Apple MacBook Pro 16.2″ Review – Up to date with the M2 Max

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The MacBook Pro 2023 is a sturdy, beautifully finished laptop, with a mini LED screen that provides a beautiful (HDR) image and is also well calibrated. The response times are unfortunately poor for a 120Hz screen. The 2023 update brings a 20 percent faster processor than the M1 and an approximately 25 percent faster GPU. Furthermore, Wi-Fi 6E and HDMI 2.1 are now available. It is a pity that this relatively modest update is accompanied by a price increase of two to three hundred euros. The upgrades have also not become cheaper.


  • Beautiful HDR rendering
  • Good battery life
  • silent cooling


  • High additional cost upgrades
  • bad response times

When Apple presented its new 14″ and 16″ MacBook Pro in 2021, it was accompanied by a lot of fanfare. The laptops were presented at a major event. Things went a little differently with the 2023 models that will be delivered from January 24. No event, just a press release and a video on Apple’s own website hinting at the new models. Fairly or unfairly? To find out, we had Apple send us the (almost) most expensive MacBook Pro, with a 16-inch screen, M2 Max processor, 4TB of storage, and a bizarre 96GB of RAM.

Those specs just mentioned are the most significant change to the MacBook Pro. If you are curious about that, check the next page. There is not much new to tell about the outside of the laptop, because the housing isthe sameas that of the 2021 model. For the sake of completeness, we will go through that exterior and discuss a visible and an invisible change to it.


With the introduction of the 2021 model, the MacBook Pro received a new housing, which was broadly similar to that of the previous year’s model. It is made of metal and has become slightly thicker than the 2019 model. The Touch Bar, the touchscreen strip at the top of the keyboard, was replaced by physical keys, and the top right key became a slightly larger fingerprint scanner. On either side of the keyboard are the speakers, which provide an impressive sound for a laptop. There is a ‘full’ sound from the six speakers in total, with more bass than you would expect from a laptop. You can also put them pretty hard. It’s no better than a good set of external speakers, but for laptop-integrated audio, these are top notch.

The housing is otherwise as you would expect for this price and given Apple’s reputation. The metal feels sturdy and the different parts of the housing fit together almost seamlessly. The hinge for the display rotates smoothly, but offers enough resistance so that the display does not wobble when opened. At the top of the screen is the webcam with 1080p resolution, which is also unchanged from the 2021 model.

New: HDMI 2.1 and colored MagSafe

There is an innovation in the connections and that is one that you should know, because it is not listed. The HDMI connection is on the right. With the 2021 model that was an HDMI 2.0 connection and with the 2023 MacBook it has been upgraded to 2.1. Although ‘HDMI 2.1’ has become a collective name, this connection offers the full bandwidth of 48Gbit/s. Good for a 4k screen at 240Hz or an 8k screen at 60Hz.

Of course there are also USB4 connections, three in total, to which you can also connect screens. The number of screens you want to connect is important when choosing between an M2 Pro and M2 Max processor. If you opt for an M2 Pro, you can connect two external screens with a maximum resolution of 6k. With the M2 Max, the maximum is four screens. You can then connect up to three 6k screens via USB4 and a 4k144 screen via HDMI.

Another innovation is… drum roll… the MagSafe connection. The magnetic charging port isn’t new, but the cable and connector are now the same color as the laptop, just like the MacBook Air. If your MacBook is Space Grey, your magnetic connector is now also dark grey. If you don’t have your MagSafe charger with you, you can also simply use the USB-C ports to charge the laptop. Finally, there is an SD card reader on the right side.

Specifications and Benchmarks

Apple supplies the MacBook Pro with a screen diagonal of 14.2″ or 16.2″. The processor is an M2 Pro or an M2 Max and there are also different versions. The M2 Pro is available with ten or twelve cores. If you take the version with ten cores, you get six fast P-cores and four more efficient E-cores. The P-cores run at a maximum of 3.7GHz, while the E-cores run at a maximum of 2.4GHz. There is also an M2 Pro chip with twelve cores. That gives you two extra P-cores. The M2 Max processor always has twelve cores. Compared to the M1 Pro and M1 Max, the clock speeds have been increased. The P-cores in the M1 ran at a maximum of 3220MHz, while the E-cores ran at 2064MHz.

The biggest difference between the M2 Pro and the M2 Max is the structure of the chip. The CPU part is the same, but the M2 Max has a larger GPU and a memory controller that is twice as wide. The memory bandwidth of M2 Max chips is 400GB/s, while the M2 Pro has to make do with 200GB/s. That memory is unified , which means that the CPU and GPU cores share it. Compared to the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, the memory bandwidth is unchanged, but the amount of memory is not. The M2 Pro has a maximum of 32GB, but the M2 Max can now be equipped with 32, 64 or 96GB of RAM.

Of course, all this beauty comes with a hefty additional price. To be able to opt for the 96GB, you will in any case have to opt for an M2 Max processor, with the fastest GPU with 38 cores. This is possible for an additional cost of 840 euros on the cheapest 14 “model or 460 euros on the cheapest 16” model. Then you pay another 920 euros to increase the memory from 32 to 96GB. Do you want a larger SSD? That will also cost you a lot of money. The entry-level model of almost 2500 euros has a meager 512GB of storage for that amount. Doubling the storage costs you 230 euros, but if you want 2TB, you even pay 690 euros. That increases to an additional cost of 2760 euros for the 8TB SSD. For all these parts, you cannot replace them yourself,

Finally, the aforementioned GPU has been upgraded. With the M1 Pro, the GPU had 14 or 16 cores, while the M1 Max had 24 or 32 cores. Cores have been added to the M2. The M2 Pro is only available with 16 or 19 GPU cores on the 14″ model. You always get 19 GPU cores on the 16″ model with M2 Pro processor. The M2 Max processor is equipped with 30 or 38 GPU cores. The GPUs have not only received more cores, there is also more L2 cache. Apple does not say how much larger that cache has become. The clock speed of the GPU has also increased slightly. It now taps at a maximum of 1.4GHz and with the M1 Max that was still 1.3GHz.

Apple MacBook Pro 16
Processor Apple M2 Max
cores/threads 12 (8P + 4E) / 12 threads
max. clock frequency 3.7GHz (P cores) 2.4GHz (E cores)
GPU M2 Max 38 cores
Random access memory 96GB Lpddr5
SSD Apple AP4096Z 4TB
Wi-Fi Airport, Wi-Fi 6E
Screen 16.2″, 3456×2234 pixels, glossy, 120Hz, miniled, 2554 zones
Weight 2165 grams
Battery 100Wh
Operating system macOS 12.3

A final change that should not go unmentioned is the WiFi chip. It now supports Wi-Fi 6E. This means that the MacBook Pro can also use networks on the 6GHz band. Although such access points are not yet ubiquitous, almost all high-end Windows laptops were already equipped with 6E network cards last year, so it is nice that Apple is now also following suit.


What do you gain with the upgrade from M1 to M2? With the MacBook Air, which will make the switch from M1 to M2 in the summer of 2022, the difference was about 10 percent. With the MacBook Pro, Apple promises that the switch will yield a maximum of 20 percent faster CPU and a maximum of 30 percent faster GPU. Of course we started with a number of benchmarks, starting with Cinebench. In a number of benchmarks, we also noted the score the system achieves when running on battery. Apple insists that thanks to its efficient processors it is just as fast on the battery as when the laptop is connected to the mains. In general, Windows laptops are more energy efficient and therefore run slower if they are not connected to their power supply. We have not stored any data on this, so a 1:1 comparison cannot be made, but as the results below show,

Cinebench 23 runs natively on the Arm hardware of the MacBook and can therefore be compared with laptops running Windows. The single test shows that the M2 Max has become about 9 percent faster. Not only the individual cores are a bit faster, two cores have also been added, so that the M2 Max as a whole, as Apple promises, is indeed about 20 percent faster in this benchmark. The twenty M1 cores in the Mac Studio are still faster and a laptop with an Intel Alder Lake processor is also faster than the M2 Max in this test. When the MacBook Pro 2021 was introduced, ten cores were still quite exotic, but that is no longer the case. Intel also announced processors in early January that will appear in laptops this year andhave a maximum of 24 cores .

Geekbench shows an even greater improvement than Cinebench in the single test, which uses one core. That 15 percent is in line with the increase in the maximum clock speed from 3.2 to 3.7 GHz. If you look at the speed of all cores, the improvement is again about 20 percent.

12345678910111213141516171819202122233525262728293031323334tijd in seconden (lager is beter)10152025303540Apple Macbook Pro 2023 16″ M2 Max (12/38)Apple MacBook Air 2020 M1 (8/8)Apple Macbook Pro 2021 16″ M1 Max (10/32)Apple Mac Studio M1 Ultra (20/64)Apple MacBook Air 2022 M2 (8/10)

The beauty of the actively cooled MacBook Pro is that it can maintain its speed in short benchmarks such as Geekbench and Cinebench for a longer period of time. In Blender, we tell the laptop to keep rendering the same image one after the other. Many laptops run at a high speed at first and have to clock back later in order not to get too hot. The MacBook Pro is not affected by this and renders every image within eighteen seconds. The passively cooled MacBooks Air do get warm due to long-term load, and you can see those lines rising over time in the graph above.

GPU benchmarks

The M2 Max GPU has 38 cores, 6 more than the M1 Max. Those six cores run at a higher clock speed and, just like the CPU, the GPU has also been given a larger L2 cache. According to Apple, the new GPU is 30 percent faster.

We’ll start with 3DMark Wild Life, which uses the Vulkan app on Windows and Metal on macOS. In this benchmark, the M2 Max is faster than the Medion Erazer Beast, which is equipped with an RTX 3080 video card. The GPU is also 24 percent faster than the M1 Max. So does this mean the M2 Max is faster than an RTX 3080 in games? That’s hard to say. In the case of 3DMark, the benchmark runs completely natively , while the number of games for macOS is still low. It is mainly iPad games that also run under macOS. Apple is busyto bring larger titles to the Mac, the maker announced during the presentation of macOS Ventura. Resident Evil: Village is now available, while GRID: Legends and No Man’s Sky are on the way. These are games optimized for Apple Silicon and their performance is likely to be in line with the 3DMark score. The vast majority of games that run on the Mac are not optimized for Apple Silicon. Total War:

The game runs better on the M2 Max chip than on the M1 Max, but we don’t see any major progress. In addition, laptops with Nvidia video cards are smoother in this case. The game is not optimized for Apple Silicon; the laptop has to make the transition from x86 to Arm and that also costs speed.

The MacBook with M2 Max processor and 96GB memory will ultimately not be bought by people who want to sit on the couch and watch Netflix. Apple showed us how CGI artists can take advantage of the huge mountain of video memory in software like Houdini and Octanerender. Unfortunately, the benchmarks we are currently running are not of the caliber that they can use 96GB of video memory. At least in Corona we see a nice speed improvement compared to the M1 Max, although it is not the promised 30 percent.

Noise production and battery life

The new version of the MacBook Pro may have a faster CPU and GPU, but the cooling still makes little noise. Compared to the new high-end Intel and AMD chips, which already use 55W as standard, the M2 Max is economical. While running Cinebench and Blender, the chips from AMD and Intel go over their tdp of 55W, while the M2 Max does not exceed 33W.

What energy does not go in, you do not have to blow out in heat. During web browsing, the cooling of the MacBook Pro is inaudible. That is not so special, because there are also Windows laptops that perform that way, but the noise level is also low during a considerable GPU load using Blender. This makes the MacBook Pro one of the quietest laptops we’ve ever tested in these two tests. Normally we run two more tests on these types of laptops, in F1 and PCMark, but they only run under Windows.

Battery life

The battery life of the 2023 MacBook Pro has been improved, according to Apple. That is not because it has opted for a larger battery; the capacities are still the same: 70Wh with the 14″ model and 100Wh with the 16″ model. You will also not easily find a larger battery in a laptop, because the limit is 100Wh for use in airplanes. Apple does not want to say what it is, but it seems obvious that the manufacturer has managed to optimize its second-generation Apple Silicon even better and has thus extended the battery life. With the 16-inch 2021 model, according to Apple’s own statement, you could browse the web for 14 hours or watch movies for 21 hours on a battery charge. With the 2023 model, that should be 15 and 22 hours.

Like Apple, we hit 15 hours in our browsing test. That’s neat, but like Apple, we test with a fairly dimmed screen and browse in only one tab. A higher brightness or more tabs will lead to a shorter battery life. Nevertheless, the improved battery life is neat. The 16-inch model of the previous generation with M1 Pro processor also reached almost 15 hours, but the M1 Max version came in at about 13.5 hours. So the battery life has improved anyway.

Image quality

The MacBook Pro screen has not changed since 2021. It is still a 16.2″ screen with a cutout at the top for the webcam. The resolution is 3456×2234 pixels, with the menu bar taking up the top 74 pixels and leaving you with 3456×2160 pixels of usable resolution.The MacBook screen has a glossy finish and a dynamic refresh rate of up to 120Hz.

In the review of the 2021 model, we took a closer look at theHDR display and the mini LED backlight. Apple doesn’t mention any changes to the display, and of course we grabbed the colorimeter and CalMAN software to check.

If we measure the brightness, we arrive at almost 500cd/m², just like the model from a year and a half ago. Thanks to the mini LED backlight, the contrast is immeasurably high. As far as local dimming is concerned, the screen is not as nice as an OLED panel, which can dim every pixel, but with 2554 zones, the screen comes quite far. Unlike an OLED screen, the MacBook Pro mini LED screen can display a much higher brightness on full screen. When watching HDR video, the whole screen can display a brightness of 1000cd/m², with peaks of 1600cd/m². Laptops with OLED screens are nowhere near that.

MacBooks are known for their good screen calibration and our review sample did not quite live up to expectations. The color reproduction is good, but not perfect and we would have expected that from a laptop of 6200 euros.

When displaying both the sRGB and P3 color space, the color balance tends towards blue. This results in a color temperature of approximately 7100 Kelvin, instead of the ‘warmer’ 6500 Kelvin. It is not a drama in itself, there are no strange outliers in the display and the gamma curve is also nice and tight, but it could be a little better and we expected that. The fact that the screen calibration of our test model is not super tight does not mean that all 2023 MacBooks are less well calibrated than the models we tested in 2021. There will always be variation.

Finally, we look at the response times of the mini LED screen. They were quite disappointing with the previous generation and since Apple uses the same screens, we did not expect any change here either.


Apple came up with two completely new laptops in the summer of 2021. The MacBook Pro 14″ and 16″ differed from their predecessors in almost everything. There was a new keyboard, more connections, a new screen and new processors, which no longer came from Intel, but from Apple itself.

As big as the change was at the time, so small is this 2023 update. It’s a few changes to be up to date. Was the MacBook Pro lagging behind? Yes and no. As far as the (unchanged) screen is concerned, the MacBook Pro is at the top, especially when it comes to brightness and HDR display. The M1 Pro and Max processors, while upgraded now, were by no means slow. However, other things started to lag behind a bit. For example, we already encountered Wi-Fi 6E network cards on almost all high-end laptops last year. You also see HDMI 2.1 more and more often, again especially on high-end laptops, a category in which the MacBook Pro undoubtedly belongs. So it was time for an update so as not to fall behind.

The most important change is of course in the M2 Pro and Max processors. The chips are faster on the CPU and GPU level, thanks to the extra cores, extra cache and higher clock speeds. Compared to the M1 Max, the M2 Max is about 20 percent faster in the CPU area and 25 percent in the GPU area. The battery life has even increased slightly and although the cooling makes a little more noise, it is still very quiet for a laptop. For those who can use it, it’s great that you can now order the MacBook Pro with 96GB of RAM. The surcharges are, as we are unfortunately used to, sky-high and you cannot replace hardware yourself.

Apple has therefore implemented a nice update and that was also allowed, because the previous version was one and a half years old. Unfortunately, it has not become a ‘free’ update and the suggested retail price of the laptops has been increased. The entry-level models of the 14″ and 16″ Pro go up by 200 euros and the more expensive configurations now cost 300 euros more. That will probably not deter enthusiasts and professionals from purchasing the new model. The more price-conscious MacBook buyer might want to check whether the previous version is now available for a good price, because although it is a nice upgrade, the M2 is not a revolution.

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