Familiar design, new M2 chip: Apple M2 MacBook Pro 13-Inch Review

    The first available M2 Mac existed in a bubble of its own, but it also delivered better performance than the original M1 version.

    There wasn’t anything particularly strange about it – it looked like the last few models of 13-inch Apple laptops, both Pro and Air. But in the Apple Silicon era, I’ve become much more accustomed to the company’s new design language, the based on flat, constructivist designs with sharper angles and a studied minimalism. The same design has since been applied to the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops, the 24-inch iMac, and soon the new 13-inch MacBook Air.

    The M2 Air, with a bigger screen, better webcam, and newer design, is set to arrive sometime next month. Since both 13-inch laptops share the same M2 chip and are similarly priced, I won’t consider this a full review until I can test and compare the two systems side-by-side.

    Although this M2 MacBook Pro is the latest MacBook you can buy right now (until the revamped MacBook Air hits stores next month), it has a gently rounded edge that tapers ever so slightly at the front. It’s a throwback design that can be traced back more than a decade, starting with the first MacBook Pro with a Retina display I reviewed in 2012 to the current Touch Bar design I first reviewed in 2016.

    In fact, it looks just like the 13-inch MacBook Pro that was part of Apple’s first wave of M1 chip Macs in late 2020. Same body, same camera, same limited ports, same Touch Bar. Yes, this remains the last vestige of the Apple Touch Bar, a clever but underused second screen that’s fallen out of favor.

    And that’s exactly what this system is: the 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro, with the original M1 chip swapped out for the new M2 chip. That makes it Apple’s most powerful 13-inch laptop and will likely edge out the otherwise similar new M2 MacBook Air, as its active cooling allows it to run at higher temperatures.

    Where the M2 Fits in the Lineup

    But despite the hype, the M2 sits in a confusing place in Apple’s silicon hierarchy. It sits above the original M1 chip (which came in two versions with different numbers of graphics cores), but below the M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra. The M1 Pro and M1 Max are available in 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros. The M1 Ultra, essentially two M1 Max chips side by side, is currently only available in the new Mac Studio desktop.

    Which of these chips will show up in an eventual Mac Pro desktop overhaul or a new big-screen iMac is unknown.

    In the original M1 Mac line, I had the most difficult time reconciling the 13-inch MacBook Pro with an audience. It was more expensive than the virtually identical M1 MacBook Air, but offered the Touch Bar, active cooling, and a slightly brighter screen. For most people, with a few upgrades, the Aireven was the better choice. There’s a reason I call the MacBook Air the most universal laptop you can buy.

    With the new M2 MacBook Air just around the corner, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is an even tougher sell. The M2 Air has the newer design (plus cool colors), a slightly larger Liquid Retina display, now just as bright as the Pro, and a much-needed Full HD webcam. This leaves the 13-inch MacBook Pro as the only Mac with a below-average 720-pixel webcam.

    But there are a few reasons you might still prefer the 13-inch MacBook Pro over the new MacBook Air, or the much more expensive 14- or 16-inch MacBook Pro. We’ve outlined the most obvious reasons here, and they include:

    It’s your last chance to get a Touch Bar MacBook.

    It’s the smallest MacBook with the longest battery life (at least until we test the new Air model).

    It provides platform continuity for

    you business or creative store.

    MacBook math: M2 Mac price comparisons

    The M2 MacBook Air is currently $1,299 (1,349, AU$1,999) at launch, compared to $1,199 (1,249, AU$1,899) for the MacBook Pro. Both base models come with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. That’s a much cheaper way to get into a MacBook Pro than the 14-inch or 16-inch Pro models, which start at $1,999 and $2,499.

    We tested the new M2 MacBook Pro and compared it with the almost identical M1 13″ MacBook Pro and the 14″ MacBook Pro with M1 Pro chip. As shown in the charts below, the M2 is a notable lead over the M1, but not as strong as the next chip in the chain, the M1 Pro. The last generation Intel MacBook Pro was way behind, while a new (and more expensive) premium Windows laptop from Razer with a 12th Gen Intel Core i7 and Nvidia 3070Ti GPU was also faster.

    While we won’t know for sure until we can test the M2 Air, based on our previous testing, I expect only minor performance differences between the M2 laptops. Both M2 laptops come with 24GB of RAM and 2TB of storage.

    In my hands-on experience, it felt exactly as it is – a modest internal bump over the M1 version. When the M1 chips came out, I was amazed that I could edit and play back 4K video clips with ease, and only a little stuttering when applying real-time effects and color corrections in Premiere. The M2 version was even better, but not as good as the video editing we tried on our MacBook Pro and Mac Studio systems with the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.

    I love the new MacBook Air design and its upgrades to the display and webcam. I suspect the 13-inch Pro will only appeal to a very specific subset of buyers, e.g. B. Those who want better cooling and want to jump into the Pro line without spending $2,000 or more.

    For everyone else, I’d suggest waiting to see what the M2 version of the MacBook Air can do when it arrives sometime in July.

     The Cents Warrior

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