are. This is pretty weird, even for Marketing speak. :p

To be clear, I like the Mac Studio and I plan to buy one in the future, but describing it this way is strange and illogical. The Studio has a lot of things going for it; it is counterproductive to tout it as something that it clearly is not.
 

_Spinn_

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Nov 6, 2020
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What do they mean when they say modular? It looks pretty singular to me, but I might be misunderstanding the definition...
The only thing I can think of is that it is more modular than the iMac Pro (which this seems to be replacing...maybe) in that you can get whatever monitor you want for it. Calling it modular for that seems like a stretch though.
 

Realityck

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Nov 9, 2015
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Silicon Valley, CA
I don't have any problems with the Mac Studio + Studio Display except the displays price for what it offers.

You can consider it like a Mac mini Pro or a petite Mac Pro. But for executives to think that they are offering a modular system between the iMac and the Mac Pro, have made a really bad mistake by removing its competition with the 27" iMac, and forcing people to accept the more expensive Mac Studio as its replacement.

How can Apple offers so many iPhones, iPads, and Mac Laptops, yet feel we need less Mac desktop choices? Come on, wake up Apple.
 
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mcfrazieriv

macrumors 65816
Jan 30, 2012
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A gap in PRICE.

Most shops use MacBooks and iMacs and they do the job for most graphics work. The companies willing to spend huge cash on machines for 8k video, 3D VR and other top end work go for workstations YOU CAN UPGRADE.

This looks like another MacG4 Cube that you CAN'T UPGRADE.

What about this machine is remotely "modular"?
 

CARIB_APPLE

macrumors member
Aug 28, 2020
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I would think of the word portable. You could unplug the Mac Studio and bring it with you when you travel and plug into a different display. Power wise it fits between the iMac ( all-in-one) and the sone to be released new Mac Pro (tower).
 
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