Studio Display teardown makes me wish Apple just made a new iMac

Inside view of the Studio Display
(Image credit: iFixit)

A few enterprising – and brave – people have begun opening up Apple’s new Studio Display, and the innards show a complex device that’s much more than a standard monitor.

Apple has made a big deal of the Studio Display’s advanced smart features, such as Siri virtual assistant support and AI-controlled webcam in a bid to justify the high price tag of $1,599 (£1,499 / AU$2,499), and these teardowns, which show us the kind of tech that’s packed behind the screen, reveal just how complex the device actually is.

Mac Rumors points out that in the bottom-right logic board hosts the A13 Bionic chip – the same found in iPads and iPhones, and which is used for the AI features. Interestingly, there seems to also be 64GB of flash storage. This is a hefty amount of storage space for a monitor (which usually come with… well, none), and is the same amount found in entry-level iPhones and iPads.

While we now know that the Studio Display runs on iOS 15.4, it’s not immediately clear what the 64GB of storage is for. The inside of the Studio Display also shows two large fans for keeping it cool (again, quite rare for a monitor), along with six speakers, similar to the ones found in the 24-inch iMac.

The iFixit website is also in the process of doing a teardown of the Studio Display, and while it’s still in progress, we’ve been given another glimpse of the insides of the monitor. The iFixit team are well known for their in-depth looks at devices, and specifically focus on how easily fixable products are – something that Apple’s devices usually get lambasted for.

These initial glimpses of the Studio Display do at least show that Apple has packed some interesting tech into the screen – but it has also led me to feeling like it’s a missed opportunity.

Analysis: Why not just make a 27-inch iMac?

Apple iMac 27-inch (2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

When Apple revealed the Studio Display, along with the new Mac Studio, in early March, many people wondered why not just make a 27-inch iMac? After all, the Studio Display in some ways feels like an iMac without the Mac bit.

However, these teardowns show that this may have been a bigger missed opportunity than previously thought. After all, if Apple is putting this much tech in a screen, including storage and fans, could it not have also added an M1 chip and memory and made a new iMac?!

Ok, maybe it’s not quite that easy, but the harsh truth is that the Studio Display is a rather underwhelming device that doesn’t offer the performance or value that would make it a worthwhile purchase. If Apple had released a new M1-powered 27-inch iMac, I think it would have been much more warmly received, especially as Apple has now discontinued the previous 27-inch iMac.

For people who want an Apple all-in-one with a 27-inch screen, rather than a 24-inch one, then you’re out of luck. The Studio Display with a Mac Studio or Mac mini hooked up isn’t a decent enough replacement, sadly.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.