Review: Apple's MacBook Pro 2023 and new Mac Mini make small steps after a huge leap

Daniel Rutledge of Newshub reviews the M2 MacBook Pro and Mac Mini.
A 2023 MacBook Pro. Photo credit: Newshub.

A lot about this year's 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros are the same as the 2021 models, especially on the outside.

But on the inside, there is one major difference - using M2 chips instead of M1 - and a few other little improvements I'll get to shortly.

Along with the latest Apple laptops, new desktops from the company have also been released featuring M2 chips in the new Mac Minis.

I've been using a 16-inch M2 Max MacBook Pro along with an M2 Pro Mac Mini for around two weeks and have found the new devices represent a small step forward following the huge leap we had from Intel-based MacBooks to Apple's own silicon with the M1.

As far as the advantages of the M2 chips make, it's actually difficult for me to test that. I know M2 is more powerful, but to put it to the test I'd really need to get into some hugely demanding 3D animation, or editing a bunch of 8K video tracks at the same time - the sort of stuff I don't do.

Apple says M2 brings 20 percent better CPU performance and 30 percent better GPU performance on the MacBook Pros compared to the M1 equivalents, despite being priced around the same level. Keep in mind those M1 machines were way, way faster than the Intel-based predecessors and much more powerful than most other laptops on the market, too.

For what I've done with the M2 Max MacBook Pro, I've never waited at all and the battery life lasts for well over a day.

I ran CPU testing tool Geekbench on it and got a single core score of 2064 and a multi core score of 15265:

16-inch M2 Max MacBook Pro geekbench test result.
Photo credit: Geekbench / Newshub.

One thing I was able to check was gaming and running Resident Evil Village on this thing was super smooth and awesome. It's easy to connect an Xbox or PlayStation controller to it and wow, this is a cool way to play.

The Liquid Retina XDR display is a gorgeous way to showcase images, whether they be from high-end games or 4K video content - I watched a couple of episodes of The Last of Us in 4K on this and it was just astounding how good it looked.

Beyond the power bump, there are three other major advantages compared to the M1 Pros:

  • HDMI 2.1
    This was weirdly missing on the last edition of the MacBook Pro, but has been rectified. Now you can output 8K at 60fps from one cable, if you have an 8K monitor or TV you can output that too.
  • Wi-Fi 6E
    Although this version of Wi-Fi is fairly rare, it's very, very cool for those lucky enough to have it. If you already have a 6E setup at your home or office, or are looking to upgrade to one soon, rest assured these devices capitalise on it well and give lightning fast internet speeds.
  • Bluetooth 5.3
    I was unable to test how this is different from previous versions of Bluetooth - but had no issues with Bluetooth connections. It's again probably a good future-proofing feature for when more 5.3 enabled devices are out and about.

As for the new M2 Mac Mini, this is basically like the MacBook Pros but with no screen and no inbuilt keyboard.

A 2023 Mac Mini with a Logitech mouse.
A 2023 Mac Mini with a Logitech mouse. Photo credit: Newshub.

If you already have a display, keyboard and mouse - whether they be Apple products or from a third-party like Logitech - this is a brilliant option and comes surprisingly cheap, all things considered.

The M2 Pro version offers four Thunderbolt ports as well as HDMI 2.1 and is benchmark testing better than even the M1 Max on CPU - it's a nice step up.

If you want a super powerful new Apple computer and don't need the portability of a laptop, the Mac Mini is something you should seriously consider. They start at $1099, whereas the M2 MacBook Pros start at $3699. You could buy a really great monitor, keyboard and mouse combo for what you'd save going for a Mac Mini instead.

The 2023 16-inch MacBook Pro and Mac Mini.
The 2023 16-inch MacBook Pro and Mac Mini. Photo credit: Newshub.

In summary, the M2 range of Pro and Mini devices Apple has just released offer incremental power bumps over the M1 range, along with a few other improvements that will be minor to most users.

It's difficult to recommend shelling out for one if you bought an Apple silicon powered device within the last two years.

But if you're upgrading from an older device, getting M2 over M1 is a no-brainer. It's a great way to future-proof your computer and compared to an Intel-powered Apple device, these things will absolutely blow you away with how fast they are, the demanding tasks they can handle with ease and the number of hours of battery life you get from them.

Even though they're not as huge a leap forward as the models that came before them, the latest MacBook Pro and Mac Mini devices provide a pleasing step forward for what was already an incredible set of computers.

Newshub was supplied a 16-inch M2 Max MacBook Pro and M2 Pro Mac Mini for this review.