Published Mar 1, 2023 - MacBook Pro M2 is currently the world’s most powerful and efficient chip featured in the MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro. And since Apple switched from Intel to its in-house silicon chips, performance and efficiency in the CPU, GPU, and neural engine now distinguish the Apple devices. But there’s a catch. With the increased power efficiency in the MacBook Pro M2 comes an exceptional price tag, leaving you wondering whether to opt for a MacBook Pro M2 or Pro M1. So, is the M2 chip upgrade worth breaking the bank? Let's discuss.
Apple M1 chip
Apple M2 chip
H.264 and HEVC only
H.264 and HEVC videos and ProRes and ProRes Raw video
Icestorm and Firestorm
Avalanche and Blizzard
Price (Starting Price
$999 (MacBook Air 2020)
$1,199 (MacBook Air 2022)
*Price on Apple Store as of Feb 2023
The MacBook Pro M2 chip is generally 14 percent faster than the MacBook Pro M1 in terms of performance, with an 18 percent faster CPU, a 35 percent more powerful GPU, and a 40 percent faster Neural Engine. Let’s explore a few details.
Fabrication ProcessBuilt using the next-generation 5-nanometer fabrication process, the M2 has 20 billion transistors, while the Pro M1 has only 16 billion, making a 25% difference in performance, favoring M2. All power efficiencies and performance are anchored in this fabrication process.
CPUThe M2 CPU is 18 percent faster than the Pro M1 due to the four high-performance and high-efficiency cores. Although the cores are available on both chips, M2 uses the superior Avalanche and Blizzard cores from the A15 Bionic chip. Contrarily, Pro M1 employs the A14 Bionic chip’s Firestorm and Icestorm cores.
Also, despite the two chips having cores with the same-size instruction cache and data cache (192KB and 128KB respectively) for high performance and (128KB and 64KB respectively) for energy-efficient cores, MacBook Pro M2 has a more significant 16MB shared cache compared to 12MB in the Pro M1.
On the subject of functionality, MacBook Pro M2 running at 3.49GHz accounts for 18 percent better operations, according to Geekbench benchmarks. The chip is 20% faster in multi-core performance compared to its predecessor. In single-core performance, MacBook Pro M2 runs at a 12 percent faster rate than M1 models.
GPUApple now prides itself on exceptional graphics performance. M2 features 25% better graphics than M1 at the same power level and 35% better at maximum power—thanks to its additional two GPU cores.
Additionally, the M2 chip uses an advanced 8-core GPU by default. However, you can upgrade your 8-core GPU to a 10-core GPU for your most graphic-intensive assignments.
Battery LifeWith the greatly improved speeds, one could expect a decreased battery life. But that view doesn’t hold true for the M2. The M2 chip has a double battery efficiency, with the M2-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro 2022 having the most extended battery life of 20 hours of video playback on a single charge. It is followed by the 13-inch Air with a battery lasting 17 hours.
The four energy-efficiency cores also help preserve the battery life by powering moderately intense tasks like browsing. Overall, Apple Silicon chips ensure long-lasting batteries in long-lasting laptops compared to intel chips.
Media EngineDo you edit videos often using Apple’s video format? You have reason to look forward to the MacBook Pro M2 upgrades. With the help of a higher bandwidth video decoder, the chip can support H.264 and HEVC videos.
You can also stream multiple videos in 4K and 8K resolutions powered by M2’s video engines that enable ProRes and ProRes RAW. These features are unavailable in M1.
Unified MemoryWith a 100GB unified memory bandwidth, M2 chips can be a preferred option over their predecessor’s max 68.25 GB. Again, besides the 8GB and 16GB unified memory configurations in Pro M1 and M2 chips, the latter offers an additional 24GB configuration.
Neural EngineIt's hard to ignore a 40% increase in any type of performance? You can expect that upgrade with the improved 16-core neural engine in M2 chips. The MacBook Pro M2 will help in almost all tasks ranging from voice recognition, machine learning tasks, and image processing, all up to a rate of 15.8 trillion operations per second! Notably faster than the M1.
You can also make the most of the M2’s Image Signal Processor for noiseless snapping.
Security FeaturesAmong the Apple Silicon technology improvements, a built-in Secure Enclave is included, doing away with secondary chips. The Secure Enclave enables you to have more secure and faster SSD performance using a storage controller that uses AES encryption hardware. It also controls the touch-sensitive ID.
PriceWhen launching the M2 chip, Apple announced that only the 13-inch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro would feature the chip. In the U.S., the M2-powered MacBook price stands at $1,199 and $1,299, respectively, making them the highest priced MacBooks.
On the other hand, the M1-powered MacBooks retail from $999 to $1,199. Now, here’s the critical question; Is the $200 difference between the M1 and M2 siblings worth it? It really depends on what you're using it for.
The Pro M1 chips are fast enough; why spend $200 more for something else? From the Pro M1 user's standpoint, the MacBook Pro M2 improvements are not as drastic as were previously hyped, at least for the average user.
That said, there are definitely some people who will notice and appreciate the M2 chip upgrades. The M2 chip is definitely worth considering if you're coming from older MacBooks with Intel chips. The overall performance of the M2 is going to feel a whole lot faster and smoother and the newer technology is going to outlast the M1 chip by at least a year, so that may be worth spending a couple of hundred dollars extra.
Video editor veterans would also find the MacBook Pro M2 upgrades more meaningful than other users. The MacBook Pro M2 higher-bandwidth video decoders and the ProRes and ProRes RAW video-supporting engines will transform your experience.
Finally, if your workflow needs are intense with significant storage capacity needs, the M2-powered MacBooks will definitely be a worthy consideration over the M1 MacBooks. The 100GB memory bandwidth and the 24GB unified memory is sure to boost your M2 machine’s capacity.
The MacBook Pro M2 are one of the most powerful laptops in the world with great battery life. They may come with a hefty price tag, but you can save a little more by purchasing a certified refurbished 13-inch MacBook Air or MacBook Pro at Back Market and have the best upgraded MacBook Pro M2 experience at no extra cost. Additionally, you will have a 12-month warranty.
Miguel is always looking for new ways to provide unique perspective on popular tech and has taken his writing to the refurbished industry to promote sustainability. Outside of creating content, you might find him travelling the globe, coaching a fitness class, or cheering on his favorite sports teams (Go Dolphins!)
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