Studio upgrade

My most recent rig was an iMac Pro purchased in 2017. It could chew through most anything in short order—only needing a few extra spins of the beachball to render complex movies, batch export photos or navigate huge vector files. Like every new computer, it had been the snappiest to date… but starting to show some age.

I considered the MacBook Pro update that brought back the SD card reader and got rid of the Touch Bar, but I was holding out for something else that used the new Apple silicon. Also? I’m a desktop person; I like work to stay at work.

When Apple announced the new Mac Studio and accompanying display I knew the wait was over—this would be the next workhorse.

I’ve had it for almost month and it is my favorite Apple Computer yet, even with the horrible camera on the Studio Display. (🤞the next next patch makes it tolerable.)

I got an M1 Max with 64GB memory, just a notch above the base level. The M1 Ultra was alluring, but the cost bump is significant and my workflow doesn’t lean heavily on video or animation.

It’s delightful to not need dongles. At certain times I’ve had all but one port occupied. And the SD reader on the front has the most satisfying *click* when a card snaps into place. It’s a minor detail, but revelatory when every SD reader in the world seems to lack discernible feedback when a card is seated. It’s a “Yes! Thank you!” to the engineers every single time.

The finder is snappier, with huge directory listings popping up without hiccup. Every application I use routinely has been updated for Apple Silicon, but when I do need to dip into emulation it’s only noticeable on initial application startup. Everything just works, quickly—and quietly. The only way to know a fan is running is to feel around the base.

The display is as good as the iMac before it, with a few extra nits of brightness. The aforementioned camera is a downgrade, but as I age? I welcome this virtual smear of vaseline. Center stage is dodgy and cuts me off at the neck. At this point we need something to talk about when Zoom starts up besides the weather so I find this framing hilarious. If my main gig relied on video fidelity? I’d look for another option.

I see technology as a recurring cost of the job, and the value and performance of Apple computers hold up over the long run. I do miss when I worked in an office with more folks… there’d be a greater influx of machines to inherit. Now it’s a point of reflection to know when it makes sense. This just happens to be an incredible leap year when it comes to performance.

Every little bit adds up. Even a small boost can invigorate the day.

And for the record, every new computer has been my favorite (because I skipped all the MacBooks with touch bars).

Aside: Whenever I get a new machine I turn on the preference to “Show hard disks” on the desktop and customize the icon to match. In the past, I could rely on sweet replacements from the IconFactory. They’ve stopped updating but thankfully kept their archives available.

That said, I’ve made a set of Mac Studio and display icons with different desktop backgrounds (and the Mac Studio by itself). If you’re the type of person that likes everything to be matchy matchy you can Download ’em here.

Mac Studio and Studio Display icons