Yeah, there are definite technology breakpoints for going with a nutrient/specialist strategy, and the type of micromanagement you do is different, but the seed investment is smaller and the eventual payoff is immensely bigger. The big breakpoints are: Fusion Power for Engineers (one specialist who produces 3 econ 2 labs), Orbital Spaceflight for Sky Hydroponics Labs and (Functionally halves nutrient requirements of your bases), and Super-Tensile Solids for Hab Domes (Uncaps base population for INSANE specialist counts).
If a Super Science Base still appeals to you, you can build a nutrient farm in lieu of an energy farm for your capital, and and pump it to the citizen limit (255?). Though techs are tallied, it's quite likely to waste a lot of that research income. Each base adds its lab total to the accumulated tally, and any leftovers (for that base) are discarded once a tech is completed, so if your capital is producing 1000 labs and you need 100 to finish the next future tech, the leftover 900 disappear into the ether.