Apple’s Unicorn Revealed: The Mac Studio Base Model

Jason T. Lewis
5 min readMar 23, 2022


Hey folks, today I’m going to talk you through my early experience with the base model Mac studio and let you know why I think it’s the Unicorn Mac that many, many users like me have been waiting for for years.

So, I got the base model Mac Studio. That’s the M1 Max, 32GB of RAM and 512gb of storage. The Ultra would have been stupid for me. There’s no way I could have ever even made it break a sweat.

The Mac Studio Base model is the Unicorn Mac I’ve wanted my entire career, the computer for the “prosumer,” the person who does a decent amount of heavy lifting on their computer, but aren’t hunkered down for hours a day grinding away at super heavy tasks.

And that’s me. Three things I do most with my computer are writing, songwriting and music production, and video editing for my YouTube channel

I’ve always needed a computer that wouldn’t bog down on the heavier tasks I do regularly that didn’t cost me $3000 or more.

The closest I’d been able to come was the MacBook Pros but even then the price was anywhere from $2500 to $2900 and still lacked enough storage for a portable computer and never had enough RAM.

Actually, no, that’s not right. The closest I came was the iMac Pro, which had enough RAM, enough storage and enough power in the base mode that I wasn’t left wanting for anything.

The big issue was the iMac Pro cost $5000. When I bought mine I literally was counting out change in the Apple Store to pay for the thing.

And then after that, I loved the computer but I couldn’t get over the buyer’s remorse of spending that much and I sold it before I had it for a year.

So what makes the Mac Studio different? Well, it’s not an iMac, frankly. You’re not paying for the screen keyboard or mouse as you would with the iMac Pro or even a 27” iMac. Apple released all those thing separately this time and I did buy the Studio Display. I have my reasons for that and no, it’s not as great a value as the Mac Studio but if you want to know more about why I got the display subscribe to the channel for that video coming in the next day or so.

The Mac Studio pretty much hits on all cylinders for my needs.

It’s very quick through just about anything I’m doing.

downloading libraries, transferring from TM backup, moving between programs. Everything is smooth. No hesitations or hiccups.

Someone asked me on Twitter the other day is there was really a difference when doing basic stuff as compared to video editing or something and I have to say yes there is. When you’re seamlessly going from one app to the next, not waiting for stuff to load and getting work done, well I get more work done. When I’m working, I always want to be working. Waiting for a computer to load something is always an excuse for me to turn my attention elsewhere while that happens and then I’m off track and it takes time to come back around.

In the limited heavy lifting I’ve done with it so far the Mac Studio has not had a moment where it slowed down. Let that sink in for a second; what would your work day be like if you were able to just keep moving without your most important tool making you wait, even if it was just for a few seconds at a time.

I didn’t understand the value of that until the tool got out of the way and just let me do the work and the Mac Studio does that at a price that’s actually probably a bargain when you consider the base model at $1999. If you already have a monitor, keyboard, and mouse a $2k investment will change how you do what you do. For me that kind of product doesn’t come along very often. For something so integral to everything I do to work as well as the Mac Studio has so far, it is really like finding a unicorn.

Is it perfect? No, but the sacrifices made are such that they are only minor pain points for me instead of major compromises I have to work around, which usually costs time. Yes, the Mac minis I was using before could do all this stuff, but the price would ultimately be my time and when You work solo most of the time, time is your most precious commodity. It’s also the only resource you can’t buy more of.

I would have preferred the base model had at least 1tb of storage. 512gb is enough, but only if you’re strategic about what to keep internally and what to put on external drives. Between audio libraries and video files, I have a lot of terabytes worth of stuff and I would have preferred that stuff be on the internal drive. But that’s not as critical with a desktop machine. I would have preferred a couple more USB A ports because I still have a lot of instruments, drives and other peripherals I need to plug in. The base of the machine is not grippy at all, so I’m going to have to tape it down somehow to keep it from moving around.

So yeah, it’s not perfect perfect, but for me and what I need as a creative person who needs my computer to keep up with me without having to buy a computer that’s way overpowered (and over-priced) for my needs. That’s a space that Apple hasn’t really filled to this point and it’s always been a frustrating dance of not enough power or too much money. The base Mac mini is just right for me and maybe it is for you too if you also fall into that “prosumer” creator-type category.

Let me know if the Mac Studio base model is a good fit for you or not. Tell me what you’d like to know if you have more questions.



Jason T. Lewis

Jason has worked as a writer, teacher, musician and audio engineer for over 30 years. He make YouTube videos at Painfully Honest Tech. He used to drink.