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MacBook Pro 2023 vs Mac Studio: Is a desktop better than a laptop?

The MacBook Pro 2023 is jam-packed with power, featuring the M2 Pro or M2 Max Apple Silicon chipsets. But not everyone needs to pay extra for the portability that a laptop offers.

Apple also offers the powerful Mac Studio, which has been on the market since March of 2022, with Apple claiming that it features the most powerful chip ever used in a personal computer.

We wanted to take a closer look at these two devices to see how they really stack up. Read on to find out some of the key differences between the MacBook Pro and Mac Studio.

Laptop vs Desktop

The main difference between these pieces of hardware is that the Mac Studio is a desktop, while the MacBook Pro is a laptop. Not only does this mean that each device has different features, but it also means that they will suit different use cases.

The MacBook Pro is obviously a lot more portable than the Mac Studio, coming in 14-inch and 16-inch variations. Since it’s a laptop it features a screen, which boasts a Liquid Retina XDR panel with a 3024×1964 native resolution. It also has a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and an HDR peak brightness of 1,600 nits, with a wide enough colour gamut that should make it more than suitable for creative professionals.

main image macbook pro 14
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Since the Mac Studio is a desktop computer, it will need to be paired with a monitor. Apple released the Mac Studio Display at the same time as the Mac Studio, giving users the chance to pair them together, but the Mac Studio could also be paired with almost any other monitor on the market.

The Mac Studio can be configured with more memory than the MacBook Pro, with the latter being capable of 128GB memory and the former just 98GB. In terms of storage, they can both be configured to up to 8TB, with the lowest option for both being 512GB.

Mac Studio features a lot more ports

Since the Mac Studio is a desktop, it makes sense that it features a larger port selection than the MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro comes with an SDXC card slot, HDMI port, 3.5mm headphone jack as well as a MagSafe 3 port. It also has three Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports with support for charging and DisplayPort.

Mac Studio port selection
Image Credit (Apple)

While this selection is nothing to sniff at, the Mac Studio blows it out of the water. It comes with up to six Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB-A ports, an HDMI port, a 3.5mm audio jack and a 10Gb Ethernet port. These ports can be found on the front and back of the device, with the M1 Pro variation coming with four Thunderbolt 4 ports, and the M1 Max featuring six.

This gives the Mac Studio support for up to five displays and the ability to easily connect and disconnect from devices like cameras and external storage.

M1 chips vs M2 chips

The MacBook Pro is kitted out with the latest M2 chipsets, with the option of pairing it with either the M2 Pro or M2 Max. The Mac Studio opted to stick with Apple’s last generation of chips, with options to configure it with the M1 Max or M1 Ultra.

The M1 Ultra may be the most powerful Apple Silicon chip on the market. It can be configured with up to a 20-core CPU, 48-core GPU, 32-core Neural Engine and up to 800GB/s of memory bandwidth. The M1 Max is less powerful in comparison, with a 10-core CPU, 24-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine and 400GB/s memory bandwidth.

This puts the Mac Studio very high up on the list of powerful Apple devices, with Apple claiming that the M1 Ultra variation is the most powerful chip ever seen in a personal computer.

M1 Ultra chipset
Image Credit (Apple)

The MacBook Pro, meanwhile, is still very powerful in its own right, but we don’t think it will be able to hit the same heights as the Mac Studio. The M2 Pro chip can be configured up to a 12-core CPU, 19-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine and up to 200GB/s memory bandwidth. It can also be paired with a less powerful M2 Pro chip for a lower price.

The M2 Max is where most of the power is, sporting a 12-core CPU, 30-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine and 400GB/s memory bandwidth. This is an absurd amount of power, allowing this laptop to engage in intensive graphical tasks.

Between the two, the Mac Studio stands head and shoulders above the MacBook Pro in terms of power, and will be better suited to those who want the rawest power from their device.

MacBook Pro supports Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3

Both devices have support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but the MacBook Pro edges out the Mac Studio. The Mac Studio boasts Bluetooth 5 and Wi-Fi 6, which should provide a stable and fast connection in both areas.

top down view of macbook pro 14
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Since the MacBook Pro was released at a later date it was able to feature upgraded versions of this technology. It comes packaged with Bluetooth 5.3 and Wi-Fi 6E.

Wi-Fi 6E is an improvement on Wi-Fi 6 since it is currently the only wireless standard to support the new 6GHz frequency band. This allows the MacBook to use a less congested band, improving the consistency of your connection. However, you will need a Wi-Fi 6E router to take advantage of this feature.

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