[REVIEW] : Apple Studio Display: An attractive 27-inch 5K display… Despite its scary price tag

Many were surprised by the disappearance of the 27-inch Intel-based iMac from the Apple Store just as the company announced the new Mac Studio with its powerful M1 Max and Ultra processors. The Mac Studio is clearly meant to replace the iMac but, of course, it lacks the built-in 5K display that was a key design feature of the 27-inch iMac – and also a key factor in its design. popularity.

The new Studio Display is clearly intended to fill that gap. Still, its hefty price tag – almost as high as the all-in-one iMac itself – and some initial issues meant it didn’t receive the same warm reception as the Mac Studio.

Monstrous prices

Until its recent discontinuation, Apple’s 27-inch iMac retailed for a starting price of $2,599, which of course included the 5K display as well as the processor, GPU, RAM and storage. the iMac.

On the other hand, the new Studio Display only offers a 5K screen and its starting price is 1,749 euros. This price includes either a VESA mount adapter or a base stand that lets you adjust the screen’s tilt, but not its height. If you want to adjust the height of the screen, and many people do, you can either balance it on a pile of books or put your hand in your pocket again to give yourself the Apple stand. adjustable in inclination and height.

Neither mount allows for rotation, however. It is also possible to opt for a ‘nano-texture’ glass panel reducing reflections, which costs a few hundred euros more. Needless to say that the prices charged by Apple, which range from 1,749 euros to 2,499 euros, are not unanimous.

Design made in Apple

The Studio Display’s design clearly follows the lead of last year’s revamped 24-inch iMac M1, with the former’s 27-inch screen measuring just 18mm thick. The panel features much narrower edges than previous iMac models, reducing the overall screen size to 623mm wide, 478mm high and 168mm deep, when mounted on the stand base recliner (24.5 inches x 18.8 inches x 6.6 inches). It features sharper angles – Apple’s current design fetish – than the 27-inch iMac, but in many ways the display panel is very similar to that of the older iMac.

That’s not a bad thing, as the 5K resolution (5120 x 2880, 217.6 ppi) delivers a bright, crisp image with vivid colors and, like the iMac, it supports the DCI- P3 used in professional video editing. The image quality will certainly suit a wide range of graphics and design applications, as well as general office use, and the Mac’s Display Preferences panel has a simple drop-down menu that lets you select a variety of color presets suitable for different tasks and workflows.

The Studio Display is also brighter than the iMac (600 nits instead of 500), but it doesn’t support HDR or the 120Hz ProMotion refresh rate of the latest iPhone and iPad models. , and therefore isn’t quite the cutting-edge screen that Apple seems to consider it to be. Ironically, the Studio Display is redeemed by the extra features that complement the display itself. The display has a Thunderbolt 3 port on the back, which is used to connect it to a host Mac, and which can also charge a laptop at 96W if needed.

A well-stocked connection

The Studio Display also has three USB-C ports for connecting peripherals and accessories, which is certainly handy, although similar USB hubs are common on many modern monitors. Curiously, we found that the Studio Display did not work with a Thunderbolt 3-equipped Windows PC when using the Apple-supplied Thunderbolt cable. However, a third-party Thunderbolt 4 cable seems to work without issue.

Despite its compact design, the Studio Display manages to pack in a six-speaker, four-woofer, and two-tweeter system, which delivers impressive sound quality – and very respectable bass – given the limited space available inside. of the thin screen panel.

The Studio Display is not just a simple screen, it is a complete accessory for Macs, with a 5K panel, a webcam with a centered frame, speakers with spatial audio and a USB-C hub. To manage all these elements, Apple has made it as simple as possible from its point of view and integrated an Apple A13 chip, the same that equips the iPhone 11 or the iPad 9.

The site specializing in teardowns of all kinds began by asking several of its employees which of the Studio Display or the 24-inch iMac was the computer, and half of the participants were wrong. If we haven’t followed the case, it is logical to think that the iMac is only a screen, it contains significantly fewer components, where the open Studio Display looks very similar to a 27-inch iMac from the Intel era. Moreover, even the opening is carried out as on the all-in-one, by taking off the glass which protects the screen on the front.

If there are so many components inside the Studio Display, it’s not even because of the Apple A13 which only takes up a very small part. The chip is installed on its own motherboard in a corner, with all the other components essential to its proper functioning, including the 64 GB of storage for a funny reason. By the way, the front camera looks very similar to that of the iPhone 11 which also had identical technical characteristics.

Why is Apple’s Studio Display so thick?

The Studio Display is the latest external screen from Apple, presented during its keynote broadcast last March. It accompanies the Mac Studio, a compact computer for the needs of creatives and freelancers.

The engineers of the Apple brand decided to insert the power supply on the back of the screen, which leads to a thickening of the case.

Apple has made life complicated to integrate the power supply on the back of its latest screen

This screen is inspired a lot by the iMac (2021), Apple’s all-in-one computer, and its design. However, the most observant will have noticed that the case is almost twice as thick as the very thin one of the iMac.

The explanation is that Apple has devised a complex system that incorporates two power cards, cooled by two fans that take up a significant amount of space in the Studio Display, instead of an external power supply as on the ‘iMac. These fans are as thin as they are wide, to reduce their noise in operation, and again take up space on the back of the device.

The A13 Bionic SoC and the 64 GB of storage as well as the front camera are conversely very discreet. On the sides, we find the entire audio part with resonance boxes that allow you to create powerful bass without shaking the screen and the speakers located at the bottom.

There is no doubt that this neat design, greatly resembling that of a Mac, partly explains the very high price of 1,749 euros requested by Apple when ordering.

This is for a number of reasons. First of all, Apple has integrated the device’s power supply into the Studio Display case rather than using an external charging pad like the iMac does. It took custom design and a lot of design and engineering work, not to mention the cost. The result is incredibly thin for a power supply, barely thicker than a circuit board. Still, thin or not, that’s one of the reasons the innards are so full.

The power supply circuit board is also divided into two parts. This is assumed to allow it to be effectively integrated into the screen’s chassis and it’s another design decision that would have taken a ton of effort to make it work.

Additionally, Apple had to include two huge fans to dissipate heat from the PSU. These fans were not needed in the 24-inch iMac, since its power supply sits outside the computer. However, the Studio Display’s large fans aren’t for the A13 Bionic chip, which doesn’t generate much heat on its own.