The Mac Studio Can Be a Portable Computer, Too

You just need the right bag to do it

  • The Mac Studio is Apple’s most powerful computer, and now you can easily take it with you.
  • WaterField Designs’ Mac Studio Travel Bag is like a bowling bag for a computer.
  • You’ll still need to carry a screen.
Woman sitting at desk while working on Mac Studio


Apple's M1 Pro laptop computers outperform many desktop machines, and yet sometimes only a desktop will do. And for that, you need a way to carry it.

A laptop used to be about compromises. You traded power, storage, and flexibility for portability and convenience. But lately, with Apple's M-series MacBooks, the laptops use the same chips as the desktops, and they do it at full speed, with battery life that can last all day. But for movie makers, photographers, and other professionals, the extra capabilities of a desktop machine outweigh the inconvenience of schlepping it around. Let's see why you might still prefer a portable desktop, and how you might carry it.

"We can have multiple productions going at any given time in various locations, so the portability of my workstation has always been important," filmmaker Michael Ayjian told Lifewire via email. "Being able to carry a Mac Studio from one location to another in a travel bag makes the process easy. Laptops make portability easy, but at the end of the day, being able to have a desktop station and monitor is still the ideal."

Portable Desktop

Some people, this writer included, use a "desktop laptop" setup, where you use a laptop as a semi-permanent desktop computer, connected to a monitor and maybe some other peripherals. If you do this via a Thunderbolt docking station, the whole setup is connected by just one cable for power and data, and when you leave the desk behind, you still have all your projects, data, and apps exactly where you expect them to be.

But if you primarily work in one spot, it can be cheaper and better to use a desktop computer. In Apple's world, that's a Mac mini, Mac Studio, or Mac Pro. All but the Pro are quite portable, other than the need for a power outlet.

WaterField Designs Mac Studio Travel Bag next to Mac Studio and accessories

WaterField Designs

The advantages of a desktop are they can include bigger fans to run cooler for longer, typically have more storage and RAM, and have more ports for better expandability. They may not be as portable as a laptop, but they're still pretty compact and easy to carry. That's why WaterField Designs created the Mac Studio Travel Bag, a briefcase-style leather bag that protects the computer and has space for other essentials.

"Our video editor has a powerful Mac Studio and wanted a safe, easy way to transport it with its accompanying accessories to some of his remote jobs and to and from his home office. It looks good, so it sets a professional tone with his client," Gary Waterfield, owner of WaterField Designs, told Lifewire via email.

Carry On

The screen is another problem with using a desktop as a portable device. And because one of the main points of a desktop is that you get to use a bigger screen, you’ll need to carry one with you.

Or, as YouTuber Marques Brownlee used to do, you could carry an iMac Pro in a Pelican case, which is a legit option when you really need the gear.

The WaterField case is more for commuting between places that already have the rest of the gear you need, like a screen, speakers, and maybe even a keyboard and trackpad.

WaterField Designs Mac Studio Travel Bag

WaterField Designs

"The Mac Studio Travel Bag is designed for single power users. They can carry it on public transportation because it's compact with a relatively-small profile," Amyel Oliveros, WaterField Design's chief creative officer, told Lifewire via email.

Carrying a Mac Studio or any other desktop machine can be a real pain compared to a laptop. But if you have to do it, something like WaterField's bags will do the job, as will a smaller Peli case with the foam cut to the right shape for your device.

But really, unless you need to have the most powerful device for your work, like an on-location video editor might need the top-of-the-line Mac Studio to edit on set, you can almost certainly get everything done on a MacBook Pro. Then again, if you're traveling with a desktop and a huge 4K or 5K monitor, it'll double as a killer home-theater setup back at your hotel.

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