Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023) review: The laptop to beat

The new MacBook Pro is hands-down the world's fastest 14-inch laptop with Apple's M2 Pro and M2 Max chips. Epic battery life makes it nearly perfect for creative pros

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023 in hand
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The new MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023 raises the bar for laptop performance, with the M2 Pro chip delivering incredible speed in our testing. The M2 Max is even faster, especially when it comes to graphics performance. You also get a stellar mini-LED display, plenty of ports and over 14 hours of battery life. Yes, it's pricey, but the new MacBook Pro cannot be beat.

Pros

  • +

    Blistering performance

  • +

    Vibrant mini-LED display

  • +

    Superb battery life

  • +

    Good port selection includes HDMI and SD Card

  • +

    Faster Wi-Fi 6E

Cons

  • -

    Expensive

  • -

    Notch is distracting

  • -

    No Face ID support

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The MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023 (starting at $1,999) is designed to be the fastest laptop that you can take anywhere — with the battery life to back it up. And based on our extensive test results, this system is an absolute beast for creative pros. 

Yeah, you get everything we loved about the MacBook Pro 14-inch 2021 model, including the dazzling mini-LED display, generous port selection, and sharp 1080p camera. But it’s really about the new M2 Pro and M2 Max chips. The new M2 Pro promises 20% faster CPU performance and 30% faster GPU performance than M1 Pro. If you have the means, the M2 Max packs a whopping 38-core GPU.

While the design is identical to the previous MacBook Pro 14-inch, there are other notable upgrades here, including a faster Wi-Fi 6E connection and a beefed-up HDMI port that can support up to 8K displays.

So how fast is it? And is it worth the premium for you? My MacBook Pro 14-inch review will answer those questions and show you why it earns a spot on our best laptops list. Also see our MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023 benchmarks (opens in new tab) results for more detail and video review below. 

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023) release date and price

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023

(Image credit: Future)

The MacBook Pro 14-inch goes on sale January 24 and starts at $1,999. For that price you get a 10-core M2 Pro CPU, a 16-core GPU, 16GB of unified memory and 512GB of SSD storage.

The next step up is a M2 Pro model with a 12-core CPU, 19-core GPU, 16GB of memory and 1TB of storage for $2,499. Or you can opt for the M2 Max version with the same CPU but a 30-core GPU and 32GB of memory for $3,099.

Note that the M2 Pro model maxes out at 32GB of memory, but you can go all the way up to 96GB if you spring for the M2 Max chip with a 38-core GPU. That's an $800 add-on by itself. You can also go up to 8TB of storage for a cool $1,800. 

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023 specs

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Starting price$1,999
Screen14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display (3024x1964 pixels, 254ppi)
ProcessorM2 Pro (10-core CPU, 16-core GPU or 12-core CPU, 19-core GPU), with optional M2 Max with up to 12-core CPU and 38-core GPU
Battery size70Wh
Battery life (tested)Up to 14 hours of web surfing over Wi-Fi
Storage512GB to 8TB
Memory16GB to 96GB
PortsThunderbolt 4 (x3), HDMI, MagSafe 3, headphone jack, SD memory card slot
Webcam1080p FaceTime HD camera
Wi-FiWi-Fi 6E
BluetoothBluetooth 5.3
Dimensions12.3 x 8.7 x 0.6 inches
Weight3.5 pounds (M2 Pro) - 3.6 pounds (M2 Max)

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023) design

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023

(Image credit: Future)

The MacBook Pro 14-inch looks the same as its predecessor, but that's a pretty good thing. You get the same super solid, squared-off aluminum chassis available in Silver and Space Gray. I do wish Apple offered more color options, such as the Midnight Blue on the MacBook Air M2. Why can't a laptop that's powerful enough to launch rockets also have a fun side?

I do continue to appreciate the little things about this laptop, such as how easy it is to open with one hand (thanks to the grooved front lip), the easy Touch ID button for fast sign-ons and the elegantly carved "MacBook Pro" on the bottom of the machine. 

Measuring 12.31 x 8.71 x 0.61 inches and weighing 3.5 pounds (3.6 pounds for the M2 Max version), the MacBook Pro 14-inch is a bit hefty for a 14-inch laptop. For instance, the Huawei Matebook X Pro weighs 2.9 pounds and the HP Spectre x360 14 is 3 pounds, but those systems don't pack as much power.

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023

(Image credit: Future)

My only real complaint about the design is the notch at the top of the display, which houses the 1080p camera. It interrupts an otherwise gorgeous screen, and is a bit distracting. But after a while you get used to it. I also wouldn't mind if Apple trimmed the bezels a bit more next time around. 

One other thing. As much as I appreciate having a Touch ID button built into the keyboard, I'd like to see Apple add a Face ID sensor to the MacBook Pro. Lots of Windows laptops let you log in by just looking at the front of the system — and some can even detect your presence as you walk up to the notebook. For a laptop this pricey it seems like a no-brainer addition. 

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023) ports

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023

(Image credit: Future)

The MacBook Pro 14-inch remains the portable MacBook to get if you want more than just Thunderbolt/USB-C ports. Yes, there's three Thunderbolt 4 ports, but you also get an SD card slot that photographers and videographers demand, as well as an HDMI port. 

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023

(Image credit: Future)

The HDMI port now supports up to 8K resolution on an external display at 60Hz, as the MacBook Pro 14-inch supports the HDMI 2.1 standard. Or you can plug in a 4K display at up to 240Hz. 

Note that the M2 Pro chip supports up to two external displays overall and the M2 Max chip can drive up to four displays. 

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023) display and audio

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023

(Image credit: Future)

The MacBook Pro 14-inch's mini-LED display is easily one of the best you'll find in any laptop. It's bright, colorful and offers a smooth 120Hz ProMotion refresh rate. While recording some b-roll for our review video I got so lost in this panel while watching the trailer for Mandalorian season 3 I forgot for a moment I was also supposed to be taking pictures. 

When watching the trailer I was impressed by the gleaming silver of the Mandalorian's helmet, and I could see fine drops of water on it in one scene. Meanwhile, the rich gold textured cape worn by Greef Karga (played by Carl Weathers) really popped. I could even make out fine hairs on Grogu's head in a darker scene. 

As expected, the MacBook Pro 14-inch's panel delivered excellent results in our lab tests, starting with brightness. When viewing HDR content we saw as high as 1,447 nits using our light meter for 10% of the display and 1,081 nits for 100% of the screen. For comparison, the 13-inch MacBook Pro reaches just under 500 nits.

The MacBook Pro 14-inch's screen registered 117.7% of the sRGB color gamut and covers 83.4% of the more demanding DCI-P3 color space. The Dell XPS 15 hit a slightly higher 122.7% and 86.9%, respectively, on the two tests. 

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023

(Image credit: Future)

The colors on the display for Apple's laptop are a bit more accurate, though, as it turned in a Delta-E score of 0.19 (where 0 is perfect). The XPS 15 registered 0.22.

That same trailer sounded thunderous coming through the MacBook Pro 14-inch's six-speaker sound system, which includes four force-cancelling woofers and two tweeters. Everything from the Manadalorian's monologue and laser fire to the wind instruments sounded crisp and clear, even at high volume.

Turning to Spotify, the MacBook Pro 14-inch expertly handled the driving percussion and soaring vocals on The Weekend's 'Blinding Lights.' When 'I Like You' started up the trill in Post Malone's voice filled a medium-sized room with sound while each beat snapped. This is definitely a system for work and play. 

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023) performance

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023 open on a desk

(Image credit: Future)

There is one thing I can say for sure. Whatever you throw at the MacBook Pro 14-inch, this laptop can handle it with ease, whether you opt for the M2 Pro model or M2 Max version. Go for the M2 Max if you need more graphics might or more oomph for video projects.

The M2 Pro chip starts with a 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU, 16GB of unified memory and 512GB of storage. Apple sent us a version to test that costs an obscene $4,099, but it offers obscene power to match with a 12-core CPU, 38-core GPU, 64GB of memory and 2TB of storage. 

Thanks to our sister site Laptop Mag, we also have the test results for the M2 Pro version of this machine, although this is a pricier configuration than the entry-level model. It offers a 12-core CPU, 19-core GPU, 32GB of RAM and 2TB of storage for $3,299.

For comparison we also tested two powerful Windows laptops. This includes a Dell XPS 15 with a 12th gen Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD, plus Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics for $2,299. To be fair, the Core i9 model would be faster but we didn't have that to test. Also keep in mind that newer 13th gen Intel chips are on the way. 

We also tested an HP EliteBook 840 G9 business laptop with a 12th gen Core i7 VPro CPU, 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD and Intel Iris X graphics for $2,868. 

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Geekbench results
Single-core scoreMutli-core score
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro1,94114,965
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Max1,92614,939
Dell XPS 151,75711,258
HP EliteBook 840 G91,72810,578
MacBook Pro 14-inch M1 Pro1,76812,477
MacBook Pro 13-inch M2 1,8988,911

On Geekbench 5, which measures CPU performance, the MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023 is in a league of its own. The M2 Pro version notched a single-core score of 1,941 and the M2 Max version hit a similar 1,926. Both models cleared 14,900 on the multi-core test.

The scores earned by the Dell XPS 15 and HP EliteBook 840 G9 were both below 1,800 on single-core and below 12,000 on mulit-core. So what about other MacBooks? The MacBook Pro 2021 with M1 Pro hit 1,768 and 12,477, while the 2022 MacBook Pro 13-inch with M2 registered 1,899 and 8,911. 

Overall, the MacBook Pro 14-inch is about 9% faster in single-core performance versus the previous model and 17% faster in multi-core. 

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Handbrake (Video transcoding)
Time (min:sec)
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro4:03
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Max4:06
Dell XPS 155:42
HP EliteBook 840 G96:58
MacBook Pro 14-inch M1 Pro4:51
MacBook Pro 13-inch M2 6:51

So how about transcoding video? The MacBook Pro 14-inch wipes the floor with the competition and is notably faster than the previous M1 Pro MacBook. 

For this test we use the Handbrake app to transcode a 6.5GB 4K video to 1080p. The new MacBook Pro 2023 took just 4 minutes and 3 seconds to complete the task. The Dell XPS 15 was over a minute and a half slower, and the HP EliteBook was nearly 3 minutes behind. 

The MacBook Pro M1 Pro needed 4 minutes and 51 seconds to complete the same task, and the MacBook Pro 13-inch took nearly 7 minutes. So this new laptop is clearly more Pro.

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Photoshop test
Score Time (min:sec)
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro9884:20
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Max1,1993:57
Dell XPS 159625:42
HP EliteBook 840 G99205:16
MacBook Pro 14-inch M1 Pro8064:54
MacBook Pro 13-inch M2 8174:54

If you are big into photo editing the MacBook Pro 14-inch will not disappoint. On the PugetBench PhotoShop test, which assigns a score based on how effectively a system uses scripts to apply a series of filters and other adjustments to a number of high-res photographs, the MacBook Pro 2023 scored 988 with the M2 Pro chip and 1,199 with the M2 Max. The test also times how long each system takes, and the MacBook 14-inch M2 Pro took 4:20; the M2 Max version was even faster at 3:57. 

The Dell XPS 15 (962) and HP EliteBook 840 G9 (929) were not too far behind in terms of the overall score, but they needed a lot more time to complete the tasks. The Dell needed 5:42 and the HP 5:16. The previous M1 Pro MacBook Pro scored a much lower 806 but had a relatively fast time of 4:54. 

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Premiere Pro results
Score
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro942
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Max1,009
Dell XPS 15616
HP EliteBook 840 G9378
MacBook Pro 14-inch M1 ProDid not run
MacBook Pro 13-inch M2 552

When it comes to video editing, the MacBook Pro 14-inch with M2 Pro should be able to handle most projects, but the M2 Max version is even faster. We put both laptops through the PugetBench Premiere Pro test, which involves taking a 4K clip and applying a Lumetri Color effect and adding 12 clips across four tracks in a multi-camera sequence. 

The M2 Pro model turned in a stellar score of 942, which blows away the Dell XPS 15 (616) and HP EliteBook 840 G9 (378). The M2 Max model hit 1,009. Unfortunately, the M1 Pro couldn't run this test when we ran it in 2021, but the MacBook Pro 13-inch M2 turned in a score of 552. 

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BlackMagic SSD test (in MBps)
Score
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro5,293 / 6,168
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Max5,319 / 6,402
Dell XPS 154,045 / 4,468
HP EliteBook 840 G94,784 / 5,207
MacBook Pro 14-inch M1 Pro5,321 / 5,377
MacBook Pro 13-inch M2 2,794 / 2,953

Last but not least, we also ran the Blackmagic disk speed test to measure the SSD performance of the MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023 versus the competition. With a 5,293 MBps read speed and 6,168 MBps write speed, the M2 Pro MacBook Pro handily beat the XPS 15 and was well in front of the HP EliteBook 840 G9. 

The M2 Max model was a bit faster than the M2 Pro version in this test, and the MacBook Pro 13-inch M2 was about half as fast as the new MacBook Pro 14-inch. The M1 Pro MacBook Pro had similar read speeds to the M2 Pro version but the newer MacBook has faster writes.

What we did evaluate the entry-level model of the 14-inch MacBook M2 Pro. However, third-party tests of the MacBook Pro 2023 SSD (opens in new tab) have found that it is slower than the 2021 model, which is a shame. We'll revisit that once we've done our own testing. 

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023: Graphics and gaming

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023 gaming Resident Evil Village

(Image credit: Future)

The MacBook Pro 14-inch offers a wide range of graphics options, starting with a 16-core GPU. We tested the 19-core GPU inside the M2 Pro chip and the 38-core GPU from the M2 Max chip, and there's definitely a difference in benchmark performance. 

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3DMark
Wild Life Unlimited Wild Life Extreme Unlimited
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro47,844 / 287 fps12,939 / 77.5 fps
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Max89,902 / 538 fps21,420 / 128.3 fps
MacBook Pro 14-inch M1 Pro38,406 / 230 fps10,386 / 62.1 fps
MacBook Pro 13-inch M2 24,892 / 149 fps6,819 / 40.83 fps

On 3DMark Wild Life Unlimited, which measures graphics performance, the MacBook Pro M2 Pro scored 47,844 and 287 frames per second. The M2 Max chip nearly doubled those results.

The MacBook Pro M1 Pro scored 38,406 and 230 fps, so that's a pretty big jump of about 20% versus the M2 Pro. Same thing goes for the Unlimited test results. 

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Rise of the Tomb Raider
1920 x 1200 3024 x 1964
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro48.6 fps20. 9 fps
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Max73 fps 34 fps
Dell XPS 1538.4 fps* 11.04 fps**
MacBook Pro 14-inch M1 Pro39.3 fps17.1 fps
MacBook Pro 13-inch M2 24.9 fps 12. 2 fps

* 1920 x 1080 resolution ** At 3,456 x 2,160 resolution

While Apple still has a long way to go in terms of gaming, the new MacBook Pro 14-inch is certainly capable of delivering solid frame rates. Take Rise of the Tomb Raider. The M2 Pro MacBook Pro hit 48.6 fps at 1920 x 1200 resolution, compared to 39.3 fps for the 2021 model with M1 Pro. However, neither system could reach a playable 30 fps at the MacBook's native 3024 x 1964 resolution. 

The M2 Max version with 38-core GPU delivered a much higher 73 fps at 1920 x 1200 pixels and a playable 34 fps at the higher resolution. The Dell XPS 15 got to 38.4 fps with its Nvidia GPU at 1080p. 

I also had a chance to play Resident Evil Village, which is one of the titles that's been optimized for Apple's Metal graphics engine. The level of detail was stunningly gory, especially when I got a chunk bitten out of my hand by a monster, and my jacket looked remarkably real as the fabric flowed in the wind while I walked.

Even with multiple monsters on the screen at once the MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Max delivered smooth action with very little stuttering. 

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023) battery life

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023

(Image credit: Future)

The MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro offers awesome battery life based on our testing. On the Tom's Guide Battery test, which involves continuous web surfing at 150 nits of screen brightness, it lasted an epic 14 hours and 2 minutes. That's just a few minutes shy of the MacBook Pro M1, which lasted 14:08. 

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Battery life results
Time (hours:mins)
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro14:02
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Max12:51
Dell XPS 1510:05
MacBook Pro 14-inch M1 Pro14:08
MacBook Pro 13-inch M2 18:20

The MacBook Pro M2 Max didn't last quite as long, but 12 hour and 51 minutes is nothing to sneeze at when you have that kind of power under the hood. The Dell XPS 15 only endured for a bit over 10 hours. But the 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 is still the champ with over 18 hours of runtime.

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023) Wi-Fi 6E

The MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023 supports Wi-Fi 6E, which supports the 6GHz band and speeds up to twice as fast as the previous Wi-Fi 6. I connected the laptop to a TP-Link Deco XE75 Wi-Fi 6E mesh router, and I saw speedy downloads in the 400 Mbps range over my home internet connection, though uploads were just 20 Mbps.

The MacBook Pro M1 Pro delivered similar results in various locations as the M2 Max model, but we'll conduct additional tests to see how much of a difference Wi-Fi 6E can make. 

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023) webcam

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2021 photo of Mark Spoonauer and on right photo of him with MacBook Pro M2 Max

The MacBook Pro M2 Max's webcam (right) delivers richer colors and has a bit less noise in the shot compared to the MacBook Pro M1 Pro (left).  (Image credit: Future)

The MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023 features the same 1080p webcam as the 2021 model, but it does have an improved image signal processor that makes modest improvements to image quality, especially in low light.

I took the two above photos in the same conditions, and the MacBook Pro M2 Max model's shot is on the right. The newer MacBook Pro does capture a deeper blue in my shirt and sweatshirt as well as a richer red, and there's a bit less noise in the shot.

It's not a dramatic difference, but it's notably better. 

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023) verdict

MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023

(Image credit: Future)

The MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023 once again sets a new standard for laptop performance, thanks to its M2 Pro chip. It blows away the Windows competition, at least until we're able to test systems with 13th gen Intel Core CPUs. The M2 Max is even faster, especially when it comes to intensive tasks like photo editing in Photoshop and video editing in Premiere Pro. And the M2 Max's graphics prowess is a serious upgrade over the M2 Pro.

Even with the speed boost, the MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023 delivers epic battery life over 14 hours. No other laptop offers this combination of performance and endurance for the money. The more capable HDMI port and faster Wi-Fi 6E are also welcome upgrades.

So is the MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023 right for you? If you want something that's portable but very powerful I would say yes, if you're willing to spend at least $1,999. It's certainly a lot faster than the MacBook Pro 13-inch with M2, but that model starts at $1,299 while lasting roughly 4 more hours on a charge. Then there's the MacBook Pro 16-inch, which starts at $2,499; that system is worth getting if you really want a bigger screen and a design with a bit more thermal headroom for sustained performance, but it offers the same specs overall.

I wouldn't say that the MacBook Pro 14-inch 2023 is fast enough to warrant an upgrade from the M1 Pro model, but if you're looking to step up from an older system it is the pinnacle of performance. 

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.