Except for the addition of a new and improved performance chip, the exterior design or enhancement of the recently released Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro was not significant or distinct. The M1 13-inch Macbook Pro now has a successor that is its identical twin though not in all regards. If push comes to shove and you were tasked to tell which model was which just by looking at them, you would most likely won’t be able to.
Both models come in the same size, have the same weight, come in the same colors, have the same dimensions, but only have the inclusion of the M2 chip as the catalyst that makes the difference between the two models. Various questions are being asked. Is it necessary? If there are no physical changes, how good of an upgrade is it? Is it worth upgrading to? All these and many more legitimate questions need answers.
Hence, this article aims to fully describe the M2 changes, contrast them with the M1 13-inch Macbook Pro, and provide some more clarification.
Comparing the M1 and the M2 Macbook Pro
1. M2 13-inch Macbook Pro vs M1 13-inch Macbook Pro: Processor
This is a major difference that separates the M2 MacBook Pro from the M1 MacBook Pro. The processor – the M2 chip is the defining difference as it’s an upgrade on the M1 chip.
Similar to the M1 chip, the M2 is based on a 5nm chip-making process. The difference here is the power of 4 billion more transistors than the M1. The core count is still the same at 8 – four performance cores and four efficiency cores.
The M1 chip features Firestorm and Icestorm cores from the A14 Bionic chip, meanwhile, the M2 chip features Avalanche and Blizzard from the A15 Bionic chip.
Also, the M2 chip runs at 3.49GHz compared to 3.2GHz for the M1 chip and has a Neural engine that is 40% faster than what is obtainable in the M1.
Following Geekbench 5 testing, the M2 chip earned a single-core score of 1928. The same chip got a multi-core score of about 8990. In contrast, the 2020MacBook Pro with an M1 chip received a single-core score of 1749 and a multi-core score of 7719.
The above results establish Apple’s claim of the M2 chip raising the bar of the performance per watt of the M1 further with an 18 percent faster CPU
Memory bandwidth and unified memory
Now it gets better. As opposed to the M1 chip which has support for 8GB or 16 GB unified, the M2 steps it all up. It has support for up to 24GB of unified memory.
Both the M1 and M2 have storage provisions from 256GB SSD and 512GB SSD ranging up to 2TB worth of storage. However, while the M1 offers 68.25GB/s memory bandwidth, the M2 offers 100GB/s. Thus, the M2 offers a wider memory bandwidth.
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2. M2 13-inch MacBook Pro vs M1 13-inch MacBook Pro: Graphical performance
This is another juicy upgrade. Apple has increased the GPU core count on the M2. The new M2 chip packs extra punches than the M1 chip in this regard. It comes with a 10-core integrated GPU as opposed to the 8-core graphics processor in the M1.
Taking everything into account, the new M2 GPU is about 25% faster than the M1 at the same power level and moves up to about 35% faster at its maximum level. The reason behind this is not far-fetched. The added GPU cores significantly boost performance.
More so, going by the Geekbench Metal benchmarks, the M2 chip garnered a score of 30,627. This is an impressive and obvious improvement compared to the 21,001 scores earned by the M1.
One common factor shared by both the M1 and the M2 is that they have dedicated video encode and decode engines for hardware-accelerated H.264.
The M2 takes it a notch higher. Its media engines now support encoding and decoding ProRes and ProRes RAW. Video editing is relatively better thanks to the inclusion of Apple’s more advanced Media Engine in the M2.
Following Apple’s analysis, this will allow the M2 to play back up to 11 streams of 4K videos and up to two streams of 8K Pro Rea videos.
To top it all off, the M2’s media engine includes a higher-bandwidth video decoder, supporting 8K H.264 and HEVC video.
3. M2 13-inch Macbook Pro vs M1 13-inch Macbook Pro: Physical Design, Display and Camera
This is where it gets tricky. Although the M2 chip is an upgrade on the M1, you would expect a few physical changes that would allow you to easily be able to tell the difference between both MacBooks. That’s where the twist comes in, there isn’t any physical difference at all. It’s the same inches – 13.3
In addition, the M2 model preserves the touch bar, but there is still a biometrics system present – Touch ID, the same keyboard, the same dimensions – 0.61 × 11.97 × 8.36 and virtually the same weight at 3.0 pounds
The display is also similar to the M1 MacBook Pro; a 13.3-inch LED-backlit display. There is a maximum resolution of 2560 × 1600, pixel density of 227, and a maximum brightness of 500 nits; all similar to the M1 model.
Both the M1 and M2 MacBook Pro models have the webcam, a 720p FaceTime HD camera. The three-mic array is still present in the M2 model.
However, there is a small improvement. The M2 has an updated signal processor and according to Apple, it could lead to little improvements in video calling such as noise reduction, white balance, etc.
4. M2 13-inch MacBook Pro vs M1 13-inch MacBook Pro: Ports & other peripherals
The M2 13-inch MacBook Pro offers the same number of ports just as the M1; 2 USB 4 / Thunderbolt 3 ports. A slight change however is introduced to the headphone jack. It now adds support for high-impedance headphones.
There haven’t been any wireless upgrades. The M2 model still supports Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 6 just like the M1 model. Also very importantly, the M2 still only supports a single external display like the M1 model. It can connect to a 6K resolution display at 60Hz.
Another notable difference is the speakers employed in the M2 model. Both the M1 and M2 13-inch MacBook Pro models make use of stereo speakers but now the M2 model supports Spatial Audio.
5. M2 13-inch MacBook Pro M1 vs M1 13-inch Macbook Pro: Charger and Battery life
There is no change to the expected battery life of the M2 model. It’s similar to the M1 model which is capped at 20 hours. The only difference is that the M2 MacBook Pro comes with a 67W Power Adapter which is higher when compared with the 61W Power Adapter of the older model.
It’s not authoritatively stated by Apple that this would speed up charging in any way.
It’s possible the M2 doesn’t get to the 20-hour peak set by Apple because even the M1 chip doesn’t fully hit the M2 peak. Nonetheless, M2 comes with some new features and higher levels of functionality and still offers impressive battery life.
READ: SSD vs M2 comparison: gaming, speed & price
6. M2 13-inch MacBook Pro M1 vs M1 13-inch Macbook Pro: Price
Whatever available update or upgrade might be produced, the price has always been and will always remain a factor.
In this case, however, both the M1 and M2 keep the same starting price at $1,299. The M2 13-inch MacBook Pro with 512GB SSD costs around $1,499 so also the M1 model. Essentially, there is a substantial difference in the price of these two different models.
The M2 13-inch MacBook Pro offers some interesting features that are not available in the M1 version. This is largely concerning improvements to the processor – the M2 which boasts of a more advanced CPU core, additional GPU cores, larger memory bandwidth, unified memory, and other impressive features.
The real question is then asked. Is it worth it? There’s no harm upgrading your M1 or opting to go for the M2 because of its cool upgrades and also because there isn’t a wide gap in the price of both models if that’s what you’re worried about.
There’s a caveat, however. Apple made modifications to the SSD on the base 256GB model. The M2 MacBook Pro has a slower SSD included on this entry-level unit although the higher-capacity models do not have this problem.
On the 256GB M1 13-inch MacBook Pro, the result for write speeds is roughly 2900 MB/s and 2200 MB/s for reading speeds. Now the twist here is that the new 256GB M2 13-inch MacBook Pro only is getting 1464 MB/s on the write speed and 1446 MB/s for the read speed.
If you’re hoping to get the new M2 13-inch Macbook Pro, you should go for the higher capacity model – the 512GB model.
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Frequently asked questions
How much faster is the M2 chip?
Following the results of the benchmark scores, the M2 chip in the 13inch Macbook Pro clocks at 3.49Hz compared to the M1’s speed of 3.2GHz.
The M2 Single-core performance is about 12% faster than the M1 chip, while multi-core performance is about 19% faster. This goes in line with Apple’s claim of the M2 being about 18% faster than the M1.
Did the M2 model retain the touch bar?
Yes, the M2 13-inch MacBook Pro still has the touch bar like the M1 model. This is the only new model that retains the touch bar as it has been removed by Apple from others such as the 14-Inch and the 16-inch MacBook Pro models dating back to 2021.
Because it wasn’t a generally accepted innovation, there are doubts about whether it would be included in future models. The M2 could be the last model that has the touch bar feature.
Is the M2 model way more expensive than the M1 model?
The prices of both the 256GB and the 512GB SSD models for the M1 and M2 13-inch Macbook Pro have relatively the same price.
The starting price of the 256GB model for both M1 and M2 13-inch Macbook Pro is around $1,299. There can be variations of about $100 – $200 but the gap between both models isn’t awfully wide.
The same is obtainable for the higher performing 512GB SSD model of both the M1 and M2 with the starting price of around $1,499.