M1 Mac vs Mac Studio - Decision time

M1 Macbook air vs the Mac Studio – Decision time

It was too long ago that the M1 MacBook Air was released and obliterated most laptop and desktop competition. I’ve been using both the M1 MacBook air and the 24″ iMac for the last year and have still not found a reason to upgrade.

With the release of the Mac Studio, I think it’s safe to say that I won’t see another high-end Mac for the next 2 to 3 years that it’s my budget, so it’s time to decide to stay with the beloved M1 chip or upgrade to the Mac Studio.

Is the M1 chip still worth it?

If you’re thinking about upgrading from the M1 MacBook Air or iMac, you first need to ask yourself if your current computer is slowing you down. If the answer is no, you probably don’t need to upgrade.

I can tell you, that both of these computers are still blazing fast for my needs and that includes video editing 4k footage with Davinci Resolve and heavy task editing in Lightroom and photoshop (HDR and blending). Read my other post on the best laptop for photographers.

In the last year, if only had one hiccup using my M1 iMac when using Davinci Resolve, but the problem was mostly my fault for not upgrading to 16gb of memory.

I’m going to say that for most users, the M1 chip is plenty fast for most photographers and video editors. If you find that the M1 chip is seriously too slow for your needs, by all means upgrade to the M1 max or ultra.

Who is the Mac Studio for?

The Mac Studio is mostly for professionals working in a studio for video editing, music production, or intense graphics. This is not branded for the typical consumer, hence the name.

But Apple is doing some amazing marketing here and it’s the same reason why most people buy the iPhone pro max. We all aspire to be professionals, and to get there we need the right gear for the job.

A computer is and will always be just a tool, but for others, it’s a hobby. If you’re a car person, you don’t buy a new corvette, because it gets the job done. You get it, because you’re in love with it, and you want to share it with everyone around you.

Or you may just want to see how fast you go.

The Mac Studio is for professionals and hobbyists. It’s the computer people have been waiting to see for the last 5-10 years, but those same people are always waiting for the next big breakthrough in technology.

M1, M1 pro, M1 Max, or M1 Ultra

M1 Macbook air vs M1 Macbook Real-world comparison and benchmarks

The M1 chip (MacBook Air/iMac) is the best computer for most users. This includes students, bloggers, content creators, photographers, and video editors.

The M1 pro is for professionals and hobbyists who want the fastest speeds, and the M1 Max puts that same chip to the max.

The M1 Ultra is for professionals whose work is slowed down by processing speeds. This chip is literally double the size of the M1 Max and is revolutionary in its design.

How to decide

If you need help deciding on what chip is best for you, I would consider skipping the M1 Max unless you decide to go with the Mac Studio. The M1 Max is just an M1 Pro on steroids.

Next, decide on the chip that will meet your needs. Remember, the M1 will meet most consumer needs.

If you would rather buy a Mac that meets your wants, I would recommend waiting 3 months. I genuinely feel like 3 months is the period that will help most users make a more informed decision to eliminate buyers remorse.

Macbook, Mac Studio or both

I’m the type of person who uses both a laptop and a desktop, but sometimes it’s challenging to use work on the desktop when my files are on my MacBook. This is a problem apple has yet to resolve unless you spend an enormous amount of money on iCloud or use a NAS server.

Laptop users

I use a NAS, but I like the idea of using one computer for everything, so I can always access my main files. Using one laptop as a primary computer is also more affordable and convenient, and if you have the option to plug into an external monitor most of your problems are solved.

For this configuration, I think most Mac users are best off using the M1 MacBook Air or M1 pro MacBook. Read the comparison here with benchmarks.

Desktop users

If your primary computer is sitting at a desk, there’s no reason to use a MacBook. As an ergonomist, I can tell you that you can develop a number of musculoskeletal problems after long-term use of a MacBook at a desk.

If you mostly need a new computer for a desk, I recommend going with the m1 iMac ($1299) or the base model Mac Studio ($1999) with the new 27 inch display.

Laptop and desktop users

If you need a laptop for travel and a desktop for the office, I think the best option is the M1 MacBook Air and the base model Mac Studio with the M1 Max chip. The M1 MacBook Air is perfect as a travel computer and the Mac Studio will do everything you need and more for the office.

You might also consider using the iPad Air with the M1 chip for travel if you’re mostly browsing the web or using it casually.

Final Decision

These new chips are incredible and there are so many choices. For me, I mostly want a desktop, because I’m an ergonomist, and the best ergonomic position in the office is sitting at a desk with a monitor at the correct height and distance. Read my other article about that here.

I also rely on heavy computing power, and that’s why I’m sticking with my M1 iMac as my main computer. If I was a full-time motion effects professional or filmmaker I’d probably go with the Mac Studio with an external monitor.

I plan to make more posts about this in the future, so definitely subscribe below and check out my new YouTube channel. I hope this article was helpful.