With Apple’s introduction of the M2 chip last year, it was only a matter of time before it joined the tech giant’s line of laptops. The MacBook Pro 14-inch (M2, 2023) isn’t the game-changer that its predecessor (2021) was in terms of design, but it builds on its capabilities to cement this model’s position as Apple’s most impressive portable laptop for creatives.
There is no doubt that this laptop will take the top spot in our pick of the best laptops for graphic design (opens in new tab). But the question you really need to ask yourself is, are you really doing this? need It? What drives your purchasing decisions? Is it just a brand new Apple device, or do you actually need its frankly mind-blowing performance? Will this improve your workflow enough to justify the price? Let’s take a closer look at what it can do to help you make an informed decision. I received a review unit and put it through a thorough Creative Bloq Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (M2, 2023) review and lived and worked with it for a few weeks.
Apple MacBook Pro 14 inch (M2, 2023) on test: design and display
There is little to say about the design of the new 2023 version of the 14-inch Apple MacBook Pro other than that it remains pretty much identical to the previous iteration. All of the focus for this model has gone under the hood, and honestly that came as no surprise considering how much Apple put into the design of the 2021 version.
And to be honest, I’m really glad it hasn’t changed. The 2021 MacBook Pro brought with it a new physical design that included a bunch of much sought-after new ports and consequently a thicker laptop that I just have to love – even more, and that’s a bold statement, over my M1 MacBook Air. The new The 14-inch MacBook Pro is super compact but feels super sturdy, making it very comfortable to use.
The display also remains the same, which isn’t a bad thing either, as it’s one of the best screens you can find on a laptop. Working with this device in Photoshop and Premiere Pro, for example (both run like a dream, I might add) is a joy. The color accuracy, depth and detail it produces is exceptional, so much so that I have often chosen to use this device instead of my desktop PC for my creative projects. The display simply remains one of the best things about the MacBook Pro.
Apple MacBook Pro 14 inch (M2, 2023) in review: features
Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (M2, 2023): Important specifications
Here is the MacBook Pro 14-inch (M2, 2023) configuration sent to Creative Bloq for review:
CPU: Apple M2 Pro (12 core)
Graphic: Integrated 16-core GPU
R.A.M: 32GB unified storage
Screen: 14.2-inch, 3024 x 1964 Liquid Retina XDR display (mini-LED, 1000 nits brightness, P3 wide color gamut, ProMotion technology)
Storage: 2TB SSD
Ports: 3x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), HDMI, SDXC card slot, 3.5mm headphone jack, MagSafe 3
Connectivity: WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3
Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD webcam
Weight: 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg)
Size: 12.31 x 8.71 x 0.61 in. (31.26 x 22.12 x 1.55 cm; W x D x H)
As mentioned briefly above, the 2021 MacBook Pro (opens in new tab) brought with it a number of features that had fans of the device both jumping for joy and venting their frustration. People loved the extra ports and connectivity options, while others couldn’t fathom the notch. Few changes have been made to either, but as someone who’s come from a 2020 MacBook Pro, I can tell you the difference is tremendous. It wasn’t long after I started using this machine that I stopped noticing the notch, and the extra ports are a game changer for obvious reasons.
Expanded connectivity features mean the new MacBook Pro now comes with Wi-Fi 6E3 for a super-fast wireless connection. And a more advanced HDMI supports 8K displays up to 60Hz and 4K displays up to 240Hz. In human terms, that means anything you want to do on/with the internet is done super fast and you the machine either connect to a 4K and/or 8K monitor.
The microphone is one area on this device that always feels a little lacking, but has skyrocketed in recent years. It has no problem with video calls and I was happy to see how good it is at minimizing background noise (nothing like a crazy washing machine in the background interrupting a call). There won’t be any problems with podcasts, but anything more demanding will require professional microphones.
The charger is again the same as the previous version, a proprietary MagSafe connection. As much as it’s a bit confusing/annoying to have a different charging cable for almost every other Apple device, I can’t help but love the Pro’s MagSafe connection. And not just because it can charge half the battery in an incredible 30 minutes. There’s a certain gentle charm to the design that the Thunderbolt doesn’t have – if you accidentally bump into it, it most often just pops off the device without damaging it. It’s a small thing, and probably just me, but I also enjoy the satisfying pull of the magnetic connection.
Apple MacBook Pro 14 inch (M2, 2023) in review: performance
I feel like I’ve spent this entire review so far saying little has changed, so I’m looking forward to getting to the point where Apple has put the lion’s share of its focus on this 2023 model . I am testing the MacBook Pro 14 inch with M2 Pro chip, 32 GB RAM and 2 TB SSD. It’s an absolute powerhouse.
For context, the 2021 MacBook Pro M1 came with the option of either 24 cores or 32 cores, which was an exceptionally powerful GPU for a laptop. The M2 Pro features either a 16- or 19-core GPU that can be configured with up to 30 or 38 cores, which is frankly an overwhelming amount of power.
But what can it do? It’s probably faster to list, which frankly it can’t. But for anyone who needs to do hardcore video and image editing, 3D rendering or modeling, etc., you can rest assured that this laptop will fly through it. I spent some time working on a 3D title sequence in After Effects while running Photoshop and Premiere at the same time and it didn’t bat an eyelid. It was only after a few hours of running all three applications, running multiple web browsers, and listening to Spotify that I noticed the laptop fan humming begin.
I was wondering if navigating 3D space in AE would slow things down, but I didn’t notice any lag or pauses. To really push the device’s limits, I also tested its capabilities with a high-resolution 3D model in Cinema 4D and got instant feedback whenever I made changes, including extruding multiple surfaces on a million-polygon model.
Here’s how the MacBook Pro 14-inch (M2 Pro, 2023) performed in our series of benchmark tests:
Cinebench R23 CPU: Single core: 1,638; multi core: 14,361
geek bench 5: single processor: 1,954; multi core: 15,128
So what about the benchmarks? Having really put this machine through its paces, I wasn’t surprised to see the benchmark test results, which produced some seriously impressive numbers. We have to remember that this is a higher specification MacBook Pro model, so I had high expectations and it was good to see that they were met in these tests.
Cinebench R23 single and multi-core scores were just a fraction below that of the high-spec Mac mini (M2 Pro, 2023) we recently tested. And the Geekbench score was almost identical. Basically, this means that in the new 14-inch MacBook Pro you have all the power of a high-spec desktop packed into a stylish, compact and highly portable device with all the accessories you need to get started right away to be able to start work.
Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (M2, 2023) review: price
I’m reviewing the MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro with a 12-core CPU, 19-core GPU, 32GB RAM, and 2TB SSD model. Buying it in this configuration would cost a staggering $2,499 / £3,499. This isn’t the highest or lowest spec model, and there are variations in memory, performance, and storage to meet many different user needs.
The lowest configuration with 16GB storage and 512GB SSD will set you back $1,999 / £2,149, which feels a lot more affordable if that’s the device you want. However, the final price you pay really depends on your individual needs, and if memory and storage are high on your priority list, you could expect a pretty hefty sum.
The base model will be more than adequate for mainstream creative work, but even that is pricey when compared to the very capable MacBook Air.
The real question here is one I asked at the very beginning and that is, do you really need that much power? If the answer is yes, and you need it in a portable, turnkey solution, then the 2023 MacBook Pro is a worthwhile investment.
MacBook Pro 14-inch (M2, 2023): Should I buy it?
The answer to that really boils down to two things; performance and budget. This machine, even the base model, handles the most complex tasks with relative ease. So if you need one much Performance from a compact laptop, a screen that lets you see your creative work in all its glory, that lasts all day and is super portable, you won’t find a better option than the 14-inch MacBook Pro. But I want to be clear that this is an immense amount of power and more than most would ever need from a laptop.
I think the other consideration is personal style. I work a lot on the go, regularly working in creative software that my M1 MacBook Air handles with ease. But after experiencing this new model, I would choose the new 14-inch MacBook Pro anytime if budget wasn’t an issue. And that’s because I personally really appreciate the overall design and the extra connectivity it offers.