The new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros have arrived, and in almost every way, they’re a big improvement over the 2021 models. They have better graphics, longer battery life, and faster connectivity. They look the same on the outside, but the internal upgrades are real.
But there is one aspect of these machines that could be worse than the original models from 2021 – and it’s an important aspect. I’m talking about heat, and lots of it.
Here comes the heat
Since then, efficiency has been an important selling point of Apple Silicon. It feels amazing how quiet and cool the M1 Macs ran, despite having great performance and battery life. These are all benefits of having a more efficient chip that creates less hot air.
The M2 didn’t play out the same way though. In the fanless MacBook Air, the M2 did indeed provide some extra performance, but at the cost of extra heat. When running more rigorous benchmarks, I saw internal temperatures as high as 108 degrees Celsius on my own review unit. That’s too hot to get a laptop safely. Other laptop manufacturers limit the CPU temperature at 100 degrees Celsius, but devices rarely get even this hot. The fact that Apple doesn’t have a similar limitation on the M2 chips is a concern, and a long, demanding workload is a concern. It was a similar situation with the M2 on the 13-inch MacBook Pro, despite having active cooling.
But these are not necessarily laptops done for the more demanding types of tasks. Therefore, most people who use their M2 MacBook Air will not often be in that situation. But the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros are different. These machines are intended almost exclusively for those who need the extra performance that creative applications require.
Although I haven’t tested them myself yet, I expect the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros to run a bit hotter this time around for the same reason the M2 MacBook Air did.
The technology behind the technology
I have yet to test these machines myself, and I want to make that clear. I hope to support this with my own temperature measurement soon, but the reason for this expectation is related to the technology behind the new M2 Pro and M2 Max chips.
The new chips are based on the same chip architecture as the base M2. As Apple calls it, “second generation 5nm,” which sounds fine. At least, on paper. But think about what the could that was, they are more of a stopgap measure than a true evolution.
The production problems surrounding the 3nm TMSC chips have been well documented, and the M2 Pro and M2 Max appear to have been based on them at one point. The 3nm chips would be more efficient, allowing Apple to get the performance gains it wanted without the extra heat. There were even some rumors that the new MacBook Pros would jump up to 4nm TSMC, like the A16 chip in the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max. Instead, what Apple ended up releasing here is based on the same 5nm process node as the original M1 Pro and M1 Max.
And again, we know how these perform with the base M2 chips in terms of efficiency. It’s not that they are inefficient – far from it. But they are overclocked chips that build a
So yes, the claimed 20% in improved CPU performance and 30% better graphics over previous models is probably true. Apple is adding more cores to the CPU and GPU, and has increased the base clock speed – and boom, there’s your performance bump. And from what I’ve seen, that performance has been confirmed. However, none of the early reviews I’ve seen have measured CPU temperature. What that means, in the end, could be more nimble in tasks like rendering long videos.
Again, that’s all
Don’t get me wrong – there’s so much to love about these new MacBook Pros. And if you’re coming from an ancient laptop, an old MacBook or Windows, there’s very little to complain about. But for me, the release of the M2 was really exciting when it came out on the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro last year – and it’s a similar story here. When we finally get to the 3nm