HomeTechnologyMacBook Pro M2 14-inch review: Apple’s new laptop is a portable powerhouse
MacBook Pro M2 14-inch review: Apple’s new laptop is a portable powerhouse
January 23, 2023
Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro review (Image: APPLE)
With its powerful M2 Pro chipset, mind-blowing battery life, and stunning screen, there’s no doubt the new MacBook Pro is incredibly capable
What We Love
Even More Power Than M1 Pro
Longer Battery Life
Stunning Mini-LED Screen
Premium Build Quality
Incredible Built-In Speakers
What We Don’t
No USB-A Ports
No Center-Stage For Calls
No Face ID
Apple’s refreshed MacBook Pro M1 range, which launched in 2021, took power and performance to a whole new level but things are about to get even faster. The latest laptops to come out of Cupertino now feature an upgraded M2 chip that promises to speed up workflows by over 80 percent when compared with older Intel Macs.
We’ve been testing out the new 14-inch M2 Pro model and there’s no question that is one incredibly capable laptop.
Editing movies and photos on the move has never been quicker and professionals that need some serious oomph won’t be disappointed if they decide to splash out on one of these shiny new machines.
Thanks to improved efficiency from the M2, battery life is also pretty unbeatable and you should easily get a full day’s usage without needing to pack the charger. That better performance also means the Mac stays cooler under pressure and it never gets too hot to have on your lap – that’s something Intel-powered MacBook owners have long had to suffer.
Along with the boost to performance, the new MacBook now features Wi-Fi 6E for faster wireless connectivity, as well as more advanced HDMI, to support 8K displays up to 60Hz and 4K displays up to 240Hz.
Unlike in 2021, there’s no big design refresh this year but that’s not a bad thing as the Pro’s aluminium finish still looks stunning.
It also gets a bunch of useful ports including USB-C, an SD Card reader and MagSafe charging. Open up the lid and the 14-inch Liquid Retina XDR display is bright, rich and brimming with colour although the slightly strange notch, that houses the FaceTime camera, does get in the way at times.
Sadly, Apple still hasn’t worked out a way to bring Face ID to the MacBook and there’s no touchscreen tech included. At over £2,000 the new MacBook Pro is also very expensive – start adding extra upgrades such as the Max chip and 8TB of storage and you’ll face a £6,500 bill!
If you can stomach the price, those niggles really shouldn’t worry you as this is one seriously capable laptop that is unlikely to ever let you down.
MacBook Pro (M2) review
Apple has refreshed its MacBook Pro lineup with two powerful new chipsets: the M2 Pro and M2 Max.
These new processors are the fastest silicon available in Apple’s custom-designed M-series, which replaced the Intel chips that used to power its laptop range. As well as speedier performance, the new M2 Pro and M2 Max can be paired with up to 96GB of RAM for deliriously zippy multitasking.
For professionals who need a laptop that can handle memory-hungry tasks on the move, the new M2-fuelled MacBook Pro could be just the ticket.
Unfortunately for those looking for a refreshed design, new ports, new colourways, Face ID unlock, or a smaller notch, the design of the latest MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch remains unchanged since the M1 Pro and M1 Max versions released over two years ago.
So, should you invest over £2,000 in the brand-new MacBook Pro? We’ve been testing a 14-inch MacBook Pro with M2 Pro for this review…
The new MacBook Pro comes with the M2 Pro or M2 Max chip inside (Image: APPLE)
M2 Pro Processor
Adding the new MacBook Pro to your online shopping basket, you’ll be presented with two choices of chipset.
First up, M2 Pro offers graphics performance roughly twice as fast as the M1 Pro released in October 2021. According to Apple, the M1 Pro is whopping 80% quicker than the ageing Intel chipsets found in older versions of the MacBook Pro.
Next, for those who crave the ultimate power, the M2 Max can be configured with a 38-core GPU – making it around 30% quicker than the M1 Max released back in late 2021. Not only that, but the M2 Max can also be boosted to include a whopping 96GB of unified memory (RAM, to you and me) that delivers up to 400GB/s of memory bandwidth.
That’s twice as fast as M1 Pro and roughly six times faster than the standard M1 chipset found in the latest iMac.
This upgraded brain can be pushed to new limits with 8K video editing, audio mixing and photo retouching all performed without the hint of a stutter
For this review, we took delivery of the 14-inch MacBook Pro with an M2 Pro under the bonnet. While this is far from the top-spec machine available in the Apple Store, it’s still ludicrously fast. This upgraded brain can be pushed to new limits with 8K video editing, audio mixing and photo retouching all performed without the hint of a stutter.
As well as being supremely powerful, the M2 Pro is also much more efficient – so your battery doesn’t take such a hammering when doing day-to-day tasks like web browsing, playing music, watching films, and word processing.
As owners of older Intel-powered MacBooks will be well aware, battery life has been a real issue in the past. Many of these older machines start running low after just a few hours of usage …and that’s without the screen on full brightness and powering through intensive tasks like video exports, Photoshop edits, and more.
And that’s not all. Intel-based MacBook Pros had a terrible habit of getting uncomfortably hot, but thankfully, there’s no sign of these issues on the M2-powered Pro.
We’ve been powering through memory-intensive tasks with the 14-inch laptop lasting over 10 hours on average. If you lower the brightness and only do a little web browsing, you’ll be able to stay away from the plug for around 17 hours, which is seriously impressive and means you’ll no longer need to keep finding places to charge when out on the road.
Things are even better for anyone upgrading to the 16-inch MacBook Pro with that machine boasting a whopping 22-hour battery life.
When the power pack does finally run flat there’s more good news as MagSafe is still present and correct.
Just like the original MacBooks, it snaps in place with a satisfying click and you then get a charging light that glows to show you that things are being refilled. Apple has also boosted the charging times via this connection with the MacBook Pro going from flat to full in around an hour.
The beauty of MagSafe is that this charger pings straight out of the Mac if – or more likely, when – someone wanders past and trips on your charging cable.
That means the laptop stays firmly rooted to your lap and you’re not left with a £3,000 PC flying across the room. If you happened to walk out without the MagSafe charger in your bag then don’t panic as the USB-C ports on either side can still be used to boost the battery. That’s a nice touch.
The new MacBook Pro looks identical to the 2021 model (Image: APPLE)
Design and Display
Apple went back to basics when designing its latest MacBook Pros and its most recent laptops actually looks a little reminiscent of the models released all the way back in 2012.
In years before the latest releases, a vast amount of attention was paid to making the Pro thinner and more visually appealing but with the launch of the M1 laptops in 2021 Apple finally admitted that it needed a laptop that could keep up with its professional users.
The M2 Pro looks identical to its M1 sibling and that means it is now a little thicker and heavier than the older Intel-powered machines.
There’s no getting around the fact that this new design doesn’t look as svelte as before but we’re almost certain MacBook users will be happy with the trade-off when they begin using this machine.
Lift up the screen and chunkier design is instantly forgotten with users being treated to a gorgeous screen that now pushes closer to the edge of the aluminium chassis.
The M2 Pro looks identical to its M1 sibling and that means it is now a little thicker and heavier than the older Intel-powered machines.
This 14-inch panel is a thing of absolute beauty with it producing rich colours, bright whites and deep blacks. Apple also now includes its ProMotion technology on the MacBook which offers a silky smooth experience when whizzing through websites and checking your emails.
It’s also capable of producing up to 1600 nits of peak brightness which means you shouldn’t have any worries using the Pro in the great outdoors.
There is now an iPhone-style notch in the middle of the screen but you don’t really notice it as it hides neatly in the menu bar at the top of the display.
Yes, the new Pro has put on a bit of weight and has lost some of its supermodel looks but we think the payoff is worth it.
That bulkier appearance means users get a bigger battery, massively improved performance and a bunch of ports, including HDMI and an SD Card slot. There’s simply no question that professional users would rather have all that tech rather than a slimline machine that can’t cope with what’s being thrown at it.
If we had one niggle it would be that Apple still refuses to bring touchscreen technology to its MacBooks. It’s no deal-breaker but it is one area where Windows-powered laptops do have an advantage.
Keyboard and Trackpad
Apple has kept the same keyboard that was refreshed back in 2021. That means there’s no magic Touch Bar in sight.
Apple clearly felt it was time to go back to basics with the new keyboard returning to physical function keys which makes it much easier to ramp up the brightness, control volume and search your hard drive.
There’s also that much bigger escape button in the top left-hand corner.
Although we still kind of miss the Touch Bar, there’s no denying that this keyboard is better for most to users and should help professionals get things done faster with simple access to those all-important quick function keys.
The Touch ID fingerprint scanner remains a breeze to use and along with unlocking the screen, you can make speedy purchases online using Apple Pay.
Another visual change is that there’s now a black panel that the keys sit on which looks great and makes it better to focus on the keys as you bash out emails or endless Word documents.
Just like all of Apple’s previous MacBooks, you’ll find the simply brilliant Force Touch trackpad which is still the best in the business and makes most Windows laptops look like they are stuck firmly in the past.
The MacBook Pro includes plenty of ports (Image: APPLE)
Return of the Ports
If you hate carrying around a bag full of dongles then you’ll be pleased to know that Apple hasn’t changed things from the 2021 models with the new Pro machines getting plenty of useful ports. On the sides of the case are three USB-C sockets plus there’s an SD Card reader and an improved HDMI port, more on that below. There’s even a headphone jack that automatically modulates voltage levels to drive high-impedance cans plus that MagSafe charging.
The only thing that missing is a standard USB-A port which is something still included on some Windows PCs.
The six speakers tucked inside sound mighty (Image: APPLE)
Along with all those headline features, there’s plenty more tucked inside the latest MacBook Pros including speedy Wi-Fi 6E technology which offers faster and more stable broadband speeds.
If you want to plug this laptop into an external screen there’s also more advanced HDMI, to support 8K displays up to 60Hz and 4K displays up to 240Hz.
Just like the previous 2021 Pros, users are treated to six mind-blowing speakers which have to be heard to be believed. The rich sound they produce is magical and anyone travelling with the new Pro can forget about needing to take a Bluetooth speaker with them as this laptop can easily fill a small room with sound.
If you need to record your voice or any other audio there are also some impressive studio mics that do a good job of filtering out background noise.
Anyone spending endless hours on Zoom calls will also be pleased to hear there’s a 1080p FaceTime HD camera included inside the notch. It’s a big upgrade over its Intel predecessors with your face appearing brighter and much clearer when making calls.
It’s worth noting that Apple hasn’t included the clever Center Stage technology found in its iPads which is a real shame. This feature allows the lens to track you so you always stay in focus when making calls.
And, despite the notch looking very similar to the iPhone, there’s no Face ID tech tucked inside so don’t expect the screen to magically unlock when it spots your face.
MagSafe returns to the MacBook Pro (Image: APPLE)
MacBook Pros have never been cheap but upgrading to the 14-inch model will make a sizeable dent in your bank balance. Prices start from £2,149 and can push beyond £6,000 if you start adding more memory, storage and that ultimate Max processor.
If you want to most powerful laptop Apple has ever made you’ll have to bite the bullet and spend the money but before you splash the cash just make sure you really need this luxury laptop.
Although Apple no longer sells the older M1 machines, some UK retailers still have stock with prices that are over £400 cheaper. That 2021 machine is still immensely powerful and will handle most things thrown at it. In fact, we’ve been using a 16-inch M1-powered MacBook for the past 18 months and still highly rate this laptop.
Of course, that older PC is not as good as the latest and greatest M2 model but, if you can find one at a discounted price, it’s definitely worth considering if your budget can’t stretch that far.
Apple MacBook Pro M2 review (Image: APPLE)
The MacBook Pro is back with an almighty bang. No, there’s not a big design refresh this year or pixel-packed upgrade to the display but what’s tucked under the hood makes this one mightily powerful machine.
The M2 Pro chip breezes through tasks like a hot knife through butter and professional users are sure to love that additional grunt. For those that want to feel even more force, there’s the option to add the ludicrously quick M2 Max brain which, dare we say it, almost offers too much power for most.
The latest Apple laptops also get Wi-Fi 6E and an improved HDMI port along with all of the upgrades added in 2021 such as an edge-to-edge screen, MagSafe charging and an SD Card slot.
The M1 MacBook Pro was already good but the M2 now makes it even better.
Yes, at over £2,000 it is ludicrously expensive and there are some missing features such as Face ID, Center Stage and a touch screen. We’d also say it’s worth keeping an eye out for M1 MacBook Pro deals as we seriously love that cheaper PC.
That said, if you want the most powerful Apple laptop ever made, the new Pro can’t be beaten. It’s undeniably awesome!