Updated chips give already great 14in model a boost but the hefty price hike stings
Apple’s M2 Pro chip upgrade for the MacBook Pro boosts performance and battery life in an already extremely capable machine – but it comes with a sizable price increase, making it particularly expensive outside the US.
The starting price is £2,149 ($1,999/A$3,199), which is £250 (A$200) more than its predecessor despite being the same price in the US, which is partly down to weak currency rates. It is not as if the 2021 model was cheap, but pushing beyond the £2,000 mark for the new version significantly raises the barrier to entry.
The outside of the machine remains untouched, with the winning combination of a brilliant fast, sharp and super-bright screen, class-leading keyboard and trackpad, a reasonable selection of ports and a premium look and feel befitting of its price. It was excellent in 2021 and remains so today.
It runs macOS 13.2 Ventura like all recent Macs, including its desktop stablemate, the Mac mini. It generally runs similarly to previous versions and not too different to Windows, but has useful screen-sharing and proximity features, allowing you to use a recent iPad as a second screen or control it remotely. You can use an iPhone as a wireless webcam, which works really well but is less necessary because the FaceTime HD camera on the MacBook Pro is pretty good already.
Screen: 14.2in mini LED (3024×1964; 254 ppi) ProMotion (120Hz)
Processor: Apple M2 Pro or M2 Max
RAM: 16, 32, 64 or 96GB
Storage: 512GB, 1, 2, 4 or 8TB SSD
Operating system: macOS 13.2 Ventura
Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD camera
Connectivity: wifi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, 3x USB 4/Thunderbolt 4, HDMI 2.1, SD card, headphones
Dimensions: 221.2 x 312.6 x 15.5mm
M2 Pro is faster and more efficient
The new M2 Pro chip offers decent performance gains on the already very fast M1 Pro chips, with up to 14% improvement in CPU speed and up to 22% faster graphics in tests. That puts it alongside some of the best Intel and AMD laptop chips, but at considerably lower power consumption. The M2 Max chip is also available for those who need more graphics or power for specialist applications.
Fitted with the M2 Pro, the laptop lasted about 10% longer on battery than its predecessor in my testing, managing more than 15 hours of light work such as word processing or browsing and about 12 hours of more demanding tasks such as editing batches of large images in Affinity Photo. That’s thoroughly impressive, outlasting all rivals by some margin.
The battery reaches a full charge in just under 90 minutes, hitting 50% in about 30 minutes using Apple’s included 96W USB-C charger and MagSafe cable, but it can also charge via any of the USB ports.
The MacBook Pro is made of 30% recycled materials, including aluminium, rare earth elements, tin, gold and plastic. Apple breaks down the computer’s environmental impact in its report.
The computer is generally repairable and has repair manuals available, and the battery can be replaced for £245 by Apple. Repair specialists iFixit praised the machine’s more repairable design but criticised Apple’s use of software locks on replacement parts. Apple offers trade-in and free recycling schemes, including for non-Apple products.
The 14in MacBook Pro starts at £2,149 ($1,999/A$3,199) for an M2 Pro chip with 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. Models with the 12-core CPU/19-core GPU M2 Pro cost from £2,499, while M2 Max models start at £3,149.
The 16in MacBook Pro starts at £2,699 ($2,499/A$3,999). It is not possible to upgrade the RAM or storage after purchase.
For comparison, the MacBook Air M2 starts at £1,249, while Windows laptops roughly equivalent to the new machines, such as the Dell XPS 15, cost about £1,950, the Razer Blade 14 is about £2,100 and Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Studio costs from £1,449.
The 14in MacBook Pro is a truly excellent laptop with serious power and longer battery life than any of its competitors.
Many of its parts are best in class and put together in a very easy to live with package. But it comes at a very high cost, and one that may be prohibitive even to those looking for a pro-grade workhorse – £2,149 buys an awful lot of machine elsewhere.
Certainly for Apple consumers, it makes the £1,249 M2 MacBook Air all the more enticing at £900 less than the entry-level Pro, though still not exactly cheap. For those who need a Mac but don’t need the power and ports, there aren’t that many corners cut for the Air.
Still, it is encouraging to see Apple continue to make progress with its own chips in increasing performance and energy efficiency hand in hand. Longer battery life is always welcome.
Pros: powerful, very long battery life, fantastic miniLED ProMotion screen, plenty of ports and SD card slot, brilliant speakers, Touch ID, great keyboard and trackpad, MagSafe, 14in is a great size.
Cons: no USB-A, no Face ID, no Centre Stage camera, RAM or SSD can not be upgraded after purchase, no Boot Camp/Windows support, very expensive.