I recently published my review of the MacBook Pro 16 with M2 Max, which Apple released at the beginning of 2023. Now I’ve finally gotten my hands on the less powerful (and less expensive) MacBook Pro 16 powered by Apple’s M2 Pro chip. I’ve run the various benchmarks and done the various tasks, and I’ve even (finally) run the battery into the ground. Today, I’m here to talk to you about how these chips stack up to each other to help you decide which MacBook Pro model is right for you.
Behold, the benchmarks (scroll to the right to see more):
Sixteen-inch M2 Pro models start at $2,499, while M2 Max models start at $3,099. The base M2 Pro model has 16GB of memory and 512TB of storage, while the base M2 Max has 32GB of memory. Bumping that M2 Pro model up to 32GB of memory puts it at $2,899, giving the M2 Max about a $200 premium over the M2 Pro for identical specs. That’s a consistent differential regardless of how you tweak the specs.
If you want to jump up to the M2 Max with 38 GPU cores (which is the one I tested), however, that’s going to be an additional $200 premium. This is the only CPU that can be paired with 96GB of RAM — the 30-core M2 Max model maxes out at 64GB.
I averaged close to 14 hours of nonstop use on the M2 Max model with my workload. I can’t guarantee everyone will get that amount of time, especially since my workload largely involves Chrome tabs, Google docs, and some streaming, but I do think most people will get more out of the M2 Max than they would out of the vast majority of 16-inch laptops on the market.
I averaged closer to 17 nonstop hours on the M2 Pro model. In practice, this means I can use it on battery for two to three days at a time, plugging it in like every so often. While the M2 chips don’t have as massive of a battery life delta that their M1 predecessors did, the M2 Pro — for my personal workload — had around 20 percent more juice to a charge than the M2 Max.
For me, this battery life differential wouldn’t be a dealbreaker. At a certain point, long battery is long battery. I generally use a MacBook Air as my personal computer, which averages me around 13 hours between charges, and I don’t feel that I need more. That said, if you’re really seeking a device that never dies, the M2 Pro may be slightly more attractive to you. For everyone else, it should be another part of the calculus: in addition to paying extra dollars for the M2 Max over the M2 Pro, you’re paying some hours of battery life.
The difference in CPU power between the M2 Pro and M2 Max depends on which model you go for. All 16-inch M2 Pro models have 12 CPU cores. If you go for a 14-inch MacBook Pro, you can get an M2 Pro with 10 CPU cores, but the 16-inch models all have 12 CPU cores, regardless of whether you go for the Pro or the Max.