Apple’s first special event of the year will take place tomorrow, and it’s clear that the Mac will be a major focus. Apple is working on a new Mac Studio desktop computer with Apple Silicon on the inside, as 9to5Mac originally reported last week. Although it may not appear to be evident where the Mac Studio will fit into the lineup, it does.
What role does the Mac Studio play in the lineup?
The Mac Studio, as we reported last week, can be used as a “pro Mac mini” or a “small Mac Pro.” In two different configurations, the machine is being built and tested. The M1 Max chip, which we’ve seen before in the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, is one of those variants. However, an Apple Silicon processor “far more powerful than the present M1 Max” is being tested in the alternative configuration.
Furthermore, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple is working on a “smaller Mac Pro” using an Apple Silicon chip with 40 CPU cores and 128 GPU cores. According to our sources, this smaller Mac Pro is called the “Mac Studio” and is intended to replace Apple’s high-end Intel-powered Mac mini.
So, where does the Mac Studio fall into the mix? Over the weekend, reputable expert Ming-Chi Kuo provided some crucial perspectives. A new iMac Pro and Mac Pro are unlikely to be released until 2023, according to Kuo. The absence of the Mac Studio would leave a significant void at the top of Apple’s Silicon lineup.
Here’s how Apple’s desktop Mac lineup could look this year, thanks to the Mac Studio:
Mac mini M1 (updated to an M2 chip at some point)
iMac M1 (updated to an M2 chip at some point)
With an M1 Max/even more powerful chip, Mac Studio becomes even more powerful.
Some sort of large-screen iMac; details are sketchy.
Apple Silicon finally replaced the Intel-based Mac Pro.
As you can see, there are still some unanswered questions, particularly as respect to the iMac with a larger screen. Will a larger version of the 24-inch iMac be released this year? It’s conceivable. It’s possible that Ming-Chi Kuo’s predictions are referring solely to a “iMac Pro.”
All of this is to say that I can see the Mac Studio fitting into the desktop Mac lineup, particularly when paired with a less expensive option to the Pro Display XDR.
In terms of both price and performance, there has always been a significant difference between the Mac mini and the Mac Pro. While the 27-inch iMac has long filled that void, not everyone requires a 27-inch all-in-one computer. The modular architecture of the Mac mini (and Mac Studio) has a distinct advantage in that you can use your own display, whether it’s an Apple panel or one from another business.
And, if the Apple Silicon upgrade for the Mac Pro is actually postponed until 2023, the Mac Studio will allow Apple more time to complete the shift while still catering to the higher-end desktop market.
Finally, buying a Mac mini or Mac Studio has a cost advantage because you can upgrade the computer without having to upgrade your display. Only the computer needs to be replaced, not the entire arrangement.
What are your thoughts on Apple’s desktop Mac lineup and what’s in store for 2022? Let us know in the comments section.
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