January 30, 2023

2023 MacBook Pro review: A polished second generation

An interesting side effect of Apple’s move toward using its own silicon in the Mac is that the Mac’s update cycle now looks a lot more like the iPhone: regular, mostly predictable updates that deliver modest generation-to-generation performance boosts and perhaps a few incremental improvements or new features. .

This is the case with the 2023 MacBook Pro. For most intents and purposes, it is he 2021 MacBook Pro. The only difference is the inclusion of new M2 Pro and M2 Max chips for better CPU, graphics, and machine learning performance compared to 2021’s M1 Pro and M2 Max, as well as some connectivity upgrades that directly address some of our very minor issues along with other excellent features. 2021 models.

However, the 2021 MacBook Pro didn’t disappoint when it launched, and the market hasn’t changed enough in the past two years to make the mostly similar 2023 models any less attractive. These are still the best laptops you can buy for a multitude of use cases—provided you don’t mind spending a small fortune, that is.

Specifications and design

For the most part, both the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro are the same this year as they were last year.

In fact, their designs are identical. The 16-inch model with the M2 Max still weighs 4.8 pounds (2.2 kg) and measures 0.66 x 14.01 x 9.77 inches (1.68 x 35.57 x 24.81 cm). The 14-inch model with the same chip weighs 3.6 pounds (1.63 kg) and measures 0.61 x 12.31 x 8.71 inches (1.55 x 31.26 x 22.12 cm). There’s nothing notably different about either of them compared to their 2021 predecessors, at least on the outside.

I still feel, as I did in 2021, that the 16-inch model is bulky and a bit unwieldy by today’s standards, while the 14-inch is nearly perfect except for a little cramped real estate, but your mileage may vary. For more in-depth thoughts on the design, take a look at our 2021 MacBook Pro review.

The only other issue I have with the laptop’s design is Apple’s decision to include an iPhone-style camera notch at the top of the screen to add more screen real estate overall. Right now most of the few apps that have some issues have updated around this design, but there are still outliers here and there.

This is the exception rather than the rule, though, so I think most people will get used to the notch quickly.

Ports and connectivity

The ports are pretty much the same, too. Both sizes include three Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports supporting up to 40Gb/s, a MagSafe port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and an SDXC card slot. The HDMI port also returns from 2021, but it’s gotten an upgrade, which addresses one of our only criticisms of the previous models. You are no longer restricted to HDMI 2.0, which means you can now achieve 4K at refresh rates above 60Hz via HDMI or push 8K at 60Hz.

Apple claims that the port can even manage 4K at a whopping 240Hz. This is surprising since HDMI 2.1 runs at 48Gbps, but that’s not usually enough for 4K above 120Hz. Some sort of display stream compression seems likely here, but I haven’t yet been able to confirm that because I didn’t have a 4K 240Hz monitor on hand during testing.

There’s a reason you don’t have a 4K 240Hz monitor on hand, though: There’s hardly any. For the near foreseeable future, 4K at 120Hz is about what most people need, so any discussion of 4K at 240Hz is mostly academic at the moment.

Anyway, it’s nice to see the bump to HDMI 2.1. Obviously, it was possible to achieve 4K at 120Hz via Thunderbolt in the previous MacBook Pro, but it seemed odd that such a high-end device was using an older HDMI standard. That’s now resolved, and laptops are becoming more attractive to him.

As for wireless connectivity, the MacBook Pro now supports Wi-Fi 6E, a bump from the previous unit’s Wi-Fi 6 and another welcome answer to one of our little problems from before. Bluetooth 5.3 is also available.