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MacBook Pro 14-inch review (2023): A blessing for creatives

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With its last batch of MacBook Pros, Apple gave its more demanding fans everything they wanted: Tons of ports, lots of power, and genuinely great screens. As usual, the company is following up that major redesign with a straightforward chip upgrade, featuring the new M2 Pro and M2 Max. They’re faster, as you’d expect, but they also deliver a few features power users may appreciate, like 8K video output and support for WiFi 6E.

Once Apple locks in a redesign, it typically doesn’t mess with a good thing (save for complete disasters like the trashcan Mac Pro). So it’s no surprise to see that this year’s MacBook Pro 14 doesn’t look any different than the 2021 model. It still boasts a gorgeous 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display with ProMotion support and a prominent notch housing a 1080p webcam. It has all of the ports you’d actually want, including a MagSafe power connection, three Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, HDMI, a headphone jack and a full-sized SD card slot. And the overall shape of the computer remains relatively flat, an evolution of the long-lived unibody MacBook Pro design.

Under the hood, though, the MacBook Pro 14 has been dramatically upgraded. It can be equipped with Apple’s new M2 Pro chip, which offers up to a 12-core CPU and 19-core GPU, or the M2 Max, which squeezes in a 12-core CPU and 38-core GPU. Much like Intel’s new hybrid processors, as well as mobile chips from Qualcomm, Apple relies on a combination of core speeds for its CPUs (the 12-core chips, for example, have eight performance cores and four efficiency cores). The previous M1 Pro and M1 Max topped out with 10 CPU cores and 16 or 32 GPU cores, respectively.

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2022) side profile showing off ports
MacBook Pro 14-inch (2022) side profile showing off ports

Apple claims the M2 Pro is around 20 percent faster than its predecessor in CPU speeds, and up to 30 percent faster when it comes to graphics. The M2 Max, meanwhile, is up to 30 percent faster than the M1 Max in terms of graphics. We tested the fully-upgraded $3,299 MacBook Pro, which was equipped with the M2 Max chip with 38 GPU cores and 64GB of RAM. It scored around 2,600 points (19 percent) faster in the GeekBench 5 multitasking CPU benchmark, compared to the M1 Max-equipped MacBook Pro 16. It was also 18 percent faster in the GPU-powered GeekBench 5 Compute test and a whopping 60 percent faster than the M1 Max Mac Studio in the 3DMark Wildlife Extreme benchmark.

None Geekbench 5 CPU Geekbench 5 Compute Cinebench R23 3DMark Wildlife Extreme
Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (Apple M2 Max, 2023) 1,970/15,338 71,583 1,603/14,725 18 ,487
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch, (Apple M2, 2022) 1,938/8,984 27,304 1,583/8,719 6,767
Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (Apple M1 Pro) 1,767/11,777 38,359 1,515/12,118 N/A
Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (Apple M1 Max, 2021) 1,783/12,693 60,167 1,524/12,281 N/A
Apple Mac Studio (Apple M1 Ultra) 1,785/23,942 85,800 1,537/24,078 10,020

These are phenomenal results if you’re planning to use the MacBook Pro to its full potential. But I’ll admit, during everyday usage, I didn’t notice any major performance benefits over the previous models. That’s not really a knock against the new computer, it’s more a testament to how much Apple got right last time. Unlike PCs, you probably won’t be gaming too much with your Mac, either, so there’s less of a reason to chase frequent upgrades. On that note, it’s nice to see some modern games with native Mac support. Resident Evil Village easily hits 60fps on the MacBook Pro at full resolution, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the same was true for the M1 models.

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2022) running Resident Evil VillageMacBook Pro 14-inch (2022) running Resident Evil Village
MacBook Pro 14-inch (2022) running Resident Evil Village

If you’re among the folks dealing with large video encoding or high compute jobs daily, though, it may be worth moving up from the last MacBook Pro. It took me 31 seconds to transcode a minute-long 4K clip into 1080p using Handbrake — but the M1 Max MacBook Pro 16 took a full 10 seconds longer. Extrapolate that to longer jobs and you could be saving yourself some serious time. And if you’ve managed to hold out with an Intel MBP until now, it’s definitely time to upgrade — you’ll easily see a night and day difference in speed.

Aside from its performance, the MacBook Pro 14 remains a wonderful workhorse to live with. The MiniLED Liquid Retina display looks fantastically bright, especially when viewing HDR content. Mostly, though, I appreciated the smooth scrolling thanks to Apple’s 120Hz ProMotion refresh rate. The six speaker sound system remains excellent, with crisp and punchy audio that’s leagues ahead of most other laptops. And I remain impressed with the MacBook Pro’s built-in three-mic array. It’s no replacement for a dedicated USB microphone, but it sounds great during video calls.

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2022) keyboard and trackpadMacBook Pro 14-inch (2022) keyboard and trackpad
MacBook Pro 14-inch (2022) keyboard and trackpad

The MacBook Pro’s keyboard is certainly better than the old butterfly models, but I wish Apple was able to deliver more key travel. It’s still great to type on, to be clear, I’m just feeling a bit spoiled from the mechanical keyboards I’ve seen in some gaming laptops. The Pro’s trackpad remains best in class though, with a large surface area and responsive performance. After testing the XPS 13 Plus last year, which featured an attractive yet hard to use trackpad hidden in the wrist rest, I’m even more appreciative of Apple’s clean design. It turns out that being able to feel the difference between the trackpad and the wrist rest is pretty helpful!

Apple is touting better battery life as another major benefit of the M2 Pro and Max chips, and I definitely noticed an improvement. The previous MacBook Pro lasted 12 hours and 36 minutes during our testing, but the new model made it to 15 hours and 10 minutes. That’s a healthy step up, especially if you find yourself stuck on a long flight without any working outlets. Apple says that the new MacBook Pros can reach up to 22 hours of battery life, but take note that figure only refers to the 16-inch model.

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2022) notchMacBook Pro 14-inch (2022) notch
MacBook Pro 14-inch (2022) notch

Just like last time, the 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,999 — a huge leap from the $1,299 13-inch model. I’m still a bit baffled by that MacBook Pro, though. Most mainstream shoppers would be better off with the revamped M2 MacBook Air, while power users might as well bump up to this more powerful 14-inch model. If you’re aiming for something bigger, the 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,499. New gear also means the old models will inevitably go on sale, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the M1 Pro and Max machines if you’re aiming to save some money. Sure, they’re a bit slower, but you could put that extra money towards buying more RAM or storage.

It’s no wonder Apple announced the new MacBook Pros without much fanfare. It’s just a simple spec bump, not the sort of thing most buyers would get too excited about. But for the creative professionals who need the most power possible, it’s another reason to stick with Apple instead of jumping to a PC.

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A Quick Guide to Better CMM Maintenance

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CMM

A coordinate-measuring machine, also known as a CMM, is a specialized piece of equipment common in high-precision manufacturing. It uses coordinate technology to measure and replicate the dimensions of particular objects.

CMMs are a lot more accurate than regular measurement gauges. This characteristic makes them the equipment of choice for quality assurance in certain industries, like aerospace, defense, and medical manufacturing.

Despite being a powerful piece of equipment and the most versatile measuring tool in the metrology industry, CMMs can also be quite delicate. They require the right environment and proper maintenance practices to maintain accuracy and reliability.

The Importance of Proper CMM Maintenance

It’s essential to clean and inspect each part of your machine to ensure it stays efficient and accurate. Preventative maintenance ensures that your CMM remains accurate and performs at its best. It also improves your machine’s longevity.

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Without proper CMM maintenance, you could risk damaging your CMM. Repairs would involve operational delays and additional costs.

CMM Preventative Maintenance Tips

Preventative maintenance practices are ones your team could do by yourselves. It’s best to schedule regular maintenance checks for your CMM daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly. These checks can alert you immediately to possible problems with your CMM.

Remove dust and dirt regularly

Clean and well-maintained air bearings ensure your CMM works as it should. These frictionless and stable bearings help ensure accuracy and efficiency. Dust and dirt can clog your machine’s air bearings, affecting its overall performance.

Aside from your machine’s air bearings, dust could also get into other surfaces and crevices. These tiny particles could affect your machine’s accuracy.

Handle Stylus Tips Properly

The stylus is the tip that makes contact with the object you want to measure with your CMM. Despite this significant role, the stylus can be fragile and require careful handling. Too much force could cause it to bend or break.

Clean your stylus with a cleaning agent and a lint-free cloth. Make sure to remove any residue from workplace materials.

Ensure Good Air Quality

Most CMMs use air bearings, and good air quality is essential to keep them running smoothly. Various air quality issues could affect machine performance and even burn out machine motors.

For air quality maintenance, ask and address the following questions:

  • Do the lines have condensation, oil, or other contaminants?
  • Is the airflow constant?
  • Are you using the proper pressure?

When To Call a Professional

Most preventative maintenance practices are simple enough to be performed internally. However, some issues require professional attention. You can also conduct regular professional maintenance checks to ensure you don’t miss anything.

Below are some procedures that require professional assistance. Many CMM suppliers also offer maintenance services alongside their machinery.

Conducting CMM Training

CMMs are highly specialized pieces of equipment. To handle them properly, your staff needs professional training.

Training courses allow you to get trained by CMM experts on the tools and knowledge necessary within your industry. Regular training sessions also help keep you updated on industry trends and standards.

Sensor Malfunctions

CMM sensors are critical to your machine’s speed and accuracy. They should be professionally inspected and calibrated annually.

Routine sensor maintenance can significantly improve the efficiency and accuracy of your machine. CMM sensors include the following:

  • Scanning probe
  • Single point laser
  • Line laser
  • Electronic touch trigger probe
  • Video camera

Faulty Bearings

Neglected air bearings could cause them to falter in their accuracy and stability. Properly maintained air bearings ensure a smooth, stable, and accurate measurement process.

A professional metrology company can thoroughly inspect your air bearings to prevent further machine damage.

A CMM is a significant investment for any business. Good maintenance practices help your machine last and perform at its best, thus making the most out of this investment.

 

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Nintendo’s discounted Switch game vouchers are back

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Nintendo’s Switch Online service has become a better deal over time, offering more perks than just the ability to play games online. On top of getting access to SNES and NES classics, and cloud save backups (for most games, save a couple dozen), Nintendo announced an even bigger perk yesterday: discounted game vouchers.

All subscribers can buy a two-pack of these vouchers for $99.98, and a huge range of first-party (in other words, typically discount-averse) Nintendo games are looped in. I encourage you to check out the full list, but some highlights include the brand-new Fire Emblem Engage, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe, Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon, Metroid Dread, Splatoon 3, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. Important note: you both have to be a subscriber to buy and use these vouchers.

It’s great that this list is more expansive than Nintendo’s first swing at this deal in 2019. But this perk could actually turn Switch Online into a must-have service because it allows you to pre-purchase up to four sets of vouchers (totaling eight games), and keep them for 12 months from the date of purchase. With $20 in savings with each pair of vouchers, buying four bundles will save you up to $80, assuming that each title normally costs $59.99. If you buy a lot of games, this is a smart way to save a little bit of money on every forthcoming purchase.

I know what you might be thinking: “Can I use one on The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom?” Nintendo has not currently listed the deliriously anticipated sequel to Breath of the Wild, which is set to release on May 12th, 2023. Polygon has reached out to Nintendo to see if it’ll eventually become eligible, but did not hear back in time for publication.

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You can get a free seven-day trial for Switch Online here, and you can easily subscribe to the service directly from the Switch’s eShop (it costs $3.99 per month, $7.99 for three months, or $19.99 per year). However, you can purchase (or gift) a one-year subscription with a digital code via Best Buy for $19.99. With a family subscription that costs $34.99 per year, up to eight Switch accounts can reap the perks of Switch Online.

For players who want all the perks, access to Goldeneye 007 and other N64 and Sega Genesis games, and complimentary DLC for some Switch games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, you’ll need Nintendo’s Switch Online plus the Expansion Pack tier, which costs $49.99 per year for one account, or $79.99 per year for a family subscription.

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Canadian discovery could help batteries last longer

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A chance discovery in a Canadian laboratory could help extend the life of laptop, phone and electric car batteries.

According to scientists from Dalhousie University in Halifax, common adhesive tape in batteries may be the reason many devices lose some of their power while off or not being used, which is a phenomenon known as self-discharge.

“In our laboratory we do many highly complex experiments to improve batteries, but this time we discovered a very simple thing,” Michael Metzger, an assistant professor in Dalhousie University’s physics and atmospheric science department, said in a news release. “In commercial battery cells there is tape—like Scotch tape—that holds the electrodes together and there is a chemical decomposition of this tape, which creates a molecule that leads to the self-discharge.”

The solution is simple, too, Metzger says: replace the polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, plastic tape commonly used inside batteries with something more durable and stable.

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“It’s a commercially relevant discovery,” Metzger said. “It’s a small thing but it can definitely help improve battery cells.”

Metzger and his team have been trying to understand why lithium-ion battery cells in inactive devices tend to lose some of their power and self-discharge, something that has long frustrated consumers and manufacturers alike.

“Every manufacturer of lithium-ion cells in the world wants to make self-discharge as small as possible,” Metzger told CTVNews.ca in a joint statement with graduate student Anu Adamson. “In every battery there is a small rate of self-discharge that slowly drains the battery. This is very inconvenient for users and a big headache for industry.”

The electrodes that power batteries are separated by an electrolyte solution that is usually a form of lithium. After exposing several battery cells to different temperatures, researchers were surprised to see that electrolyte solution had turned bright red when it normally should be clear, which was something they had never encountered. The discovery was made by Adamson and two other students.

Chemical analysis of the red electrolyte solution revealed that at higher temperatures, a new molecule had been created inside the battery through the decomposition of common PET adhesive tape, which is often used to hold components together inside batteries. Strong and lightweight, PET is also frequently used for plastic packaging, drink bottles, clothing fibres and more.

Researchers realized that the red molecule, dimethyl terephthalate, was acting as a redox shuttle, meaning that it can transport electrons between a battery’s positive and negative electrodes, creating self-discharge and depleting power even when a battery is not in use. Ideally, the shuttling of electrons within a battery should only happen when a device is on.

“It’s a very simple thing—it is in every plastic bottle and no one would have thought that this has such a huge impact on how the lithium-ion cells degrade,” Metzger said in the news release. “It’s something we never expected because no one looks at these inactive components, these tapes and plastic foils in the battery cell, but it really needs to be considered if you want to limit side-reactions in the battery cell.”

The findings are outlined in a pair of studies published on Jan. 20 and Jan. 23 in the peer-reviewed Journal of The Electrochemical Society. The researchers are now testing PET tape substitutes.

“Since the PET in the tape is the culprit that creates the redox shuttle, we need to replace it with a polymer that is more stable and does not decompose in the harsh chemistry of a lithium-ion battery,” Metzger and Adamson told CTVNews.ca. “So far, the results look very promising, and we plan to publish a new research paper on improved polymers for lithium-ion battery tapes soon.”

According to the researchers, their work has been attracting interest from “some of the world’s largest computer hardware companies and electric vehicle manufacturers,” which are eager to reduce self-discharge and improve battery performance.

“We visited some of these companies and they are planning to implement more stable polymers in their battery cells,” Metzger said.

In the release, Metzger noted: “One of the engineers said, ‘I heard you guys found out something is wrong with PET tape.’ So, I explained to him that it’s causing this self-discharge and asked him, ‘What are you using in your cells?’ He said, ‘PET tape.'”

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