Can a 16-inch M1 MacBook Pro setup be ‘budget-friendly?’ [Setups]


Everything here is budget-friendly, or not too far from it. But not the laptop.
Everything here is budget-friendly, or not too far from it. But not the laptop.

Is it reasonable to call a computer setup “budget-friendly” if it includes a new 16-inch M1 MacBook Pro? Well, is there such a thing as an Lamborghini economy car? How about a thrift-store Faberge egg? Or maybe a bargain-basement super yacht?

OK, we exaggerate slightly. You don’t have to be a billionaire to afford a nice Mac. But it helps.

Today’s featured setup makes a go of getting some “budget-friendly” cred despite its high-powered centerpiece — with mixed results.

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Can you make a 16-inch M1 MacBook Pro setup ‘budget-friendly?’

Redditor seanaslam titled his setup post, “Minimal Budget Friendly Desk with New 16″ MacBook Pro.” Pretty much immediately, Redditors called into question the very possibility — or impossibility — of a workstation being “budget friendly” if it includes such a computer at its core.

“Looks really nice but [I don’t know] if we can call it budget friendly,” said one.

“I think they meant everything besides the computer,” pointed out another.

“You can’t use budget friendly and MacBook Pro 16 in the same phrase, haha,” laughed a third.

Sean felt the need to clarify his post’s title a bit.

“Everything is budget friendly expect for the behemoth MacBook Pro,” he said. “I meant all the stuff like desk and accessories are budget friendly.”

But are they? Not everyone agreed.

M1 Pro MacBook sans external monitor, with nice peripherals

To be fair, Sean chose a mid-priced version of the fabulous and pricey 16-inch M1 MacBook Pro. His packs the M1 Pro chip, not the super-duper M1 Max. Depending on the other specs, his probably cost him about $2,500. Or it could’ve set him back a few hundred more if he added a lot of integrated memory and/or a large amount of storage space.

And of course he’s saving money by relying on the laptop’s beautiful 16-inch Liquid Retina XDR display rather than an external monitor. An external display worthy of the task would cost at least $400 or so. But some people spend more than a grand on 4K or 5K screens.

$200 for input devices is not everyone’s idea of cheap

Another person questioned the budget-friendliness of the input devices. They pointed out that the Logitech MX Keys Mini keyboard and the Logitech MX Master 3 mouse each cost about $100. To a lot of folks, those aren’t exactly thrifty choices.

But they are popular choices. Sean chose a gray mouse, rather than black, to better match his color scheme. Commenters approved of that as well as his choice of a silver MacBook Pro. One person even referred to the space-gray version as “ugly.”

“Do you use that keyboard for multiple devices? If yes, how was it?” asked a commenter.

“Yes, I use both mouse and keyboard with my desktop PC and work laptop,” Sean replied. “The main reason I got them. The switch process works great. I can have up to 3 devices at a given time. Overall keyboard is 8/10. Only flaw is There are no dedicated keys for pulling up mission control. If I wasn’t using multiple devices I would just get an Apple Magic Keyboard with Touch ID.”

Rounding out the setup, Sean does a decent job of keeping costs down. He has a Nulaxy Laptop Stand ($25), a Lepro desk lamp ($28) and a Grovemade felt desk mat ($50). Of those, the first two are budget-friendly choices.

The desk is an Ikea Lagkapten tabletop ($35) with Ikea Adils legs ($160 for four) — also relatively thrifty choices. The headphones are on the premium side, though. They’re Sony WH-XB900N Noise Cancelling Headphones on a generic stand ($250).

Find all of the setup’s items in the list below.

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If you would like to see your setup featured on Cult of Mac, send some high-res pictures to 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 or challenges.


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