This aluminum bench stands on the shoulders of discarded Mac Pro cases

Apple is not a big fan of reusing its products for something else, at least something that is still close to the original function of the design. It probably won’t object to completely unrelated applications of those designs, especially when it’s for a creative and artistic purpose. The non-functional parts of an iPhone, for example, could be disassembled and framed to be displayed as a piece of tech history. Or one might simply take the empty shells of old Mac Pro and turn them into a piece of structural art, which is exactly what this rather striking metal bench tries to accomplish in a way that will probably make you wonder how strong those old Apple desktops might have been.

Designers: Quinner Baird, Alec Alborg, Ferb Liebana, Berit Levy, Jaime Uriarte (Caliper)

The designs for more recent Mac Pros have been rather controversial, to say the least. The cylindrical 2013 was derided for looking like a trash can, while the boxy 2019 design, though a bit more traditional, is jokingly called a cheese grater. Neither are good foundations for a stable piece of furniture, but the first-ever Mac Pro fortunately fits the bill perfectly. It was a minimalist brushed aluminum box with tapered legs on the front and back to raise it up and equally tapered handles on those same sides for easier lifting.

Made for Manhattan clothing brand Hidden as part of store display, the Mac Pro Bench is exactly what it sounds like. It takes two first-gen Mac Pros, totally gutted of any and all electronic components, and has a folded aluminum plank attached on top. The plan has a tapered shape that fits perfectly between the front and back handles, making it feel as if the desktops were made for this very purpose. Two versions of the bench exist, one preserving the brushed aluminum aesthetic of the Mac Pro, and another thoroughly coated in Hidden’s green motif.

It’s not being sold en masse, which will probably keep Apple’s lawyers happy, though there are also ways to make your own. That said, it’s probably not a good idea outside of making it a decorative piece. It’s actually not tested how much weight the Mac Pros will be able to handle, especially with a bench meant to sit more than one person. The hollow legs of the desktop don’t look reassuring either, and it might have been more practical to have sawed those off, even if it meant ruining the original Mac Pro shape.

That said, it’s possible to reinforce the foundations of the Mac Pro Bench to make it a more usable piece of furniture. More importantly, however, the piece of art could also spark the imagination and creativity of others to make similar designs that reuse discarded desktop PCs in a less conventional and more interesting manner.

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Remember the Trashcan Mac? Someone turned it into a coffee machine concept.

While comparing the 2013 Mac Pro to a trashcan may have been a little mean in hindsight, its shiny cylindrical exterior translates well to a coffee machine, as per this concept by Young Geon Ahn.

Meet Apple Drip – a conceptual caffeine distributing machine that brews “the best coffee Apple’s ever made” if Tim Cook had to ever take to the stage to introduce such an appliance. It flips Jony Ive’s unique design over and turns an ill-received desktop computer into a tabletop brewer, complete with a dispenser nozzle that slides out to dispense coffee, and slides back into the machine, sitting flush against the cylindrical surface when non-operational.

Designer: Young Geon Ahn

The Apple Drip officially becomes the first Apple concept we’ve seen that’s designed for the kitchen. Truth be told, Apple’s brand of minimalism fits pretty much anywhere, after all, a HomePod looks pretty darn good in a kitchen, right?

The Apple Drip has a style that’s comparable to the Ember Mug (fun fact, Ember’s lead designer Robert Brunner worked extensively at Apple) with a slick, black design that looks equal parts mysterious and approachable. Uncomplicated, yet professional. The black cylinder comes with a touchscreen interface on its upper rim, with just three buttons – a power button, a temperature button, and a coffee dispensing button. Designed to work (one assumes) with an app or even with Siri, the Drip dispenses coffee into a sleek looking mug that sits in its designated place on a larger rectangular platform. From the looks of it, the Drip even comes with a home button on its nozzle, although what that does is anyone’s guess.

While clearly conceptual, the Apple Drip is a fun design prompt for hackers and YouTubers, giving them an opportunity to turn existing (and obsolete) products into fun alternatives. Anyone planning on building this? If you do, just fo me a favor and call it something clever like the iCedLatte Pro or something…

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Apple Mac Studio: Reasons to upgrade to this powerhouse

Apple has announced an unexpected new member of its Mac family, and while the initial response has been mostly positive, it still raises one critical question: is it worth the upgrade or not?

Apple was expected to announce a refresh to its Mac lineup, but few probably expected it would be making such a big change. The Mac Studio isn’t just its most powerful Mac, threatening even the latest Mac Pro; it also shakes the lineup in a very fundamental way. In effect, Apple seems to be favoring a discrete computer that still needs its own display, slowly moving away from the all-in-one iMac. More importantly, the Mac Studio adds another option for buyers to consider, making it harder to make a decision on whether to opt for this rather pricey desktop computer or stick with your iMac or Mac Pro. We take a closer look at some of the Mac Studio’s most important factors to hopefully help you reach that decision, in case you need to make one really soon.

Designer: Apple

The Competition

In one fell swoop, Apple almost put three of its existing product lines on notice, though one actually dodged the bullet. Although parallels will be drawn due to their relatively more diminutive sizes, the Mac Mini, even the one powered by an Apple M1 chip, serves a completely different purpose and audience. Though definitely powerful enough for basic image and video editing, the Mac Mini is geared towards more casual computing uses and entertainment applications, sometimes even serving as a home media center.

The gigantic Mac Pro is, of course, the easiest target. It’s almost like a David and Goliath scenario where you expect the smaller underdog to emerge victorious. After all, Apple is trying to wean itself off its dependence on Intel CPUs, so proving that bigger isn’t always better might be its ulterior motive. In most cases, the Mac Studio could definitely stand taller than the larger Mac Pro, unless you really need an Intel-based processor for compatibility and discrete graphics cards, in which case the Mac Pro still has no competition on Apple’s desktop lineup.

Instead, the Mac Studio might actually be gunning for the iMac, especially considering that the 27-inch iMac disappeared on the same day that the Mac Studio and Studio Display debuted. The 24-inch M1 iMac is still around, of course, but that might not last long as the overlap between its “Mini Macs” and its all-in-one iMacs narrow even further. All-in-one PCs seem to also be on the decline in general, so it might only be a matter of time before the venerable iMac brand either gets retired or hopefully reused somewhere else.


Along with the Mac Studio and Studio Display, the new M1 Ultra chip is undoubtedly the star of Apple’s March event. It makes bold claims about performance that threatens whatever is left of Intel’s hold in the Mac world. Its real-world performance does still need to be tested, but if Apple’s track record is any indication, interested buyers need not worry.

To say that the Mac Studio and the M1 Ultra go perfectly together would be an understatement. Admittedly, it has a higher starting price than the M1 Max configuration, but you will be getting the top specs from the get-go. For example, the two ports in front will be Thunderbolt 4 instead of USB-C, offering compatibility with even more devices and opening up more uses beyond just data transfer.

Except for the Mac Pro, none of Apple’s other computers can compete with the plethora of ports available on the Mac Studio. If the name weren’t already suggestive enough, this Apple mini desktop computer is a digital creative’s dream when it comes to connecting with other devices and equipment. Photographers and cinematographers might even be tickled pink by how the SD card slot sits right in the front for easy access, a clear indication that it was a priority rather than an afterthought.

If the Mac Studio could stand toe-to-toe with the Mac Pro in most ways, the one area where some buyers might worry about will be in the graphics arena. Some still need and swear by discrete graphics that are available only on the Intel-powered Mac Pro. Apple is definitely closing in on whatever advantages those might still have, and the Apple M1 Silicon’s graphics performance has been nothing but extraordinary since day one anyway. Even more so if Apple’s promises about the M1 Ultra’s prowess closely match reality.

These will be important metrics for what has been Apple’s most faithful audience from the very beginning: designers, artists, and creatives. Raw CPU power is no longer enough, and image and video processing, not to mention 3D rendering, need heavy-duty graphics silicon, too. With all that power, however, also comes the need for more advanced cooling systems, and Apple promises that the Mac Studio also delivers more with less, as we’ll get to later.


Despite the novel name, the Mac Studio isn’t exactly ground-breaking in its aesthetic. It looks like a very tall Mac Mini with some of the Mac Pro’s grilles on the back and the base. The new mini computer’s design innovation, however, comes from the things you don’t see, especially when you don’t see the Mac Studio itself.


Unlike the Mac Mini, the Mac Studio is too big to hide in small spaces, but it still has more flexibility in where you keep it compared to the bigger Mac Pro. You can hide the Mac Studio away from its monitor if you want to, though that means losing easy access to those ports. You at least have the freedom to place it where you want or even move it around places, something that’s not easily done with a traditional tower.

You also have the freedom to choose the monitor you prefer, though Apple will definitely prefer that you opt for the 27-inch Studio Display. These are almost made for each other, if their launch didn’t already make that obvious, with their designs and features complementing each other perfectly. You can, of course, choose differently and upgrade either separately. The same can’t be said for an all-in-one iMac solution where you really get what you pay for and nothing more.

The Mac Studio combines the power of the Mac Pro with the versatility of the Mac Mini without completely erasing the other two’s existence. It does almost make the iMac redundant and seemingly replaces the 27-inch iMac on Apple’s store. It gives people more freedom not only to choose which displays to go with it but also in how to design their workspaces without worrying about how it will take up space.


Apple also gives the new Mac Studio a stronger sustainability narrative than its older peers, one that could help appeal to more environment-conscious buyers. For some parts like magnets and soldering on the mainboard, it uses “100% recycled rare earth elements.” It also used recycled aluminum and plastic in other components. The chassis is built from a single aluminum extrusion that not only adds durability but also reduces the number of materials to keep the parts together.

The Mac Studio also boasts of a thermal management system that keeps the fans from running unless absolutely necessary. Not only does this reduce the noise coming from the Mac, but it also keeps its overall power consumption down. In fact, Apple says that the Mac Studio uses up to 1,000 kWh less energy than an equivalent high-end desktop PC, which is no small claim as far as energy efficiency goes.

Consumer electronics use a lot of non-sustainable materials, and high-end computers consume a lot more power than typical appliances, especially when running for hours with heavy workloads. Reducing their negative impact on the environment one Mac Studio at a time is a small but important step in changing the landscape for the better, something that Apple is strongly committed to doing in the next eight years.


The Mac Studio definitely has a lot going for it, whether you aim for the M1 Max or the top-of-the-line M1 Ultra. As with most Apple products, however, many consumers will balk at Apple’s asking price. While it might sound pricey, it’s actually well within what you’d expect from a premium Apple product. In fact, it might actually be a sweeter deal, depending on how you look at it.

Considering the Mac Pro starts at $5,999, the fact that the Mac Studio starts at $1,999 is almost shocking. That’s for the lowest M1 Max configuration, though, and the M1 Ultra variant actually starts at $3,999. That’s still significantly lower for something that matches the power but surpasses the size of a Mac Pro.

The now-defunct 27-inch iMac started at $1,799, but it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison at this point, no pun intended. Admittedly, the Mac Studio doesn’t come with its own screen, and the Studio Display that Apple probably wants you to buy with it costs $1,599. If you already have a favorite and trusted monitor, though, that’s already one less worry off your back, but suffice it to say, the TCO of a Mac Studio is no laughing matter.


So we finally come to the most important of this long piece, to find out whether the Mac Studio is truly worth it, especially for product designers and digital creatives that need a trustworthy partner in their quest for the ultimate render. Presuming you’re aiming for the better M1 Ultra model, here are some considerations to help you reach that answer.

If you’re actually just buying your first Mac in a few years, the answer is already a resounding yes. Short of budget constraints, there’s almost little reason to get a Mac Pro (more on it later) or even an M1 iMac if you’re really investing in a powerhouse. Sure, the iMac does let you keep your desk clean, but it makes sacrifices in power and flexibility, especially when it comes to ports.

If you’re upgrading from an M1 Mac Mini, the answer is also a yes. By now, you have probably been used to whatever limitations there might be in software compatibility, which isn’t that many by now. The most important tools of the trade are already compatible with Apple Silicon, so there’s not much reason to hold back at this point.

Perhaps the only reason to avoid the Mac Studio, other than the price, is if you really need a dedicated GPU like on the Mac Pro. At that point, however, you’ll need to save up even more, which sort of makes the price concern moot. The M1 iMac still does have a place if you’re willing to make compromises on performance for the sake of a neater work area. And there will always be room for a Mac Mini, even a whole rack of them, for certain applications that would be overkill, even for a $1,999 M1 Max Mac Studio.

These all presume that the M1 Ultra is all that it’s cut out to be, which we’ll really know after a few months only. Needless to say, the Apple Mac Studio is kicking up a storm on the Internet and is positioning itself to be Apple’s best desktop to date.

The post Apple Mac Studio: Reasons to upgrade to this powerhouse first appeared on Yanko Design.

This iPhone case gives your smartphone the Apple Mac Pro ‘cheesegrater’ texture

“Never knock an idea until you actually try it.”

My opinion on the 2019 Mac Pro has aged pretty well, I’d say. Sure, my reaction (which came just moments after the design was released) may have been premature, and so were the memes that followed the debut of the ‘cheesegrater Mac’… but even now, 2 years down the line, it feels slightly cathartic to know that my opinion hasn’t really changed – the 2019 Mac Pro still looks visibly odd and sort of gets my skin crawling.

Recently though, the media discovered a patent for an iPhone that used the ‘cheesegrater’ texture for efficient cooling or thermal transmission, and let’s just say, people weren’t happy. Some even legitimately debunked it as an April Fool’s Prank from Apple. My thoughts on the matter weren’t any different – it sounds like a terrible idea, but I thought the best thing to do would be to really give Apple the benefit of the doubt and MAKE a cheesegrater iPhone just so I have something to visually judge it by.

Presenting, the ‘Cheesegrater’ Case for the iPhone 12 Pro. Made from a TPE bumper and a machined aluminum backplate, the case puts the familiar cheesegrater texture on the back of the iPhone to help it cool more efficiently (well at least in theory). In theory, it’s also perfectly suited to mince cloves of garlic or grate some Parmigiano Reggiano.

Now that we have a (sort of) clear vision of what the cheesegrater texture would look like on an iPhone, let’s objectively and subjectively judge this. For starters, it just looks like a really bad idea. Objectively speaking, a textured metal body would most certainly trap dirt, dust, pieces of lint, aside from also preventing the phone from wirelessly charging. The current textured metal plate is 1mm thick, and for any sort of texture, you’d need 3D depth which adds unnecessary thickness to the phone – something Apple probably won’t want to do. Subjectively speaking, the texture looks worse on the iPhone than on the Mac Pro (although it may also be my execution). Apple’s patent file states “the components of the electronic device may be designed to provide a unique and pleasing look and feel for a user”, a purpose that gets defeated when even Digital Trends calls it “Apple’s worst-ever design idea”. Moreover, at that scale, the texture could actually be used as a garlic press or a microplane for grating hard cheeses, which makes it difficult to take seriously when the texture is on a $1200 flagship smartphone. Let’s not even get into the ‘trypophobia’ angle.

My opinions aside, it seems like a weird idea for Apple to take such an extreme route for “enhanced levels of heat removal”. What exactly is the iPhone doing that it would even need desktop-grade heat removal? Is Apple going all-in on AR, or is it looking to put more powerful Apple-built silicone chips in their new iPhones? We’ll never really know. All we can say with a certain degree of confidence is that a ‘Cheesegrater’ iPhone isn’t really a great idea…

If you really want to make your own ‘Cheesegrater’ iPhone case, you can download the 3D files by clicking here.

Designer/Visualizer: Sarang Sheth

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