M2 MacBook Pro reviews go in-depth on performance

Ahead of the first orders arriving to shoppers on Friday, reviews of the new M2 MacBook Pro have officially hit the web. The new entry-level MacBook Pro is virtually the same as the previous-generation model in every way, which makes the new M2 chip the star of the show. These reviews provide our first look at the M2 chip and its performance.

The Verge ran some comparisons between the M2 MacBook Pro and its M1 predecessor, as well as the M1 Pro chip found in the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro. This is true almost exclusively for single-core tasks, not multi-core tasks.

The M2 did edge out the pricier M1 Pro in the single-core benchmarks I ran. That’s impressive in itself (it indicates that though the M1 Pro has more power cores than the M2 does, those cores aren’t as strong as the M2’s power cores on an individual level). But it also bodes well for the M2 Pro, Max, and Ultra variants that we’ll presumably see down the line; they’ll likely display single-core speed improvements over their M1-based predecessors, rather than just loading on more cores.

How did this thing do on benchmarks? In CPU results — Geekbench, Cinebench, the Xcode benchmark, etc. — the results we’re seeing are somewhat better than the M1. In GPU tests, including some games, the results are substantially better.

An in-depth round of benchmarks from Six Colors also corroborates this. Jason Snell explains that the M2 chip will outperform any M1 machine in terms of single-core testing, purely because the M2 is based on the A15, while the M1 is baed on the A14. The memory is faster with the M2 chip, as well:

The M2 also includes some features that previously existed only on the higher-end members of the M1 chip family. It has increased performance in 4K video encoding and decoding and supports faster LP5 memory—and that memory can be a little denser, allowing the maximum RAM of the M2 to be 24GB, up from 16GB on the M1.

All the tests I could run on the M2 MacBook Pro bore this story out. Yes, the single-core result of an M2 MacBook Pro will beat any M1 device; that’s because this is an A15-based core, and therefore it’s faster. But of course, so much performance these days comes from using multiple cores together. And while the 8-core M2 will run faster than the 8-core M1 for obvious reasons, it can’t keep pace with the many, many cores in higher-end M1 processors.

CNET notes that that while the M2 MacBook Pro is the first M2 Mac, the true comparison will come when the M2 MacBook Air launches next month. This will give us a closer look at the M2 chip’s efficiency and performance in a machine that is completely fan-less.

Gizmodo has some broader details on M2 performance in benchmarking and how it compares to other machines on the market:

Our tests confirmed those claims, with the M2 chip propelling the MacBook Pro 13 to a Geekbench 5 score of 8,603, or about 15.2% above the previous model (7,470). While nowhere near the MacBook Pro 14 (12,663) with M1 Max or the beefier Intel chips found in gaming laptops like the Asus Zephyrus G14 (9,830), the MacBook Pro outmuscled peers like the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 (6,643) and Lenovo Yoga 9i (7,259) with the latest Intel Core i7-1260P.

You’ll notice that the focus of all of these reviews is on the M2 chip. This is because the M2 MacBook Pro is quite literally identical to the M1 MacBook Pro in every other way. It features the same design, the same Touch Bar, the same ports, and the same limitations. One of the biggest limitations is the M2 being limited to a single external display, just like the M1 before it.

Almost all of the reviews come to the same conclusion that the M2 MacBook Pro is an impressive upgrade over the M1. Battery life is impressive at around 17 hours, performance is great thanks to the M2 chip and support for up to 24GB of RAM, and high-load performance be sustained for slightly longer than before.

The design, however, is getting old — especially with the looming release of the redesigned MacBook Air and the release of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models last year.

More M2 MacBook Pro reviews:

M2 MacBook Pro video reviews

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