When it’s time to swap MacBook Pro for Mac Studio [Setups]


When you work in 3D, you need a lot of computing power. And four screens, apparently.
When you work in 3D, you need a lot of computing power. And four screens, apparently.
Photo: b19ddw@Reddit.com

Today’s featured setup sports a powerful M2 Ultra Mac Studio desktop computer and four screens, three of them with sparkling 4K resolution. But until recently it was an M2 Max MacBook Pro setup upgraded from an M1 MacBook Pro.

Why the switch to Mac Studio? Hey, sometimes you just need a more badass computer. Especially when you work in 3D rendering and you rarely take the laptop off its dock anyway.

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User leaps from M1 MacBook Pro to M2 Ultra Mac Studio in 4-display setup for 3D work

Redditor b19ddw (“DW”) showcased the brawny setup in a post entitled, “First month with my new M2 Ultra Mac Studio… this setup continues to evolve since returning the M2 Max MacBook Pro!”

It’s apparent from the photograph that the setup is in an office environment. You can see a “Hot Desks” sign dangling from the ceiling tiles near fluorescent lights. Apparently that’s where DW does his work, photorealistic rendering in Cinema 4D, as he described it.

Powerful desktop computer, 4K displays

DW now uses an M2 Ultra Mac Studio (24‑core CPU, 60‑core GPU, 64GB RAM, 1TB SSD) to drive three nice Dell 4K displays. One is 32 inches with a 60Hz refresh rate, Dual HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2. Two are 27 inches with 75Hz refresh rate, 90-watt PD USB-C hub and 2000:1 IPS Black contrast.

The fourth screen in the photo, at lower right, is a 12.9-inch iPad Pro (6th generation).

But the high-powered Mac Studio is a new entrant. It replaced an M2 Max MacBook Pro that itself had replaced an M1 Pro MacBook Pro.

Why make the switch?

“What made you return your M2 Max?” a commenter asked.

“I’d upgraded from an entry level M1 MBP and it wasn’t the leap forward in performance I’d hoped for,” DW replied. “I do a lot or 3D work and rarely used the MBP as a notebook … it was always docked.”

That makes sense. Why even have a laptop if you only use it like a desktop machine and it’s not ideally powered for your needs, even with a chip upgrade?

MBP to Mac Studio, MBA to Mac mini

Other people have the same experience, although perhaps on a lesser scale.

For example, someone might’ve loved the idea of a powerful and portable MacBook Pro (or Air), so they splurged on one. But they found they just leave it docked and charging all the time, even after they’re done working.

That’s especially likely if they also splurged on a nice iPad to carry around and flop down on the couch with.

So, while DW brought in the big desktop guns for his 3D work, someone with average needs could skip or trade in the Apple laptop for a more-affordable M1 or M2 Mac mini for its surprising power and small footprint.

Of course, others argue many folks, like college students, can get by with just an iPad decked out with keyboard and Pencil.

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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.

Mac Studio Desktop Computer

This 2023 machines features an M2 Ultra chip with 24-core CPU and 60-core GPU, 64GB integrated memory and 1TB SSD.

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