So today’s post is about the M2 Max MacBook Pro, Let’s talk about it. Apple updated the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros with a press release and, instead of M1 Pro and M1 Max, it’s M2 Pro and M2 Max, and a couple of other tiny improvements. So the first Apple Silicon MacBook Pros, when they came out in October 2021, are honestly some of the most unanimously well-liked computers I have ever seen.

They added back the ports, they got rid of the touch bar, they brought back MagSafe, they bumped up to an excellent high refresh rate mini LED display, and the performance is incredible. Like across the board, I don’t think I’ve met a single person who got one and was like, “Oh, Nah, I made a mistake with this one.” So when you see a new one a year and a half later, there isn’t really a ton that we’re expecting to change because the big leap was from the Intel MacBook Pros to the Apple Silicon ones.

Now we’re back to more incremental improvements. So as you can imagine, yes, completely identical on the outside, same sizes, and the same colors, the only way I can differentiate this new one from my old 16-inch M1 Max is the icon skin I’ve had on the back. Of course, the channel sponsor brand is already selling these for the 2023 model, so if you want your laptop to look a little different than every other MacBook Pro in the world, then, yes, this is your best time.

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So the bulk of what’s new is coming from the new chip inside. M2 Pro and M2 Max. They are essentially the same price tiers and configurations across the board as before but Apple is quoting now 20% more CPU performance and 30% better GPU performance.

This in front of me here is a maxed-out M2 Max with the 38-core GPU and the new maximum of 96 gigs of shared memory.” Shocker, this thing rips. So under the hood, it’s built on a new second-gen 5-nanometer process, and they’ve added some cores, two more high-efficiency CPU cores, and three more GPU cores on the Pro, so it’s a 19-core GPU on the M2 Pro. And a 38-core GPU on the M2 Max.

Also, the neural engine and media engine are improved to handle machine learning and media playback and transcoding even faster than they already did. If you’re into synthetic benchmarks, I did run Geekbench 5 and the single-core score is now the highest I have ever seen, just over 2,000, while the multi-core score was north of 15,000. Here’s some context to give you an idea of how impressive these numbers are.

M2 Max MacBook Pro

And yes, that is about the 20% CPU improvement that we expected. And then, in Cinebench, again, it had a chart-topping single-core score, and here’s how the multi-core stacks out. So overall capabilities, basically the ceiling has been raised up by 20 to 30%, which is great, but as I mentioned in the original M1 Max review a year and a half ago, it’s not so much about the raw processing power as much as it’s about the things that it allows you to do better or faster than before, hence the name Pro, theoretically.

So like I noticed this in things where I have parts of my workflow that work just right with it. So I have this same I do where I screen record with ScreenFlow and it’ll do a full resolution screen recording and then I’ll export that and use it and bring it into Final Cut Pro. The exporting of that screen recording into ProRes 422 was dramatically improved when we got the media engine with Apple Silicon.

So a 16-core Intel Mac Pro with a Vega Pro II Duo that retailed for over $15,000, took a three-and-a-half-minute screen recording and churned that out in 56 seconds. But the M1 max laptop did it in 32 seconds, So that was so sick, that’s one of those things you instantly notice is way faster. This new M2 Max did it in 23 seconds. So again, a pretty substantial improvement. Like, clearly the outgoing machines weren’t lacking but they’ve taken basically everything that was good about the old ones and improved it, just bumped it up a little bit, which is sweet.

For everyday daily non-demanding tasks as you can probably imagine, these are still great, totally great. Like, I’ve already told you all about the excellent mini LED display that has a questionable amount of light bleed but still looks pretty great most of the time. I’ve already told you about the top-notch design and all of the metal build quality, the huge trackpad, the high-quality headphone jack, and the return of the built-in SD card slot, I’ve already told you about all that, but what about those other tiny improvements I mentioned earlier that aren’t the M2 chip?

Well, there are a couple of things. So first of all, the extra efficiency cores that I mentioned earlier are great, of course, for battery life. Not only is the battery life still really good but there’s also a claimed extra hour on both the 14-inch and 16-inch of battery. I’m not seeing a dramatic difference, but, hey, the fact that it’s better at all, it’s sick. And then these laptops still fast charge but there’s also now a color-matching MagSafe cable.

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Now this is a slight difference since these laptops are really only silver or slightly darker silver, but there you go, it’s darker now with a space gray one, it matches, color matching all the way up until the white plastic USB-C nub on the other end. And then there are a few other capabilities WiFI 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, and HDMI 2.1. So HDMI 2.1 was actually something I was confused about missing on the last version since it had been out for a little bit.

But it’s now here and that allows for up to 8K 60FPSs through one cable via the HDMI port. So that’s about time. WiFi 6E is just sort of starting to roll out now, that’s gonna be great for future-proofing. We literally just got WiFi 6E routers in the studio for the first time and the MacBook Pros have consistently been the fastest thing on our wifi network, and it continues to stretch that lead in that department. And Bluetooth 5.3, again, is very much future proofing, but that’s welcome.

But really the Apple Silicon transition has come a long way since the very first M1 Max that we saw when they first started doing this. There are a lot more well-optimized apps, it’s a lot more obvious what the benefits are. It’s still not complete, of course, because we don’t have a Mac Pro yet, and also it kind of feels like they forgot about the iMac. That’s just chilling, still stuck at M1, for some reason. But really, yeah, these are a level up from the rest. And I think my overall recommendations about what to buy at certain spots in the lineup basically stay the same.

So if you’re after battery life, M2 Pro is gonna be awesome, if you’re after maximum power at the expense of some of your battery life, then M2 Max is probably the move. And really my pretty textbook conclusion here is these laptops aren’t for people who already have the M1 Pro and M1 Max laptops that just came out, they are for people who have older laptops that now have a better machine to upgrade to unless you’re one of a tiny fraction of people who got the old ones and was pushing it to its limits and just needs that 30% more power, in which case, you know who you are.

As a Matter of fact, for those people on older laptops, I think looking for sales now of the M1 Pro and M1 Max, when you start to find deals on those, those are gonna be really good laptops. Now, you might have also seen the rumors that it’s possible that the first of the M3 laptops is gonna be coming out later this calendar year on a three-nanometer process, and you might be wondering if you should wait for that.

To which I would say, you should actually wait till quarter three of 2027 when we have the M5s because that’ll be 30% faster than the M4s which is 30% faster than the M3s, and you can see where I’m going with this. Like, if you’re gonna be waiting for the next thing, you’ll just be waiting forever ’cause that’s just the way tech is. These are great machines, they’re more than most people need, and if you can get your hands on the M1s, those are gonna be really good for most people too. Either way, I think actually, that the new M2 Mac Minis are a way more interesting machine, so stay tuned for that post.

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