Up until 2020, Apple 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!
- May 22, 2023: Added potential release date for the new 15-inch MacBook Air.
- April 17, 2023: Added news on the 15-inch MacBook Air.
- April 7, 2023: Added news regarding the halted production of M2 chips.
- April 2, 2023: Short update.
- March 28, 2023: Added information on the possibility of a M2 Pro Macbook Air.
- March 17, 2023: Added update regarding the new MacBook Air.
- March 5, 2023: Short update.
- February 22, 2023: Added small update performance/benchmark segment.
- February 11, 2023: Added more M2 Max benchmarks.
- January 31, 2023: Added M2 Max third-party benchmarks.
- January 25, 2023: Added M2 Pro third-party benchmarks.
- January 18, 2023: Updated the article with the release of the M2 Max and M2 Pro.
- January 17, 2023: Added announcement date of new M2 Max and M2 Pro MacBook Pros.
- December 15, 2022: Added upcoming M2 devices, M2 Max benchmark leaks and more.
- September 29, 2022: Added new release date information and mentions of M2 Extreme.
- August 17, 2022: Updated certain release date information and fixed grammar throughout the article.
- July 16, 2022: Reworked and removed outdated information.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
- February 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
At WWDC22, Apple finally announced and released the first devices with an M2 processor, and it’s the 13-inch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.
Although according to TheElec, Apple has completely stopped production of M2 chips due to bad sales. Of course, the production of M2 Pro and M2 Max processors will continue.
In January 2023, they also announced the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro with M2 Max and M2 Pro options. The Mac mini is also updated with the M2 Pro.
These devices are now available for purchase!
There are rumors that Apple is making a 15-inch MacBook Air, the biggest one yet! Thanks to its size, it could be possible to fit an M2 Pro or Max in it.
However, Apple is supposedly planning to put an M2-like processor in this 15-inch MacBook Air.
It’s not certain what that exactly means, but we’ll see exactly what Apple has planned at WWDC23. They’ll probably do most of their expected announcements at this event.
Apple M3 may cover at a later date, but we’ll be sure our article will cover everything related to the M3 MacBook Air and Apple’s new M3 devices!
We hoped that Apple wouldn’t increase the base prices for the M2 devices, but certain devices did end up being a bit more expensive than their predecessor.
Check out the pricing of the new M2 devices:
- iPad Pro M2 – starting at $799 (up to $2,399)
- 13-inch MacBook Air M2 – starting at
$1,199(up to $2,049) – new price $1,049
- 13-inch MacBook Pro M2– starting at$1,299 (up to $2,499)
- 14-inch MacBook Pro M2 Pro/Max – starting at $1,999 with M2 Pro / $3,099 with M2 Max
- 16-inch MacBook Pro M2 Pro/Max – starting at $2,499 with M2 Pro / $3,499 with M2 Max
- Mac mini M2/Pro – starting at $599 with M2 / $1,299 with M2 Pro
The MacBook Air M2 is frequently discounted and reached a new lowest price of $1,000.
Based on Apple’s announcement at WWDC, the next-gen processor M2 is 18% faster than the M1.
This fast CPU also has a 35% more powerful graphics card. We also see up to a 50% increase in memory bandwidth and 24GB of Unified Memory (RAM).
These upgrades were possible thanks to the TSMC’s second-generation 5nm process (N5P). With this move, Apple can cram 25% more transistors (20 billion) on the M2 than 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. So if you have an M1 device, expect 15 to 20% all-around performance improvement.
M2 Max And M2 Pro
The M2 Pro and Max CPUs are also TSMC’s 5nm process node, but still bring considerable performance improvements over the basic M2 chip.
The M2 Pro processor is an (up to) 12-core CPU paired with an (up to) 38-core GPU, which should deliver significant performance gains over the M1 Pro.
The M2 Pro offers up to 32GB of Unified Memory and has double the memory bandwidth (200GB/s) compared to the M2.
M2 Pro also has double the transistor count!
The M2 Max also goes up to 12 CPU cores and 38 GPU cores, but it has substantially more transistors (67 billion), so it’s quite bigger than the M2 Pro.
Because of this, the chip can deliver up to 400GB/s memory bandwidth and up to 96GB of Unified Memory.
Both of these CPUs are currently available only for the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro and the Mac mini.
While the M1 Ultra isn’t exactly part of the new M2 lineup, it can still give us an insight into M2 Ultra.
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 to work as one.
With a TDP of just 60W, the M1 Ultra performs almost as well as desktop processor’s like Intel’s Alder Lake flagship, the i9-12900K.
A new iMac Pro is also in talks that may feature a 32-core M2 chip, which is probably the M2 Ultra.
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?
Apple didn’t provide any kind of slides/benchmarks regarding the performance of the M2 Max, but they did claim 30% faster graphics speeds compared to the M1 Max.
But relying on a brand’s benchmark is never a good idea, so let’s see what third-party benchmarks can show us.
In a 16″ Macbook Pro the M2 Max processor (right) is about 11% faster than the M1 Max in Cinebench R23. But, what about real workloads?
In this (Tom’s Hardware) Handbrake Video Transcoding test, the M2 Max is about 17% faster than the M1 Max. So, that’s a decent generational uplift.
However, the M2 Max is only about 2.5% faster than the M2 Pro, so not a whole lot of difference between these two GPUs.
But, keep in mind that we’ve seen some users sharing their own testing in DaVinci Resolve at 4K with results about 25% faster than an M1 Max MacBook Pro.
However, shortly after the release of M2 Max and M2 Pro, Intel released 13th Gen laptop CPUs like the i9-13900HX and i9-13900H, which overtook the M2 Max and M2 Pro in various benchmarks.
Apple still hasn’t officially launched these CPUs (for sale), so third-party benchmarks are still not available. For now, we’ll have to rely on Apple’s performance claims.
For image processing in Photoshop, the 16-inch M2 Pro MacBook will supposedly be 40% faster than the M1 Pro. That’s a pretty significant jump in performance, considering that Apple still has not transitioned to the 3nm process node.
Arstechnica tested the CPU Cinebench R23 and came up with some pretty impressive results.
A Mac mini with an M2 Pro chip gives about a 20% better score than the M1 Max Mac Studio. So, it’s probably about 30-35% faster in Cinebench than the M1 Pro.
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 compared 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 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!