2023 MacBook Pro review: A refined second generation

An interesting side effect of Apple’s use of its own silicon in the Mac is that the Mac’s update cycle now looks a lot more like that of the iPhone: mostly predictable, regular updates that offer modest generation-to-generation performance gains, maybe some extra improvements or new features.

This is the case with the 2023 MacBook Pro.For most intents and purposes, it yes 2021 MacBook Pros. The only difference is the inclusion of the new M2 Pro and M2 Max chips for improved CPU, graphics and machine learning performance over the 2021 M1 Pro and M2 Max plus some connectivity upgrades that directly address our other performance Excellent 2021 model with some very minor issues.

That said, the 2021 MacBook Pros were far from disappointing when they launched, and the market hasn’t changed enough in the past two years to make the mostly similar 2023 models unattractive. For many use cases, these are still some of the best laptops you can buy — assuming you don’t mind spending a fortune.

Specifications and Design

For the most part, this year’s 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros are the same as last year’s.

In fact, their designs are identical. The 16-inch model with the M2 Max still weighs 4.8 pounds (2.2 kilograms) and measures 0.66 by 14.01 by 9.77 inches (1.68 by 35.57 by 24.81 centimeters). A 14-inch model with the same chip weighs 3.6 pounds (1.63 kilograms) and measures 0.61 by 12.31 by 8.71 inches (1.55 by 31.26 by 22.12 centimeters). None of them are noticeably different from their 2021 predecessors, at least visually.

I still feel like I do in 2021 the 16″ model is bulky and a bit bulky by today’s standards and the 14″ is almost perfect except it’s a little cramped for space but your mileage may vary different. For more detailed thoughts on the design, check out our 2021 MacBook Pro review.

My only other issue with the laptop’s design is Apple’s decision to include an iPhone-style camera notch at the top of the display to increase overall screen real estate. Most of the few apps that had some issues around this design have been updated so far, but there are still outliers.

These are the exception rather than the rule, though, so I’m sure most people will get used to the notch pretty quickly.

Ports and Connections

The ports are basically the same, too. Both sizes include three Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports that support 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 been upgraded, addressing one of our only criticisms of the previous model. You’re no longer limited to HDMI 2.0, which means you can now do 4K at refresh rates above 60 Hz or push 8K at 60 Hz over HDMI.

Apple claims the port can even manage 4K up to 240 Hz. This is surprising since HDMI 2.1 can go up to 48Gbps, but that’s usually not enough for 4K beyond 120 Hz. There seems to be some sort of display stream compression going on here, but I can’t confirm it yet since I didn’t have a 4K 240 Hz monitor handy during my testing.

There’s a reason we don’t have 4K 240Hz monitors handy, though: Hardly any. 4K at 120Hz will pretty much suffice for most people for the foreseeable future, so any current debate about 4K at 240Hz is mostly academic.

Regardless, it’s good to see HDMI 2.1 developing. 4K at 120 Hz via Thunderbolt was apparently possible in previous MacBook Pros, but it seems odd for such an ultra-high-end device to use the older HDMI standard. That problem is now fixed, and the laptop is much more attractive for it.

As for wireless connectivity, the MacBook Pro now supports Wi-Fi 6E, an improvement over Wi-Fi 6 from previous devices, and another welcome answer to a little question we had earlier. Bluetooth 5.3 is also readily available.

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