Four months in, and I still haven’t run out of ways to utilise the massive potential of Apple’s 2023 MacBook Pro. The tech giant unveiled its next-generation 14 and 16-inch laptops earlier this year with a big focus on power, thanks to a new M2 chip. Having spent a significant amount of time working from the 14-inch M2 MacBook Pro, I can attest that there’s nothing I’ve thrown at it that it hasn’t been able to do, but in my line of work, that isn’t really surprising.
The M2 MacBook Pro is designed for those who need a workhorse to run multiple large-scale applications at a time, like rendering 4K videos or editing multiple Photoshop projects – or both at once. Sure, it’s still great at pretty much everything else, but if you’re just planning to use it for everyday work it feels overpowered.
Real Life Reviews: Apple MacBook Pro 2023
Before I get into the details of this MacBook Pro review, here are some specs of the model I tested:
- Chip: M2 Pro (8 performance cores, 4 efficiency cores)
- Memory: 16 GB
- Display: Built-in Liquid Retina XDR
- Storage: 1TB SSD
- FaceTime HD Camera
- OS: Ventura
- Ports: 1 x HDMI, 3 x Thunderbolt (USB-C), 1 x SDXC reader, 1 x lightning charge port, headphone jack
You can see a full list of specs on Apple’s website.
As you’d expect with a MacBook Pro, the processing power is where this thing is really packing.
Apple pretty much revolutionised its computer lineup a couple of years ago with the introduction of its in-house chip, the M1. The tech giant has doubled down on that with the introduction of the M2 Pro. A chip that it seems is so capable I struggle to find things it can’t do.
To be fair, my day-to-day work doesn’t involve much heavy lifting, but coming from a 2019 MacBook Air to the 2023 Pro device, I immediately noticed a difference.
The M2 chip made everything fluid and instantaneous. I’m often sifting through multiple web pages during my day and the MacBook Pro ensured that none of these ever took more than a nanosecond to load. I don’t usually use an ad-blocker, and pop-ups have often been the cause of delays on my past laptops, but not this one. I even tested its limits by opening what must have been 30 YouTube tabs at once, and it never slowed down. I didn’t even hear the fan whir. In fact, I can’t think of a time I’ve heard the fan even make a noise on this thing. Does it even have one? You wouldn’t know.
The upgrade was even more noticeable when it came to more intensive tasks, like video editing. My use of iMovie is pretty basic, it usually consists of splicing together raw interview footage with trailers. But managing the HD files on my past laptops often meant I’d be sitting around waiting for videos to load and even longer for them to export. However, the MacBook Pro handed these tasks like it was nothing and exported videos in a fraction of the time.
Sound and display are also a delight on the MacBook Pro. The picture quality is bright, with sharp detail and radiant colours. It’s a liquid retina display, Apple is yet to make the jump to OLED, but the picture still looks incredible.
The laptop is also capable of spatial audio, which I tested with Apple Music, and was impressed to find that the laptop could still give the impression of surround sound out of its inbuilt stereo speakers.
I also use a dual monitor set-up with the MacBook Pro, which was efficient and easy to set up thanks to a dedicated HDMI port. The laptop was able to support work on both screens seamlessly.
The inbuilt FaceTime HD webcam is also worth shouting out. Coming from a 720p webcam to a 1080p HD camera makes a significant difference, it turns out. I’ve tested external webcams before, and while this doesn’t reach the heights of 4K, it does the job more than well enough.
The design of the MacBook Pro as a whole is sleek and unassuming. Apple has done away with the interactive touch bar but has kept a Touch ID button on the keyboard. On that note, the keyboard has been a standout during my use of the laptop. Coming from the era of Apple’s butterfly keyboard, the return to the springy magic-style keys has been immensely satisfying.
The last thing I want to mention is the battery life. Apple claims that the 14-inch M2 MacBook Pro can get up to 18 hours of battery life. In my experience, I’ve easily been able to get through a full 8-hour workday without needing to plug the laptop in.
One thing I am yet to test on the M2 MacBook Pro, but am very keen to, is gaming. Macs have never been marketed as machines for gaming, mainly because many of the mainstream titles these days aren’t built for Mac OS, but with the capabilities of the M2 chip, we could be well on the way to shifting that perception. I’ll be digging into gaming on this MacBook in the weeks to come, so stay tuned.
What’s not so good?
This laptop, quite simply put, has been a breeze to use. It’s streamlined every aspect of my daily workflow but I do feel like its potential is wasted on someone like me.
When you have a laptop that’s capable of rendering multiple streams of 4K ProRes footage and you’re using it to answer emails and write Word documents, it begs the question of whether those means justify the price. With the 14-inch 2023 MacBook Pro starting at $3,199, that price is one you’ll want to consider.
My other minor nitpicks are that, at 1.61kg, the MacBook Pro is a little heavy, and I did notice its weight while carrying it around in my bag. Apple is also yet to eliminate the notch on its MacBooks like it (almost) has with the Dynamic Island on its iPhone 14.
Charging of the laptop has also reverted to MagSafe for some odd reason. You can still charge the MacBook Pro through its Thunderbolt ports, but a MagSafe charger is what’s provided in the box, which is mildly frustrating considering we’ve been on the road to USB-C charging in previous MacBook generations.
MacBook Pro 2023 review: The verdict
The impact of Apple’s move to in-house silicon chips, whether it be the M1 or the new M2, cannot be understated. The technology has turned Apple laptops into a true powerhouse in the industry. Coming from a non-Apple chip MacBook, I noticed this difference immediately and am now a true convert to the M2 processor.
But when considering whether to invest in a top-of-the-line MacBook Pro, the answer is to really think about what you’ll be using it for.
If you want a machine with grunt that is capable of running heavy-duty applications or for gaming, you can probably justify forking out a few grand for a M2 MacBook. If you’re intending it for light work, like emails, browsing the web or watching movies, the cheaper 13-inch MacBook Pro or even the M1 MacBook Air will probably do the job just fine.
The 2023 MacBook Pro is honestly the best laptop I’ve ever used. But I am not worthy of its power.
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