The Most Expensive 14” Laptop! – Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2023) Review

I’ve got Apple’s maxed out MacBook Pro 14 laptop here, which costs a whopping $6300 USD! It’s got the highest version of their M2 Max chip with 96 gigs of memory and 8TB of SSD space! Crazy stuff, but is it actually worth spending this much money? I actually swapped over to it for a whole week and I’ve been using it for about 6 months and I’ve even taken it with me on an international trip from Australia to Canada for LTX. So let’s find out if the MacBook is worth it. Battery life is of course the major

area where the MacBook dominates compared to all other laptops with Intel or AMD processors that I’ve tested. The MacBook Pro 14 almost lasted for 12 and a half hours in the YouTube video playback test, easily ahead when compared to all other 14” laptops tested. And that’s honestly the main reason why I took it with me on that trip to Canada, because I knew that I would have a pretty good chance of the battery lasting on my 14 hour flight, and it did an excellent job. The Arm architecture used by Apple’s M2 is just super efficient.

It may not offer the best raw CPU performance, but it depends on the workload. I mean, it’s close to the ASUS ROG Ally in Cinebench, actually

behind in single core, and that’s a smaller handheld gaming PC, while all the other 14 inch laptops I’ve tested this year were scoring better. But M2 really shines when it comes to performance while running on battery power. It’s scoring the same with the charger disconnected, which I’ve only ever seen from Apple laptops. It’s much closer to Lenovo’s Legion Slim 5, a cheaper but bigger 14 inch laptop, while most of

the other 14 inch laptops get left in the dust here. To me, these are the main benefits that Apple offers. I only use laptops when traveling, so I appreciate the portability and battery life. But it also has plenty of performance in the applications I use day to day to make these videos. The MacBook does much better in content creator focussed tasks, beating out most of the 14 inch AMD and Intel laptop competition. And just speaking anecdotally, video playback felt smoother in Premiere when I edited one of my videos compared to my MSI Z17. Not to

mention the MacBook is lighter compared to those other 14 inch laptops too. It’s also thinner and smaller, further increasing its portability compared to Windows alternatives. The solid metal build feels exceptional. There’s no flex to the lid and the keyboard deck barely moves when pushing hard. It just feels great, and on the Windows side only Razer laptops come close. There’s an indent on the front for opening, one finger opening is easy, and there’s just a satisfying snap when you close the lid. The feet underneath could be a bit more grippy, on some surfaces it’s too easy

to slide around with minimal force. The screen is another area where the MacBook does well. It just looks great with high color gamut, perfect contrast, and good brightness. According to the specs, 500 nits is for SDR content, while HDR can sustain 1000 nits and peak at 1600, but I’m not able to test that. Response time is still an area where Apple suffers, even with the 120Hz refresh rate and ProMotion enabled. But I mean it’s not a gaming laptop, so ultimately I don’t think this matters a lot. It appears to only be slightly faster on average

compared to the older MacBook Pro 16, but that older model’s slowest transition was 67ms. In plain english, the newer 14 inch model is more consistent and looks clearer than the older model when scrolling through text or dragging windows around, despite them appearing close here. The screen is glossy, but I didn’t find reflections quite as annoying and obvious as Lenovo’s Legion Slim 5 with 14 inch OLED screen that I recently reviewed. There’s a 1080p camera above the screen in the middle. There’s no FaceID despite the notch, but I can’t say the notch bothered me at all.

Here’s how the camera and microphones look and sound, and this is what it sounds like while typing on the keyboard. I thought the keyboard was unimpressive. It works fine, but it’s nothing special. I spent hours using it to type up these articles on our website on my trip to Canada. Again, no problems in terms of battery life, but by that point I would have preferred almost any other laptop keyboard. Personally I prefer something with more key travel that feels clickier, but I get that they’re limited in what they can do with a thinner laptop

design like this. The white backlighting looks good at least, it’s nice and even and lights up all keys and secondary functions. The touchpad on the other hand was awesome. One of the best I’ve ever used out of any laptop. It’s super smooth and just feels accurate to use. There’s also a fingerprint scanner in the power button, which is fast and accurate. There are front facing speakers on either side of the keyboard, and they sound amazing, easily the best speakers from any of the 35 plus laptops tested this year. They’re clear at full volume and the

bass sounds excellent. Port selection is decent, with Thunderbolt 4 ports on both sides, HDMI 2.1 and SD card slot. I know USB Type-A is old, but that would have been nice as so many devices still use it, and it’s thin to fit Ethernet. I’ve been using the TS4 dock from CalDigit for this, because it provides 2.5 gigabit ethernet, plus a bunch of other ports I can only ever dream of fully utilizing. I’ve actually used the older TS3+ for years with my MacBook Air, but the faster ethernet speeds with the newer TS4 were important to me

as I edit video off a NAS. So I’ll leave a link to this in the description. You can charge with any of the three Type-C ports, plus they all have DisplayPort support for connecting a screen. The included 96 watt charger isn’t that big compared to what you get with other laptops though. The power cable uses MagSafe, which in theory means it easily disconnects if someone trips on the cable. Unfortunately this didn’t work for me when I needed it the most. I was sitting at my desk while writing the script for this video and I had

the laptop off to the side. I turned my chair to the left to get something on this side and the arm of the chair hooked around the cable going into the MacBook. I didn’t realize at the time and long story short the MacBook came crashing down to the floor. The cable only really easily disconnects if you pull it up or down, but pulling it from a sharp angle or directly out was harder to remove. Luckily it still appears to be in perfect condition, so it survived my unintentional drop test, granted I do have carpet on

the floor. Getting inside requires removing 8 P5 screws, the 4 down the front are shorter than the rest, and the lid comes off by pulling it towards the front. In 200 plus laptops, Apple is the only company I’ve seen use these pentalobe screws, but the iFixit kit I use, link below the video, has the right bit. As is always the case with the MacBook, the layout looks super clean, but everything is soldered and cannot be upgraded, so make sure you pick the right hardware you need with the link below, because you can’t change it. It

only gets half a point in upgradeability for the fact that we can open the bottom panel at all, same as last year’s larger MacBook Pro 16. Other modern 14 inch laptops allow us to change Wi-Fi, memory, and storage. At least the speeds from the 8TB SSD are excellent, which you’d expect given that’s a $2000+ upgrade – yikes. The speeds from the SD card slot were very good, but the card sticks out quite a bit, so be careful not to bump it. Wi-Fi speed was at least faster compared to the older Pro 16, but it’s still

not particularly amazing when compared to most other laptops out there. I mean MSI’s ultra budget $500 laptop does better here, while some of our other 14 inch laptops were way faster. Now that said, this isn’t that far behind gigabit speed, which honestly is plenty for most real people in everyday workloads. Especially if they don’t have Internet connections that are faster than gigabit anyway. It’s just not the best if you need to do big file transfers like I do when editing videos off my NAS. Let’s check out thermals next. There are two fans inside which push

hot air out the back, but there aren’t any holes for intake underneath. The bottom panel is just a solid sheet of metal, but there are holes for ventilation on both the left and right sides. Day to day, the only time I noticed the fans was if I was doing something resource intensive, like exporting a video, but even then it’s nowhere near as loud compared to the gaming laptops I normally test. Most of the time it was completely silent and cool to the touch. Even with a CPU stress test running for an extended period it didn’t

feel hot, just a little warm, and that goes for underneath too, so no problems using it on your lap as your legs won’t block any air intakes. Now obviously this thing isn’t designed with gaming in mind, but it’s meant to have a decent GPU, so let’s see what it can do. I measured 77 FPS in Shadow of the Tomb Raider at max settings 1080p with the game’s built in benchmark, certainly nothing special compared to far cheaper laptops with Nvidia or AMD GPUs inside, but hey, it’s 60% faster compared to the M1 Pro I tested in

the MacBook Pro 16 a couple of years ago. These days, there are actually quite a few games that are more than playable on MacOS, whether that’s due to native support, Rosetta 2 or the newer game porting toolkit. The main point is, some gaming is possible in supported titles, but don’t expect the experience to be as good as a Windows laptop. And let’s be real, you could spend half even half the half the amount of what this thing costs on a Windows laptop and get a far better experience in most games. But then again, Apple products

aren’t exactly known for offering the best value. The fact is, pretty much no one needs this maxed out version of the MacBook Pro 14, at least in my opinion. I really think most people would be much better suited with either the entry level specs or mid-range specs. I think there’s just very few people that are actually going to be pushing the hardware to the limit to take full advantage of this thing. And if you will be, then you’re one of the few that knows that you need it, so in that case I guess you just

might need to spend $6000. But unfortunately I can’t fairly compare this thing against a lower specced version because I just don’t have one. So no apples to apples testing here… Look, at the end of the day, this is one of the best laptops I’ve tested in terms of what makes a great everyday laptop. That is good battery life, good performance while running on battery, a nice looking screen, solid build quality, all while remaining portable. The main thing that would prevent me swapping over to it completely is just stupid dumb stuff like only affects me and

no one else. Stuff like the Mac version of Microsoft Excel not properly doing the gradients in my graphs right, so they just look like garbage when I export them and put them in videos like this. So just really stupid edge case stuff that is probably only important to me. I was starting to get used to the software even though I’ve been using Windows for 20 years, so I think I could swap over to it if I was able to fix some of those other random issues. Oh, and shout out to Nick from Gear Seekers who

got me onto the BetterSnapTool, which lets you easily snap windows like in, well, Windows. Now don’t get me wrong, the MacBook is nice but it’s not perfect. Nothing in life is, there’s always compromises. The main downsides for me include the “meh” keyboard, no upgrade options and high price tag in general, but more specifically the higher price around upgrading the SSD. Sorry, but $2200 USD to go from 1TB to 8TB is actually insane. Sure, 8TB of storage isn’t cheap, but in the Windows world we’re looking at less than half that cost, you could upgrade at any

time, and you could sell your old SSD. There are certainly other 14” laptop options with similar performance to Apple’s M2 Max. Check out this one next to see how AMD’s Ryzen 9 processor compares in a bunch of workloads! These are the most expensive Apple and Windows 14” laptops, so I’ll see you in that one next.

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