Monday, December 4, 2023

Tech review: Macbook Pro gets the best possible kind of speed bump

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Jim Rossman | Tribune News Service

Laptop computers used to be a tradeoff — you’d trade processing power for the convenience of mobility.

As technology advances, laptop speeds have finally caught up to (and sometimes surpassed) desktop computers and for almost all users, there is no advantage to choosing a desktop over a laptop.

Case in point: Apple’s new MacBook Pro with the M2 processor.

When Apple started making its own processors, it became apparent they were very fast.

I’ve been testing the 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro with the M2 Pro processor and it is far and away the fastest Mac — laptop or desktop — that I’ve ever encountered.


Apple introduced the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros back in late 2021. They were powered by the M1 chip.

Compared to Apple’s last few laptop designs, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros had a bit of a different look.

They are a bit thicker, and they don’t taper around the edges as much as earlier models. Their screens extend out almost to the edges of the case.

The keyboard is black and the area under the keys is also black, which is an easy way to tell these apart from other models.

The 2023 14-inch and 16-inch M2 MacBook Pros have the same design as their predecessors.


The M2 MacBook Pros have two processor options: the M2 Pro and the M2 Max.

I tested the M2 Pro model with 32 gigabytes of RAM and a two-terabyte solid-state drive.

The M2 Pro has 12 processing cores — eight performance cores and four efficiency cores.

The M2 Pro’s graphics processor has 19 cores that power its 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display with a resolution of 3,456 x 2,234 pixels.

The screen has a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio with ProMotion technology for adaptive refresh rates up to 120 hertz. It is backlit by 10,000 mini-LEDs and can display up to one billion colors.

The minimum RAM configuration is 16 gigabytes, but the M2 Pro models can be upgraded to 32GB or 64GB. The M2 Max can be upgraded to 96GB of RAM.

Internal storage is all solid-state with configurations from 512GB up to 8TB.

The battery has a capacity of 100 watt-hours with power to browse the web for up to 15 hours on a charge.

Ports available on the Apple MacBook Pro with the new M2 processor. (Apple/TNS)

Unlike some of Apple’s previous MacBook Pros that just had USB-C Thunderbolt ports, the 14-inch and 16-inch models have a few more ports, including HDMI, SD card reader, MagSage chargin port, a headphone jack and three Thunderbolt 4 ports (up to 40GB/s).

The M2 Pro models can drive two external displays with resolutions up to 6K or one 8K display.

M2 Max models can support up to four external displays (three at 6K and one 4K) or three displays (two 6K and one 8K).

The backlit keyboard has Touch ID and an ambient light sensor. The Force Touch track pad is the largest I’ve ever seen on a laptop.

Networking options include Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3.

The 1080p FaceTime camera sits behind a notch at the top of the screen.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro ships with a 140-watt power supply with a USB-C to MagSafe adapter. You can also power and charge the laptop through any of the USB-C Thunderbolt ports.

Believe it or not, this laptop has a six-speaker sound system with force-cancelling woofers, and it sounds fantastic.

Why so similar?

So, why is the M2 model so similar to last year’s M1? Good question.

The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros from last year were redesigned pretty significantly, and everyone I know thought they were really good. Adding back some ports, the MagSafe connector and the addition of the M1 chip was almost universally applauded.

Now a year later, Apple’s M2 processor delivers a 20-30 percent bump in speed and graphics over the M1 versions.


The 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,999 for a model with the M2 Pro that has a 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.

The 16-inch model starts at $2,499 for an M2 Pro that has a 12-core CPU and 19-core GPU with 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD.

And if you are curious, the most you can spend is $6,499 for a 16-inch M2 Max that has a 12-core CPU, 38-core GPU, 96GB RAM and an 8TB SSD.

Who is this for?

The M2 MacBook Pros are the fastest Macs Apple has ever released. The same was said about last year’s M1 versions.

In fact, if you have a 14-inch or 16-inch M1 MacBook Pro, there isn’t really a need to upgrade just for a 20-30 percent speed bump unless you are in a job like video editor, where you are stressing the M1 processor.

I love the M2 MacBook Pros, but as an owner of a 14-inch M1 model, I’m going to stick with it for now and wait to see what comes next.

The M2 is a great update for anyone with an Intel-powered MacBook Pro who is ready to upgrade.

I liken the MacBook Pros to the most recent iPhones — now that Apple has settled on a design, yearly updates to speed and the inclusion of other new technologies is very welcome.

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