If you need Power from your laptop, it’s wise to plug in the charger to get the most performance out of it. Apple’s first M1-powered MacBook Pro models, however, marked a turning point in that ideology, offering comparable performance whether you were plugged in or not. The new 2023 MacBook Pro models – powered by the upgraded M2 Pro and M2 Max chipsets – do exactly the same trick, although they don’t add much more.
The 2023 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models aren’t all that different from the 2021 versions, so I’ll mainly focus on the changes the new processors introduce, specifically the M2 Max’s performance and battery life the 16-inch MacBook Pro that I am testing. Either way, if you’re looking for power on the go and have a big budget, these machines are some of the best around.
The M2 Max sees Apple’s top-of-the-line laptop chip step up from a 10-core CPU and a 32-core GPU on the M1 Max to 12 and 38 cores, respectively. What this change Not Shown is a transition from a 5nm process to 3nm for the silicon – this is expected to happen with the M3 Pro and M3 Max next year. With a smaller, more efficient chip, it should boost both performance and battery life significantly, but that doesn’t mean the improvements in the second-gen chipsets aren’t impressive.
My test unit configuration is the 16-inch MacBook Pro with the M2 Max – the 12-core CPU, 38-core GPU version – with 64GB of unified storage and a 2TB SSD. This will cost you a staggering $4,299 (£4,549), and you can quiet Spend more to upgrade to 96GB of unified memory and a 4 or 8TB SSD. Wild. At these full-featured levels, it still can’t quite reach the heights of the best laptop processors and graphics cards for raw performance. In real-world tasks, however, it comes close and, I must say, even outperforms the competition on occasion battery powered.
I tested one quantity of all laptops in my day, and few have elicited an audible “wow” as often as the MacBook Pro. It draws less power than rivals and ultimately achieves better battery life across the board – from productivity to intense creative workloads – and generates far less noise and heat. The M2 Max model doesn’t hit Apple’s listed 15 hours of wireless web browsing, but it’s closer to 12 hours. But crucially with intense work, it beats competitors who typically max out at 2 hours by an extra hour or two. When it’s time to charge, the 140-watt MagSafe charger gets you back to 100 percent in under 90 minutes.
The M2 Max laughs in the face of titanic productivity workloads. It’s a tab hoarder’s dream. But that’s not really what this chip is for. I enlisted the help of WIRED’s veteran Editor and Creative Development Manager, Anna O’Donohue, to try out our test model. We added a combination of 4K footage, image files, and 3D effects to a project in Adobe Premiere Pro. The M2 Max responded breathlessly. Anna noted the smooth playback – she had expected to downgrade the quality of the footage to avoid stuttering. We also had a fast export time.
This chipset is designed to handle intensive, graphically demanding production work, although it may even have more horsepower than most video creators even need. I would argue that the M2 Pro is a better choice for the advanced photo or video editor, as well as anyone else who doesn’t need a lot of graphics power (like music production).
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