‘Mac setup in a box’ is a dual-Mac Studio powerhouse [Setups]


The cabinet on the right holds the computers and more.
The cabinet on the right holds the computers and more.
Photo: XTJ7@Reddit.com

We enjoy a lot of variety in our computer setups coverage, from the ultra-minimalist to the mega-maximalist. Today’s featured rig sports two pumped-up Mac Studios, two old Mac Pro “trash cans,” a gaming PC, dual displays and a tremendous array of audio gear.

It falls in the latter category, obviously (“mega”). The lengthy gear list below doesn’t even cover everything in the powerhouse workstation, but it covers all the key elements.

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Powerhouse setup features 2 Mac Studios, 2 Mac Pros and a gaming PC

Software engineer, photographer and Redditor XTJ7 showcased the mega-powerful setup in a post entitled, “Slightly unusual Mac setup in a box.” The box refers to a modified set of server cabinets to the right of the desk that house the main gear.

We last posted about a much-earlier version of XT’s epic setup in April 2021: “Two trash can Macs form core of nerdy workstation built to last.” We said “nerdy” because XT calls himself a nerd in his unusually detailed descriptions of everything.

1 ‘trash can’ lives on, but it has a lot of help from new Mac Studios

Anyway, he still has the two trash-can Mac Pros from 2013 — with one now in use as a server and one unused and destined to go on sale — and the potent gaming PC. Back in 2021, he hoped to upgrade with one or more Mac mini “Pro” models. But they weren’t to be.

So instead, he has what Apple released instead — two Mac Studios, one M1 Ultra and one M1 Max. And his whole rig has changed in that he’s now using modified server cabinets to store his machines along with the Aten CS1944DP 4-port KVM switch connecting them plus his massive storage array.

Here’s a quick look at his computers’ specs:

  • Mac Studio 1 — M1 Ultra, 128GB RAM, 4TB SSD
  • Mac Studio 2 — M1 Max, 64GB RAM, 1TB SSD
  • Mac Pro — 6 Core, 64GB RAM, 2TB SSD
  • Gaming PC — 3700X, 32GB RAM, RTX 3090, 2TB SSD

Letting the man speak for himself

XT is a bit of an exception on social media in that he goes into depth about his gear with great clarity. So we thought we’d let him give you his overview of the setup, including how he uses it and some upcoming changes:

Basically I use the Mac Studios for work (one client requires me to work on their provided hardware, so that’s why I have two), the PC for gaming and the Mac Pro as a server. Everything gets backed up to a Synology NAS (a rather old DS1812+ with one SSD and 35 TB, but using RAID 6, so about 21 TB usable capacity.

Uninterrupted power and fiber cable

There is a 16 port L2+ managed gigabit switch in there as well as a 3KW UPS from APC, which protects my equipment as well as ensures not everything goes down if my toddler turns off the wall plug.

I then have an “umbilical cord,” basically a cable-managed snake of several fiber cables, which go from the rack to the desk with enough extra length that I can pull out the entire rack while everything is running and work on it from all 4 sides. Very helpful, use it a lot.

I have pretty much everything running fiber to the desk, 2x DP, HDMI, USB, Audio, Network … for the most part it works great, only USB via fiber is an absolute massive pain. I tried multiple different solutions and none works perfect. If you CAN get away with it, I would also suggest an active USB cable instead of fiber. But I digress.

Dell displays and Mackie audio

In terms of peripherals on the desk I use two Dell U3219Q 4K monitors on arms, two 10-inch Android tablets for my home surveillance as well as my custom control panel (that lets me control lights, switch between computers etc.), a Logitech C922 webcam, a Mackie Big Knob Studio+ audio interface connected to Logitech Z200 speakers (I already have matching Mackie MR624 speakers, but need the new desk first).

Not on the photo is a Huion Kamvas 16 graphics tablet, that I only connect when I need to. I use Logitech for my mouse and keyboard as well, the MX Master 3 and the MX Mechanical (full sized) on a 900mm x 400mm mousepad. There is also a Fifine K669B microphopne on an Elgato Wave Mic Arm LP, as I usually prefer my Acoustic Research AR-H1 headphones over the Corsair Virtuoso [headphones].

A look ahead

Upcoming changes include: getting rid of both Mac Pros and replace them with a proper server that will also eventually be able to replace the (aging) Synology NAS as well. I will also replace the desk with a custom wall-mounted, height-adjustable floating desk.

Shop these items now:

Take a peek inside the server-rack cabinets.
Take a peek inside the server-rack cabinets, which are vented to keep temperatures down.
Photo: XTJ7@Reddit.com



Displays and webcam:

Input devices:


Networking and storage:

If you would like to see your setup featured on Cult of Mac, send some high-res pictures to info+setups@cultofmac.com. Please provide a detailed list of your equipment. Tell us what you like or dislike about your setup, and fill us in on any special touches, challenges and plans for new additions.


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