After the successful introduction of its own M1 processor, it’s time for the second generation of Apple processor in the form of M2. The 13-inch version of the MacBook Pro is the first laptop with a new processor. It also seems to be the only innovation.
The first laptops with a proprietary processor that Apple brought to market, including the MacBook Air, used the housings already used for Intel laptops. This was followed by more expensive 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro versions with the faster M1 Pro and Max in a whole new design. Unfortunately, this does not apply to the successor to the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2 processor. This new laptop again has a design that is not much different from the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, which Apple released in 2016.
It is a design that is now revealing its age a bit, for example due to the relatively wide screen edges. In addition, the more expensive MacBook Pro models have made it clear that the Touch Bar really has no future, but this keyboard screen is still present on this laptop. It remains a laptop with an excellent build quality made of beautiful aluminum.
Although this is a MacBook Pro, it will soon be one of the least connected notebook models in Apple’s range. Even the new MacBook Air has multiple connections. The MacBook Pro laptops with Intel processors in this case had four Thunderbolt connections. Like its predecessor with M1 processor, this laptop has only two Thunderbolt ports.
The new MacBook Air M2 also has two Thunderbolt ports, but charging on the laptop is standard via MagSafe, so you do not lose a Thunderbolt connection for charging. The MagSafe connection is also present on the more expensive 14- and 16-inch versions of the MacBook Pro that were introduced last year.
The only innovation we find in this laptop is the new Apple M2 processor, a further development of the original M1. It is a direct successor to the M1 because the M1 Pro and M1 Max in the 14- and 16-inch models are still faster.
M2 uses an improved 5nm process and has 20 billion transistors. That’s 25 percent more than in the M1. According to Apple, the M2 is about 18 percent faster, while the GPU is even 35 percent more powerful. Structurally, the chip is the same and equipped with four performance cores and four energy efficient cores. At 3.49 GHz, the chip’s maximum clock speed is slightly higher than 3.2 GHz on the M1.
On the MacBook Pro, we do not find a screen with a larger image format in combination with a notch, but the same IPS screen as in its predecessor. An excellent screen with good colors, high brightness and a really good viewing angle, but it is now really the smallest screen in the range.
There is support for True Tone, which adapts the temperature to the surroundings and to the P3 color reproduction. A 720p camera is located above the screen. It’s a great camera compared to many laptops, but on the more expensive MacBook Pro versions, Apple uses a better 1080p camera, an innovation that also gets the new MacBook Air.
The keyboard is Magic Keyboard, which uses a scissor mechanism and replaced the butterfly keyboard that was originally used in this case. It is a comfortable keyboard to work on with a good press. Instead of function keys, the keyboard has Touch Bar, a screen whose functionality changes per. program. The Touch Bar is no longer on the more expensive models, so it feels redundant on this laptop.
Located below the keyboard is a Force-Touch touchpad that remains one of the best touchpads on the market and simulates a click-through vibration. It’s still nice that you can click anywhere and even adjust the strength of the click.
Apple promises that the M2 is faster than the M1, and we see that in benchmarks. In Geekbench 5, this laptop has a single-core score of 1936 points, while the multi-core score is 8985 points. It is 12.3 and 19 percent faster, respectively, than the 1723 and 7547 points that a MacBook Air with M1 processor scored in the same benchmark. Also in the Cinebench R23 we see higher results with 1936 points in the single-core test and 8985 points in the multi-core test than the 1519 and 7634 points scored by the M1 processor. It’s 17.7 and 27.5 percent faster. The percentages are in line with what Apple itself promises.
MacBook Pro with the M1 Max chip scores significantly faster in the multi-core tests and is, as expected, still the faster laptop for e.g. professional video editing. However, this M2 is faster in the single-core tests, a sign that the cores themselves have become faster.
We received the cheapest version from Apple with an SSD with a storage capacity of 256 gigabytes. Normally, Apple uses impressive SSDs, but the SSD in this MacBook is slower than expected. In benchmarks, the SSD in the review example has a maximum read and write speeds of 1611.34 and 1640.18 MB / s, while we expected speeds of around 2900 MB / s based on its predecessor.
Apple seems to be using an SSD with fewer memory cells for the smallest SSD for this new MacBook Pro. This is not the case with variants with a larger SSD. This is a phenomenon that you also see with other SSDs. In practice, we have only noticed a little of this, but a faster SSD is fine for graphically demanding tasks with large files.
Users of such heavy programs will probably soon need a larger and therefore faster SSD in practice, the storage capacity of the standard SSD is on the tight side. Unfortunately, the upgrade prices for more storage capacity and working memory are hefty.
Apple promises a battery life of about 17 hours and the battery life feels really good in practice. For normal office use, you can get the two days without a charger. To measure battery life more objectively, we used a script that visits websites automatically. MacBook Pro has a battery life of 15 hours and 29 minutes. A very good score and a good chunk above the MacBook Pro 16-inch with M1 max, which clocked in at 13 hours and 29 minutes in the same test.
The updated MacBook Pro with M2 processor is a slightly strange laptop in Apple’s current range. While this is the latest Apple laptop you can buy at the time of writing, its 2016 design makes it feel old-fashioned. For example, this laptop is the only one that still has a Touch Bar and moreover lacks a larger screen with notches. The simultaneously introduced MacBook Air with M2 processor, which will soon be for sale with the same processor, has been redesigned with a larger screen and MagSafe connection.
With the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air with M1 processor, there was relatively little difference in performance between the passively cooled Air and the actively cooled Pro for many tasks. We also expect that the new Air with M2 will score similar to this Pro in many tasks, making the laptop probably a better choice for many consumers. That does not mean that this is a bad laptop. MacBook Pro is lightning fast, has a really impressive battery life and is built very solidly.