MacBook Pro 13 M2 test: Apple ranks second for even more performance

With its M1 chip, Apple has revolutionized the computer world by offering a version under Arm architecture that is not only highly efficient, but also with unsurpassed 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 testing of the MacBook Pro M1 in late 2020, some software was so naturally compatible with the Arm architecture, and we still had to undergo an emulation with the Rosetta. Things have changed a lot since then and we can now use most consumer software without emulation. We were therefore able to test the brand’s first computer with an M2, 13-inch MacBook Pro, with our test protocol revised several months ago, which now allows us to effectively compare the performance of different Macs and PCs. ‘is.

The price of the computer has been revised upwards with a base mark of € 1599 for a 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM. Unlike the MacBook Air, it offers a single M2 chip with 8 CPU cores and 10 GPU cores. Are the performance gains that the M2 chip offers level? Will MacBook Pro battery life be affected? That was what we wanted to verify in our test.

Editor's rating: 4 out of 5

Construction

MacBook Pro 13 M2: Apple ranks second for even more performance

No surprise, the MacBook Pro 13 M2 is simply identical to the 2020 M1 version. Apple has taken over the existing chassis by adding its new chip inside. The design of the computer therefore retains the qualities and shortcomings of its predecessor. We naturally find the anodized aluminum dear to the apple, the solidity that results from it, and the impeccable finish that comes with it.

The keyboard and touchpad are still excellent.

The keyboard and touchpad are still excellent.

The keyboard and touchpad are flawless, but connectivity is still limited to two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports. It really is not much, especially when charging the MacBook. The keyboard is backlit and the brightness adapts to the ambient lighting.

The connection is unfortunately limited to two USB-C ports ...

The connection is unfortunately limited to two USB-C ports …

The Touch Bar is also included with the Touch ID fingerprint reader, which is very convenient on a daily basis to unlock your Mac, install certain applications without having to enter a password or even log in to accounts. Touch Bar does not seem crucial to us, but some users will appreciate being able to place their shortcuts there.

The Touch Bar is still present.

The Touch Bar is still present.

The connection to the networks is made with wifi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0. As for the webcam, it films in 720p, which is starting to tarnish this price segment. It logically still does not offer Face ID. The webcam image quality is correct in broad daylight, but much noisier in low light.

To access the components, simply remove the few Pentalobe P5 screws from the chassis and then loosen the cover little by little. However, since the M1 revolution, 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 case of a problem.

The components are soldered and the MacBook Pro 13 M2 cannot be upgraded.

The components are soldered and the MacBook Pro 13 M2 cannot be upgraded.

Unlike the MacBook Air, this MacBook Pro has active ventilation that allows it to maintain its performance over time during intensive calculations (for example, video coding). 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 at the same time 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 – even though we found a hot spot at 43.8 ° C, probably where the CPU is.

Ventilation rarely starts, but there is a hot spot in the middle.

Ventilation rarely starts, but there is a hot spot in the middle.

Editor's rating: 4 out of 5

Performance

To be precise, let’s get to the part that interests us 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 an additional two GPU cores, bringing the total number 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 using LPDDR5-6400. Our test model is equipped with 16 GB of unified memory (RAM) and a 1 TB SSD.

MacBook Pro 13 M2: Apple ranks second for even more performance

Apple had announced a performance increase of about 18%, which is roughly what we could observe by comparing our CPU performance index for the MacBook Pro M1 (Index 106) with the MacBook Pro M2 (122). To be completely transparent, our MacBook Pro M1 was only equipped with 8GB of RAM, which certainly affected this finding a bit. In any case, it is a very good result, which places the M2 on a par with an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H. To compare it with the competitors’ latest processors, it turned out to be a bit faster than the Ryzen 7 6800U in an Asus Zenbook Oled 2022 or Intel Core i7-1260p in the Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro, but quite far behind processors like the Ryzen 6800H or Core i7-12700H. It’s also about 15% less efficient than the MacBook Pro M1 Pro.

MacBook Pro 13 M2: Apple ranks second for even more performance

However, the results vary greatly 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 specifically for Apple (Final Cut, Logic, etc.).

MacBook Pro 13 M2: Apple ranks second for even more performance

If the M1 Pro and M1 Max had delivered excellent graphics performance thanks to their large number of GPU cores, the more limited M2 would not come close to them. However, it allows good hardware acceleration in compatible software (Blender, Premiere, Photoshop) and reduces processing time by about 30% compared to MacBook Pro M1, but turns out to be much slower than dedicated graphics cards.Nvidia’s GeForce RTX.

MacBook Pro 13 M2: Apple ranks second for even more performance

Let us emphasize once again that the consumption of the M1 and M2 SoCs is much lower than that of the competitors – all the more so when a PC is equipped with a dedicated GPU – and that Apple is currently unsurpassed in terms of energy efficiency, which has a huge impact on the range that we will see. Another important point, 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 in order for the ventilation to be heard.

Editor's rating: 5 out of 5

Mobility / Autonomy

The weight of this MacBook Pro has not changed compared to its ancestor. With 1.4 kg in weight, it is clearly not the lightest model at the moment, as some ultra-laptops now fall below a kilo. Count 278 g for the USB-C charger, which is also quite bulky. That said, you can of course take it anywhere with ease, especially with its 13-inch format, which stays compact (30.4 x 21.2 x 1.5 cm).

The charger is quite bulky.

The charger is quite bulky.

M2 and its slightly higher consumption than M1 made us fear a loss of autonomy, but it is (almost) nothing: this MacBook Pro lasted 17 hours 35 min in video playback on Netflix with the Chrome browser, screen adjusted to 200 cd / m² , headphones connected and 50% volume. A result slightly lower compared to the M1, but which remains unique, far ahead of competing laptops, which generally offer between 7 and 10 hours of autonomy at most.

MacBook Pro 13 M2: Apple ranks second for even more performance

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