The M2 MacBook Pro might just be weird in Apple’s line of laptops, but that doesn’t mean you should write it off completely. If you like the 13-inch shape or Apple’s previous design choice, the M2 upgrade might be worth your time.
New M2 chip
The main thing that Apple has changed in this revision is the brain operation. The first-generation M1 chip has disappeared in favor of the higher-end M2 with an 8-core CPU and a 10-core GPU. Although the number of CPU cores has remained unchanged, the GPU gets an additional two cores compared to last year’s model which should help make things move a little faster in graphics-intensive applications.
Apple promises 1.4x improvements in video editing and 1.2x faster photo editing operations compared to the M1 chip. This is a far cry from the huge performance spikes (around 4x) we saw when Apple first introduced its new chips in 2020, but it’s still a welcome step in the right direction (especially considering both chips use the same 5nm architecture) .
In addition to the improved number of GPU cores, the M2 has a dedicated media mechanism with hardware-accelerated playback for H.264, HEVC, ProRes and ProRes RAW. The chip also has video decoding and encoding motors and a dedicated ProRes encoding and decoding motor for professionals recording in that format. This is a big step forward for anyone using their MacBook for video editing.
As part of an improved M2 chip, Apple now offers up to 24GB of RAM as an option when paying, which should help with tasks that require large memory such as editing large RAW photo files or mastering audio projects with lots of channels and extras. Storage options remain the same, with 256 GB available in the base model and up to 2TB that can be selected when paying.
The last MacBook with Touch Bar?
One of the reasons you might opt for the 13-inch MacBook Pro is the long-lasting Touch Bar, which is absent on Apple’s redesigned 14- and 16-inch models. The decision to discard the physical function keys in favor of a context-aware OLED strip that stretches the top row of the keyboard proved to be a split, but fans of this feature can count their lucky stars.
This could really be your last chance to take the MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar, as the revised machines completely reject this feature. Taking the 2022 revision ensures that you have an ARM-based Mac that will continue to be supported in the future. Sure, there are some compelling reasons to opt for the 14-inch model instead, but we’ll get to them later.
Look mom, No Notch!
The screen on the M2 MacBook Pro is identical to the one used on the previous model, which is to say the IPS panel that is under Apple’s “Liquid Retina” brand. It reaches 500 nits of brightness which is enough to see what you are doing in most light conditions. Like all modern Macs with a screen, it supports P3 wide color, True Tone and the quality is “Retina” so distinguishing individual pixels is difficult under normal use.
Although the screen is below the dizzying heights set by the 1421 and 16-inch MacBook Pro models in 2021, there is nothing to talk about. If you hate Apple’s decision to place the webcam module in a rectangular cutout (though that’s not a big deal and you can hide it), then the 13-inch MacBook Pro is the only portable Apple with an M2 chip that lacks a notch.
Even the new MacBook Air can’t be pulled out without a notch treatment.
RELATED: Apple’s new M2 MacBook Air has MagSafe and a better webcam
M2 models get surround sound
In addition to the M2, Apple has made two other real changes to the 13-inch 13-inch MacBook Pro from 2022, with one that added support for Spatial Audio on the built-in speakers. This is largely virtualized and won’t sound as good as listening to Dolby Atmos over head-tracking headphones (like AirPods Pro).
The second change allows the MacBook Pro to run high-impedance headphones using the built-in 3.5mm stereo output.
Everything else remains the same
It’s easier to list the changes Apple made in the 2022 revision than the similarities because virtually everything else stays the same. This includes the case and overall design of the MacBook Pro, storage configurations, display, device weight, used webcam (unfortunately still 720p) and Magic Keyboard.
There are still only two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports, one of which must be used to charge the device (I’m afraid there is no MagSafe either). Finally, battery life remains unchanged with the aforementioned 17 hours of easy use of the “wireless web” in an energy-efficient browser like Safari.
RELATED: Mac users should discard Google Chrome for Safari
What about the M1 Pro and M1 Max?
If you want more power than your MacBook Pro, you should consider the 14 and 16-inch models in 2021. They start at $ 1,999 and $ 2,499, respectively, while the M2 MacBook Pro is a budget option of $ 1,299.
If you’re measuring a 13-inch model, a 14-inch MacBook Pro might make the most sense if you’re looking for an upgrade. In addition to the M1 Pro and M1 Max chip options that provide 10-core CPUs and up to 32-core GPU performance, you’ll get more options when it comes to RAM (up to 64GB) and storage (up to 8TB) if you’re happy to open your wallet.
There are other enhancements, including a premium screen with up to 1600 nits of brightness in HDR content, ProMotion 120Hz refresh rates, better color rendering and a more usable surface (although you’ll have to fight the notch). These machines use a new form factor that seems a little bulkier and more useful, but one that fits the notion of a portable workstation that can chew most of the tasks you throw at it.
Other improvements in the 2021 M1 Pro and M1 Max models include slightly better battery life, MagSafe 3, fast charging (although not all 14-inch models come with a fast-charging charger), six-speaker sound system, HDMI port and SDXC slot memory card.
You will lose the Touch Bar, but you will gain back a series of physical function keys. The Touch ID is still here, so you can quickly authorize payments and sign in with a swipe.
M2 MacBook Pro or M2 MacBook Air?
Perhaps a more appropriate point to compare is the M2 MacBook Air, which has got a completely revamped design that not only looks great, but includes features like MagSafe, Liquid Retina (read: slightly nicer) screen, smaller size, lower weight, better webcam , and more color options (including a stunning dark “midnight” finish).
Of course, there are drawbacks. The MacBook Air is passively cooled, which means there are no fans inside. One of the main points of difference between the original M1 MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models is the inclusion of a fan in the Pro. This allows the laptop to withstand higher loads for longer before thermal damping is established. If you want a more efficient machine, the MacBook Pro can withstand higher CPU and GPU loads longer before performance is limited to protect silicon.
The MacBook Air also comes with a slightly weaker 8-core GPU in its base configuration, which is only $ 100 cheaper than the MacBook Pro M2. You’ll get slightly worse battery life, without the Touch Bar (already a full line of physical function keys), as well as a notch (but a slightly larger screen).
Choose from them based on what’s most important to you: passive or active cooling, physical keys or Touch Bar, MagSafe or USB-C charging, and whether weaker GPUs and shorter battery life are worth compromising on the undeniably modern design feel.
Good time to buy a Mac
You can’t buy the older M1 model in most territories since the 13-inch Macbook Pro with the M2 has been pre-sold, but the M1 MacBook Air is still available as a budget option of $ 999. Whatever you decide, it’s a good time to be a Mac user because the performance improvements achieved by switching to Apple Silicon have had an extremely positive effect on the macOS experience.
If you need more power, you should probably look for an M1 Max processor in the more advanced MacBook Pro 2021, or opt for a Mac Mac in the form of the Mac Studio, the most powerful desktop computer Apple has ever made.