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Apple’s Mac Studio with the M1 max does not have any performance advantages over the MacBook Pro 16

Apple Mac Studio
Apple Mac Studio
Apple now offers its own M1 Max processors both in laptops as well as desktops, so some users might be interested in the differences. After we reviewed the new Mac Studio, we can say there are not that many and the MacBook Pro 16 is probably the better choice for most users.

We are already familiar with the Mac Mini, which is equipped with Apple’s own M1 processor. The manufacturer from Cupertino now also offers the Mac Studio desktop, which gets faster SoCs and more features and is more targeted at professional users. The base model of the Mac Studio is equipped with the familiar M1 Max SoC, which is also available in the two models MacBook Pro 14 and MacBook Pro 16. Our review of the smaller MacBook Pro 14, however, showed that the M1 Max cannot utilize its full potential, so we will focus on the MacBook Pro 16 for this comparison. The comparison is obviously void when you get the Mac Studio with the M1 Ultra, which offers much more performance.

The following table lists two comparable base configurations of the Mac Studio and the MacBook Pro 16, and you can see the price gap right away. However, you have to consider that the Mac Studio is shipped without any accessories and you also have to purchase input devices separately. Then there is the excellent Mini-LED display, great speaker system and the overall mobility aspect, which have to be considered for the MacBook Pro 16.

Mac Studio Mac Studio MacBook Pro 16 MacBook Pro 16
CPU M1 Max M1 Max M1 Max M1 Max
GPU 24 Cores 32 Cores 24 Cores 32 Cores
RAM 32 GB 64 GB 32 GB 64 GB
SSD 1 TB 2 TB 1 TB 2 TB
RRP $2199 $3199 $3299 $4299

The features are identical when both devices are equipped with the M1 Max, including the number of supported displays, memory and SSD options. Both models are also limited to 80 MHz Wi-Fi 6. The most important aspect is the M1 Max, and the performance is completely identical between the Mac Studio and the MacBook Pro 16, even under sustained workloads. You will notice a difference between the cooling systems in your daily routine, though. The Mac Studio is not really stressed by the M1 Max at all and does not get loud when you stress the system, but the two fans are constantly spinning at 1300 rpm, even while idling. The fan murmur is not very loud, but definitely noticeable in quiet environments. The MacBook Pro 16 definitely has an advantage here and is almost always silent in less demanding workloads, but it will be noticeably louder when you really stress the SoC.

We also had a look at the new Apple Studio Display, which uses the same 27-inch 5K screen from the old iMac 27. The picture quality is very good, but the price is pretty steep for the panel specs alone. There is obviously the added functionality from the A13 SoC like 3D audio, great speakers, comfort features like True Tone and the possibility to attach additional peripherals or input devices. The Studio Display can also charge other devices with up to 96W via Thunderbolt, so it is the ideal solution for all MacBooks up to the MacBook Pro 14. The larger MacBook Pro 16 works as well, but it requires an additional power source for the full performance, so one more cable. The Studio Display is a very interesting (although costly) solution for all users looking for a simple solution to use their MacBook Air or even iPad Pro with a large screen at home.

Please see our comprehensive reviews for more information on the review units including detailed benchmark results:

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2022 06 > Apple’s Mac Studio with the M1 max does not have any performance advantages over the MacBook Pro 16
Andreas Osthoff, 2022-06-17 (Update: 2022-06-16)