MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro and M2 Max benchmarks — we tested them both and the results are shocking

Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro
(Image credit: Future)

We just tested and reviewed the M2 Pro MacBook Pro, while our sister site Tom’s Guide reviewed the M2 Max version. When we compare the benchmarks, the results are surprising.

While it's true that no matter what spec you pick, you’re going to be happy with your purchase (spoiler alert: we love this laptop), there were some unexpected results that you should know about. Let's see how they compare to one another, and we'll chuck in the standard M2 MacBook Air and M2 MacBook Pro for good measure.

Unexpected results

Shock results come in two of our big benchmarks: Geekbench 5.4 and Handbrake. The former is an industry standard processor test, whereas the latter is a good exercise of those media engines in transcoding 4K video to 1080p. We run these tests multiple times and take an average to be as accurate as we can.

Both the M2 Pro and M2 Max are monstrous in multi-core power — far outpacing any of its nearest competition. But the surprising detail here is that the M2 Pro actually scored higher than the M2 Max.

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Geekbench 5.4 results
Mutli-core score
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro14,965
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Max14,939
M2 MacBook Air (2022)8,919
M2 MacBook Pro (2022)8,911
MacBook Pro 14-inch M1 Pro12,477

As for Handbrake transcoding, the M2 Pro was actually three seconds faster than the M2 Max.

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Handbrake (Video transcoding)
Time (min:sec)
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro4:03
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Max4:06
M2 MacBook Air (2022)7:52
M2 MacBook Pro (2022)6:51
MacBook Pro 14-inch M14:51

Expected results

In more unsurprising news, the SSD speeds in the M2 Max MacBook Pro are faster than the M2 Pro — more noticeably in write speeds, given the increased bandwidth potential.

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BlackMagic SSD (Read/Write) test (in MBps)
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro5,293.3 / 6,168.4
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Max5,319.2 / 6,402.4
Dell XPS 13 Plus4,879.8/ 3,638.1
MacBook Pro 14-inch M15,321.5 / 5,377

Alongside this, the Photoshop benchmark, which utilizes scripts to apply a series of filters and other adjustments to a series of high-resolution photographs in Adobe Photoshop CC, the M2 Pro achieved a score of 988. That is far above the 879 average, but the M2 Max decimates it with a score of 1,199.

Not only that, but we are seeing the additional graphics cores in the M2 Max translate (mostly) into improved framerates in gaming.

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Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm (1920 x 1200)
1920 x 1200
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro56 fps
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Max56 fps
Dell XPS 13 Plus23 fps*
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Rise of the Tomb Raider (1920 x 1200)
1920 x 1200
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro49 fps
MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Max73 fps
MacBook Pro 14-inch M1 Pro39.fps


Of course, we’re talking about synthetic benchmarks here — a set of rudimentary tests that stress certain parts of a laptop to give you a number that doesn’t fully reflect the complete experience you get. However, it is a little eye-opening to see the M2 Pro outperform the M2 Max in both Geekbench testing and Handbrake video transcoding.

Whichever one you pick though, it’s easy to say they are so far ahead of the competition in terms of pure power for any creative pro’s workload. The big decision for you in terms of which one to pick comes in one question: how highly do you hold battery life in your purchase choice?

Jason England
Content Editor

Jason brought a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a writer at Laptop Mag, and he is now the Managing Editor of Computing at Tom's Guide. He takes a particular interest in writing articles and creating videos about laptops, headphones and games. He has previously written for Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.