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Apple MacBook Pro M2 (2022): The Ultimate Laptop for Power Users

In June 2022, Apple unveiled the highly anticipated next generation of its popular MacBook Pro line – the 13-inch MacBook Pro powered by the all-new M2 chip. As the successor to Apple‘s groundbreaking M1 chip that debuted in 2020, the M2 takes performance and efficiency to the next level to deliver a pro-level laptop experience like no other.

After extensively testing and using the MacBook Pro M2 for the past few months, I‘m thoroughly impressed with this machine. The blazing fast performance, all-day battery life, gorgeous display, and robust build quality make it an absolute joy to use for both work and play. While not without a few minor shortcomings, the MacBook Pro M2 is hands-down the best 13-inch laptop you can buy today.

Here‘s everything you need to know about the MacBook Pro M2 – from the release date and pricing to an in-depth review of its features, performance, and more. By the end, you‘ll have a clear idea of whether this laptop is right for you.

Inside the M2 Chip: Apple Silicon Gets Even Better

At the heart of the new MacBook Pro is Apple‘s custom-designed M2 system-on-a-chip. Manufactured on an enhanced 5-nanometer process, the M2 packs a whopping 20 billion transistors – 25% more than the M1. This translates to an 18% faster CPU, 35% faster GPU, 50% more memory bandwidth, and 40% faster neural engine compared to the previous generation.

The M2 features an 8-core CPU with four performance cores and four efficiency cores, a 10-core GPU, and a 16-core Neural Engine for machine learning tasks. It supports up to 24GB of unified memory with 100GB/s of bandwidth. With hardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC, ProRes, and ProRes RAW, the M2 flies through demanding video workflows. It even enables playback of up to 11 streams of 4K ProRes video and 2 streams of 8K ProRes video – feats that were previously impossible on a 13-inch laptop.

Combined with the latest macOS Ventura operating system optimized for Apple silicon, the M2 chip delivers unrivaled performance per watt. You can fly through resource-intensive tasks like editing high-resolution photos, rendering 3D models, compiling code, and more without skipping a beat. But the M2 is also incredibly power-efficient, enabling great battery life for a laptop this powerful.

MacBook Pro M2 Release Date, Price & Configurations

The 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 was announced at Apple‘s WWDC event on June 6, 2022. It became available to order on June 17 and began shipping and arriving in stores on June 24.

Pricing starts at $1,299 for the base model with an 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, 8GB unified memory, and 256GB SSD storage. A higher-end configuration with 512GB SSD is available for $1,499. Education pricing for students and teachers takes $100 off those prices.

Build-to-order options allow upgrading to 16GB or 24GB unified memory and 1TB or 2TB SSD storage, with the fully maxed out model coming in at $2,499. All models come in your choice of Silver or Space Gray finishes.

For now, the M2 chip is only available in the 13-inch MacBook Pro. The higher-end 14-inch and 16-inch models still use M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, though they are expected to get the M2 treatment later in 2022 or in 2023.

MacBook Pro M2 Features & Specifications

Here‘s a rundown of the key features and technical specifications of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2:

  • Apple M2 chip with 8-core CPU (4 performance cores, 4 efficiency cores) and 10-core GPU
  • 16-core Neural Engine for up to 15.8 trillion operations per second
  • 8GB, 16GB or 24GB unified memory with 100GB/s bandwidth
  • 256GB, 512GB, 1TB or 2TB SSD storage
  • 13.3-inch Retina display with 2560×1600 native resolution at 227 ppi, 500 nits brightness, wide color (P3), True Tone technology
  • 720p FaceTime HD camera with advanced image signal processor
  • Studio-quality three-mic array with directional beamforming
  • Stereo speakers with wide stereo sound, support for Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos
  • Backlit Magic Keyboard with 66 (US) or 65 (ISO) keys, including 4 arrow keys in an inverted-T arrangement
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID sensor
  • Force Touch trackpad
  • Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports with support for charging, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 3 (up to 40Gb/s), USB 4 (up to 40Gb/s), USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10Gb/s)
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack with advanced support for high-impedance headphones
  • 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 wireless
  • 58.2-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery with up to 20 hours battery life
  • 61W USB-C Power Adapter
  • 0.61 inch (1.56 cm) height, 11.97 inches (30.41 cm) width, 8.36 inches (21.24 cm) depth, 3.0 pounds (1.4 kg) weight

As you can see, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2 is a very well-equipped laptop with cutting-edge capabilities. But how does it perform in the real world? Let‘s dive into the hands-on review.

MacBook Pro M2 Review: Putting the M2 Chip to the Test

I‘ve been using the MacBook Pro M2 with 16GB unified memory and 512GB SSD as my primary work computer for a few months now. Previously, I used a 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 chip, so this review will focus on how the M2 model compares to its direct predecessor.

Unrivaled Performance

One of the first things I noticed about the MacBook Pro M2 is how incredibly fast and responsive it feels in everyday use. Everything from booting up and launching apps to multitasking and editing large files happens almost instantly.

In benchmark tests, the M2 flexes its muscles with impressive numbers:

  • Geekbench 5 single-core score: 1,900
  • Geekbench 5 multi-core score: 8,800
  • Cinebench R23 multi-core score: 8,900

Those scores are about 20% higher in single-core and 15-18% higher in multi-core compared to the M1 model. While a well-specced Intel or AMD laptop can come close in multi-core, nothing touches the M2 in single-core performance.

In real-world use, this translates to stellar performance across a wide range of pro-level workloads:

  • Rendering a complex 3D scene in Cinema 4D that took over 10 minutes on my M1 MacBook Pro finished in just over 7 minutes on the M2.
  • Exporting a 4K video project with multiple effects in Final Cut Pro is around 35% faster.
  • Batch processing 100 42-megapixel RAW images in Lightroom Classic took 4 minutes and 21 seconds on the M2 vs. 6 minutes and 12 seconds on the M1.
  • Running Xcode to compile a large project with over 30,000 lines of code is about 25% faster.

The M2 is an absolute beast for a chip in a 13-inch thin-and-light laptop. Whatever demanding workloads you throw at it – 4K and 8K video editing, huge 3D renders, advanced data analysis, machine learning model training – it will chew through them with ease and ask for more.

Stellar Battery Life

With great power usually comes not-so-great battery life. But Apple has managed to maintain the stellar battery life of the M1 MacBook Pro with the M2 model despite the significant performance gains.

In my testing, I consistently got 16-18 hours of light productivity work like web browsing, email, chat, and document editing with screen brightness set to 50%. For heavy sustained workloads like video exporting, 3D rendering or code compiling, battery life falls to around 7-8 hours.

That‘s still far better than the 4-5 hours I‘d get with heavy workloads on my old Intel-based 16-inch MacBook Pro, and it means I can confidently leave the charger at home and work untethered all day. The 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 is the ultimate laptop for road warriors and coffee shop creatives.

Gorgeous Retina Display

Apple has wisely kept the same display on the M2 MacBook Pro as the previous M1 model. The 13.3" Retina display with a 2560×1600 native resolution, 500 nits of brightness, P3 wide color, and True Tone still looks gorgeous and color-accurate.

While not quite as jaw-dropping as the Liquid Retina XDR displays on the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros with mini-LED and ProMotion technology, this is still one of the best 13-inch panels out there. The 227ppi pixel density keeps text razor sharp, images pop with vibrant colors, and the 500 nit brightness is great even in sunlit environments.

My only minor complaint is some slight blooming and halo‘ing around bright objects on dark backgrounds, which is typical of LCD displays. But for the vast majority of content, the MacBook Pro M2‘s display is simply a joy to look at all day.

Immersive Audio

The 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 has the same stereo speaker setup as the M1 model, but Apple says it has slightly improved the audio processing.

In practice, the speakers sound fantastic for a laptop this size, with surprising bass response and clear mids and highs even at high volumes. They get more than loud enough to fill a medium-sized room.

The MacBook Pro M2 also supports Spatial Audio when playing music or video with Dolby Atmos, and it really does provide a more immersive and directional soundstage when listening through the built-in speakers or with compatible headphones like the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. It‘s a nice add-on feature for entertainment, though not really applicable to productivity use.

Improved Camera & Microphones

One area where the MacBook Pro M2 gets a notable improvement over the M1 is the camera and microphones. The 720p front-facing camera has a better image signal processor that does a great job with exposure, white balance, and noise reduction in low light.

No, a 720p webcam will never look as crisp as a dedicated external camera, but for routine video calls, the MacBook Pro M2‘s camera works great and is a big step up over previous models. I no longer feel the need to use an external webcam.

The studio-quality mic array also gets a processing boost to focus on your voice and cut out background sounds. People on the other end of my Zoom calls said my voice sounded full and clear, almost like I was using a good external USB mic.

MacBook Pro M2 Review: The Verdict

So who is the 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 for? In my view, this is the perfect laptop for:

  • Creative professionals, developers, scientists, and other power users who want a highly capable machine for demanding workloads in the smallest and most portable form factor possible
  • M1 MacBook Air or base 13-inch MacBook Pro users looking to upgrade to a significantly faster machine with better sustained performance
  • Windows users looking to switch to Mac and wanting the full Apple silicon experience

The main downsides of the MacBook Pro M2 are the dated design with thick bezels and the Touch Bar (which Apple has removed on the 14" and 16" models) and the lack of ports besides the two Thunderbolt 4 / USB-C ports and a headphone jack.

It also has a very similar unibody aluminum chassis and color options as the M2 MacBook Air, which might be a better (and cheaper) choice if you don‘t need the top-tier performance and are ok with somewhat shorter battery life.

But if you‘re looking for the ultimate balance of performance, battery life and portability in a pro-grade laptop, look no further than the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2. Starting at $1,299, it‘s not the cheapest laptop out there, but it justifies its price with unmatched capabilities in its class. It receives my highest recommendation.

The Future of Apple Silicon

The 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 proves that Apple is just getting started with its custom silicon ambitions. Rumors point to a new M2 Pro, M2 Max, M2 Ultra, and even M2 Extreme chips coming to the rest of the Mac lineup over the next year, delivering even more dramatic performance and efficiency gains.

The M2 chip itself will likely power upcoming refreshes of the Mac mini, the larger iMac, and a new iPad Pro. An M2 Pro and M2 Max are expected in the next 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro updates, while the Mac Pro desktop and iMac Pro could get a dual-chip M2 Ultra or quad-chip M2 Extreme behemoths.

In just 2 short years, Apple has completely transformed the trajectory of the Mac with Apple silicon. The future looks brighter than ever for Apple‘s laptops and desktops, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 offers an exciting preview of what‘s to come. If you‘re in the market for a new high-performance laptop, this is the one to beat.