Right up until 2020, Apple was partnered with Intel to deliver lightweight and powerful laptops. However, they could never compare to the performance of other laptops on the market rocking high-powered Intel or AMD CPUs.
Apple’s decision to make a change led to the development of an in-house ARM processor named M1. The M1 brought colossal performance and efficiency improvements.
Given that success, Apple introduced M2, the next generation.
This article will showcase everything we know so far about Apple’s M2 chip, including its release date, specifications, price, and benchmarks.
Let’s jump right into it!
- July 16, 2022: Reworked and removed outdated information. Added a bunch of new benchmarks with M2 devices and more.
- June 28, 2022: Added possible new M2 devices.
- June 20, 2022: Added release date for the 13-inch MacBook Pro.
- June 14, 2022: Grammar fixes.
- June 8, 2022: Added detailed specifications for the M2 CPU.
- June 7, 2022: Added the announcement of the M2 processor in the 13-inch MacBook Air.
- May 12, 2022: Updated release date information.
- May 5, 2022: Few readability fixes.
- April 28, 2022: Added a concise conclusion.
- April 22, 2022: Added potential announcement date for new MacBook Air and Mac Mini at WWDC.
- March 24, 2022: Added third-party benchmarks for the M1 Ultra.
- March 10, 2022: Added M1 Ultra specifications, performance charts and more.
- February 28, 2022: Grammar fixes
- Februrary 21, 2022: Added new possible release dates for M2 devices.
- January 20, 2022: Added new information about the MacBook Pro 14 and M2 MacBook Air.
- December 28, 2021: Added rumors suggesting a release date for M2 MacBook Air in Mid-2022.
- November 22, 2021: Added benchmarks.
- November 8, 2021: Updated the introduction.
- October 19, 2021: Added specifications for the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips in the 2021 MacBook Pros.
- October 12, 2021: Fixed grammar errors, improved readability.
- October 4, 2021: Added information for the Apple Event in October and announcements.
- September 13, 2021: Added new rumors regarding the release date of MacBook Pros with M1X
- September 6, 2021: Added new information thoughts on the M1X or M2 naming scheme
Table of ContentsShow
It seems that most leaks we shared throughout 2021 and 2022 were (mostly) true.
Apple finally announced the first devices with an M2 processor, and it’s the 13-inch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro at WWDC22. Both of these devices are currently available for purchase.
According to Mark Gurman, Apple is preparing to surge with a bunch of new products, including but not limited to:
- M2 Mac Mini
- M2 Pro Mac Mini
- The option for M2 Pro and M2 Max 14/16-inch MacBook Pros
- M2 Ultra in a new Mac Studio
And based on a leak from Vadim Yuryev, the M2 Pro chip will supposedly be on a 3nm process node.
Based on Apple’s announcement at WWDC, this next-gen processor will be 18% faster than the M1.
Paired with this fast CPU is also a 35% more powerful graphics card. Memory bandwidth is also increased by 50% and up to 24GB of Unified Memory (RAM).
All of these upgrades were achieved by building the chip on TSMC’s second-generation 5nm process (N5P). With this move, Apple can cram 25% more transistors (20 billion) on the M2 compared to the M1.
Here’s a table comparing the M1 and M2:
|Apple M2||Apple M1|
|Process node||N5P (2nd gen 5nm)||5nm|
|Neural Engine||15.8 TOPS||11 TOPS|
|Unified Memory||up to 24GB||up to 16GB|
Considering the differences in the specifications and the third-party benchmark we’ve seen by now, these claims by Apple are mostly correct. If you have an M1 device, expect 15 to 20% all-around performance improvement.
A higher-core M2 variant may appear later in 2023, similarly to the M1 Pro and M1 Max.
We are also interested about the rumors that mention the M2 Ultra which could end up in the new iMac Pro. There’s talks that the next iMac Pro will have 32 CPU cores.
M1 Ultra Vs M2
While the M1 Ultra isn’t exactly part of the new M2 lineup, it can still give us an insight into future possibilities with the next-gen process node.
The M1 Ultra is a 20-core CPU, with a 64-core GPU, 800GB/s of memory bandwidth, 128GB of unified memory, and more.
Already, the M2 chip has a faster memory bandwidth, and we imagine that the future M2 Ultra chip may be able to pack more than 20 cores by implementing Apple’s “UltraFusion” architecture which pairs two CPUs two work as one.
Here’s some additional information about the M1 Ultra:
There are sixteen high-performance cores with 48MB of L2 cache, and the rest (4) are high-efficiency cores with 8MB of L2 cache.
These specifications are quite impressive. But, what is really interesting is Apple’s performance claims.
Here’s an image of their claims:
Apple here claimed that the Apple’s M1 Ultra is 90% faster than Intel’s Alder Lake flagship i9-12900K, one of the world’s fastest CPUs.
However, no third-party benchmarks managed to find a case where the Apple chip is actually 90% faster, but it’s an impressive chip nonetheless since it is comparable in performance to the i9 at just 60W.
One of the main reasons why M1 and M2 devices are so fast is because memory is directly installed onto the SoC package which makes data transfers seriously quicker. The data does not have to go through motherboard traces, considerably decreasing total system latency.
The M1 Ultra also has a 64-core GPU which is quite a bit more than the M2 chip, but we expect that the future M2 equivalent of the Ultra will have more and faster cores.
The M1 Ultra can only be found in the Mac Studio, a successor to the Mac Mini. The $2,500 Mac Studio comes with the M1 Max CPU while the $5,000 Mac Studio comes with the M1 Ultra.
M1 Pro And M1 Max VS M2
Before the release of the M2 and even before the M1 Ultra, Apple introduced two new processors, the M1 Pro and M1 Max.
Even though these are processors from the previous generation, they’re still on that 5nm process node with enough transistors to outperform the current M2 chip. The M1 Pro has 33.7 billion transistors, the M1 Max 57 billion transistors and the new M2 processor has just 20 billion transistors.
Both of these come with a larger memory capacity, more GPU and CPU cores. But, keep in mind that these older chips are considerably larger and draw more power. The Pro and Max M2 equivalents will definitely be faster in the future.
We hoped that Apple won’t increase the base prices for the M2 devices, but that does not seem to be the case.
Check out the pricing of the new M2 devices:
- 13-inch MacBook Air M2 – from $1,199 (up to $2,049)
- 13-inch MacBook Pro M2– from $1,299 (up to $2,499)
For comparison, here is the pricing of last-generation (M1) devices:
- MacBook Air M1 – from $999 (up to $2,499)
- MacBook Pro 13-Inch M1- from $1,299 (up to $2,299)
- iPad Pro 11-Inch M1- from $799 (up to $2,099)
- Mac Mini M1- from $699 (up to $1,699)
So, definitely some price increases, especially for the MacBook Air M2, from $999 to $1,199, but at least maxing out the laptop is cheaper at $2,049.
The MacBook Pro M2 retains its base price but at top specs, it’s $2,499.
Finally, we get the information we were looking for. How does the new M2 processor fare against AMD’s, Intel’s, and even Apple’s laptops?
To get a clear image of the performance difference, we’ll use some of Hardware Unboxed’s benchmarks/charts. Here’s the video:
First, let’s start with power consumption which is one of Apple’s strongest points. While running Cinebench R23, the sustained power is just 23 watts. That is very efficient, especially when you compare to CPUs like the 6800U (25W), i7-1260P, and others.
But, for good power efficiency, we also need to see some performance. Let’s have a look at some Blender benchmarks:
In Blender 3.X, with GPU encoding, the M2 clearly outperforms AMD’s mobile GPUs, and that’s expected since AMD’s GPUs were never very powerful in these kinds of tasks.
When CPU encoding in Blender, the M2 outperforms both the Ryzen 7 6800U and the i7-1260P. It might be by a small margin, but it’s definitely faster.
We also see the new M2 MacBook Pro beating AMD’s and Intel’s 15W counterparts in a large number crunching test on Microsoft Excel with up to 20% better score.
However, it’s not always a win for Apple. For a 3-minute track export in FL Studio, the M2 is around 10% slower than the 6800U and the i7-1260P.
Other than FL Studio, 7-Zip decompression and Matlabs benchmarks, there aren’t any other apps where the M2 doesn’t perform.
In Adobe Premiere Pro, the new Apple chip gets its biggest win yet, outperforming not just low-powered CPUs like the 6800U and i7-1260P, but also outperforming the i9-12900HK, Ryzen 9 6900HS, Ryzen 7 6800H, and more.
The M2 is almost at the top of this chart, beating all 45W mobile CPUs. That is a tremendous performance increase, and it may be the reason why a lot of Windows users might switch over to a MacBook.
With Apple’s ProRes codecs and proper hardware acceleration for these codecs, the M2 creates such a performance gap.
Finally, even though the MacBook Pro isn’t exactly made for these kinds of tasks, we will still have a glance at some gaming benchmarks. Hardware Unboxed decided to do a Shadow of the Tomb Raider test.
Weirdly enough, the M2 CPU surpasses AMD’s counterpart. This is a bit unexpected mostly because macOS isn’t exactly famous for good gaming performance, and the fact that the RDNA 2 GPUs are pretty fast.
So, even if you feel like gaming on your new M2 MacBook Pro, you can comfortably do that and with the satisfaction that you’ll have a better experience than many other Windows laptops.
Overall, the M2 processor is extraordinarily efficient and absurdly fast, tackling even some of the fastest mobile CPUs from AMD and Intel.
All of these benchmarks definitely got us excited for the future of Apple’s silicon, and we are now waiting for new M2-powered devices or higher-core M2 CPUs. Once we get our hands on that information, be sure we’ll share it with you!