Smaller than the Mac Pro, more powerful than the Mac Mini, this latest addition to Apple's Mac lineup is intended for creative professionals.
Unlike Apple's annual September iPhone launch, or its WWDC developer conference in June, both of which have pretty predictable agendas, the first event in Apple's calendar can be something of a pot-luck: You never know quite what you're going to get. This year's March event, entitled "Peek Performance," has turned up the Mac Studio and Studio Display -- two new additions to Apple's computer lineup.
The Mac Studio is a compact, standalone computer, smaller than a Mac Pro, but more powerful than a Mac Mini. The Studio Display is its accompanying monitor. As the name suggests, the Mac Studio is designed for creative professionals who work in studios, offering them an ideal mix of performance, connectivity and modularity. It's intended to form part of digital or audio workspace for musicians, photographers and videographers, as well as engineers wanting to build new versions of code faster.
The Mac Studio is a diddy thing, measuring just 7.7 by 3.7 inches, so it can sit tucked neatly below your display. Tucked inside its single aluminum extrusion is either Apple's M1 Max or M1 Ultra chips (the former comes with up to 64 gigabytes of unified memory, and the latter offers up to 128GB). Add in a capacity of up to 8 terabytes of solid-state storage, and it becomes clear that the Mac Studio is designed for working on massive projects at very high speed.
Read more: Mac Studio, iPhone SE, iPad Air and Studio Display: Everything Apple Just Announced
According to Apple, the Mac Studio with the M1 Max chip is 2.5x faster than the 27-inch iMac and 50% faster than the Mac Pro. Upgrade to the M1 Ultra chip and you're looking at a computer that's 3.8x faster in terms of CPU performance than the fastest 27-inch iMac and 90% faster than the Mac Pro. The Mac Studio with M1 Ultra can also do something no other computer in the world can (again, according to Apple) -- it can play back 18 streams of 8K ProRes 422 video.
Connectivity-wise, it offers four Thunderbolt 4 ports, a 10GB Ethernet port, two USB-A ports, HDMI and a pro audio jack. Additionally there are two USB-C ports, another Thunderbolt port and an SD card slot on the front, which will be music to the ears of photographers and video editors everywhere.
The Mac Studio starts from $1,999 (£1,999, AU$2,499) and will be available from March 18 -- although if you're keen to get your hands on one, orders open today.
Apple also announced an updated iPhone SEwith 5G support at the event, along with a new iPad Air and new colors for the iPhone 13.