Apple has traditionally released new Mac models near the end of the year, almost every year since 2008.
However, due to chip shortages and supply chain issues, the brand new MacBook Pro M2 lineup was finally released at the beginning of the year, and I decided to purchase one.
Although we won’t see the transformative changes that we saw in 2021, I wouldn’t rule out this upgrade just yet. There’s more to the M2 Pro than just the chips, and Apple has done some useful tinkering this year.
Hey friends, Andrew here – hope you’re well.
After spending over a week with it since launch, let’s go over what’s new, whether the spec bumps are worth the price tag, how it compares to the other MacBooks I use on a daily basis, and my overall honest opinion of whether this new MacBook is worth it and who should upgrade.
Why the M2 Max Variant?
I opted to purchase the M2 Max variant in the 14″ size for several reasons.
Firstly, I believe the 14″ size strikes the perfect balance between screen size and portability, making it an ideal choice for users who work both at a desk and on-the-go.
While 13″ laptops can be too small for serious work and 15″ and 16″ laptops are less convenient to travel with, the 14″ size offers a pleasant work experience for users who need to move around frequently.
I chose the M2 Max chip because I’ll be using this machine to power my entire creative workflow. For me, this configuration has the advantage of being a one-device-fits-all approach in that I use it both docked at a desk and portably, eliminating the need for a separate desktop machine, such as a Mac Pro or Mac Mini.
The new M2 Max chip will also be interesting to compare to the M2 chip in the Air and the M1 Pro chip in my previous generation MacBook Pro.
Outside of the M2 chips, the most significant change is the updated HDMI 2.1 port, which now supports one 8K monitor with up to 60Hz refresh rate or a 4K monitor with up to a super fast 240Hz refresh rate.
Previously, on the 2021 MacBook Pro models, I noticed that some viewers weren’t impressed with the HDMI 2.0 port, which supported a single 4K display with a refresh rate of up to 60Hz.
As a result, the inclusion of HDMI 2.1 is both welcome and genuinely useful. It even outperforms my new CalDigit TS4 dock, which can run at up to 144Hz in 4K resolution. As a result, this HDMI 2.1 upgrade is genuinely beneficial to power users who require the best of the best.
I believe VRR, or variable refresh rate, is now supported as part of the HDMI port upgrade, but I’ll confirm this in my long-term review.
We also get Wi-Fi 6E, which enables faster speeds if your infrastructure supports it, and Bluetooth 5.3, which basically adds stability, security, and efficiency to your Bluetooth connection. It’s nice to have, but there’s no discernible difference in the day.
It’s also worth noting that the 16-inch MacBook Pro with the M2 Pro and M2 Max chips has a longer battery life of up to 22 hours of media playback, the longest battery life yet. The 14″ here has an 18-hour battery life, and the 13″ has an additional 20-hour battery life.
This year, we get a color-matched MagSafe cable this year, similar to what we saw with the new MacBook Airs.
So, if you get the Space Grey color, as I did here, you’ll also get a space grey MagSafe cable. It’s a nice little touch.
The M2 Max Processor
The M2 Pro and Max processors are the most significant and significant changes here.
The M2 Max has 67 billion transistors, while the M2 Pro has 40 billion. Mind-boggling figures. The majority of the additional transistors are devoted to improved graphics performance, but here’s what I noticed.
After setting up my new MacBook Pro M2, I noticed that it’s obviously very fast, but there’s no discernible improvement over my M1 Pro when it comes to opening apps, website tabs, and general day-to-day use. Both the M1 Pro and M2 Air have more than enough power to handle daily tasks with ease.
However, the increased RAM is a game changer.
Apple addressed one of the M1 processor’s major flaws: the limited RAM capacity of 16GB, which made RAM-intensive apps like Google Chrome and Spotify noticeably sluggish at times.
This is because apps like Chrome and Spotify run on Electron, a popular cross-platform system that appeals to developers for its versatility and ease of use – I frequently find myself having to pay attention to how many apps I have running at any given time and closing unused apps.
As a result, Apple increased RAM capacity to 32GB and memory bandwidth to 200GB per second. That is, the fast processor now has a faster way of communicating with the other components, making the new M2 Pro and Max chips more efficient.
It appears to have helped relieve pressure on the system if I have more than 6 apps and loads of Chrome tabs open, which has been the case quite frequently over the last few weeks.
Of course, you could simply use native apps such as Safari instead of Chrome and Apple Music instead of Spotify, as these apps perform better on Macs.
When I use more demanding apps in my workflow, such as Final Cut Pro, Figma, Lightroom, and Photoshop, I notice an even more noticeable improvement on this MacBook Pro M2 Max machine.
Even when working on video projects that consume my entire 4TB SSD or large 100MB photos in Lightroom or Photoshop, I have yet to experience a single hiccup.
It’s saved me seconds, if not minutes, every day dealing with a sluggish machine, and it’s designed for anyone who needs this power, such as developers using X-Code, video editors using DaVinci Resolve, or 3D Animators using you.
Cleaning & Optimizing the MacBook
So there’s a lot of power under the hood of the new MacBook Pro M2.
But over time, I typically find my MacBooks struggle at the 3-4 year mark when I don’t take the time to look after my investment.
I’ve found the simplest way to take care of a MacBook (or any Mac) is to regularly spring clean documents, files, Malware, and storage space.
You can technically do this manually, but I like to automate as much as I can in my life.
The app I’ve used to automate this over the last year has been CleanMyMacX. It’s a powerful cleaning tool that has been around for 14 years and is certified by Apple.
Importantly, for the lucky owners of new Macs with Apple Silicon, this app is natively supported and optimized to work for M1 and M2 chips.
It does a great job of removing gigabytes of unused garbage from Macs by removing RAM, disk space, redundant files, and more with a single click. It also helps to keep malware, adware, and ransomware at bay with the Malware Removal tool and the Uninstaller tool.
These are different files and data, and they can be classified into the following groups: large and old files, system junk, app leftovers, old backups, photos junk, trash bins, and mail attachments.
CleanMyMac X gives you the choice of a 2-click process to refresh and clean your Mac, which saves you time and the headache of potentially deleting things you’re not sure about.
By taking care of your Mac, its lifespan is extended and it can run more responsively for longer, allowing us to focus on enjoying our device.
I’ve personally been using CleanMyMacX for a while now, and you can give it a go for yourself by downloading the app here.
In GeekBench 5, here’s how the Apple M2 Max compares to my M2 Air and M1 Pro.
For starters, the M2 Max scored 14,929 for the Multicore CPU test and a very impressive 63,811 in the GPU test.
Meanwhile, the M2 Air received 7651 Multicore CPU points and 23,011 GPU points, while the M1 Pro received 12,151 CPU points and 37,863 GPU points.
Unsurprisingly, the M2 Max outperforms the competition in terms of top-tier performance, particularly when it comes to multi-core usage. It just has SO much power, arguably too much power to know what to do with.
Both the M1 Pro and M2 Air, however, continue to hold their ground and support the fact that these laptops are still excellent buys. Unless you intend to push your laptop to its limits, the M1 Pro and M2 Air are devices with enough juice for most.
In terms of design, it is identical to the 14″ 2021 MacBook Pro, which is fine with me because it is a design that currently works and was only recently updated.
We still have the stunning mini-LED display with the contentious notch that houses the 1080p camera. A lovely black inset keyboard that is still a joy to type on and, of course, includes the handy Touch ID button.
The epic speakers, on the other hand, remain epic. Its six-speaker sound system, which includes four force-canceling woofers and two tweeters, is capable of filling a medium-sized room with high-quality sound.
So, all of the hallmarks of the redesigned M1 Pro remain, which is a good thing.
Alternatives to M2 Pro & Max
However, the new upper-tier MacBook Pros are simply too expensive and powerful for the average user to get their money’s worth.
Yes, it is one of, if not the, most powerful laptops on the market right now, but unless you have a compelling reason to use it, you’re left with only bragging rights.
Because there is too much power here for most people to handle, there are better alternatives to the M2 Pro and Max.
A refurbished MacBook M1 Max from Apple’s Certified Refurbished Store costs $2,379, which is less than half the price of a new M2 Max. Even if you are a power user, an M1 Max represents excellent value for money because there is currently nothing the M1 Max cannot handle.
If you’re more of a casual user, only using your laptop for documents, web browsing, light editing, or coding, the MacBook M2 Air is still one of my favorite laptops at a little over $1,000, and I still reach for it whenever I have the luxury of a less intense work day.
The bottom line is, and this is something I can guarantee, that whatever you throw at the MacBook Pro M2 Max, it will slice through with ease. If you want the best portable power in the Apple ecosystem, look no further.
The only thing more powerful using Apple silicon right now is the Mac Studio desktop with the M1 Ultra chip, which is basically two M1 max chips in one.
And there will almost certainly be a new dual M2 Max chip in the Mac Studio this year, which I will almost certainly buy and review as well – make sure you follow along to be among the first to see my thoughts on it.
But whether you genuinely need all this power is a question for you and if you’re on the fence then I’ll leave my review of the already incredible MacBook M1 Pro right here for you to check out.
Thank you CleanMyMac X for sponsoring today’s article.