How do the new M2 Pro/Max MacBook Pros stack up against their M1 predecessors? Besides the new SoC, are they worth the upgrade?
Here’s a look at how Apple’s M2 Pro/Max MacBook Pros compare against the M1 Pro/Max models.
Compared: M2 Pro/Max MacBook Pro vs. M1 Pro/Max MacBook Pro
Dimensions and Weight: Unchanged
- 2021 MacBook Pro – 14-inch: 1.55 x 31.26 x 22.12 cm; 1.6 kg; 16-inch: 1.68 x 35.57 x 24.81 cm; 2.15 kg for M1 Pro, 2.16 kg for M1 Max
- 2023 MacBook Pro – 14-inch: 1.55 x 31.26 x 22.12 cm; 1.6 kg for M2 Pro, 1.63 kg for M2 Max; 16-inch: 1.68 x 35.57 x 24.81 cm; 2.15 kg for M2 Pro, 2.16 kg for M2 Max
The dimensions and weight of the 2021 and the 2023 MacBook Pros remain unchanged. They are the same machines from the outside, with no design changes.
Display: Beautiful Liquid Retina XDR panels
- 2021 MacBook Pro – 14.2-inch or 16.2 mini-LED backlit display, 1000 nits sustained full-screen, 1600 nits peak, 120Hz ProMotion technology, Wide color, True Tone
- 2023 MacBook Pro – 14.2-inch or 16.2 mini-LED backlit display, 1000 nits sustained full-screen, 1600 nits peak, 120Hz ProMotion technology, Wide color, True Tone
Apple’s 2023 MacBook Pro packs the same 14.2-inch and 16.2-inch mini-LED display panels as their predecessors. There’s no change in their brightness levels, size, refresh rate, or resolution. This should not be a cause of concern since the MacBook Pro’s display is still among the best on the market.
SoC: M1 Pro/Max vs. M2 Pro/Max
- 2021 MacBook Pro – M1 Pro: Up to 10-core CPU, Up to 16-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine, Media engine, ProRes encode/decode engine; M1 Max: 10-core CPU, Up to 32-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine, Two Media engines, Two ProRes encode/decode engines
- 2023 MacBook Pro – M2 Pro: Up to 12-core CPU, Up to 19-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine, Media engine, ProRes encode/decode engine; M2 Max: 12-core CPU, Up to 38-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine, Two Media engines, Two ProRes encode/decode engines
Apple’s next-gen M2 Pro/Max chips are based on TSMC’s second-gen 5nm manufacturing process. This allows TSMC to pack 20% more transistors and perform better than the previous SoCs. The new M2 Pro/Max SoCs come with four efficiency cores, up from two found on the M1 Pro/Max. Due to this, the total CPU core count has increased to 12 on the new chips.
Apple claims the M1 Pro’s 12-core CPU performance is up to 20% faster in multi-threaded tasks. It can also finish Xcode compilations up to 25% faster. With a larger cache and three additional GPU cores, the SoC provides a 30% uplift in image processing in Photoshop.
Like the M1 Pro, you can configure the chip with a maximum of 32GB of unified system memory.
With the M2 Max, Apple is further pushing the performance envelope. It claims the M2 Max is the “world’s most powerful and efficient chip for a Pro laptop.”
The SoC can be configured with up to 38-core GPU and a whopping 96GB of system memory. That’s up from the 32-core GPU and 64GB RAM on the M1 Max. Apple says such configurations will allow the MacBook Pro to run apps that were previously not possible.
Battery life: Longest-lasting MacBook Pros yet
- 2021 MacBook Pro – 14-inch: Up to 11 hours of wireless web browsing, up to 17 hours of Apple TV movie playback; 16-inch: Up to 14 hours of wireless web browsing, up to 21 hours of Apple TV movie playback
- 2023 MacBook Pro – 14-inch: Up to 12 hours of wireless web browsing, up to 18 hours of Apple TV movie playback; 16-inch: Up to 15 hours of wireless web browsing, up to 22 hours of Apple TV movie playback
Despite packing more powerful SoCs, Apple’s M2 Pro/Max MacBook Pros last an hour longer than the outgoing models. The company claims the 16-inch MacBook Pro can provide up to 22 hours of Apple TV movie playback. This is the longest ever battery life ever offered by a MacBook Pro.
You also continue to get fast charge support. With a 96W or 140W USB-C power adapter, the 2023 MacBook Pros can be topped up to 50% in 30 minutes.
Ports: Same but better
- 2021 MacBook Pro – 3x Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports, SDXC card slot, HDMI 2.0 port, 3.5mm jack with high-impedance headphones support, MagSafe 3
- 2023 MacBook Pro – 3x Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports, SDXC card slot, HDMI 2.1 port, 3.5mm jack with high-impedance headphones support, MagSafe 3
There’s only one major difference between Apple’s 2021 and 2023 MacBook Pros in terms of ports. The newer model features an upgraded HDMI 2.1 port that supports 8K monitors running at 60Hz or 4K/240Hz. The 2021 MacBook Pro was limited to powering 4K/60Hz monitors through its HDMI port despite packing a powerful GPU.
Connectivity: Faster Wi-Fi, better Bluetooth
- 2021 MacBook Pro – Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
- 2023 MacBook Pro – Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3
The M2 Pro/Max MacBook Pros are among the first Macs in Apple’s lineup to feature Wi-Fi 6E support. The new Wi-Fi standard promises more than double the bandwidth for faster speeds. However, to take advantage of this new connectivity standard, you must connect the MacBook Pro to a Wi-Fi 6E router.
Apple has also bumped the Bluetooth version to 5.3, which promises lower power consumption and better signal quality.
Price: Same as before
Despite rising inflation and some key internal improvements, Apple has priced the M2 Pro/Max MacBook Pros at the same level as the previous models. There’s no price increase in the US, so you can get the 14-inch MacBook Pro for $1,999. Prices for the 16-inch MacBook Pro start from $2,499.
Should you upgrade from the M1 Pro to the M2 Pro MacBook Pro?
Unless you have a demanding workload that requires 96GB RAM or you really need that HDMI 2.1 port, there’s no reason to upgrade to the M2 Pro/Max MacBook Pros. If you already own the M1 Pro/Max MacBook Pro, there’s no reason to upgrade. The newest Mac laptops from Apple only pack yearly improvements, which won’t positively impact your workflow in a big way.
But — Apple’s newest MacBook Pros are ideal for anyone still using an Intel-powered Mac. If you have an older Mac, you’re going to be blown away by these new machines.