With its M1 chip, Apple has revolutionized the world of computers by offering a version under Arm architecture that is not only very efficient, but also of unparalleled energy efficiency. During its WWDC conference in June 2022, Apple unveiled the M2, the logical successor to the M1 which obviously promises better performance.
During our test of the MacBook Pro M1 at the end of 2020, little software was then natively compatible with the Arm architecture, and we still had to go through an emulation with Rosetta. Things have since changed a lot and we can now use most consumer software without emulation. We were therefore able to test the brand’s first computer with an M2, the 13-inch MacBook Pro, with our test protocol revisited several months ago, which now allows us to effectively compare the performance of different Macs and PCs.
The price of the computer has been revised upwards with a base tag of €1599 for a 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM. Unlike the MacBook Air, a single M2 chip is offered with 8 CPU cores and 10 GPU cores. Are the performance gains offered by the M2 chip up to par? Will MacBook Pro battery life be affected? This is what we wanted to verify in our test.
No surprise, the MacBook Pro 13 M2 is simply identical to the M1 version of 2020. Apple has taken over the existing chassis by adding its new chip inside. The design of the computer therefore retains the qualities and defects of its predecessor. We obviously find the anodized aluminum dear to the apple, the solidity which results from it and the impeccable finishes which go with it.
The keyboard and touchpad are flawless, but connectivity is still limited to two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports. That’s really not much, especially when the MacBook is charging. The keyboard is backlit and the brightness adapts according to the ambient lighting.
The Touch Bar is also included, along with the Touch ID fingerprint reader, which is very practical on a daily basis for unlocking your Mac, installing certain applications without having to enter a password, or even logging into accounts. web. The Touch Bar does not seem essential to us, but some users will appreciate being able to affix their shortcuts there.
The connection to the networks is made with wifi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0. As for the webcam, it films in 720p, which is beginning to stain this price segment. It logically still does not offer Face ID. The image quality of the webcam is correct in broad daylight, but much more noisy in low light.
To access the components, simply remove the few Pentalobe P5 screws from the chassis, then unclip the cover little by little. Since the M1 revolution, however, you can no longer change your configuration, because everything is soldered to the motherboard. It is therefore better to go through an authorized repairer in the event of a problem.
Unlike the MacBook Air, this MacBook Pro has active ventilation that allows it to maintain its performance over time during intensive calculations (video encoding, for example). It only engages very rarely, let’s face it, but some demanding software such as HandBrake or Adobe Premiere will blow it out after a while. We had to launch two heavy software simultaneously to push the ventilation to the maximum and then measured 43 dB, which is lighter than large PCs, but clearly audible. Most of the keyboard stays cool – though we found a hot spot at 43.8°C, presumably where the CPU is.
Precisely, let’s come to the part that interests us the most in this test, namely the contribution of the M2 chip in the 13-inch MacBook Pro. This new generation of in-house SoCs under Arm architecture houses two more GPU cores, bringing the total to eight CPU cores (including four performance cores and four efficient cores) and 10 GPU cores. Memory bandwidth has also been increased by almost 50% from 68 GB/s to 100 GB/s through the use of LPDDR5-6400. Our test model is equipped with 16 GB of unified memory (RAM) and a 1 TB SSD.
Apple had announced a performance increase of around 18% and this is roughly what we could observe by comparing our CPU performance index of the MacBook Pro M1 (index 106) to that of the MacBook Pro M2 (122). To be perfectly transparent, our MacBook Pro M1 was equipped with only 8 GB of RAM, which certainly influenced this finding slightly. It is in any case a very good result which places the M2 at the level of an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H. To compare it with the competition’s latest processors, it was found to be slightly faster than the Ryzen 7 6800U in an Asus Zenbook Oled 2022 or the Intel Core i7-1260p in the Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro, but quite far behind processors like the Ryzen 6800H or the Core i7-12700H. It is also about 15% less efficient than the MacBook Pro M1 Pro.
The results are however very variable from one application to another. And if the M2 excels in Photoshop, for example, the aforementioned AMD and Intel processors are much faster in 3D rendering in Blender or in video export with Premiere, in particular. Each processor therefore has its strengths and weaknesses and the M2 could provide better performance in well-optimized software such as DaVinci Resolve or specific to Apple (Final Cut, Logic, etc.).
If the M1 Pro and M1 Max had delivered excellent graphics performance thanks to their large number of GPU cores, the more limited M2 does not come close to them. However, it allows good hardware acceleration in compatible software (Blender, Premiere, Photoshop) and reduces processing times by around 30% compared to the MacBook Pro M1, but turns out to be much slower than dedicated graphics cards. Nvidia’s GeForce RTX.
Let’s emphasize once again that the consumption of the SoCs M1 and M2 is much lower than those of the competition – all the more so when a PC is equipped with a dedicated GPU – and that Apple is currently unbeatable in the field of energy efficiency, which has a huge impact on range, as we will see. Another important point, the MacBook Pro can run on battery without loss of performance, which is clearly not the case with PCs powered by Intel and AMD. It is also much quieter and really needs to be pushed to its limits for the ventilation to be audible.
Mobility / Autonomy
The weight of this MacBook Pro has not changed compared to its ancestor. With 1.4 kg on the scale, it is clearly not the lightest model of the moment since some ultraportables now drop below one kilogram. Count 278 g for the USB-C charger which is also quite bulky. That said, you can obviously take it anywhere without any problem, especially with its 13-inch format which remains compact (30.4 x 21.2 x 1.5 cm).
The M2 and its slightly higher consumption than the M1 made us fear a loss of autonomy, but it is (almost) nothing: this MacBook Pro lasted 17 h 35 min in video playback on Netflix with the Chrome browser, screen adjusted at 200 cd/m², headphones plugged in and volume at 50%. A result down slightly compared to the M1, but which remains exceptional, far ahead of competing laptops which generally offer between 7 and 10 hours of autonomy at most.