Perhaps let's start by saying that we'll follow up more directly with a list of benchmark figures once key software developers have updated various tests. But this afternoon, media from near and far will give their opinion, so we thought here to share some impressions and make an immediate judgement.
And it's actually quite easy. In our original review of Apple's brand new MacBook Pro, we called it "the best laptop ever", and this newer version stands to do the trick. This is of course hyperbole, and also a truth with caveats, as not all consumers are looking for the same specifications, use cases or design features.
So what were we really talking about? Well, at the time we noted that MacBook Pro, thanks to a thicker chassis, better battery life, utterly eminent display and magnificent M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, acted as a kind of culmination of what Apple has been trying to do for over a decade. Here was the machine that had the best display, the longest battery life combined with all the horsepower most people could dream of, assuming their specific workflow had been updated to Mac Silicon.
Likewise, there's really no finger to point at the new 2023 edition of the MacBook Pro. We've been provided with an M2 Pro MacBook Pro 16-inch for testing, which has 12 CPU cores, 19 GPU cores, 32GB of unified RAM and 1TB SSD. In addition, we have, again, three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI, full-size SD card reader and a battery life of what Apple claims is something like 22 hours.
The chassis is still impeccable. It's industrial, well-built, spacious and conventional in the safest way. The fingerprint reader is frictionless to use, the Magic keyboard is comfortable and Apple's Force trackpad is still the best on the market.
It's the same Liquid Retina XDR panel with over 1600 NITS of brightness, 120Hz, P3-calibrated colours and a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1. And yes, the screen is at 3456x2234. There's no other way to say it; these displays are so many lengths better than the equivalents on the market, and while gaming laptops, and Asus' ProArt line-up, for example, can keep up, it's with massive sacrifices on battery life.
The 16-inch with M2 Pro we have should be the best-case scenario for battery life, and we can happily report that in our one video playback test, this machine ran for just over 22 hours before giving up in the end, a new editorial record.
What we can say about the new M2 Pro chip, which we'll go into in depth in follow-up tests, is at the time of writing it gives us a good 2004 in single-core in GeekBench 5, as well as 15324 in multi-core. That's up from the 12,955 we got with the M1 Pro last year. All in all, we end up somewhere in CineBench R23, Handbreak, Blender and GeekBench where Apple's own estimate of a good 20% increase holds true. You could also put it another way; you get an M1 Max' performance in the cheapest MacBook Pro 14 with the artificially limited M2 Pro.
To achieve these results, the M2 chip also uses more power, and we saw a roughly 15% increase, though it didn't result in a hotter chassis than the last generation. Not only does it really take a lot for the ventilation to even kick in, but overall the machine literally always remained cool.
Are there any complaints at all here? Well, they're not cheap, we know that. They should be cheaper, but they're not. At the same time, it's crucial that you've checked whether the specific applications and processes you need a MacBook Pro for are supported directly by Mac Silicon. If not, then many of the core horsepower you expect won't be present, since the architecture will need a Rosetta layer to translate and provide compatibility.
But beyond that? Build quality, keyboard, trackpad, battery life, display, horsepower, ease of use - this is the complete package, and there are again miles to go for the competition here.