The M2 Pro MacBook Pro is a beast — but let’s talk about its mediocre aspects, too

MacBook Pro 14 (2023, M2 Pro)
(Image credit: Future)

Can you hear it growling? The M2 Pro MacBook Pro, baring its sharp teeth, is a ravenous monster, devouring its current competition with jaw-dropping performance. After our lab tester put the new 14-inch, M2 Pro-outfitted MacBook Pro through a series of challenging tests, we were impressed with how the M2 Pro chip flexed its processing power, delivering a Geekbench 5.5 score that surpassed 15,000.

In other words, the new MacBook Pro is currently the top dog among laptops, demolishing its rivals like a wrecking ball. (We’ll see if that holds true when the next wave of 13th Gen Intel CPU and AMD Ryzen 7000 Series laptops swarm in.)

The M2 Pro MacBook Pro also crushed our video transcoding test. It downscaled a 4K video to 1080p in just a little over four minutes. It takes the average premium laptop over nine minutes to complete the same task. 

Packed with a 19-core GPU, the M2 Pro MacBook Pro’s graphics performance is even more impressive. Yes, we know that Apple doesn’t care to make the MacBook Pro a gaming rig, but for kicks and giggles, we ran the Rise of the Tomb Raider (1080p, Very High) benchmark on it. Lara Croft kicked ass faster on the M2 Pro MacBook Pro. It delivered a score of 49 frames per second; compare this to its predecessor’s rate (39 fps).

There’s no denying that the M2 Pro MacBook Pro is in a league of its own, and as of this writing, it’s damn-near untouchable. However, like a hater who’s secretly jealous of a starlet’s success, the devilish troll inside me wants to get super nitpicky — almost annoyingly so — to refute stans who believe Apple can do no wrong. So what imperfections did I discover? Stick around to find out.

Its SSD speed is downgraded 

According to its testing, 9to5Mac reported that the 2023 MacBook Pro suffered a performance drop in its SSD speed. When I took a look at the test results we produced, we had the same findings — the SSD speed did take a hit.

M2 Pro MacBook Pro

M2 Pro MacBook Pro (Image credit: Apple)

We don’t have a perfect apples-to-apples comparison because the 14-inch M1 Pro MacBook Pro we tested in 2021 had a 1TB SSD while the current-gen unit we have is packed with a 2TB SSD. But when we pitted both laptops against each other, we discovered that the SSD inside the M2 Pro-powered laptop is, indeed, slower than its predecessor.

On the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test, the 14-inch M2 Pro MacBook Pro delivered a slightly slower read score (5,293) compared to the M1 Pro MacBook Pro’s output (5,321). Why is this happening? Well, as 9to5Mac pointed out, the new MacBook Pro has fewer NAND chips (but at a higher capacity): its predecessor has four while the current-gen model has two. Consequently, the read performance is a hair slower on the M2 Pro MacBook Pro, but not significantly so in my opinion.

9to5Mac also reported that the SSD inside the M2 Pro MacBook Pro suffered a performance dip when it comes to write performance, but we didn’t see this in our test results.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
M2 Pro MacBook Pro (14-inch)M1 Pro MacBook Pro (14-inch)
Blackmagic read score5,2935,321
Blackmagic write score6,1685,377

The display isn’t bright enough

Apple claims that the M2 Pro MacBook Pro has a sustained brightness score of 1,000 nits, and honestly, I’m flabbergasted. Where did the Cupertino-based tech giant get that number? According to our test results, the M2 MacBook Pro doesn’t get a tinge brighter than 465 nits — and that’s with adaptive brightness on or off.

MacBook Pro 14 (2023, M2 Pro)

M2 Pro MacBook Pro (Image credit: Future)

A 465-nit panel really isn’t that bright — its luminance is mid. Of course, it’s not as awful as some of the sub-300 nit displays I’ve seen, but if you’re sitting next to a bright window at an airport, or you’re working on your laptop outdoors during a sunny day, you’d wish that Apple’s 1,000-nit brightness claim was true.

We also tested the M2 Pro MacBook Pro’s display for color accuracy using the Delta-E benchmark. It delivered a score of 0.20 (closer to 0 is better), which is a tinge worse than its predecessor’s 0.19 score. Yes, the difference is negligible, but I thought it was worth noting anyway.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
M2 Pro MacBook Pro (14-inch)M1 Pro MacBook Pro (14-inch)
Peak display nits465 483
DCI-P3 color gamut82.9%77.6%
Delta-E (closer to zero is better)0.200.19

Battery life took a slight hit 

Let’s say a friend hypes up a TV show and begs you to watch it. “The acting is incredible, the story is superb, and the writing is to die for!” However, after watching the first episode with high expectations, you ended up feeling disappointed. It’s not that the TV show is awful — far from it! It’s just that it doesn’t seem to warrant all that saccharine gushing. Had you watched the show with zero expectations, you would have loved it, but because you expected a masterpiece, you ended up being disillusioned.

M2 Pro MacBook Pro

M2 Pro MacBook Pro (Image credit: Apple)

Similarly, Apple set itself up for failure by claiming that its new MacBook Pros deliver up to 22 hours of battery life. I know, I know — “up to” are the operative words here, but still, I was expecting mind-blowing battery runtimes across the board (not just the 16-inch models). As such, I was disappointed to discover that the M2 Pro MacBook Pro only lasted 13 hours and 57 minutes compared to the M1 Pro MacBook Pro’s slightly better runtime (14 hours and 9 minutes). 

This is only a 12-minute setback, but again, Apple set my expectations way too high. In the grand scheme of things, nearly 14 hours of battery life on a beastly laptop is still impressive. However, with “22 hours of battery life” etched into my brain, I was prepared to add the M2 Pro MacBook Pro to a top spot on our laptops with the best battery life page, perhaps even knocking out the reigning champ: the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro with over an 18-hour runtime. 

As it turned out, the M2 Pro MacBook Pro barely snuck into 10th position on our “laptops with the best battery life” page. Boo!

Swipe to scroll horizontally
M2 Pro MacBook Pro (14-inch)M1 Pro MacBook Pro (14-inch)
Battery life13 hours and 56 minutes14 hours and 8 minutes

Bottom line 

Hey, it’s a compliment to Apple if we have to take out a proverbial magnifying glass to spot its imperfections. Like I said at the outset, the M2 Pro MacBook Pro is a performance powerhouse with very few flaws. However, I wanted to sift through the test results with a fine tooth comb to see what I could find.

The most egregious blemish is its “1,000-nit display” not even making it halfway to being a 1,000-nit display. However, if you’re not an on-the-go professional (and you sit in an office with standard lighting), the M2 Pro MacBook Pro’s 465-nit display should be fine.

Other than that, yes, the M2 Pro MacBook Pro’s SSD read performance and battery life took a slight hit, but it’s not significant enough for us to wag our fingers too hard at Apple. At the end of the day, the M2 Pro MacBook Pro is still a badass laptop.

Don’t forget to check out our face-off between the M1 Pro MacBook Pro (2021) and the M2 Pro MacBook Pro (2023)

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!