M2 MacBook Pro Review: Gen Two Apple Silicon Delivers Power and Efficiency

The second generation of Apple’s homemade computer chip is official, and while this silicon dubbed the M2, is very exciting because in the near future it will power almost everything from Apple, ranging from iPads to iMacs to even the long-rumored mixed-reality headset, the first product available to consumers with the M2 is a rather bland product: the 2022 13-inch MacBook Pro.

I say “boring” because all the new upgrades Apple introduced last year for the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros, including a new design with thinner bezels and a superior display, somehow didn’t come across on this new 13. inch machine . In fact, this 2022 M2-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro looks identical to the 2020 MacBook Pro, as well as the 2018 MacBook Pro. It literally uses the same components as before, just with the M2 chip and a slightly larger battery.

But while this 13-inch design feels dated — not just compared to the aforementioned other MacBooks, but most 2022 Windows machines — perhaps it’s what’s on the inside that counts. And the M2 performs great in this $1,200-$1,800 price range that this MacBook Pro model falls into. It’s at least as powerful as all Windows laptops in this price range, but it’s so much more efficient.

A Brief Summary of Apple Silicon

Before we go any further, it’s worth summarizing the history of Apple silicon for readers who may not be familiar with it. The silicon industry is dominated by two types of architecture: ARM-based architecture, built on Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC); and Intel’s X86 architecture, which is built on Complex Instruction Set Computing (CISC). As their instruction set indicates, ARM-based silicon is less complex, with efficiency taking precedence over raw power output. These are commonly referred to as systems-on-chip (SoC) because all the necessary computation bits are stored in one small chip. Intel’s X86 architecture silicon is more complex, larger in size, capable of more power, but may require different parts to do its job completely.

For more than a decade, the conventional wisdom in the computing space has been that smaller, more efficient ARM chips are great for small, high-traffic devices like smartphones and tablets, but for “real computers” it’s best to stick with the more complex X86. silicon because they offer higher performance.

Just over two years ago, Apple essentially threw that conventional wisdom out the window by announcing that it was ditching Intel’s silicon in favor of its own chips built on ARM architecture. It stunned the computer industry.

And Apple delivered. The gen-one chips, M1, came out in late 2020 and surprisingly were able to power Apple’s portable and desktop computers just fine, and it was significantly more efficient than Intel-powered laptops.

The second generation

Now comes the M2, which Apple claims offers an 18% CPU improvement and a 35% GPU improvement over the M1, and whether it was benchmark testing or real-world testing, my M2 MacBook Pro delivered. indeed the performance improvements.

I was especially impressed with video playback. Exporting 4K/30fps videos moves practically at 3x the speed of the actual video length, meaning if I export a five minute video, the export process is completed in less than 90 seconds.

Just for testing, I tried to export a 4 minute 8K/30 video (8K video is such a high resolution that most screens today still can’t play it, so this test is purely to test the machine push), and the 13-inch MacBook Pro rendered the clip in Final Cut Pro in less than four minutes. The same rendering process on a 2020 MacBook with an Intel processor took almost 17 minutes.

These video rendering tests were performed on Final Cut Pro, which is optimized for Apple hardware. When I switched to neutral third-party software like Adobe Premiere Pro, export times got much longer, but the new 13-inch MacBook Pro still finished at twice the speed of my 2022 Huawei MateBook X Pro with Intel’s 11th-generation i7 chip.

And as mentioned, the most amazing thing about Apple Silicon isn’t sheer power, it’s efficiency. In all those rendering tests and benchmark tests, the MacBook Pro ran cool and didn’t need a fan, it just got a little warm during the most intense 8K sessions. Intel-powered machines would need the fan within minutes of heavy work, as they aren’t as efficient and so need to dissipate heat.

The rest of the hardware is solid, decent, fine

Outside of the M2, which didn’t disappoint in delivering power efficiently, the rest of this MacBook Pro package is fine if I want to be generous, or decent if I want to be tough. As I said, since this laptop brings back the exact same design and parts as before, everything is at least several years old. The inch-thick bezels that wrap around the screen seem dated next to any Windows laptop as of 2019, and the 60Hz LCD is fine, but nothing special. Any recent iPad Pro or Apple’s 14- and 16-inch MacBooks from last year offer more vivid images.

The keyboard and trackpad are excellent, as has been the case since 2020, and battery life is excellent thanks to the efficiency of the M2. Expect 13-15 hours of use for basic computing tasks like surfing the web, watching YouTube, typing words, etc. If you’re doing intensive tasks like video editing, the MacBook will still last a solid four to six hours, which is much better than Windows machines.

The biggest complaint I have, however, is the lack of ports. This machine only comes with two USB-C ports, with a headphone jack. Charging also goes via USB-C, so when you charge the laptop, you only have one free port.

Starting at $1,299, it’s affordable enough for many

What this MacBook Pro lacks in exciting design, it more than delivers in power and endurance. And with a starting price of $1,299 (and the equivalent worldwide), it’s not just cheap enough for Apple fans, but for most working professionals in countries like the US, China, Japan, and parts of Europe.

However, there is an elephant in the room. At the same event that Apple launched this MacBook Pro, Apple also introduced a MacBook Air that runs on the exact same M2 chip. That Air machine has a smaller battery and no fan, but in return it gets the new design introduced in their other MacBooks. It’s also $100 cheaper. So for those who know they won’t be pushing the MacBook too hard (video editing, gaming, or creating 3D graphics), they’re probably better off buying the MacBook Air.

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