One of the interesting side effects of Apple’s move towards using its own silicon in the Mac is that the Mac update cycle is now more like that of the iPhone: mostly predictable, regular updates, generation after generation of performance improvements, and maybe a few incremental improvements or new features.

It’s very similar to the 2023 MacBook Pro. For most intents and purposes does 2021 MacBook Pro. The only difference is the inclusion of new M2 Pro and M2 Max chips for boosted CPU, graphics and machine learning performance over 2021’s M1 Pro and M2 Max, plus some connectivity improvements that directly address some of our minor quibbles with the otherwise excellent. 2021 models.

However, the 2021 MacBook Pro was far from a disappointment when it launched, and the market hasn’t changed enough in the past two years to make the 2023 base models less attractive. These are still the best laptops you can buy for many use cases – provided you don’t mind spending a small fortune, that is.

Features and design

For the most part, both the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros are the same this year as they were last year.

In fact, their design is the same. The 16-inch model with the M2 Max still weighs 4.8 pounds (2.2 kg) and measures 0.66 x 14.01 x 9.77 inches (1.68 x 35.57 x 24.81 cm). The 14-inch model with the same chip weighs 3.6 pounds (1.63 kg) and measures 0.61 x 12.31 x 8.71 inches (1.55 x 31.26 x 22.12 cm). There’s nothing noticeably different about either of them, at least from the outside compared to their 2021 predecessors.

As I do in 2021, I still feel that the 16-inch model is bulky and a bit unwieldy by today’s standards, while the 14-inch is almost perfect except for a bit of cramped real estate, but your mileage may vary. For more thoughts on the design, check out our 2021 MacBook Pro review.

My only gripe with the laptop’s design is Apple’s decision to include an iPhone-style camera notch at the top of the screen to add a bit more screen real estate overall. So far, most of the few apps that had some issues with this design have been updated, but there are still outliers here and there.

These are more the exception than the rule, so I believe most people will get used to the notch quickly.

Ports and connectivity

The ports are also mostly the same. Both sizes include three Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports supporting speeds of up to 40GB/s, a MagSafe port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and an SDXC card slot. The HDMI port also returns for 2021, but it’s gotten an upgrade, addressing one of our only criticisms of previous models. You’re no longer limited to HDMI 2.0, meaning you can now get 4K over HDMI at a refresh rate higher than 60Hz or push 8K at 60Hz.

Apple claims the port can even handle 4K at 240 Hz. This is surprising because HDMI 2.1 does 48Gbps, but that’s usually not enough for 4K above 120Hz. There’s the possibility of some kind of display stream compression here, but I haven’t been able to confirm this yet as I didn’t have a 4K 240Hz monitor on hand during testing.

There’s a reason we don’t have a 4K 240Hz monitor on hand: Almost none. For the immediate future, 4K at 120Hz is all most people need, so any discussion of 4K at 240Hz is largely academic at the moment.

Either way, it’s nice to see a bump to HDMI 2.1. It was obviously possible to achieve 4K at 120Hz via Thunderbolt on the previous MacBook Pro, but it seemed odd that such an ultra-high-end device was using the old HDMI standard. Now this is solved and laptops are a little more attractive for it.

As for wireless connectivity, the MacBook Pro now supports Wi-Fi 6E, a bump from the previous device’s Wi-Fi 6 and another welcome response to one of our earlier minor quibbles. Bluetooth 5.3 is also available.

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