Mac Studio (M1 Max) vs 16-inch MacBook Pro (M1 Max): Which One To Buy?

The Mac Studio is a great addition to the Mac family with the MacBook Pro and Air now dominating the notebook market. The release of the new Studio machine shows that Apple has begun pouring some love into its Mac desktop after years of focus on its iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks. 

One of the biggest changes Apple has made to its Mac line up in the last couple years lies in the company’s silicon chip. And with the new Mac Studio, the Cupertino firm has taken the machine to the whole new level by adding the M1 Ultra chip under the hood, the most powerful chip Apple’s ever made. 

With the new Studio now on the line, Mac users have more options to consider when it comes to buying new Mac machines. If you are now wondering how the new Mac Studio with M1 Max stands up against the highest-end MacBook Pro, look no further. We are going to put the two to the test to see which one is right for you. 

First, Specs (Models used in this comparison)

Mac Studio (M1 Max)MacBook Pro M1 Max (2021)
ProcessorApple M1 Max (up to 3.23 GHz, 10-coreM1 Max (up to 3.23 GHz, 10-core)
GPU32-core (M1 Max)32-core (M1-Max)
RAM32 GB of unified memory32GB of unified memory
DisplayNo (sold separately)16.2 inch (mini LED, Wide color (P3), True Tone, 120Hz
Ports4 x Thunderbolt 42 x USB Type-A (5Gbps)1 x 10Gbps EthernetHDMI3.5mm headphone jack3 Thunderbolt 4 portsHDMIMagSafe 3 charging portSD card reader3.5mm headphone jack

In this comparison, we are using the top-of-the-line 16-inch MacBook Pro that features an M1 Max chip with 10 compute cores and a 32-core GPU. The machine has 32GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage. This is one of the highest configurations you can get now.

Meanwhile, the Mac Studio features the same M1 Max chip with 32-core GPU, 32GB of RAM, and 1TB SSD. Keep in mind that the machine can be configurable with the M1 Ultra with 64-core GPU and 128GB of RAM. Of course, it will burn a serious hole in your wallet. 


Apple Mac machines never come cheap on the market. And there are no exceptions here. The 16-inch MacBook Pro retails for $2,499 for the entry-level model. The configuration used in this article costs up to $3,499 in the US. 

The Mac Studio with the same configuration is priced at $2,399 in the US. That’s up to $1000 cheaper than the 16-inch MacBook Pro, which is significant. This pricing difference seems plausible as the MacBook Pro sports a 16-inch Liquid Retina XDR display that offers a stunning visual experience. 

The Mac Studio is itself a box only, meaning that you will either have to pay an additional $1,499 for the Apple Studio Display or go for a cheaper 4K option out there that would work perfectly with the machine. The bundle will set you back $3,898, which is more expensive than the MacBook Pro with the same configuration. 

In short, the Mac Studio is considerably cheaper, but it has some compromises. If you go for the Mac Studio, we suggest you go for a cheaper monitor to keep the overall costs down a bit. 

Ports and Portability

In terms of portability, the MacBook Pro has its upper hand when compared to the Mac Studio. In fact, I have been using the 16-inch MacBook Pro since last November and it goes everywhere with me, which is something I am not able to do with the Mac Studio.

The MacBook Pro is super convenient for on-the-go folks. You can work everywhere you step into. I usually go for picnics having my MacBook around and a Sony A6100, so I can quickly import my photos onto my Mac to edit and share them. 

Speaking of connectivity ports, the Mac Studio has far more ports with up to 6 Thunderbolt/USB-C ports and 4 USB-A ports. Meanwhile, the MacBook Pro gets 3 Thunderbolts, an HDMI, and a SDXC card slot. 

The fact that you get a decent number of ports with the MacBook Pro does not surprise me, as Apple has been making its Mac laptops thinner recently. 

In short, the MacBook Pro is undoubtedly the winner when it comes to portability. In this case, choosing between the two really comes down to your personal preferences.


I have been using the MacBook Pro 16 inch with M1 Max for months and I have to admit that it’s the most powerful laptop I have ever experienced. Everything is so smooth, ranging from scrolling on Safari to editing high-res videos. The M1 Max is overkill for many tasks. 

Both machines are powered by the M1 Max chip with 32-core GPU, so you can expect the same performance level. To justify this expectation, I ran some tests on both models. 

Two devices took 4 minutes and 50 seconds to export a 10-minute 4K video. The difference really stood out on the M1 Ultra Mac Studio that took 3 minutes. An hour long podcast exported in 25 minutes on the MacBook Pro, and approximately 26 minutes on the Mac Studio. 

I also ran some benchmarking tests. In Geekbench 5, the Mac Studio’s performance was slightly lower than that of the MacBook Pro. This is because of the Studio’s SSD not being on the motherboard. 

In terms of Cinebench, a test used to evaluate your computer’s hardware capabilities, the performance between the two was very similar. 

When it comes to photo editing in Lightroom, the exporting times were also the same on both machines.

In terms of graphics performance, there was no difference between the two. Both delivered an excellent performance.

However, the MacBook Pro had its upper hand when it comes to converting 8K RAW video to 4K HEVC. The Mac Studio was about 4 seconds slower than the MacBook Pro.

Final Thoughts

Both machines are amazing and deliver exceptional performance. Choosing between the two heavily depends on how you use the device. The Mac Studio may be a better option if you already have a proper setup at home. With additional connectivity ports, you can have up to 8 monitors connected to your Studio device. 

The MacBook Pro 16 inch is made for those who want to work on the move. With a beautiful unibody design, stunning display, and powerful hardware, it’s totally a beast in your bag.

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