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Apple's M2 MacBook Pro comes over a year and a half after its M1-based predecessor. The new device features the exact same design, but there are several important under-the-hood differences between the two machines that could make it an upgrade worth considering for some users, even though it may not be worthwhile for many customers.

13-inch-macbook-pro-m2-mock-feature-2.jpg

The 13-inch MacBook Pro is often chosen by those who require active cooling for better sustained performance, the best compact MacBook battery life, or simply like the Touch Bar, with the device offering more than the MacBook Air but a price well below the high-end MacBook Pro models. Apple outlines at least six key differences between the now-discontinued M1 MacBook Pro and the new M2 MacBook Pro:


M1 MacBook Pro
  • M1 chip with 8-core GPU
  • 8GB and 16GB unified memory configurations
  • 68.25GB/s memory bandwidth
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 61W USB‑C Power Adapter


M2 MacBook Pro
  • M2 chip with 10-core GPU and dedicated media engine
  • 8GB, 16GB, and 24GB unified memory configurations
  • 100GB/s memory bandwidth
  • 3.5mm headphone jack with support for high-impedance headphones
  • 67W USB‑C Power Adapter
  • Made with more recycled materials


M1 vs. M2

The main difference between the current and previous-generation 13-inch MacBook Pros is their Apple silicon chip. The M1 chip, introduced in November 2020, is based on Apple's A14 Bionic chip. On the other hand, the M2 is seemingly based on the A15 Bionic chip. While both chips feature an eight-core CPU with four performance cores and four efficiency cores, the M2's cores offer moderate performance and efficiency improvements. The M2 also adds two additional GPU cores.

m2.jpg

According to Apple, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is nearly 40 percent faster than the previous generation when working with RAW images in apps like Affinity Photo or playing graphics-intense games like "Baldur's Gate 3."


Like the M1 Pro, the M2 features a media engine for hardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC, ProRes, and ProRes RAW video encode and decode. The M1 chip does not contain a dedicated media engine.

Apple says that this dramatically speeds up video workflows on the latest MacBook Pro, allowing users to play back up to 11 streams of 4K and up to two streams of 8K ProRes video. Users can convert their video projects to ProRes nearly three times faster than before.

Unified Memory

Both the M1 and M2 are configurable with 8GB or 16GB of unified memory, but the M2 offers an additional 24GB top-tier memory option. Multitasking and memory-hungry workflows, such as working with large assets, benefit from the M2 chip as a result. In addition, the M2 has a 100GB/s memory bandwidth, compared to 68.25GB/s with the M1, meaning that the latest MacBook Pro can access more memory faster.

Support for High-Impedance Headphones

The 13-inch MacBook Pro continues to offer better speakers and microphones than the MacBook Air, featuring high dynamic range and "studio-quality." The M2 MacBook Pro ups the device's audio credentials further with support for high-impedance headphones like the high-end 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros, which could be a meaningful upgrade for some audio professionals.

Power Adapter

The M2 MacBook Pro comes with a 67W power adapter for slightly faster charging compared to the previous model's 61W power adapter.

Environmental Improvements

The previous 13-inch MacBook Pro was free of numerous harmful substances, met Apple's energy efficiency standards, and used wood fiber in the packaging from recycled sources or responsibly managed forests, but the M2 MacBook Pro further reduces the device's environmental impact by using 100 percent recycled rare earth elements in the enclosure magnets and 100 percent recycled tin in the solder of the main logic board.

Final Thoughts

The M2 MacBook Pro offers modest upgrades over the previous-generation model, with most aspects of the device remaining the same. Specific video and audio workflows stand to benefit from the 13-inch MacBook Pro's improvements, as will anyone who needs more than 16GB of memory or broader memory bandwidth, but everyday users are unlikely to notice substantial differences.

Given that it has only been 18 months since Apple launched the M1 MacBook Pro and the M1 chip continues to be offered in the iPad Air, iPad Pro, Mac mini, and iMac, the M2 MacBook Pro will likely not be worth it coming directly from the previous model and future-proofing is unlikely to be an important factor at this stage. Most 13-inch MacBook Pro customers may wish to wait longer in between upgrades for more meaningful improvements.

The M2 MacBook Pro is better suited to buyers who are upgrading from an older machine, rather than 2020's M1 model. Spearheaded by the M2 chip, the device's series of minor improvements offer a good overall package for these buyers, ensuring that they get a slightly more modern and capable machine.

Article Link: M1 vs. M2 MacBook Pro: Is It Worth the Upgrade?
 
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jeffmetanna

macrumors member
Apr 16, 2010
59
52
I don't know if the support for the high impedance headphones itself is enough to persuade any audio professionals or just audiophiles for that matter. Most audiophiles have a dedicated DAC and an amp that connect to the reference headphones.
 

Spaceboi Scaphandre

macrumors regular
Jun 8, 2022
102
290
Ehh...if you already got a M1 Macbook Air not really. If you got an M1 Pro/Max machine then hell no it ain't lmao.

If you're a new Mac user or still on Intel...maybe? I mean I'd still recommend the M1 Macbook Air for it's price and value is too good, even moreso now that it's getting cheaper at retail and refurbished...but hey it's up to you.
 

Seanm87

macrumors 68000
Oct 10, 2014
1,820
3,262
I don’t know why people are so shocked it’s the same design.

Apple are still selling the same designed iPad since 2013 and iPhone SE since 2014 and Apple Watch 3 since 2017. They milk the hell out of their designs.
 

eicca

Contributor
Oct 23, 2014
1,064
1,352
If you need the extra power, yes. If not, save the money.

For me, if I had the money, I would buy a max'd M2 Air to be my one-and-only. I chose instead to buy a base M1 as my portable power and keep using my old Mac Pro as the command center for the time.
 

saulinpa

macrumors 65816
Jun 15, 2008
1,189
612
I don't know if the support for the high impedance headphones itself is enough to persuade any audio professionals or just audiophiles for that matter. Most audiophiles have a dedicated DAC and an amp that connect to the reference headphones.
It's for posers.
 
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TheDailyApple

macrumors 6502
May 30, 2019
498
2,209
No way, it's not worth an upgrade. Only 20% faster with the M2. Not worth it at all.

M2 Chip should have been called M1S. Save the money and get yourself a M2 MacBook Air.
I think you’re underestimating how big a 20% boost in performance is. Processors don’t evolve in leaps and bounds the way you might think, so a 20% performance is a big step forward.

Not worth upgrading your computer over, but definitely worth naming M2.
 

fooobar

macrumors member
Mar 21, 2019
45
63
so glad they kept this form factor - as the only notch-less option remaining in Apple's lineup, it's the only laptop I'm interested in. plus it still has a touchbar, which I want as well. also excited about the increased memory bandwidth, as well as higher max RAM (24GB)! 😃

only wish it had magsafe and more ports, but I guess these can be solved with a cheap ($10-20) adapter to make it a magsafe equivalent, along with a multi-function hub. even more RAM (32GB+) would've been nice, but then I guess it starts to encroach upon the Pro/Max chips' territories.

I'll be upgrading from a much older laptop so this will be a massive upgrade for me, but I can see how this may not be as essential or exciting for existing M1 owners... 🤷‍♂️
 
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mpolda

macrumors member
Mar 12, 2010
57
28
I don’t understand this release. It’s the new MacBook Air with active cooling and a slightly bigger battery, but a worse camera and screen. Of course, it’s heavier too. If they had upgraded the camera and screen I’d see a better place for it in the lineup. I’ll stick with the Air.
 

Jim Lahey

macrumors 68000
Apr 8, 2014
1,710
3,213
It’s understandable that many are nonplussed by this machine, but if you’re after a compact computer which will also be used for encoding a bunch of video files for dozens of contiguous hours, don’t like the notch and/or like the touchbar, then suddenly this makes all kinds of sense. M2 Air is undoubtedly more attractive but it will almost certainly buckle under continuous load in comparison to the actively cooled Pro.
 

TimB21

macrumors member
Nov 14, 2007
93
63
But the one I bought a year ago has been made obsolete! Apple should send me a free M2 MacBook.

(For y'all Stage Manager critics out there.)
 
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