Review: New MacBook Pros are the best you can buy, but they’re aimed at Intel upgrades
Apple has upgraded its 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops with M2 Pro and M2 Max chips. The results are excellent, albeit marginal to the 2021 M1 Pro and M1 Max versions.
Price: from €2,499 (14 inch) or €3,099 (16 inch)
Advantages: Unmatched battery life, top performance, great display, lots of ports, can drive multiple external displays
Disadvantages: Unnecessary notch in the screen, expensive
Tested model: 16-inch, M2 Pro Chip (12 CPU cores, 19 GPU cores), 32 GB Ram, 2 TB storage: €4,249
Apple’s two updated MacBook Pro laptops offer additional firepower under the hood and slightly more battery life than the 2021 models of the same size.
Overall, they’re not a huge leap from their 14-inch and 16-inch predecessors. But for anyone upgrading from an Intel MacBook Pro, it’s day and night in terms of battery life and graphics performance.
In summary: this is one of the best, if not the best, laptop you can buy.
My review unit, a 16-inch M2 Pro model with 32GB of RAM and 2TB of storage, has been a delight so far. Although it’s a bit bulky to take with you everywhere, its speed, screen quality and incredibly long battery life, as well as its generous selection of connection ports, set it apart as one of the absolute top performers right now.
Both screen sizes come with either Apple’s M2 Pro or M2 Max chips, which are significantly more powerful than the M2 chips you’ll find in the current MacBook Air, but not that much more powerful than the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips in the Year 2021 MacBook Pros.
While the M2 Pro supports 32GB of RAM, the M2 Max version can pack a monstrous 96GB of RAM for those who need to ruthlessly slice through intense editing or rendering tasks that involve some of the heaviest graphics workloads.
As you might expect, this all comes at a pretty steep price. My 16-inch test model configuration costs €4,249 (14-inch equivalent spec price is €4,019).
If I were to buy one myself it would be €3,099 to €3,329 (16GB Ram and 1TB storage would be enough) depending on the screen size.
But when you max it out with an M2 Max chip, 8TB of storage, 96GB of RAM and a 38-core GPU, you’re looking at €7,699 (or €7,479 for the 14-inch model). These are definitely pro tools as opposed to toys.
1. Battery life
This is a highlight. Anyone who has used an M-chip MacBook in the last two years will know that the MacBook’s battery life has changed significantly thanks to these chips. That’s one of the reasons I bought a MacBook Air M2; I no longer have to think about charging when I leave the house in the morning.
But does the extra power and screen brightness of MacBook Pros decrease battery life? Not for the 16-inch model, which has the longest lifespan in Apple’s laptop range at a staggering 22 hours per charge, and quite possibly the best of any laptop on the market. In the three days I’ve used it for normal work – almost all of which is done over Wi-Fi – I’ve used it for well over 10 hours in my normal workflow, with the screen averaging about two-thirds the brightness.
It’s not quite as impressive for the 14-inch version. While Apple says its maximum lifespan (‘up to’ 18 hours) is comparable to the M2 MacBook Air, its peak performance with Wi-Fi is 12 hours – three hours less than the MacBook Air.
That’s still excellent, though, and well beyond what you can get from any of the older Intel-based MacBook Pros.
You get a more powerful Magsafe charger (140W) if you opt for the 16-inch model, while the 14-inch model comes with either a 67W or 96W charger, depending on which configuration you choose. (By comparison, a MacBook Air M2 comes with a 30W or 35W Magsafe charger.)
2. Display and Brightness
This MacBook Pro’s “XDR Liquid Retina Display” is one of the best laptop screens I’ve tested, even if the resolution is just under 4K (which isn’t critical on a screen this size anyway). It can reach up to a dazzling 1,600 nits of peak brightness for HDR content, far brighter than most competing displays. The 14-inch model has 3024 x 1964 pixels, while the 16-inch version has 3456 x 2234 pixels, which are 254ppi each. Both also support up to 120Hz with what Apple calls “ProMotion” technology.
When compared head-to-head with my 13.6-inch MacBook Air M2 — which itself has a pretty awesome (2560 x 1664 pixels, but only 60Hz) screen — my 16-inch review model’s display is noticeably brighter and more vibrant. Not only is this great for accuracy and clarity for professionals working on image or graphics files; It’s great if you’re ever sitting outside or next to a bright window on a sunny day.
Disadvantages of the display? If you’re going to be picky, it’s a bit odd that the “notch” at the top of the display is so big since this isn’t a FaceID camera.
3. Microphones, speakers and webcam
The MacBook Pro 16’s six-speaker system is the best I’ve ever experienced on a laptop. With support for Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio (for video), it’s truly immersive with two pairs of woofers and two tweeters.
The mics are relatively excellent too, with three beamforming mics doing an excellent job for those who still need decent-quality video calls on a regular basis.
The MacBook Pro’s 1080p FaceTime HD webcam, on the other hand, is only adequate. If that had been five years ago I would have said it was impressive. In 2023, it’s little better than a $30 accessory you’d buy. That said, I used it for a live TV interview link and it looked good. To be fair to Apple, it’s very easy to use your (much better) iPhone camera as the laptop’s webcam.
4. Engine power
My 16-inch test model turned out to be an absolute beast in almost every way. Raw benchmarking tests I’ve put it ahead of almost every other Mac, only the Mac Studio (with M1 Ultra chip) and Mac Pro (desktop) beating it in multi-core CPU tests.
And that’s with 32GB of RAM on board (just a third of what’s configurable) and the M2 Pro chip (with 19 GPU cores and 200GB/s bandwidth) instead of the M2 Max (with 30 or 38 GPU cores and 400GB/s). bandwidth).
Apple says the new models are about 15 percent faster than the 2021 models for things like photo and video editing, code compilation, and graphics. But they’re up to nine times faster than the most powerful Intel MacBook Pros from a few years ago.
One improvement is the video output. While the 14- and 16-inch models are still maxed out at four external displays (for the M2 Max chip, two displays for the M2 Pro), there now appears to be support for an 8K display (via HDMI) as well . This is a first for a MacBook and should be of interest to some graphics professionals.
5. Connectivity Ports
A few years ago, Apple realized that even though everything works wirelessly for iPads and (maybe) MacBook Airs, “Pro” users still really like the ability to connect some things. On this Pro model, as well as a MagSafe 3 charger slot and three USB-C ports (Thunderbolt 4), there’s an HDMI port, a memory card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
6. Other things
The Magic Keyboard is the same one you’ll find on most Macs now, and includes a TouchID fingerprint security button that can be used for things like Apple Pay as well as unlocking the device.
In terms of wireless connectivity, the new MacBook Pros get an upgrade from Wifi 6 to Wifi 6e, which Apple says can be twice as fast under certain conditions. There is also a step from Bluetooth 5 to Bluetooth 5.3.
As for weight, my 16-inch test model is quite a beast at 2.15kg. The 14-inch version weighs 1.6 kg, which is just light enough to pack, although it’s still considerably heavier than the similarly sized M2 MacBook Air (1.24 kg).
And the MacBook Pros only come in Space Gray or Silver; There’s no funky “Midnight” (black) or “Starlight” (bright gold) like you’ll find in the MacBook Air lineup.
7. Conclusion: who is this for?
There’s no doubt that Apple is primarily targeting professionals and upgraders from previous Intel-based MacBook Pros. If you have last year’s M1 Pro or M1 Max versions, you shouldn’t really bother upgrading as they’re still pretty close in performance to these new models.
Despite being expensive, many people tend to buy MacBook Pros for a long time – five to seven years is quite common. Still, I think the era of casual professionals buying a MacBook Pro for regular office work seems to be over. Unless there’s a reason you need a larger physical laptop screen, you’re far better off with the MacBook Air M2 (which is almost the same display size as the 14-inch MacBook Pro and is much lighter, yet very powerful). They mainly make employees.
https://www.independent.ie/business/technology/review-new-macbook-pros-are-the-best-you-can-buy-but-aimed-at-intel-upgraders-42307680.html Review: New MacBook Pros are the best you can buy, but they’re aimed at Intel upgrades