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Apple MacBook Pro 2023 review (14-inch, M1 Pro): The best gets better

Published Feb 9th, 2023 10:18AM EST
Early 2023 MacBook Pro on a desk.
Christian de Looper for BGR

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The 2021 MacBook Pro redefined the MacBook Pro series, and how Apple approached laptops in general. The laptop finally did away with the approach of putting thinness and minimalism over all else, adding useful ports, an excellent keyboard, and more. Now, two years later, the laptop is due for a refresh — and it got one in the form of the 2023 MacBook Pro.

The 2023 MacBook Pro isn’t as impactful as the 2021 model, to be sure. But that’s arguably a good thing. Apple doesn’t reinvent the wheel — instead iterating on what could well be the best laptop ever released. To that end, the 2023 MacBook Pro is not for those who bought a 2021 model — but if you’re buying a new laptop after more than a few years, you’re getting something even better than before.

After using the 2023 MacBook Pro for a while now, here are our thoughts. Note, we’re reviewing the 14-inch model with an M2 Pro and and 32GB of RAM.

MacBook Pro 2023

Rating: 4.5 Stars
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Pros

  • Great design
  • Good port selection
  • Excellent performance
  • Great battery
  • Stunning screen

Cons

  • Expensive

Apple MacBook Pro (2023) design

The overall design of the 2023 MacBook Pro is exactly the same as the last-generation model — but that’s not a bad thing. The laptop looks and feels great, and has a strong build like MacBook Pro laptops of the past. It’s available in Silver and Space Gray, and we’re reviewing the Silver model.

2023 MacBook Pro TopImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The port selection is mostly the same too — again, not a bad thing. On the left, there are two Thunderbolt 4 ports, along with a headphone jack and a MagSafe charging port. You can also use the Thunderbolt 4 ports to charge the MacBook Pro, if you don’t want to use MagSafe, or when you’re using a dock.

On the right side of the laptop, you’ll find an SD card slot, another Thunderbolt 4 port, and an HDMI 2.1 port. This is a nice improvement, up from the HDMI 2.0 port on the last-gen MacBook Pro.

2023 MacBook Pro RightImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Everything else about the design is the same as the 2021 MacBook Pro. The keyboard deck is still the sleek black look, and there’s still the controversial notch. Like last time, the notch is barely noticeable — and after using laptops with it for over a year now, I don’t mind it at all. I do wish it had Face ID though.

Generally, the 2023 MacBook Pro offers a great design with a strong build. That’s to be expected.

Apple MacBook Pro (2023) keyboard and touchpad

Speaker of things that are the same as the last generation, the keyboard and touchpad of the 2023 MacBook Pro are no different. That’s a good thing, as the 2021 MacBook Pro offered an excellent typing experience.

2023 MacBook Pro KeyboardImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The keyboard on the 2023 MacBook Pro offers a comfortable feel, with good travel, and a distinct clicking feel as you press the keys. There’s also a Touch ID sensor on the top right of the keyboard again, which is quite helpful — it’s much easier to just tap your finger to log in, compared to typing out your password.

The touchpad is also the same — which really means it’s the best touchpad on any laptop today. It’s big and responsive, and offers great precision — it’s amazing how Apple has been able to retain such a lead in this area. Others have come close, but Apple continues to offer the best touchpad experience on any laptop

Overall, the keyboard and touchpad on the 2023 MacBook Pro are both excellent, offering an experience on par with, or better than, any other laptop.

Apple MacBook Pro (2023) speakers

The speakers on the 2023 MacBook Pro are also the same as before. I was very impressed with the speakers on the 2021 MacBook Pro, and I’m still impressed here.

2023 MacBook Pro SpeakersImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The laptop has six speakers to deliver full-range audio, and it achieves that goal. The speakers offer more bass than most laptops and more clarity in the high-end than most — as expected from Apple.

Of course, a great pair of headphones or computer speakers will still sound better. But for day-to-day use, the speakers in the 2023 MacBook Pro remain excellent.

Apple MacBook Pro (2023) display and webcam

The display on the 2023 MacBook Pro is stunning. It’s a Mini-LED display, with a resolution of 3024 x 1964 and a 120Hz refresh rate. The display looks great — it’s crisp, detailed, and smooth. Plus, it gets bright enough for all use, even outside. It also offers excellent color reproduction, making it great for photo and video editing. The display is the same as last generation, but again, that’s a good thing.

2023 MacBook Pro DisplayImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The webcam on the laptop is pretty good too. It has a 1080p resolution, and it’s detailed enough for most use. For professional use — like live-streaming or recording media — you’ll want to get an external webcam. But for video chatting and other casual use, the webcam on the 2023 MacBook Pro is great.

Apple MacBook Pro (2023) performance

Next up is the star of the show — performance. Performance is the main difference between the 2023 MacBook Pro and the 2021 model.

For this cycle, Apple has unveiled the M2 Pro and M2 Max chips. Both the M2 Pro and M2 Max offer more CPU and GPU cores than their predecessors, directly impacting their overall performance.

2023 MacBook Pro NotchImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Our review model on the 2023 MacBook Pro has an M2 Pro chip with 32GB of RAM, and it performs excellently. There is the M2 Max chip as well, but most don’t need that kind of power — the M2 Pro should be more than enough for most users.

In my testing, I used the laptop for basic video editing, audio production, and day-to-day tasks like email, word processing, and so on. I never once ran into any kind of stutter or skip — the laptop was always snappy, responsive, and smooth. I also never really engaged the fans except when benchmarking the laptop.

The benchmark results we achieved confirmed the excellent performance.

GeekBench 5: 1955 single-core, 14906 multi-core

CineBench R23 CPU: 1616 single-core, 14690 multi-core

These results show a marked improvement over the M1 Pro-equipped MacBook Pro we reviewed, but didn’t quite reach the heights of the M1 Ultra Mac Studio. Safe to say, the M2 Pro MacBook Pro is easily one of the best-performing laptops out there.

Apple MacBook Pro (2023) battery

Often improvements in performance mean a hit on battery, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. In fact, the battery life on the laptop seems pretty much on-par with the previous generation.

2023 MacBook Pro LeftImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

So what does that mean? Well, it means ending a full eight-hour workday with over 40% of the battery life remaining, even with heavy workloads and the screen at high levels of brightness. Under lighter workloads, and lower brightness, you could end a work day with more than 50% — and you won’t have to worry about the battery on long flights.

Conclusions

BGR Platinum Award 2022

The 2023 MacBook Pro isn’t necessarily surprising or even that exciting, but it’s exactly what I would have expected. And, it’s not a bad thing that the laptop isn’t exciting — it takes arguably the best laptop ever released, and makes it even better.

You don’t need to buy the 2023 MacBook Pro if you have a 2021 model. But if you’re coming from anything older, the 2023 MacBook Pro will be a huge upgrade for you.

The competition

Apple is in a league of its own right now — and if you’re considering anything else, it’s likely another Apple laptop. The fact remains that the MacBook Pro is only a necessary purchase for those who need something that can handle heavier workloads. Most users should instead buy an M2 MacBook Air, which still offers great performance and battery, in a thinner and lighter laptop. If, however, you do need a great-performing computer, the MacBook Pro is absolutely the way to go.

Should I buy the Apple MacBook Pro (2023)?

Yes. It’s the best laptop available right now.

Christian de Looper Senior Reviews Editor

Christian de Looper is based in sunny Santa Cruz, California. He has been expertly reviewing tech products for more than 8 years, and brings experience in deep technical analysis of consumer electronics devices to BGR's reviews channel.

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