On the Go? Apple’s New Mac Studio Can Surprisingly Be a Portable Powerhouse

Mac Studio Bottom Lock Port Credit: Hadrian / Shutterstock
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The sheer horsepower and compact size of Apple’s new Mac Studio has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for creative professionals, with the ability to more easily create pop-up studios across multiple locations.

Even with a set of $400 wheels, Apple’s ultra-powerful Mac Pro wasn’t anything near what we’d call “portable”; mine came in a 74-pound box that required two UPS guys to haul it onto my front porch, although to be fair about a third of that was the weight of the box itself.

Still, it’s hard to imagine anybody picking up a Mac Pro and taking it with them on the road. That might make sense for pros who are taking an entire studio setup with them — after all, it’s nothing compared to the size of most amps and speakers — but the Mac Pro is still very much the kind of computer that once it’s in place, it’s pretty much designed to stay there.

That’s clearly not the case with the Mac Studio, which is arguably the second-smallest Mac that Apple has ever made. It’s 2.5 times larger than the Mac mini — and that’s all in its height — yet it can offer more than eight times the performance at general computing tasks.

Further, it weighs in at only 5.9 or 7.9 pounds, depending on whether you opt for the M1 Max or the M1 Ultra version (the latter is heavier because it requires a more intense cooling system). While that’s 2-3 times heavier than the Mac mini, it’s nothing compared to the 40-pound Mac Pro.

Sure, there are slightly lighter and arguably more portable Macs — Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro comes in at 4.8 pounds, and the 14-inch version is only 3.5 pounds. However, these can’t match the performance of an M1 Ultra equipped Mac Studio.

Plus, “portable” can be a somewhat relative term in a case like this. While there’s no arguing that a MacBook Pro is a much better system for use on the go, its larger footprint can actually make it trickier to pack. Plus, if you’re planning to set it up in places where a display, keyboard, and mouse will already be available, you don’t need all that extra stuff built-in.

So, it makes sense that there are creatives who might find it useful to carry a single Mac Studio between gigs, and at least one accessory maker agrees with this notion.

San Francisco-based WaterField Designs has just released the Mac Studio Shield Case, a bespoke design that lets you pack your Mac Studio and keep it safe on the road. It’s available in a variety of exterior materials, and naturally includes waterproof zippers, too.

An optional strap is available for slinging it over your shoulder, and there’s room inside for power cords and other accessories.

We’re guessing this won’t be the only Mac Studio carrying case that comes along, though. After all, for what the Mac Studio costs, it makes a lot of sense for pros who work across multiple studios to be able to take their Mac Studio with them.

Locking Down Your Mac Studio

The flip side of the Mac Studio being so small and portable is that it’s just as easy for somebody else to pick it up and run away with it. By comparison, nobody is likely to even try sneaking out of your office with a Mac Pro under their coat.

Fortunately, Apple has thought of this, although it’s done a slightly silly thing here. Presumably wanting to avoid disrupting the elegance of the Mac Studio’s design, Apple chose to place the standard security locking hole on the bottom of the Mac Studio.

This hole is presumably compatible with a standard Kensington lock, except that you’ll have a hard time finding one that will actually fit under the Mac Studio without propping it up.

Naturally, Apple has its own solution in mind for this. In a memo seen by the folks at MacRumors, Apple plans to release a “lock adapter” that customers will be able to use to keep their Mac Studio “physically secure without modifying or damaging” it.

This is supposed to launch soon, although the memo doesn’t offer any details on when it’s coming, nor how much it will cost. Let’s just hope that Apple prices this reasonably, rather than making it another $400 set of wheels or a $999 display stand.

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