As you know, Apple has launched its new MacBook Pros with M2 Pro and M2 Max. But one thing we didn’t quite anticipate is just how efficient that Max chip is over its older sibling.
We’ve done the battery test and we were absolutely shocked by the results. We ran the laptop down to 0% three times despite its nigh-endless battery life just to make sure it wasn't a fluke. There’s no stopping the M2 Max chip in the 16-inch MacBook Pro with an average total time of 18 hours and 56 minutes on one charge.
So, how long does it last? And why is it so much more efficient? Let’s take a look.
What are the numbers?
So, as many of you know, we have a pretty sophisticated laptop testing setup here. From your standard array of benchmarks to our very own set of tests, they are designed to give you a clear picture of how it will perform in the real world — rather than just being an arbitrary set of numbers that don’t relate to what you will actually do with your new system.
Our Battery Informant test is the best example of that. On Apple’s website, you see the company tests its battery performance by playing the same video over and over again until it dies. I love watching Apple TV as much as the next person, but that’s not really an accurate view of longevity!
Instead, we open a series of pages (some static, some dynamic, some with video) from popular websites we’ve scraped and stored on a Raspberry Pi; this process continues until the laptop’s battery has run down completely.
I give you all this context, because normally in this situation, the “real” battery life is nowhere near the expectations set by the company’s promises. Not this time. In the 16-inch MacBook Pro, Apple promises “22 hours of Apple TV app movie playback,” and “18 hours of wireless web.”
In our testing, we managed to achieve nearly an astonishing 19 hours on one charge! That is easily the longest lifespan we’ve ever seen, and it raises one big question…
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Battery life (hh:mm)|
|MacBook Pro 16-inch M2 Max||18:56|
|MacBook Pro 13-inch M2||18:20|
|MacBook Pro 13-inch M1||16:32|
|HP Elite Folio||16:21|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 6)||14:45|
|MacBook Air M1||14:41|
|MacBook Pro 14-inch M2 Pro||14:02|
How is this possible?
From our experience of the past M1 Max MacBook Pro, and Tom’s Guide’s glimpse of the 14-inch MacBook Pro with M2 Max, we thought the conclusion would be inevitable: battery life is decent, but the additional power drinks the juice a lot faster than the M2 Pro.
I mean with a vastly bigger and more powerful chipset, even the 96Wh cell in the 16-inch model should get consumed quicker, right? Well, through whatever wizardry is happening under the hood, the M2 Max seems to be far better optimized for battery life.
Unfortunately, we can only make educated guesses based on information we have, along with some data pulled by Creative Strategies. Here are the key reasons we think the M2 Max is a lot more efficient:
- The efficiency cores are faster: going up from 2.0 GHz to 2.4 GHz, that means more tasks will be delegated to these power-efficient cores.
- Better temperature management: From testing, we’ve seen the M2 Max is able to drop temperatures of its performance and efficiency cores quicker than the M1 Max. Doing so means less fan usage, which results in better battery life.
- Load balance has been improved: This one is a little complicated, so let’s break it down. Instead of ramping up specific cores, the better thing to do is balance the workload out across the cores. Both chips do this really well, but it's worth noting that in the case of exporting a 40-minute 4K video, the M1 Max used 80% sustained GPU power across its cores, whereas the M2 Max did so with 60%. That reduced power draw will be a strong contributor to increasing battery life.
So while we were initially shocked at the 16-inch MacBook Pro with M2 Max delivering this astonishing battery life on one charge, when you look into it, it kind of makes sense.
Apple has been the king of stamina since its 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro, and the pedigree continues through all of its chipsets — resulting in a laptop you can get a lot of stuff done on without worrying about your charge while out and about.
The next big step now is the reported move to using a 3nm process in M3, which shrinks the transistors down even further for more cores. Who knows what additional power and efficiency that might bring!
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Jason brings a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a writer at Laptop Mag. 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.