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On January 17th of 2023, Apple made a few unexpected announcements. The long-awaited MacBook M2 Pro and MacBook M2 Max along with the Mac Mini would soon be joining the Apple product slate. The next day, they made another new announcement: a revamped Home Pod was on the way, as well.

With so much news in so little time, it can be hard to keep track of what it all means. As such, it’s worth breaking them down — starting with the MacBook M2 Pro vs MacBook M2 Max. How do the two new MacBook Pros compare, and how are they different?

MacBook M2 Pro vs MacBook M2 Max: Side-by-Side Comparison

MacBook M2 ProMacBook M2 Max
First ReleasedJanuary 24th, 2023January 24th, 2023
Starting Price$1,999$3,099
Available Screen Size(s)14 inches; 16 inches14 inches; 16 inches
Measurements14-inch model: 12.31 in. x 8.71 in. x 0.6 in.
16-inch model: 14.01 in. x 9.77 in. 0.66 in.
14-inch model: 12.31 in. x 8.71 in. x 0.6 in.
16-inch model: 14.01 in. x 9.77 in. 0.66 in.
Weight14-inch model: 3.5 lbs
16-inch model: 4.7 lbs
14-inch model: 3.5 lbs
16-inch model: 4.7 lbs
System-on-a-Chip (SOC)M2 ProM2 Max
CPU Options10-core; 12-core12-core
GPU Options16-core; 19-core30-core; 38-core
Unified Memory16 GB; 32 GB32 GB; 64 GB; 96 GB
Memory Bandwidth200 GB/s400 GB/s
Storage256 GB – 8 TB1 TB – 8 TB
Battery Life22 hours22 hours
Wi-Fi SupportedWi-Fi 6EWi-Fi 6E
BluetoothBluetooth 5.3Bluetooth 5.3
DisplayLiquid Retina XDR displayLiquid Retina XDR display
Peak Brightness1600 nits1600 nits
External Display SupportUp to 8K resolutionUp to 8K resolution
Number of Ports3 USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports3 USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports
Sound6 speakers (with Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio)6 speakers (with Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio)

MacBook M2 Pro vs MacBook M2 Max: What’s the Difference?

Clearly, we have quite a number of technical specs to report about the MacBook M2 Pro vs MacBook M2 Max. There are plenty of crossovers to be found between the two new MacBook Pro configurations, but what about the differences between the two?

Let’s outline the greatest points of variance below, paying close attention to things like price and key internal specs.

Price

Apple 2023 MacBook Pro Laptop M2 Pro chip with 12‑core CPU and 19‑core GPU: 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR Display, 16GB Unified Memory, 1TB SSD Storage. Works with iPhone/iPad; Silver
$2,649.99
  • SUPERCHARGED BY M2 PRO OR M2 MAX — Take on demanding projects with the M2 Pro or M2 Max chip. M2 Pro has 12 CPU cores, 19 GPU cores, and up to 32GB unified memory. M2 Max has 12 CPU cores, up to 38...
  • UP TO 22 HOURS OF BATTERY LIFE — Go all day thanks to the power-efficient design of the M2 Pro or M2 Max chip. And the MacBook Pro laptop delivers exceptional performance whether it’s running on...
  • FULLY COMPATIBLE — All your pro apps run lightning fast — including Adobe Creative Cloud, Xcode, Affinity Designer, Microsoft 365, and many of your favorite iPhone and iPad apps.
  • BEAUTIFUL PRO DISPLAY — The 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display features Extreme Dynamic Range, over 1000 nits of brightness for stunning HDR content, and pro reference modes for doing your best...
  • ADVANCED CAMERA AND AUDIO — Look sharp and sound great with a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, a studio-quality three-mic array, and a six-speaker sound system with Spatial Audio.
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/03/2023 06:11 am GMT

Firstly, let’s cover what is quite likely the most obvious difference between the MacBook M2 Pro vs MacBook M2 Max. These two new MacBook types have very different price points, and they only increase as you jump from the 14-inch options to the 16-inch options.

The M2 Pros begin at $1,999 for the most basic 14-inch model, then increase to $2,499 for the boosted version with greater internal specs. The 16-inch M2 Pro starts at $2,499 for its basic model, then jumps to $2,699 for its boosted version. Comparatively, the 14-inch M2 Max costs $3,099, while the 16-inch costs $3,499.

Graphics

While internal specs are not as obvious to discern as a price point is, they’re nevertheless worth mentioning here. The difference in GPUs (or graphics processing units) is actually quite drastic with the MacBook M2 Pro vs MacBook M2 Max.

The M2 Pro offers two options: a 16-core GPU or a 19-core GPU. By comparison, the M2 Max increases that number exponentially. The M2 Max’s options jump up to either 30 cores or 38 cores. That’s a pretty drastic difference — and one that will have a direct impact on performance between the two new MacBook versions.

Memory Bandwidth

Now, memory bandwidth might not be talked about as much as something like graphics or price. But, the differences between the MacBook M2 Pro and MacBook M2 Max in this regard definitely deserve some attention.

The M2 Pro model delivers 200 GB/s of memory bandwidth, while the M2 Max doubles that to 400 GB/s of memory bandwidth. The better your memory bandwidth, the better your computer’s overall performance will be. With this in mind, the M2 Max is essentially twice as good as the M2 Pro in this category.

Unified Memory

Going hand in hand with memory bandwidth is unified memory. (This is Apple’s preferred form of RAM, which combines the hard drive and the RAM into the same big memory pool.) The MacBook M2 Pro offers just two options, both on the lower end: 16 GB and 32 GB.

The MacBook M2 Max, by comparison, blows the M2 Pro’s options out of the water. The M2 Max offers three choices: 32 GB, 64 GB, and a whopping 96 GB. The lowest-end M2 Pro option and the highest-end M2 Max option have a difference of 80 GB between them.

Storage

Apple 2023 MacBook Pro Laptop M2 Max chip with 12‑core CPU and 38‑core GPU: 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR Display, 32GB Unified Memory, 1TB SSD Storage. Works with iPhone/iPad; Silver
$3,449.00
  • SUPERCHARGED BY M2 PRO OR M2 MAX — Take on demanding projects with the M2 Pro or M2 Max chip. M2 Pro has 12 CPU cores, 19 GPU cores, and up to 32GB unified memory. M2 Max has 12 CPU cores, up to 38...
  • UP TO 22 HOURS OF BATTERY LIFE — Go all day thanks to the power-efficient design of the M2 Pro or M2 Max chip. And the MacBook Pro laptop delivers exceptional performance whether it’s running on...
  • FULLY COMPATIBLE — All your pro apps run lightning fast — including Adobe Creative Cloud, Xcode, Affinity Designer, Microsoft 365, and many of your favorite iPhone and iPad apps.
  • BEAUTIFUL PRO DISPLAY — The 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display features Extreme Dynamic Range, over 1000 nits of brightness for stunning HDR content, and pro reference modes for doing your best...
  • ADVANCED CAMERA AND AUDIO — Look sharp and sound great with a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, a studio-quality three-mic array, and a six-speaker sound system with Spatial Audio.
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/03/2023 06:11 am GMT

Storage is another place where the MacBook M2 Pro vs MacBook M2 Max differ pretty significantly. The MacBook M2 Pro has quite a few options, beginning at 512 GB and stretching all the way up to 8 TB. All in all, the M2 Pro gives you five options to choose from between the two: 512 TB, 1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB, and 8 TB.

The M2 Max, by comparison, begins at 1 TB and goes up to 8 TB. Important to note is the fact that the M2 Max’s base configuration is 1 TB, which is nearly double that of the M2 Pro’s base configuration of 512 GB.

External Display Support

Lastly, let’s touch on the differences in external display support between the MacBook M2 Pro vs MacBook M2 Max. While both have the same number of ports — an SDXC card slot, an HDMI port, a MagSafe 3 port, and three USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports — they do not have the same number of supported external displays.

The M2 Pro supports just two external displays at a resolution of 6K or less. The M2 Max, on the other hand, supports up to four external displays. Of these four, up to three can be at 6K resolution.

M2 Pro and M2 Max Explained

While the announcement of the M2 Pro and M2 Max chips was definitely not predicted to arrive so soon in 2023, the development and eventual release of the two state-of-the-art chips was definitely expected for this year.

However, insiders had really been putting their faith in a spring 2023 announcement and release. This unexpected January debut was a welcome surprise. The MacBook M2 Pro and MacBook M2 Max mark a new dawn for the fifth-generation Pro model. Apple inexplicably returned to its fourth-generation MacBook Pro build back in the summer of 2022.

This makes the M2 Pro and M2 Max not only a return to form but also a drastic improvement over what came before it. Longtime Apple users will recognize the branding behind the chips immediately. The M2 Pro and M2 Max pick up on an earlier trend set forth by the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips (both released in fall 2021).

The M2 Pro and M2 Max improve upon these chips in just about every possible way. Apple isn’t wrong to claim their new chips as the most powerful ones ever placed in a pro laptop. The M2 Pro and M2 Max have an unprecedented number of CPU and GPU cores along with an equally impressive amount of unified memory.

While we’ve spent plenty of time pitting the MacBook M2 Pro vs MacBook M2 Max against one another, it should be said that the two form a unified front against the competition. As a pair, the M2 Pro and M2 Max make for the most powerful and energy-efficient pro laptop chips on the market. You aren’t going to encounter a better laptop build from Apple. (And certainly not from any of Apple’s competitors, either.)

The History of the MacBook Pro

The new MacBook M2 Pro and MacBook M2 Max mark a much-needed step forward for the MacBook Pro line. First introduced back in January of 2006, the MacBook Pro name has been a part of the Apple family for 17 years now. Throughout this time, it has remained synonymous with Apple’s most powerful Mac notebook computer.

Bigger and more capable than the user-friendly MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro offers storage and computing power not found on any other MacBook model. Whether it’s the 13-inch, the 14-inch, or the 16-inch model, the MacBook Pro earns that “pro” name.

With this in mind, the MacBook M2 Pro vs MacBook M2 Max debate marks the next level of this 17-year-long history of the MacBook Pro. Compared to the first-generation MacBook Pro, it’s clear just how far Apple has come with these new Pro variants.

That first generation Pro from back in 2006 merely depended on an old PowerBook design and some simple Intel Core processors for its internal makeup. Equipped with a basic webcam and the earliest form of MagSafe charger tech, the first-generation MacBook Pro only came in two sizes: a 15-inch and a 17-inch model.

Apple released the MacBook Pro second generation in 2008, then stuck to a four-year life cycle for the next two generations. The MacBook Pro third generation came in 2012, followed by the MacBook Pro fourth generation in 2016.

Apple then dropped that four-year life cycle (likely due to supply chain disruptions in 2020 and beyond) for a five-year one, releasing the fifth-generation MacBook Pro in 2021. The fourth-generation MacBook Pro was then re-released with Apple’s M2 chip technology back in the summer of 2022. Clearly, the M2 Pro and M2 Max are history in the making.

MacBook M2 Pro vs MacBook M2 Max: Pros and Cons

Pros of MacBook M2 ProCons of MacBook M2 Pro
Superior to the previous M2 chip technologyDecreased memory bandwidth compared to M2 Max
More affordable than the M2 MaxLess unified memory than the M2 Max
Better battery than the previous MacBook Pro modelsShorter battery life in comparison to the M2 Max
Many different configurations to choose fromFewer GPU and CPU cores compared to the M2 Max
Pros of MacBook M2 MaxCons of MacBook M2 Max
Larger CPU and GPU than the M2 ProFar pricier than the M2 Pro
More unified memory than the M2 ProFewer customization options than the M2 Pro
Best laptop battery life in Apple’s lineupThe 16-inch model is nearly 5 pounds
Unbeatable memory bandwidthFor the price, you could easily build a more powerful high-end PC

MacBook M2 Pro vs MacBook M2 Max: 5 Must-Know Facts

  1. The MacBook M2 Pro, the MacBook M2 Max, and the brand-new Mac Mini were all publicized on January 17th. But, contrary to past pressers from Apple, few saw this one coming. Typically, as with iPhone announcements, people know what’s coming from the tech giant. This was not the case here, as the press release was something of a surprise.
  2. There are 40 billion transistors within the new M2 Pro chip. That’s two times the number of transistors in the previous M2 chip. Furthermore, there are 67 billion transistors in the M2 Max chip. That’s more than three times that of the M2 chip.
  3. The M2 Max makes numerous key improvements over even the M2 Pro chip. This almost makes it like the “pro” version of this new Pro chip. All in all, it offers a whopping 38-core GPU, as many as 400 GB/s in total unified bandwidth, and a unified memory as large as 96 GB.
  4. The M2 Pro is more than 30% faster than the M1 Pro. The same goes for the M2 Max, which is also 30% faster than its M1 Max counterpart.
  5. The M2 Pro and M2 Max chips can handle up to 15.8 trillion operations in a single second. Compared to the M1 Pro and M1 Max, you’re looking at 40% faster operations in all.

MacBook M2 Pro vs MacBook M2 Max: Which One Is Better?

Before choosing a winner between the MacBook M2 Pro vs MacBook M2 Max, it should be said that these two Pro builds are the best in Apple’s history. No matter which you go for, it’s going to be more powerful and more impressive than any other Apple laptop by a tremendous margin.

But, if a winner has to be chosen, then that winner is without a doubt the MacBook M2 Max. This is the best laptop Apple has to offer, without question. The next-best option would be the M2 Pro. Together, the two chips make for one of the most impressive debuts from Apple in the 2020s.

MacBook M2 Pro vs MacBook M2 Max: Comparison and 6 Key Differences FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What are the M2 Pro and M2 Max chips?

The M2 Pro and M2 Max chips are the next generation of Apple chip technology, offering a significant improvement over October 2021’s M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. These new versions deliver better performance, increased battery life, and more powerful computing power to the MacBook Pro.

What did Apple announce on January 17th, 2023?

Apple released a number of new offerings on January 17th of 2023, including new MacBook Pro models with M2 Pro and M2 Max chips as well as a Mac Mini desktop computer.

When will the MacBook M2 Pro and MacBook M2 Max be released?

The MacBook M2 Pro and MacBook M2 Max hit stores and online on January 18th — the day after the January 17th announcement.

Should I buy the MacBook M2 Pro or MacBook M2 Max?

While both the MacBook M2 Pro and MacBook M2 Max represent the best in pro laptop technology on the market, the M2 Max is the superior build over the M2 Pro. However, it comes at a significantly higher cost.

What is the latest MacBook Pro generation?

After returning to the fourth generation MacBook Pro with more powerful internal specs, Apple has now moved onto the fifth generation of MacBook Pros. The M2 Pro and M2 Max are reserved for this fifth generation.

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