Apple has just taken the covers off the M2 Pro and M2 Max chips, more powerful versions of the M2 chip currently found in the MacBook Air M2 and MacBook Pro 13-inch.
These new Pro and Max chips will be used in the new 2023 MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro, as well as a newly refreshed Mac mini.
Building upon the M2 architecture introduced last year, Apple scaled up for the M2 Pro and M2 Max. The aim is simple: to tackle professional workloads with more efficiency than the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.
The M2 Pro and M2 Max "deliver incredible pro performance along with industry-leading power efficiency," explained Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technologies. "With an even more powerful CPU and GPU, support for a larger unified memory system, and an advanced media engine, M2 Pro and M2 Max represent astonishing advancements in Apple silicon."
Apple is selling the M2 Pro in various configurations, topping off at with a 12-core CPU and as high as a 19-core GPU, with access to 32GB of fast unified memory with a bandwidth of 200GB/s. The M2 Max goes further, maxing out with a 38-core GPU, double the unified memory bandwidth at 400GB/s, and up to 96GB of unified memory.
M2 Pro and M2 Max performance
What does that mean for professional users? Well with 40 billion transistors — nearly 20% more than M1 Pro — Apple says the M2 Pro is up to 40% faster on image processing in Photoshop than its predecessor and 80% faster than the fastest Intel-based MacBook Pro with a Core i9 processor.
The M2 Max take that further with 67 billion transistors — 10 billion more than M1 Max and more than 3x that of M2 — and a GPU with up to 38 cores and a larger L2 cache. That means its graphics speeds achieve results up to 30 percent faster than those of the M1 Max.
Other highlights in the new M2 Pro and M2 Max include a “next-generation” 16-core Neural Engine that’s 40% faster than the previous generation and is capable of 15.8 trillion operations per second. And Apple notes that the chips are able to handle multiple stems of 4K and 8K ProRes video thanks to the hardware-acceleration of the H.264, HEVC, and ProRes codecs.
M2 Pro and M2 Max battery life
So these chips will outpace the already plenty powerful M1 variants. But power isn't everything, especially if it results in a compromised battery life in a laptop.
However, Apple claims the efficiency gains delivered by M2 means the new MacBook Pro achieves the longest battery life ever in a Mac: up to 22 hours. Now that’s likely under lab tests, but Apple has long been on the money with its battery life claims, so these new MacBook Pro could have some serious endurance.
M2 Pro and M2 Max outlook
In short, the M2 Pro and M2 Max look set to offer notable power and efficiency gains over their predecessors, which will be phased out by Apple.
How much this really matter in real-world use will need to shake out in our own testing. But it's gratifying to see Apple keep pushing its own silicon, which should also prompt the likes of AMD and Intel to keep making notable improvements to their chips as well.