Apple M2 Release Date, Specifications, Price, and Benchmarks

Here is all the information we know so far about Apple's upcoming M2 CPU, including the Apple M2 release date, specifications, price and recent benchmarks.

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.

Understandably, given that success, Apple is already taking the step to develop M2.

This article will showcase everything we know so far about Apple’s upcoming M2 chip, including its release date, specifications, price, and benchmarks.

Let’s jump right into it!

Updates +

  • 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

Release Date

Macbook Pro M2

Finding the release date of a processor that is still in development is never easy. With no official information provided by Apple, it is impossible to know when exactly we can get our hands on M2-based devices.

Until then, we have M1 Pro and M1 Max replacing older M1 devices.

But M2 might be worth waiting for because it’s will supposedly be on a 4nm process or an updated 5nm node (5NP) which will bring performance to a new level.

Fortunately, we won’t have to wait for too long because new information suggests that Apple has an 18-month cycle between releases which means that Macbook Airs with M2 chips could see the light of day in mid-2022.

There are some rumors circulating that the M2 Macbook Air will be revealed duringduring WWDC22 (June 06 – June 10).

And an M2 Mac Mini might be released at that same event according to LeaksApplePro.

That’s earlier than expected!

The new MacBook Pros will have an M2 chip which should release in 2H of 2022.

Specifications

Apple M2 Chip

It is a little early to talk about specifications considering that neither Apple nor TSMC have spoken publicly on this matter. Even so, there are some leaks we can share.

Certain leaks state that the M2’s 4nm or 5NP process could bring an increase of GPU cores (from 8 to 32+), and a new maximum memory (128GB+ RAM/Unified Memory).

Those are just the improvements for the GPU. In fact, the M1 Max has already met these limits. It supports 64GB RAM and has 32 cores, so it seems entirely possible for M2 to go even beyond that.

The M1 Ultra comes with 20 cores which is already better than the 10 cores in the M1 Max, so the M2 will probably have 20 cores or more.

With 20, the split should look like this: 4 efficiency cores combined with 16 performance cores, similar to Intel’s Alder Lake series. This will help MacBooks preserve their battery, but also provide power through the performance cores when needed.

Usually, more cores means a larger power draw, but if we look at the specifications of the M1 Ultra below, it seems like Apple have found the remedy for high power usage. M2 will probably follow the same route.

It will be interesting to see how high-performance chips handle. Something like a 32-core processor that will end up inside of an iMac Pro.

Apple M1X
The M2 iMac Pro will most likely feature 32 cores

M1 Ultra

Unexpectedly, all this time, Apple was hiding something, hiding a new chip. No, it’s not an M2 processor, but it definitely puts us one step closer to the new generation of Apple’s silicon.

This new CPU is the M1 Ultra, a 20-core CPU, with a 64-core GPU, 800GB/s of memory bandwidth, 128GB of unified memory, and more. What Apple did is basically connect two M1 Max chips to work as one. They referred to this cohesion as “UltraFusion” architecture.

So, take everything you can find on the M1 Max, double it and you get 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.

Apple M1 Ultra CPU specifications

These specifications are quite impressive. But, what is really impressive is Apple’s performance claims.

Here’s an image of their claims:

Apples M1 Ultra vs Intels i9 12900K

As we can see, Apple’s M1 Ultra is supposedly 90% faster than Intel’s flagship i9-12900K, the current fastest CPU in the world. Those are some serious claims. And not only that but look at the power consumption too. Considerably faster than the i9 with just a 60W power draw.

Doubling the unified memory capacity is another huge advantage for the M1 Ultra. Unlike Windows systems, M1 devices don’t have standard RAM sticks, instead, the memory is placed right next to the SoC package, making data transfers much quicker.

Since the data isn’t sent through traces on the motherboard, total system latency is reduced significantly which is probably one of the reasons why M1 chips are so fast. With a 128GB capacity, the M1 Ultra is a great CPU for rendering, 3D designs, movie production, etc.

That’s not all. GPU cores have also been doubled which means much more powerful graphics processing. Exactly what a lot of professionals are looking for. With 64 GPU cores, Apple claims performance comparable or even faster than the RTX 3090 while using 200W less power.

All of this sounds very impressive, but keep in mind that Apple’s numbers are not always consistent with third-party benchmarks. Thankfully, we will have those benchmarks soon enough.

The M1 Ultra will be fit into 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.

Note: The M1 Ultra will not be used in Apple laptops (probably).

Third-party benchmarks support Apple’s claims (to an extent). Looking at performance in apps such as Premiere Pro and Adobe Lightroom, the M1 Ultra Mac Studio ends up being about 40% faster than a 5950X + RTX 3090 Windows PC.

Here’s a video timestamp from The Tech Chap for in-depth testing data:

In Blender 3.1, the RTX 3090 shows its real computing power, outputting a render almost three times faster.

So, the M1 Ultra is definitely impressive considering that it trades blows with the most expensive components available for PCs. Naturally, it excels in macOS-oriented applications while it lacks severely in gaming and other non-macOS-optimized programs.

M1 Pro And M1 Max

These numbers might also be valid because the M1 Pro comes with 4 more performance cores. That brings us to a total of 10 cores: 8 performance cores and 2 efficiency cores.

Compari on between the M1 M1 Pro and M1 Max
Chip size comparison between the M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max

These 10 cores are combined with a 16-core GPU with 2,048 EUs.

The M1 Pro has support for 32GB of RAM, an upgrade to the M1’s 16GB maximum, and the memory bandwidth is boosted up to 200GB/s. Keep in mind that the memory is not upgradable because it is directly integrated into the chip and shared with the GPU. The M1 Pro also features 33.7 billion transistors, about two times more than the 2020 M1.

The M1 Max is the biggest one yet with 57 billion transistors. The M1 Max gets the same core configuration: 8 performance cores and 2 efficiency cores. The RAM capacity goes up to 64GB, double the memory bandwidth (400GB/s), and a 32-core GPU with 4,096 EUs.

Both of these chips should also considerably improve performance and battery life, given the much better performance per watt.

M1 Max Pro performance v power
M1 Pro/M1 Max vs. M1 performance vs. power

Performance Guesses

If the M2 processors are based on the 5NP architecture process, the same one used for the A15 Bionic chips in the iPhone 13, we can make some estimates about the performance.

So, if the A14 Bionic is on a 5nm process and the A15 is on an upgraded 5nm architecture with a performance difference of up to 20%, it’s possible that we’ll see a similar story between the M1 and M2 processors.

Many other tech websites are making this comparison because the M1 chip is on the same architecture the A14 chip is based on.

Let’s put that into real numbers! To do that, we’ll use this benchmark from XDA-Developers:

image 5

Strictly looking at single-core performance, we see that Intel flagship CPU, the i9-12900HK is at a 1,833 single-core score. The M1 Pro and M1 Max have a score of about 1530. That puts Intel 20% faster.

If the M2 processors do get a 20% improvement over its predecessor that means it will be comparable to Intel’s 14-core, 20-thread processor. That’s quite the generational leap!

Price

Apple 16 inch Macbook Pro M1X Chip

What does all of this mean for the pricing of future Apple devices? Well, it is impossible to know with certainty as it depends on Apple’s architecture. If M2 is going to be on the 5NP architecture, the pricing probably won’t change too much from the last generation of MacBooks, iMacs, and iPad Pros.

Here is the pricing of last-generation (M1) devices:

  • MacBook Air M1 – from $999 (up to $2,049)
  • 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)

It is clear that Apple is following some type of pattern with its pricing. The basic options offer a much more attractive price, but they usually come with a smaller storage drive and less RAM. If you want a 2TB SDD, you will have to fork over $2,000.

We can assume the same price pattern for the M2 generation. However, it also wouldn’t be unexpected for Apple to push for higher pricing for all devices equipped with M2.

Here is the pricing of M1X devices:

  • MacBook Pro 14-Inch M1X – $1,999 (up to $5,899 with M1 Max)
  • MacBook Pro 16-Inch M1X – $2,499 (up to $6,099 with M1 Max)
  • Mac Studio M1 Ultra – from $4,999 (up to $8,000)

The 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,999 and comes with the M1 Pro chip. However, if you use the M1 Max chip for those extra cores in the GPU, you can upgrade the 14-inch for $500. That’s only the 24-core GPU variant, however. For the 32-core GPU, you will need to pay $700 extra.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is also available with both the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.

If Apple continues this trend, getting the high-end M2 chips in the 2022 MacBook Air could cost more than $1000.

Keep in mind that these are only assumptions. We need to wait and see what Apple has planned for the 2022 MacBook Airs for more information.

Benchmarks

Third-party benchmarks all display the same results. The M1 Pro (or Max) performs exceptionally well in productivity-related programs.

Whether it is Photoshop, Excel, Code Compile, Blender, or almost any other software, it outperforms Intel’s and AMD’s flagship mobile CPUs.

Here is a screenshot of Cinebench R23, a synthetic benchmark in which AMD often beats all other contenders.

image
Cinebench R23 – source: Hardware Unboxed

This time, it doesn’t! Instead, the M1 Pro laptop outperforms even the 5900HX, making the M1 Pro CPU the fastest on the market right now.

To make it even more impressive, we will share some details about its efficiency.

In the video below by Hardware Unboxed, you can see that the M1 Pro chip has a considerably lower power draw when compared to any other processor.

Overall, the M1 Pro/Max processors prove to be very powerful and can make anyone reconsider planning to buy a Windows machine.

These devices indicate that the next generation of Apple (M2) devices will deliver just as good performance/efficiency. And when these devices do release, we’ll definitely cover every aspect of them.

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Branko Gapo
Branko Gapo

Keeping up with the incredibly fast evolution of computer technology is almost impossible. That's why Branko will be using his knowledge on this matter to share news and information on all the latest essential technological innovations and advancements related to CPUs.