MacBook Performance: Get the Most Out of Your Mac

Key Points

  • The Macbook series of laptops replaced the Powerbook.

  • Apple switched from Intel-based chips to their own chipset.

  • Macbook performance improved when Apple switched to their own chip.

  • There are a number of ways to improve your Macbook performance.

Efficiently processing information and completing tasks is essential for both personal and professional success in today's fast-paced and interconnected world. When it comes to efficiency, Macbook performance consistently outperforms its competitors. The integration between its hardware and software makes for a seamless and highly responsive computer experience.

From boot-up to application launch times, Macbook performance is unmatched. Performance directly impacts productivity, efficiency, and success. A slow or unresponsive computer causes frustration, hindering your ability to complete important tasks. This is why many professionals use Macbooks and Mac products. Macbooks reliably function with a wide range of customizability.

Whether working on a demanding project or simply enjoying some entertainment, Macbooks get the job done. 

A Brief History

Apple is best known for its iPhone, but the company has been revolutionizing the tech industry since the 1970s. In 2006, it introduced the Macbook Pro as a replacement for the PowerBook G4 which quickly became a staple in the company's lineup of laptops. It was eventually split up into different categories such as Macbook, Macbook Pro, and the Macbook Air.

The MacBook Pro has undergone several design and hardware changes over the years. Each new iteration improved upon its performance, increased storage capacity, and added additional features such as Touch ID and the Touch Bar. The MacBook Pro has also switched from PowerPC processors to Intel processors before switching to Apple's custom ARM-based processors.

In 2016, the MacBook Pro received its biggest design overhaul with the introduction of a thinner and lighter form factor, a Touch Bar in place of the function keys, and a Touch ID sensor for quick and secure authentication.

Since then, the MacBook Pro has continued to be a popular choice for creative professionals such as photographers and video editors. Its powerful hardware, intuitive software, and high-resolution displays offer everything creative professionals could want.

With its combination of performance and portability, the MacBook Pro became an iconic part of the Apple product lineup, widely regarded as one of the best laptops on the market today. 

Now, Apple is upping the ante once again with its own system on a chip.

Worker uses MacBook on lap

The M2 Chip

As previously mentioned, integration sets Apple apart from its competitors. Apple took integration to a new height in November of 2020 when it initiated its move away from Intel-based chipsets to its own proprietary chipsets. These M-series chips, beginning with the M1, come equipped on all Apple products from the Macbook Pro to the Mac Mini. When 2022 strolled around, the M2 chip was released and was shortly followed by the M2 Pro and M2 Max in January 2023.

Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Technologies said of the system on a chip, “Only Apple is building SoCs like M2 Pro and M2 Max. They deliver incredible pro performance along with industry-leading power efficiency. With an even more powerful CPU and GPU, support for a larger unified memory system, and an advanced media engine, M2 Pro and M2 Max represent astonishing advancements in Apple silicon.”

The M2 chip built upon the M1's successes and brought Macbooks to new heights. The M2 chip represents a significant step forward for Apple's computer systems, ensuring Apple remains at the forefront of technology and innovation. The M2 Pro and Max are boasted as the most powerful and efficient laptop chips, coming to the 14 and 16” Macbook models first.

The M-series chips introduce Apple’s “System on a Chip” design that integrates multiple key components that other brands manufacture separately. These integrated components, such as the CPU, GPU, RAM (a component Apple refers to as unified memory), SSD controller, and much more make Apple computers more efficient machines than non-Apple products.

The M2 Pro and Max outshine the original M2 chip in many ways.

M2 Pro

The biggest improvement from the base M2 chip is the 12-core CPU, 19-core GPU, 32GB of unified memory, and over 40 billion transistors. The base M2 version maxed out with only a 10-core CPU and only up to 24GB of unified memory. This Pro version of the chipset is twice as powerful as the base model M2 chip and 20 percent stronger than its M1 counterpart.

Handling heavy workloads in applications such as Adobe Photoshop or compiling code has never been faster or more fluid. The M2 Pro features Apple’s 16-core Neural Engine that’s capable of processing 15.8 trillion operations per second. 

M2 Max

While the Max version of the M2 silicon chip comes equipped with the same 12-core CPU as the Pro version, it puts more emphasis on its GPU. 38 cores within its GPU and up to 96GB of unified memory set it apart from its counterparts, making it a monster of a chipset.

Computers running this chipset utilize Apple software such as Cinema 4D up to six times faster than those running an Intel-based CPU and 30 percent faster than the previous M-series generation. The bandwidth clocks in at 400GB/second, double that of the M2 Pro.

MacBook sits on home office desk

Which Chipset To Get In Your Macbook

The ultimate question comes down to the M2 Pro or the M2 Max: Which one do you need? First things first, if you’re still using a Macbook from 2021 and it’s performing just as well as when you bought it, there’s no need to upgrade. Besides the M2 chipset, the two laptop models are similarly designed.

The M2 Max is for professionals working with GPU-intensive programs such as 3D graphic rendering for video game design. The Max’s GPU is its biggest advantage over the M2 Pro.

If video-editing is your thing, save the money and opt for M2 Pro Macbooks. Video-editing relies on CPU power and the two chipsets are identical in that department. This chipset is ideal for students who use computers for a variety of tasks, none of which are too demanding.

Macbook Pro 16 2023

Apple’s flagship laptop has undergone some changes, making it the most powerful laptop on the market aimed at professional users who require top-of-the-line performance, graphics, and storage capabilities. While it’s now equipped with Apple's M2 Pro or M2 Max, it’s overall the same exterior design as its 2021 counterpart.

Its inner-makings offer cutting-edge power and efficiency thanks to Apple’s new system on a chip. The Macbook Pro 16” model equipped with the M2 Max is nothing short of a technological wonder. Its standout performance truly lies in its battery efficiency. Whether in a constant state of use or only periodically under stress from heavy workloads, the Macbook Pro 16’s battery surpasses its predecessors.

Fifteen hours doesn’t sound like a long time, but when you’re continuously conducting intensive tasks without a charge, 15 hours is an eternity. At the very least, it’s longer than many of its competitors and only needs to charge for 90 minutes to get a full charge.

Beyond that, it’s a behemoth of a laptop that stands out as the Macbook with the best performance. Video editors and photographers won’t notice a single stutter when using its 3456 x 2234 display for Adobe Premiere Pro to edit 4K videos. The M2 Max allows the 2023 Macbook Pro 16 to handle any workload with ease.

There are versions of the Macbook Pro 16 equipped with the M2 Pro instead of the M2 Max, making it more affordable. The cheapest iteration with the M2 Max is over $3,000, while the cheapest configuration with the M2 Pro is $2,500.

Overall, Macbook Pros are incredibly customizable, capable of being configured to fit any needs. Unfortunately, when it comes to acquiring more RAM, newer Macbook models don’t allow for RAM upgrades. This requires you to have a little foresight and future-proof your Macbook by purchasing a model with enough memory to suit your needs. If you don’t need as quite as powerful of a GPU, opt for a Macbook 16 with the M2 Pro.


Luckily, the Macbook Pro comes in multiple sizes with the 16” model being the most expensive. However, if you don’t want to shell out the money for that, the 14” model is a suitable alternative. It’s comparable to the larger version with the same exact ports and screen resolution.

Like the 16”, The Macbook Pro 14 comes with three Thunderbolt 4 ports and one HDMI port. Its display reaches a resolution of 3024 x 1964 with a refresh rate of 60Hz. The Macbook 16 is a powerful machine, but the Macbook Pro 14 is overkill for most users.

Black and white image of MacBook

Macbook Air M2 2022

The first MacBook Air was released 14 years ago with a unique wedge-shaped design. Apple boasted it as the sleekest and fastest laptop at the time. It quickly climbed the ranks, becoming Apple’s most popular laptop. Times have changed and the Macbook Air is changing with them. While this ultra-thin laptop (11 mm) loses its unique wedge-shape, it easily becomes the most powerful ultra-thin laptop with the new M2 chips. This is the biggest update the Air has ever received.

The Macbook Air M2 model is now consistent with the Macbook Pro line of laptops, exhibiting the same thickness from front to back. This sleek and powerful laptop offers an updated display, a longer battery life, and entirely new hardware. With its beautiful design, fast processors, and intuitive operating system, this laptop is worlds apart from its predecessor.

One of the Air’s standout features is its stunning display that is brighter than its M1 version, coming in with 500 nits. This makes it easier to work outdoors. Its high resolution and vivid colors are markedly better than its 13” Macbook Pro counterpart.

The 13.6 display is only slightly larger vertically, but it’s a noticeable difference for those that open multiple windows regularly. It’s less cramped and easier to work with. The 2560 x 1664 resolution provides an immersive viewing experience for everything from streaming movies to creative work.

Under the hood, the MacBook Air comes equipped with 8GB of RAM that’s configurable to 24GB, 256GB of storage that’s configurable to 2TB, a built-in 1080p webcam, two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, and a return to MagSafe charging so tripping over the charging cable doesn’t brick your device. All of this and it weighs under three pounds. The new M2 chip allows Macbook Air users to multitask with demanding applications easily.

Unfortunately, all the new updates come with an updated price tag. The new Macbook Air costs as little as $1,100, but the premium models start at $1,500. Previously, a Macbook Air could be purchased for less than $1,000.

How To Check Mac Performance

Is your Mac running slower than you’re accustomed to? When you need to find the source of lag, there are a few ways to monitor your Mac’s performance and even improve it. First, check the Activity Monitor: a built-in application that gives you an overview of your Mac’s processes. This includes everything from your RAM utilization to network usage.

To find the Activity Monitor on your Mac, simply go to Utilities and click “Activity Monitor.” You choose which processes to monitor from there. Your options are CPU, Memory, Energy, Disk, Network, and Cache. Furthermore, you choose how much information is displayed.

When looking at the CPU pane, pay attention to the CPU Load graph. This shows the percentage of your CPU being used. When it consistently reaches 60 percent, look for hidden background processes and close them all. Delete them if possible.

Two MacBooks with colorful backgrounds

Memory is crucial for optimal computer performance. Check your memory speed and usage in Activity Monitor, saving a lot of guesswork when your computer is running slower. Pay attention to the Memory Pressure graph because if there’s a lot of yellow and red in there, it’s time to upgrade your Mac’s RAM sticks. Either replace them with new, identical ones or upgrade to more and faster memory.

Computers often run slower when applications require more memory. Alternatively, you might be in need of more disk space. MacOS helps allocate storage space in order to improve your Mac’s performance. Go into System Settings and in the “General” menu storage recommendations are listed. MacOS stores unnecessary files in the Cloud off of your physical computer or allows you to delete them.

It’s important to check the system requirements of every application you download and run because they’re all limited by the processor or graphics card available to them. If you’ve exhausted all possibilities and found you have plenty of RAM and there aren’t any hidden background processes, this is the place to check. Simply uninstall the application and don’t use it until your Mac meets the minimum system requirements.

How To Improve Performance

Computers are no different from cars. They require regular check-ups to keep them in tip-top shape and they are upgradeable. Whether that’s upgrading the hardware or software, don’t neglect your computer. It's easy to bring your Mac from stock to stunning with some simple clicks of the mouse.

Many things affect Macbook performance. Luckily, Apple makes it easy to troubleshoot and monitor performance metrics.

Keep Your Mac Up-To-Date

Keeping macOS updated better equips your Mac with better compatibility and advanced features, helping it run optimally. As a general rule, regularly check for system updates. Updates fix bugs in the system that slow down your Mac, helping with your computer’s stability. In order to keep your system updated, click the Apple icon at the top left of the display and select “About This Mac.” From there, click on another series of buttons to check for updates and install them.

Not only does this keep your Mac running smoothly, it keeps it better protected from malicious software and users. Apple computers are commonly known as security powerhouses that don’t receive as many viruses as Windows computers. Don’t become the exception to the rule by skipping out on a system update.

Worker holds MacBook under arm

Clear Cache Files

Everything you do on your computer gets saved in a folder somewhere within its cybernetic cityscape. Every click, website, task, and application is stored in order to make your computer run faster. Unfortunately, the more that gets stored away, the more encumbered your computer becomes. To avoid this, find the folder labeled “~/library/caches,” select the caches you don’t need, and move them to the trash.

Furthermore, clearing the cache removes stored information from websites you visited and files you downloaded, increasing privacy and improving security. Regularly keep up with this task and your Mac is sure to run as smoothly as a newly purchased Mac.

Manage Startup Applications

It’s often overlooked, but selecting which items load when your computer boots up creates a smooth user experience. This helps your computer start up faster, instantly opening programs and making your computer available to use immediately instead of waiting for all of the programs to load fully.

Find the “System Preferences” menu and navigate to “Login Options” to change the “Login Items.” This requires your password and a few confirmation prompts. Simply click the boxes for items you do and don’t want to boot along with your computer. This is a much cheaper way to boost your Mac’s performance than upgrading the RAM or something else financially intensive.

Declutter That Desktop

Albert Einstein once said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” Nobody is telling you to keep your desktop clear of icons, but when you’ve exhausted all other possibilities for a slow-performing Mac, reevaluate how your desktop looks.

If it’s filled with folders and applications from edge to edge, it might be time for a little spring cleaning. Freeing up space on your desktop frees up valuable system resources your Mac utilizes. Consolidate files into fewer folders, take advantage of Apple’s Stacks, and add frequently used applications to the dock.

Furthermore, a less cluttered desktop improves organization, making you more productive when working. A more organized desktop reduces stress, improving the user’s mental state.

MacBook, iPhone, and AirPods on a keyboard

Upgrade RAM

RAM is a crucial component of all computers. Users frequently upgrade in order to run certain programs or video games. A computer with more RAM handles more demanding tasks and runs multiple programs simultaneously without a struggle. More RAM makes playing high-quality video games and editing large videos smoother. Unfortunately, not all Macbook Pro models allow for RAM upgrades, making purchasing one a hefty commitment.

Mackbooks from 2008 to 2012 have removable RAM sticks, but RAM can’t be swapped out of any Macbook Air.  If your model is upgradeable, more memory solves most performance issues. However, it requires some manual labor to swap out. If you’re uncomfortable doing it yourself, it’s best to bring your device to a professional.

How Do You Like Them Apples?

Integration is Apple’s philosophy. From hardware and software working together to its intuitive operating system, Macbooks integrate everything. This creates a cohesive ecosystem. Whether you’re on a Macbook, iPhone, or iPad, your devices sync together, allowing you to bring up documents on your phone that were saved on your laptop. Now, its system on a chip takes integration to a new level.

When you work in a fast-paced field that requires immense amounts of output, the 2023 Macbook 16 delivers everything you could possibly require. If you’re a student in need of a lightweight yet powerful laptop, the Macbook Air handles any demanding tasks with ease. Apple continues to revolutionize the computing world with its innovation.