The 2023 MacBook Pro 14 brings one notable change over the previous model: faster performance. This comes from the new Apple M2 Pro and M2 Max chips, offering performance levels that rival the best Windows laptops.
I’ve been using the new 14-inch MacBook Pro as my daily driver for the past week, and I’m thoroughly impressed with it so far. Beyond just raw performance, it’s also a very refined laptop in other regards, including battery life, display quality, and of course, a pretty darn good keyboard.
In short, the MacBook Pro 14 is a premium laptop that offers a premium user experience, but that also comes with an equally premium price tag.
Starting at RM8,799, the 2023 MacBook Pro 14 is a costly laptop, and the price can go up quite a bit depending on the configuration. This particular unit features an M2 Max with a 12-core CPU and 38-core GPU, a whopping 96GB of unified memory, and 8TB of SSD storage – all for a cool RM25,999.
Granted, for that kind of money, you’re getting a very, very powerful laptop that will meet the needs of even the most demanding creative professional. For most folks, the base RM8,799 M2 Pro model with 16GB memory and 512GB SSD will do just fine, though that is still quite a bit of money.
Since performance is the highlight of the new MacBook Pro 14, let’s talk about that first. I put the laptop through its paces in the Cinebench R23 synthetic benchmark, and in the multi-core test, it churned out a total score of 14,771.
To put this number into context, it got a higher score than, say, last year’s Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 gaming laptop. Granted, this is not an apples to apples comparison, but it does give us an idea of the M2 Max’s performance level.
But how does this translate to day-to-day performance? Well, the M2 Max remains blazing fast, naturally. This is especially true for apps that are built to run on the ARM-based Apple silicone, though the chip can still run apps designed for Intel Macs through the Cupertino company’s Rosetta 2 emulator.
Take PhotoScape X, which I primarily use for light photo editing. Even though it’s not built for Apple’s M series chips, it still runs as fast as it does on even the most powerful Windows laptop I’ve used. Granted, it’s not a particularly heavy software anyway, but I’m happy that it runs as well as it does.
Rest assured, I’ll be sure to put the M2 Max to the test thoroughly in the full review.
Beyond performance, it’s also worth noting that the new MacBook Pro 14 features some other hardware changes. There’s now WiFi 6E support for twice as fast connectivity compared to the previous generation, along with “advanced HDMI” – HDMI 2.1, basically – which allows support for 8K displays for the first time.
Now, speaking of display, the 2023 MacBook Pro 14 has a stunning screen. It’s a familiar 14.2-inch 3024 x 1964 Liquid Retina XDR mini-LED display found on the previous model, and it’s still a very pleasant screen to look at. It has deep blacks (almost like an OLED panel), well-calibrated colours, and no noticeable backlight bleeding at all. The 120Hz refresh rate lends to very smooth animations too.
This is really a testament to Apple’s excellent quality control. Even on the most premium Windows laptop, there’s always an imperfection with the screen that I can nitpick. That’s not the case at all with the MacBook Pro, though I’ll need to spend more time with it before I can say for sure.
MacBooks have always offered excellent battery life, so it’s no surprise that the new MacBook Pro 14 is a long-lasting machine. Apple’s quoted battery life is up to 18 hours of battery life, and while I haven’t done extensive testing yet, I’m inclined to take this estimate at face value.
So far, I have absolutely no issue getting through a typical workday with the 14-inch MacBook Pro. In fact, I can even stretch it to two days of use without plugging it in. This depends on my overall workload, which consists of a ton of web browsing, writing, and the occasional video streaming.
Again, I’ll get a better feel for its battery life once I’ve used the laptop for a longer period of time.
As for the input devices of the MacBook Pro 14, they’re great! The keyboard, for one, is comfortable to type on. While it doesn’t have the longest key travel, the keys have good tactile feedback and just the right amount of actuation force to let me type fast and accurately.
Unsurprisingly, the trackpad of the 14-inch MacBook Pro remains as accurate as ever. Gestures work flawlessly, the large size of the trackpad makes it easy to navigate around, and the smooth surface allows my fingers to glide effortlessly on it.
All in all, it’s an excellent trackpad that can even mimic clicks very well. After all, Apple has transitioned to a fixed trackpad – it has no moving parts at all – for its range of laptops for quite some time now.
While there’s no denying that the 2023 MacBook Pro 14 is a costly laptop with a RM8,799 starting price, you’re also getting a very refined, very premium laptop for the money. It has excellent performance out of both the M2 Pro and M2 Max chips; it has a stunning mini-LED display; and to top it off, it has unrivalled battery life as well.
Granted, these are my thoughts after only a week of use with the new 14-inch MacBook Pro, so I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve spent enough time with the laptop for a fair assessment. For what it’s worth, I’m absolutely enjoying using the MacBook Pro 14 , especially after being “away” from the macOS platform for quite some time.
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