MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023) review: A boon for creatives

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With its latest batch of MacBook Pros, Apple gave its most demanding fans everything they wanted: Tons of ports, plenty of power, and really great displays. As usual, the company is following up that major redesign with a simple chip upgrade, including the new M2 Pro and M2 Max. They’re faster, as you’d expect, but they also offer some features power users might appreciate, like 8K video output and WiFi 6E support.

Once Apple locks down a redesign, it usually doesn’t mess with a good thing (save for complete disasters like the Mac Pro trash can). So it’s no surprise to see this year’s MacBook Pro 14 look no different than the 2021 model. It still packs a beautiful 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display with ProMotion support and a prominent notch that houses a 1080p webcam. It has all the ports you really want, including a MagSafe power connection, three Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, HDMI, a headphone jack, and a full-size SD card slot. And the overall shape of the computer remains relatively flat, an evolution of the long-running MacBook Pro unibody design.

Under the hood, though, the MacBook Pro 14 has been drastically upgraded. It can be equipped with Apple’s new M2 Pro chip, offering up to a 12-core CPU and 19-core GPU, or the M2 Max, featuring a 12-core CPU and 38-core GPU. Like Intel’s new hybrid processors, as well as Qualcomm’s mobile chips, Apple relies on a combination of core speeds for its CPUs (12-core chips, for example, have eight performance cores and four performance cores). efficiency). The previous M1 Pro and M1 Max had 10 CPU cores and 16 or 32 GPU cores, respectively.

Side profile of the 14-inch MacBook Pro (2022) showing the ports

Apple claims that the M2 Pro is around 20 percent faster than its predecessor in CPU speeds and up to 30 percent faster when it comes to graphics. Meanwhile, the M2 Max is up to 30 percent faster than the M1 Max in terms of graphics. We tested the completely updated $3,299 MacBook Pro, which was equipped with the M2 Max chip with 38 GPU cores and 64GB of RAM. It scored around 2,600 points (19 percent) faster in the GeekBench 5 multitasking CPU benchmark, compared to the M1 Max-equipped MacBook Pro 16. It was also 18 percent faster on the GeekBench 5 Compute with GPU test and 60 percent faster than the M1 Max Mac Studio on the 3DMark Wildlife Extreme benchmark.


Geekbench 5 processor

Geekbench 5 Computing

cinema bench R23

3DMark Wild Life Extreme

Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (Apple M2 Max, 2023)





Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch, (Apple M2, 2022)





Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (Apple M1 Pro)





Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (Apple M1 Max, 2021)





Apple Mac Studio (Apple M1 Ultra)





These are phenomenal results if you plan to use the MacBook Pro to its full potential. But I’ll admit, during everyday use, I didn’t notice any major performance gains over previous models. That’s not really a knock against the new computer, it’s more of a testament to how much Apple got it right last time. Unlike PCs, you probably don’t play much with your Mac either, so there’s less reason to check for frequent updates. In that sense, it’s nice to see some modern games with native Mac support. Resident Evil Village It easily hits 60fps on the MacBook Pro at full resolution, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the same was true for the M1 models.

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2022) with Resident Evil Village

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2022) with Resident Evil Village

However, if you’re among the people who deal with large video encoding or high-intensity computing work, it may be worth moving on from the latest MacBook Pro. It took me 31 seconds to transcode a 4K clip from a minute at 1080p using Handbrake, but the M1 Max MacBook Pro 16 took 10 seconds longer. Extrapolate that to longer jobs and you could save yourself a lot of time. And if you’ve managed to get by with an Intel MBP so far, it’s definitely time to upgrade – you’ll easily see a difference in speed between day and night.

Performance aside, the MacBook Pro 14 is still a wonderful workhorse to live with. The MiniLED Liquid Retina display looks fantastically bright, especially when viewing HDR content. Most of all, though, I appreciated the smooth scrolling thanks to Apple’s 120Hz ProMotion refresh rate. The six-speaker sound system is still excellent, with crisp, punchy audio that’s miles ahead of most other laptops. And I’m still impressed with the MacBook Pro’s built-in three-microphone array. It’s not a replacement for a dedicated USB microphone, but it sounds great during video calls.

Keyboard and Touchpad MacBook Pro 14-inch (2022)

Keyboard and Touchpad MacBook Pro 14-inch (2022)

The MacBook Pro’s keyboard is certainly better than the old butterfly models, but I wish Apple could offer more key travel. It’s still great to type on, to be clear, I feel a bit spoiled by the mechanical keyboards I’ve seen on some gaming laptops. However, the Pro’s touchpad is still the best in its class, with a large surface area and responsive performance. After testing the XPS 13 Plus last year, which featured an attractive but difficult-to-use trackpad tucked away in the palm rest, I appreciate Apple’s clean design even more. It turns out that being able to feel the difference between the touchpad and the palm rest is very useful!

Apple is touting better battery life as another major benefit of the M2 Pro and Max chips, and I definitely noticed an improvement. The previous MacBook Pro lasted 12 hours and 36 minutes during our tests, but the new model lasted 15 hours and 10 minutes. That’s a healthy step, especially if you find yourself stuck on a long flight without any working outlets. Apple says that the new MacBook Pros can achieve up to 22 hours of battery life, but note that that number only refers to the 16-inch model.

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2022) with notch

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2022) with notch

Like last time, the 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,999, a big jump from the $1,299 13-inch model. I’m still a bit baffled by that MacBook Pro, though. Most mainstream buyers would be better off with the refreshed MacBook Air M2, while power users might as well opt for this more powerful 14-inch model. If you’re looking for something bigger, the 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,499. New equipment also means old models will inevitably go on sale, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the M1 Pro and Max machines if you want to save some money. Sure, they’re a bit slower, but you could spend that extra money buying more RAM or storage.

It’s no surprise that Apple has announced the new MacBook Pros without much fanfare. It’s just a simple spec bump, not the sort of thing most buyers would get too excited about. But for creative professionals who need as much power as possible, it’s another reason to stick with Apple rather than jump to a PC.

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