Apple Mac Studio M1 Ultra: hands-on and first impression of the desktop supercomputer | news

It was perhaps a roller coaster ride of emotions. After ordering the Mac Studio and the Studio Display on the evening of their performance, the stated delivery dates created excitement. Up to the Thursday before the deadline for the first delivery, Apple said: Delivery on March 18th. Then the display in the Apple order overview changed to “Shipping”. It still took a while for the contracted transport company DHL Express to provide the tracking information. It was now but on Monday 21.03. Shortly thereafter, Apple also changed its forecast to this date. The hands-on report planned for this weekend fell through. On Friday morning, however, the tracking information suddenly showed “TODAY”. According to the history, the device was already in the nearby delivery center and the shipment was supposed to be delivered by 10 p.m. of the same day. Fortunately, the Mac came a little earlier in the day, around 12:30 p.m., so that I can now report.

First of all: The one ordered at the same time Studio Display unfortunately arrives later. Apple states the period between March 24th and 31st as the delivery time. As soon as it is there, Rewind will also report on it in detail. Also along with the Mac Studio I had one Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and numeric keypad ordered. The keyboard arrived last Thursday, two days after I ordered it.

A long presentation of the new Mac Studio and its variants I spare myself and you. Anyone who is interested in the device has already been informed in detail about all the details by MTN. The Mac Studio I ordered is the base version of the M1 Ultra version. So with 64GB RAM, 1TB SSD, 20 core CPU and 48 core GPU.

The scope of delivery of the hardware has been reduced to the absolute minimum, as is now usual with Apple. In addition to the Mac, there is only a suitable power cable (type C6 plug, also known as Mickey Mouse or cloverleaf plug) in the box. Even if Apple is often accused of maximizing profits in this regard – which is certainly one aspect – the ecological advantages associated with the reduced packaging and the limited accessories to the absolutely necessary cannot be dismissed out of hand. Personally, I think it’s good that there aren’t any cables or gimmicks in every package that might not be needed at all.

The Mac Studio chassis has been the subject of much design debate since its introduction. To make it short: I like it! The Mac Studio is small, clean, timeless and excellently processed.

works here nothing cheap, as is common in the PC world. The aluminum case of the Mac Studio is just as perfect in person as it looks on the many photo-realistic renderings. Each one of the numerous small holes on the round base and the back are precisely lasered on the Mµ (Mü) (or however they are made). The edges and the matt bead-blasted surface are also flawless. In the hand, the small “power house” feels as if it were cut from a solid block. Even the fabric-covered power cord is very elegant, yet flexible and falls smoothly. – Small things also make a difference.

Otherwise there is not much to see. Especially no screws. Not even on the bottom. Only a small opening for attaching a cable lock stands out there. The “Mac Studio” lettering was emblazoned on the round base. I have not yet determined whether and how the case can be opened. In any case, simply unscrewing the round cover on the underside does not work.

Mac Studio: Please start the engine!
Since the studio display will arrive later and I only have my iMac Pro with an integrated monitor that I have used so far, my 4K television should serve as an interim screen for the time being. Fortunately, the Mac Studio has a suitable HDMI interface.

Network cable, HDMI, power cable are connected. I press the power button on the back. – Which doesn’t really bother me at all, but the button is a bit hard to feel because it sits practically seamlessly in the housing and is not concave. And… ohh, what was that skinny starting chime coming out of the mini-speaker inside the Mac Studio case? That sounded much more sublime from the iMac.

Another small anomaly: The Mac Studio has a round rim on the bottom as a shelf and to protect sensitive surfaces (see picture of the bottom), but it’s like Teflon. Plug in the cable or card at the front and the Mac slips off the table like a bar of soap if you don’t hold it with your other hand. Suitable anti-slip solutions should soon appear in the accessories trade. But maybe that’s what Apple intended, to make it easier to rotate the Mac Studio and access the rear ports. If so: it’s not my thing and I’ll put something non-slip underneath.

During the first start-up process, my attention is initially focused on the noise development. Subjectively, the Mac Studio is a touch louder than the iMac Pro. I’ll have to verify that statement later though, as the Mac is currently being drowned out by the fans in my 4K TV. (I hate fans!)

An advantage of the iMac Pro compared to the normal iMac 27″ was that it only started turning up the internal fans late, even under load. The Mac Studio should get out of breath much less often – I hope. I’ll try that with a stress test (Focus Stacking in Photoshop) soon.

I will wait with the data migration until the studio display has arrived. Until then, I’ll have to get on with my work with the iMac Pro. But maybe a macOS update is coming up? yep During the setup procedure (see pictures), the Mac offers me an update. – Which, unfortunately, is just as unbearably slow as with all other Macs.

Here are a few photos of the facility:

I didn’t photograph EVERY window. The process should be familiar to most. First the Mac searches for a keyboard and mouse, then comes the language and country selection, various hints, then (in this case) a system update, then I migrated my data from a Thunderbolt SSD (which was faster than the system updates). Finally, log in to the iCloud ID and you will be offered (if available) to set up the keyboard’s touch ID.

Incidentally, the TV, which I temporarily use as a monitor replacement until the studio display arrives, was immediately recognized as HDMI and the correct resolution was set.

From iMac to Headless Mac: One step forward or one step back?
With the introduction of the Mac Studio, the 27″ iMacs fell out of the program, to the chagrin of many fans. That was discussed at length. If anyone asks if I see a downside in going from iMac to a desktop Mac, the answer is no!

Basically, I like the concept of a small desktop computer with a separate screen better. However, after the Mac Pro 2013 (the “bin”), I couldn’t think of a better alternative than the iMac Pro. Now it’s exactly the opposite, which suits me personally.

Compared to the Mac Pro 2013, the Mac Studio is even more compact, quieter and easier to keep dust free (no openings on the top). It has just enough and the right ports for my purposes to connect all of my permanent peripherals. There are also two other easily accessible USB-C ports on the front (even Thunderbolt 4 on the Ultra) and a fast UHS-II SD card slot. They were very difficult to reach on the back of the iMac. That’s why I always used an external hub with the iMac Pro, which can now be omitted – including its power cable and block power supply. Mac and display now need two sockets for this, instead of just one on the iMac.

Even the cabling is surprisingly slimmer with the Mac Studio plus external display than with the “all-in-one” iMac. In the future, fewer cables will lead through the swivel arm to the monitor. With the iMac there were four strips: A relatively thick power cable, LAN, upstream to the hub and another upstream cable to a USB interface. The iMac’s wiring harness and weight made the swing arm less articulated. With the Studio Display it will be better in the future and I can also use shorter cables on the Mac. The elimination of the “chin” under the display and the associated gain in space is another plus for my work.

Last but not least, there is of course the fact that the computer and screen can be replaced separately and at different times in this way.

Who actually needs that much power?
In the comments I was asked about my reasons for buying the Mac Studio and whether I need its performance at all or whether the iMac Pro is no longer sufficient. It’s not that easy to answer.

Everyone has their own reasons and priorities when it comes to buying a new computer (or car, or camera, or lawnmower…) unless there is an absolute need to replace it, for example because of a defect. Even perceived quality of life can play a role in such decisions. That’s why questions about whether the predecessor’s performance is no longer sufficient are not enough.

The reasons for my switch from the iMac Pro to the Mac Studio are varied and not purely due to the increase in performance. If only I could get by with the iMac Pro for a few more years. The reasons in detail:

  • For professional reasons, I need a Mac that is as up-to-date as possible. For example, to be able to test the latest peripheral devices or iOS devices, or to be able to include the latest system functions in my articles.
  • Switch to Apple Silicon: Intel Macs don’t support certain features, which will likely play an even greater role in the future. Future security for as long as possible is the aspect.
  • This includes: A new Mac offers correspondingly longer security for the support of system updates. Until the Mac Studio is replaced again, I don’t have to worry about such things.
  • A Mac that’s only about four or five years old sells better used than one that’s ten years old. Especially if he’s still in software support. Higher proceeds make it easier to buy the new Mac. (Even if the iMac Pro has just lost value with the introduction of the Studio.) And the buyer of the used Mac will still be happy with the device.
  • Workplace optimization: With the Mac Studio, I can do without the previously unavoidable Thunderbolt dock on my desk. There is more space for test devices under the new monitor without the “chin” of the iMac.
  • Lower power consumption is a nice side effect.
  • Even if I rarely need the maximum performance of the Mac Studio, the overall increase in performance is a noticeable gain thanks to lower latencies and waiting times.
  • As a reward for myself and to optimize all workflows. After all, the Mac is my most important tool and I spend many hours in front of it every day.
  • Last but not least: I’m a nerd!

Preliminary conclusion
The first impression of the new Mac Studio is great and fully lives up to the Apple experience. There’s always something very special about starting a brand new Mac.

Until that Studio Display arrives and the Mac Studio finally takes the place of the iMac Pro, it will take a few more days. Only when the setup is complete, all data has been migrated and the system is fully operational in its place will I do some additional performance tests. I’ll report on the display as soon as it arrives.

Until then, have fun to all new Mac Studio users. For those who may have to wait a little longer for their new Super Mac: keep calm. Worth it!

Mac Studio im Apple Store: ()
Studio Display im Apple Store: (
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Magic Keyboard im Apple Store: (
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