M2 Max MacBook Pro Review: Back to Bumps!


So this is the M2 Max MacBook Pro.

Let's talk about it.

So this week, Apple updated the 14-inch

and 16-inch MacBook Pros with a press release

and an 18-minute YouTube video

that featured a bunch of creators at the beginning,

which was cool, and then basically a whole prerecorded event

That kind of looked like it was cut out of another event.

Matter of fact, it's rumored that

This was cut out of an event

that they were rumored to have late last year.

Honestly, I buy it,

like the URL and the file name of the video had 2022 in them

and the AR files for the new laptops

were compiled in October 2022,

suggesting that these things were ready to go months ago.

But whatever, none of that matters.

What matters is they're here now

and what you need to know is on the outside,

They're identical,

but on the inside, 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,

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 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,

Yeah, completely identical on the outside,

same sizes, 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, 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, yeah, this is your best bet, link below.

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 

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.

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,

The ceiling has been raised up

by the 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 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 works 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, the outgoing machines weren't lacking

But they've taken 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,

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 isn't the M2 chip.

Well, there's a couple 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.

Now this is a slight difference

Since these laptops are only silver

or slightly darker silver, but there you go,

It's darker now with a space gray one, it matches,

color matching 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 something

I was confused about missing 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 just got WiFi 6E routers in the studio

for the first time and the MacBook Pros

have consistently been like the fastest thing

on our Wi-Fi network,

and it continues to stretch that lead in that department.

And Bluetooth 5.3, again,

very much future-proofing, but that's welcome.

But 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,

also, it kind of feels like they forgot about the iMac.

That's just chilling, still stuck at M1, for some reason.

But, 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 stays 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 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.

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

It's going 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 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 good for most people too.

Either way, make sure you get subscribed

because I think,

I think the new M2 Mac Minis

are a way more interesting machine,

so stay tuned for that video.

Also, I said something in my last review.

With that being said,

If the next version of this laptop

still has a notch this big and doesn't add Face ID,

I'll wear socks and sandals for a day, like Linus.

Like, they gotta be planning on

Putting it there eventually, right?

Well, all day today,

I'm a man of my word.

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