MacBookPro M3 vs MacStudio M2 vs MacPro?

Ahoy Hive!

My question today is what would you recommend between the new MacBookPro M3 vs the MacStudio M2 or MacPro for Flame-On-Mac?

Yes I have crawled through the forums and read all I can (I hope I haven’t missed anything and apologize if I am asking a question already asked that I have missed) but my current kickass Linux box needs a bunch of new SSDs and the cost is making me consider a move to Mac given I was already considering an upgrade to my current MacBook Pro this year anyways.

I am not brilliantly geeky when it comes to computer specs so given the MacBook Pro is running the new M3 chip would this not be a better solution anyways than the MacStudio M2 or am I missing something here? I’d be very grateful if you lovely people had any suggestions for me on this and also if you have any recos on specs. Whatever I choose do I max out number of cores, do I max out memory? What would give me my best “bang-for-the-buck” to coin a phrase?

Any help is so greatly appreciated! And Happy New Year to you all!


Sorry to add another option instead of help whittle it down…

I just picked up a MBP M1 Max actually because the M1 Max was available w 64GB RAM. ADSK recommends minimum 64GB. On sale from B&H. Thousands less than when it came out.

The M architecture does seeeeem more efficient with RAM compared to Intel MBP. I can have Flame 2024, 2 Browsers w tabs galore, Teams, email, calendar, etc open and I havent seen it go higher than 16GB utilized. To be fair, my Flame usage on this machine is mostly just testing. Its not my machine for work. Its connected to an external monitor too. The previous Intel MBP would have been fans whooshing and crashed from overheating.

Should dig out the Benchmark archive. If no one has run it on MBP M1 Max, I could do.

I think you can take the Mac Pro off your list unless you have a need for PCI cards, redundant Ethernet or more than 6 Thunderbolt ports. It has an extra fan too but my Mac Studio M1 Ultra has never seemed to have an issue with overheating and I’ve done some pretty intense rendering on it not just with Flame but also Redshift and Unreal Engine.

If computer speed, longevity, reliability, and value are your concerns, I would take the MacBook off the list. I would only consider that if you need portability. That leaves the Mac Studio - I would recommending maxing out the GPU and RAM options. I also find that Apple’s internal SSD storage is fast and reliable even if they aren’t the cheapest option, so you might want to max that out as well.

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Thank you Greg - I agree with all this and you are reassuring me that my instincts are correct. I have many friends very happy with the MacStudio so most certainly am taking the MacPro out of the equation. I find that each of my linux systems usually lasts me a good 5 years (I have owned over 15 of them in my career so moving away from linux is a pretty big deal for me) and I expect the same from a Mac so the studio does seems to hit all the right buttons for me on this! Thank you!!!

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Mac Pro…UGH! I love the form factor and it’s super sexy but unless you are filling it with a bunch of cards, it’s overkill and super pricey compared to the Studio.

The Studio is dope. Each M series is about 24-40% faster than the previous one, so, buy as much as you can.

The M3 MacBook Pro is next on my list to complement my Linux boxes and my Studio.

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Thanks Randy - as the Studios are still on M2 and the MacBookPros are now on M3s if you were choosing between the two which would you go for? Price is less of an issue over performance and longevity - I have always maxed out my systems to provide greater years of use.

For what it’s worth, the Autodesk recommend is M1 Ultra. Obviously, many people are working with M2 with no problems and I’m sure M2 and M3 will be the recommend in the future, but I always think it’s something to consider.

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I’ve got an M1 Max laptop w/ 64 gigs of ram and have never felt wanting. I’ve used it for all sorts of work. Presently waiting for an update to the Studio line because I want something more desktoppy so my laptop doesn’t need to be plugged into drive arrays, but since I’m still happy with my M1 machine I’m in no rush.

So for me the call is do you want a laptop or a desktop? If you’re neutral get the laptop.

If you can wait until they put an M3 Ultra into the Studio I think that would be the sweet spot. That might be months away, though.

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yes - from what I read predictions will be end of 2024 for that release and there are also rumours of an M4 chip coming which will be interesting to see how Apple then market the M3. If my linux continues to be grumpy my needs will sadly be sooner than Apple can move.

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If you’ve been on Linux for a long time, why move back to Apple? There’s a certain simplicity to Macs that’s unmistakable if you hate IT overhead. But Linux systems still generally give you a wider choice of hardware specs to tailor to your needs, and untangles you from Apple’s release schedules.

Actually a good combination is a Linux desktop for the everyday work, and then a mid-level Macbook Pro as backup and mobility. With the new login licenses it’s much easier to keep multiple machines around.

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Did i see flame bench mark times showing the m3 slightly behind the m2 ultra?

In general benchmarking, M2 Ultra is the fastest Mac configuration. There isn’t an M3 Ultra at this point so if/when that is available that would be the fastest. But the difference between M1 and M2 Ultras is about 15% so I wouldn’t expect it to be a difference that you can feel in usage. It could be even less of a speed bump, if there’s truth to stories of Apple having issues with their CPU designs.

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I’m also curious why move to Mac from Linux after so long?

M2 Ultra 76core gpu 192 memory. Flame 2024
When compared with Linux: Airdrop, easy installation, very fast disk speed are the advantages.

Exactly. Fastest entry in the Benchmark spreadsheet currently is 2:51:31, that’s almost half of the above. Some of that depends on specific workflows though. Especially ML Timewarp at least use to show major differences.

Very fast disks are available for Linux too with more flexibility. For the Mac Studio the internal disk is fast, everything else is bottlenecked by TB, though still pretty darn good - MacPro splits the difference.

It’s really the ease of working, install including multiple parallel versions, that’s about it. And if you need to task switch to other non-Linux apps, like Adobe regularly.

It is a tough choice to move over to Mac after so many years but my thoughts are as follows. When I owned my studio we had 4/5 Flame systems in each city and IT support to manage them. Since being freelance (since 2012) I have stuck religiously to Linux while Autodesk found their feet in the Apple kingdom (as someone mentioned above I have so far always run my linux box next to a strong MacBookPro) Now that the Mac software seems more stable and as artists we are not involuntarily beta testing for Autodesk as much (or at least with as much risk as in previous year) they develop the Flame software for Mac I have seen many of my freelance friends and colleagues being very happy with their Mac Studios.

My linux box has been having some hardware issues which we have traced to Samsung SSDs no longer being able to handle the constant traffic so a move to Micron SSDs will cost around $5-6k to repopulate my current Linux config.

In comparison a move to Mac will double that cost but I gain a machine that has a more stable hardware configuration, does not the need the external T support that my linux needs, can manage multiple “apps” (AE, Premier, Photoshop, Resolve, Blender etc etc). As a photographer and retoucher I also gain dual purpose in monetizing a second stream of income from a Mac that I cannot gain from the Linux.

I think I am have rather begrudgingly come to realize that while Linux boxes are still the best investment for studio owners, Mac Studios seem to make the most sense for freelance artists.

This is still a thought I am in flux over and I am always very willing to be proved wrong!


All your justifications moving to Mac are correct. You get an all-in-one, especially if you’re freelance. Flame runs very reasonably well. Plus all the other apps can be open and they’re a quick swipe away. IT problems? Just reboot and it’ll probably fix itself. Plus you can throw the whole kit in a bag and move from home to studio to hotel.

We’re on M1-Ultra Studios. 16tb external SSD storage. The advantage of the Studio is tons of ports. Our M2 laptops need a breakout box for more USB options, BUT have the advantage of a built in screen.

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Thanks Aaron - that was my next question, internal storage - I would max out with the 8TB to get me started and see how I go. 80% of my projects are short-form commercial :60/:30/:15/:06 etc. I do roughly 1-2 longform projects per year. I have 16TB on my current Linux but am always in the 4-6TB range. My “Project Server” is running off a 48TB Synology and I am very happy wth that. Are there any concerns running Flame-On-Mac off the internal storage of the Mac Studio for ingested footage or should it always be a separate external array? And what do you use for your external drives?

2 of our artists only use the internal 8tb drive. So that gives you 7tb framestore because you want overhead for Mac stuff. My first instinct is “that’s so dangerous!” But they work just fine - the internal drive is super fast, 6000mb/s, so can handle everything going on at once.

I use a 16tb OWC Thunderblade. RAID0. 2200mb/s. I like having the extra storage so I can be lazy and not take old projects offline.

Either way, just have a solid backup plan.