Am I wrong to consider a Mac Studio instead of a laptop?

When I first started using Macs (for graphic design work at the time) the laptops were nowhere near as powerful as the desktops so I always had a desktop and a laptop. This lasted until the launch of the trashcan Mac Pro which prompted me to switch to only using a 15" Macbook Pro from then on. That has been the case up to my now current 2019 MBP 16" – fully optioned out at the time but showing its age.

I am now a self employed web developer and mostly work from my home office. With that in mind I am considering a Mac Studio (Max, 64GB, 1TB) when the M3 version finally arrives.

My reasoning is that I’ll get more performance value for money (vs an equally specced Macbook) and a much cleaner desk setup. I have a 5K 27" monitor already.

The Intel MBP can then do light laptop duty for a few more years. This mostly involves client visits (demos and note taking) and holiday/weekend travel (in case I need to fix a bug or kick-start a server, which happens rarely). When it is time it can be replaced by a Macbook Air perhaps.

Despite my long-ago history of primarily using desktop Macs, I’m still a little hesitant to go against the current norm of having a laptop as my primary computer, but rationally there seems to be very little downside.

What do you all think?

I would consider that the Mac Studio still has the same chip as the laptops. Unlike in the past, when there were desktop and laptop class chips with a massive difference in performance, there now is almost no difference. Now, with the same chips on both, the desktop version has no performance advantage unless you go for the Ultra. I have both a Studio and a MacBook, but at home I prefer the flexibility of a laptop as I can work anywhere and take it on business trips, while my Studio is what I use in the office (I do not work at home). However, I also have a second MacBook at work and find this invaluable as then I’m not tied to my desk. You also get the added screen/speakers/portability of the laptop.

If a clean desk is the priority, then that’s a different story!

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Chips are the same, yes, but at least here the prices differ wildly. Assuming the M3 Studio will cost the same as the current M2, compared to the 16" Macbook Pro you pay about 59% for the Studio.

When working I’m at home and do so in my home office. As does my wife, by the way, so we try to be disciplined at leaving work in the offices. For “home” computing tasks like paying the bills etc, we have a M1 iMac in the common area.

I won’t call a clean desk a priority, but we all like pretty things. :grinning:

Historically laptops are more expensive and do not survive as long as desktops. Hinges wear out, keyboards get damaged, and batteries eventually die, IF the laptop isn’t stolen or damaged at some point.

If you don’t need the portability of a laptop, I would buy the Studio.


As much as I wanted to stay a one device person with just using a laptop, I ended up going the Mac Studio path when the last one came out. It helped maintain work in a location that was good for me to get that type of work done. I had an older laptop that I could use if I just was out of the house and wanted to get some work done. There were times I even used an iPad with a keyboard to login to the Mac Studio to do some work. I ended up with Jump Desktop to login outside the house and just connected to the Mac Studio when in another room of the house.

I have seen a few good outcomes with this setup:

  1. I only needed to spend a higher amount once and it was cheaper to purchase the Mac Studio for me rather than a similarly spec’d MacBook Pro.
  2. It also removed the need for another dock. With the MacBook Pro, I found that I needed a decent dock to plug in everything else. Some of the things I had to plug in were not USB-C, so some type of extra item was needed. I don’t find that the case with the Mac Studio.
  3. It provided for a purchase of a lower-spec M2 MacBook Air to do those things that needed a little more outside the home and I couldn’t log into the Mac Studio. This replaced the older MacBook I was using as a portable solution.

It is a tough choice. However, I have been very happy with the decision and wished I would have done this a while back. Hopefully, that M3 Studio will be out soon.


Thank you for the contributions.

Yes, I didn’t even think about just linking back to the Studio from a laptop. A quick look at the prices reveal I can just about buy a new Macbook Air and a Studio for the price of a Macbook Pro.

Seems worth it – then the desk computer is a better desk computer and the laptop is a better laptop (smaller, lighter, etc).


Another nice thing about a Studio. is the 2 front USB C ports plus the SD card slot which for me is very convenient. And with having the Studio Display’s 3 USB C ports plus the Mac Studios 4 thunderbolt ports, and 2 USB A ports on the back I don’t need a Hub.


Yes, that is one of the very appealing things about the desktop form factor. Similarly, since it will stay in one place (very much unlike a laptop) the wires can be neatly routed and tied down.

Agreed, the front slots are very handy on the Studio and get a lot of use from me. Just having a lot of USB ports is a huge advantage for the Studio.

Before the Studio came out, I ditched my Intel iMac for my M1 MBP. I got the dock and a stand for it, and hooked it all up. It was fine, but it looked messier and I had to think about battery health since I rarely unplugged it. If I didn’t need mobility, I would get a desktop computer.

As far as performance, I have never looked at benchmarks, but wouldn’t the Studio out perform the laptops just because of better cooling?

Possibly for sustained loads, but that is not the nature of my work.

Desktop computers have much better ergonomics. Unless the laptop is used in “clamshell mode”, basically as a desktop computer, you cannot position the keyboard and display properly making it more fatiguing and prone to injuries with prolonged use. Laptops are optimized for portability while desktops are optimized for productivity.


And usually better thermal dissipation systems.

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After more than a decade using MBPs for personal use, I decided to switch to a M2 Pro Mini and I cannot be more happy. My old 2018 MBP can still be used for the few occasions I need to use a computer while in the field (basically when I’m on holidays). My MBP was only used as a desktop computer connected to a 32’’ display and I did not want to pay the premium of a gorgeous screen that I would not use.


I made the jump from a MBP to a Studio just a few weeks ago and am really happy with that decision. I bought the base model off the refurbished store and it was considerably less expensive then buying a comparably equipped laptop (already owned two monitors, keyboard etc).
I have an iPad when I need to be mobile.


I am fully with you on the Mac Studio. I got the first M1 based and it is humming along nicely, having never missed a beat. I also got the Studio Display on a Vesa arm, which for me is the most important ergonomics consideration. Looking down at a laptop screen just kills my neck in a very short time, and at my age, it’s too far away.

Also, in your configuration, you’ll pay for a gorgeous screen you’ll never look at and a great keyboard / touchpad just sitting under the lid. Sure, it’s nice the few times you take it with you, but if you’re stationary most of the time, the Mac Studio makes perfect sense.

“M2 Pro Mini” equals a Mac mini? (The term “mini” is used with too many other Apple devices. :slightly_smiling_face:)

I was just starting to wonder if everyone had switched to Mac Studios and stopped buying Mac minis. I’ve been considering a Mac mini myself to get more than 16 GB memory for the Adobe apps I use.

I like the all-in-one-ness of my M1 MacBook Air, although my neck has gotten sore from the rotten ergos of using it as a desktop. I dug out my old Apple 24-inch 4K LG UltraFine display monitor and placed it so I can look at its screen behind and over the MBA. The Lunar app sets the laptop’s screen to black and lets me still use the keyboard, Touch ID, and trackpad of the MBA. The AlDente app lets me control battery charging now that the larger monitor is always plugged in via Thunderbolt.

Is there a reason you need a Mac Studio, because I wouldn’t have thought that Web Dev needed that much power. A MBA or a Mac Mini could do it.

I’m just wondering whether a spec’d up Mini would save you even more money.


I ditched laptops and went back to a desktop in 2018 and couldn’t be happier. Teaming it up with an iPad for portable computing has turned out to be the best computing experience for my use case.

I’ll only add that my M2 Studio is the first computer I’ve been truly enjoyed since my NeXTstation colour turbo.


I don’t need that much power either. I went with the Studio purely for the ports over the Mini. After years of iMacs, I finally didn’t need a USB hub.


It depends on the sort of dev work you’re doing. VMs can eat up a lot of RAM. Chrome is a memory hog, but also a good tool for web dev. Etc.