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MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review

The new MacBook Pro delivers great performance along with astounding battery life but is that enough?

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) sitting on a desk —MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The Apple MacBook Pro 2022 delivers mind-blowing performance thanks to its M2 processor along with class-leading battery life. But the design feels behind the times.

Pros

  • +

    Blazing-fast performance

  • +

    Amazing battery life

  • +

    Sharp, vibrant display

  • +

    Comfortable keyboard

Cons

  • -

    Same old design

  • -

    720p webcam

  • -

    Limited ports

MacBook Pro M2 (2022): Specs

Starting price: $1,299
Display: 13.3 inches (2560 x 1600)
Processor: Apple M2 (8-core)
Graphics: Integrated 8-core M2 CPU | Integrated 10-core GPU
Storage: 256GB to 2TB (1 TB as reviewed)
Memory: 8GB to 24GB (16 GB as reviewed)
Ports: 2 Thunderbolt / USB 4, headphone jack
Touch Bar: Yes
Security: Touch ID
Audio: Stereo speakers, Dolby Atmos support
Size: 11.94 x 8.36 x 0.61 inches
Weight: 3.0 pounds

The 13-inch MacBook Pro 2022 (from $1,299) is the first M2-powered Apple laptop to hit the market. While the design hasn't changed, Apple promises a big leap in performance, whether you're editing photos or videos or running multiple applications at once.

And based on our tests, the M2 chip delivers, offering performance that destroys competing Windows laptops. The M2 also beats the M1 chip by a significant margin in various benchmarks. Plus, the new MacBook Pro 2022 delivers among the longest battery life we've seen from a modern laptop, surpassing 18 hours of runtime.

However, while this notebook sports a new slice of Apple silicon, the design shows its age. You get the same form factor, same ports, same display and same webcam. Meanwhile, the new MacBook Air 2022 offers a larger display with thinner bezels, a 1080p webcam and a thinner, lighter design.

It would be easy to say the new MacBook Pro isn’t worthwhile and that it’s better to wait for its modern cousin, the MacBook Air. There’s some truth to that sentiment, but it wouldn’t be wise to dismiss this product, which is still one of the best laptops for power users.

Read the rest of our full MacBook Pro 2022 review to see if it's worth the investment.

MacBook Pro 2022 review: Price and configurations 

  • Starts at $1,299
  • Upgradable to 24 GB of memory and 2 TB of storage
  • 67W USB-C charger included

The M2-powered MacBook Pro is available now for a starting price of $1,299 on Apple’s website (opens in new tab). This is identical to its predecessor, though it’s $100 more than the $1,199 starting price of the upcoming MacBook Air 2022.

The base model features a 13.3-inch (2560 x 1600) display, an M2 processor with an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU, 8 GB of unified memory and 256 GB of storage. You can upgrade up to 24 GB of unified memory and 2 TB of storage if you’re willing to pay $2,499. Our review unit came with 16 GB of unified memory and 1 TB of storage, costing $1,899 as configured.

All configurations come with a 67W USB-C power adapter. You can opt for either a silver or space gray finish.

MacBook Pro 2022 review: Design and ports 

  • Same design as 2020 M1 MacBook Pro
  • Touch Bar included
  • Only two Thunderbolt ports

The MacBook Pro 2022 features the same unibody aluminum design that has been around for the better part of a decade. The laptop isn't unattractive, but the thick bezels and the infamous Touch Bar make this new laptop appear dated when compared to the contemporary MacBook Pro 14-inch, MacBook Pro 16-inch and MacBook Air 2022.

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) sitting on a desk —MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Port selection is minimal, with only two Thunderbolt/USB4 ports on the left and a headphone jack on the right. There are no configurations featuring additional ports.

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) sitting on a desk —MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In all fairness, the new MacBook Air has the same number of ports as the MacBook Pro. However, since the Air has MagSafe charging, you can argue that it has more available ports than the MacBook Pro 2022.

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MacBook Pro 2022 review: Display 

  • Sharp 13.3-inch Retina Display screen
  • Can get fairly bright

As with design, the MacBook Pro has the same 13.3-inch Retina Display as its predecessor. The screen delivers sharp images and vibrant colors. If you’re watching the Final Fantasy VII Rebirth trailer on YouTube or enjoying Prehistoric Planet on Apple TV+, you won’t be disappointed by the overall picture quality.

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) sitting on a desk —MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

This Retina Display doesn’t have the jaw-dropping image quality of the MacBook Pro 14-inch’s gorgeous mini-LED Liquid Retina XDR screen, which is disappointing. Perhaps it’s unfair of me to ask, but it would have been nice to see a machine with “Pro” in its name have an improved panel. 

Per our lab tests, the MacBook Pro 2022 achieved an average of 474.6 nits of standard brightness and 490 nits of HDR brightness. Though lower than the advertised 500 nits of brightness, it’s brighter than the M1 MacBook Pro’s 439 average. 

According to our colorimeter, the 13-inch MacBook Pro’s display produces 109.4% of the sRGB color gamut (the closer to 100%, the better). Interestingly enough, this number is slightly lower than the 111% produced by its M1-powered predecessor. As for the DCI-P3 color gamut test, the MacBook Pro 2022 registered 77.5%, which is lower than the M1 MacBook Pro’s 79.2%.

MacBook Pro 2022 review: Audio 

  • Powerful speakers
  • Good enough for music listening

The stereo speakers on the MacBook Pro 13-inch are just as great as before, delivering clear and punchy sound that fills an entire room.

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) sitting on a desk —MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The audio in programs like Waveform: The MKBHD Podcast or YouTube videos from UrAvgConsumer sound clean and crisp — making you feel as if you're in the room with those shows' respective hosts and guests. Songs like Dio’s Egypt (the chains are on) and Arch Enemy’s Sunset Over the Empire are lacking in bass but sound much better than they would on most laptop speakers.

While the 14-inch MacBook Pro's speakers have better sound, the M2 MacBook Pro's audio is still quite impressive. However, the Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7 with its Bowers and Wilkins speaker system trounces them both in the audio department.

MacBook Pro 2022 review: Performance 

  • M2 processor has stronger performance over M1
  • Handles video transcoding with ease
  • Solid for everyday work

Apple promised better performance from the M2 chip powering the new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. Though the new processor isn’t powerful as the M1 Pro and M1 Max chip, it’s a huge improvement over the original M1 chip. As things stand, this is the most powerful baseline 13-inch MacBook Pro the company has ever released.

On Geekbench 5.4, which measures overall performance, the MacBook Pro 2022 scored 8,911 on the multicore portion of the test. This is well above the M1 MacBook Pro’s 7,571 score on Geekbench 5.3. However, the beastly M1 Pro-driven MacBook Pro 14-inch scored an incredible 12,477.

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2021) sitting on a desk next to a MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022)

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2021) on the left, MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) on the right (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The new Apple laptop runs circles around the best Windows laptops, defeating notebooks like the Asus Zenbook 13 OLED (6,411) and Dell XPS 13 OLED (5,420) in the same performance test. The Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7 (7,140) came close to reaching the previous MacBook Pro's score but even it can't reach the heights achieved by the new M2 laptop.

The MacBook Pro delivered impressive results in our Handbrake video-editing test, which involves transcoding a 4K clip to 1080p. It transcoded a video in 6 minutes and 51 seconds, whereas the M1 MacBook Pro achieved the same task in 7 minutes and 46 seconds.

The Dell XPS 13 OLED took a leisurely 18 minutes and 12 seconds and the Yoga 9i needed over 12 minutes. Note that we have yet to test the new Dell XPS 13 with a 12th gen Intel chip, so we expect better performance. 

13-inch MacBook Pro (2022)13-inch MacBook Pro (2021)14-inch MacBook Pro (2021)
Starting price$1,299 $1,299$1,999
Screen13.3 inches (2560 x 1600)13.3 inches (2560 x 1600)14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display (3024x1964)
Battery life18:20 (tested)16:32 of web browsing (tested)14:08 hours (tested)
ProcessorApple M2 (8-core)Apple M1 (8-core)M1 Pro (8-core)
GraphicsIntegrated 8-core M2 GPU | Integrated 10-core GPUIntegrated 7-core M1 GPU | Integrated 8-core GPU Integrated 14-core M1 Pro GPU | Integrated 8-core CPU
Storage256GB to 2TB256GB to 4TB512GB to 8TB
Memory8GB to 24GB8GB to 32GB16GB to 64GB
Ports2 Thunderbolt 4/USB-C, headphone jack2 Thunderbolt 4/USB-C3 Thunderbolt 4, 1 HDMI, 1 MagSafe 3, 1 headphone jack, 1 SD memory card slot
Touch BarYesYesNo
SecurityTouch IDTouch IDTouch ID
AudioStereo speakers, Dolby Atmos supportStereo speakers, Dolby Atmos supportStereo speakers, Dolby Atmos support
Dimensions11.94 x 8.36 x 0.61 inches12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches12.3 x 8.7 x 0.6 inches
Weight3.0 pounds3.0 pounds3.5 pounds

As for our PugetBench test, which performs 21 tasks (three times per run) in PhotoShop, the MacBook Pro notched a score of 817 and a time of 4 minutes and 54 seconds. In contrast, the M1 MacBook Pro scored 576.6 and took 7 minutes and 3 seconds. That's a significant improvement. 

For my own purposes, which mostly involves word processing, surfing the web, watching YouTube videos and Slack messaging, the MacBook Pro was more than capable. The laptop never chugged, even when I had well over 20 open Chrome tabs while texting on Discord and running YouTube.

I also never heard the laptop’s fans kick in. Granted, I’m not a video or audio editor who pushes productivity laptops to the limit, but it’s still nice working on a notebook that remains quiet — which is something I couldn’t say about the Intel-powered MacBooks of old.

A strange quirk with the basic MacBook Pro M2's SSD has been discovered - it's actually slower than the old M1 MacBook Pro, which also has an impact on overall performance.

MacBook Pro 2022 review: Graphics and gaming 

  • Gaming performance is lacking
  • Tested titles couldn't hit 60 frames per second

The M2 chip is a monster when it comes to video and audio editing. However, in terms of gaming, it’s a major disappointment — even with titles optimized for Macs.

At 1920 x 1200 resolution and Very High graphical settings, Rise of the Tomb Raider achieved an average of only 25 frames per second. The M1 MacBook Pro saw similar results when running at 1440 x 900. Though the MacBook Pro 14-inch failed to reach a desired 60 fps, it still managed to achieve an acceptable 39 fps on average. Lara Croft deserves better than this.

Even with Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm running at 51 frames per second compared to the M1 MacBook Pro’s 38 fps average, it’s clear that Macs still aren’t highly capable gaming machines yet. Perhaps Metal 3 could be the gaming ace up Apple's sleeve, which is arriving with macOS Ventura, but as things stand, gaming on Macs isn’t yet up to snuff.

If you want one of the best gaming laptops with MacBook Pro portability, then you'd do well to consider rigs like the Alienware x14 or Asus ROG Zephyrus G14.

MacBook Pro 2022 review: Keyboard, touchpad and Touch Bar 

  • Magic Keyboard delivers comfortable writing experience
  • Touchpad is smooth and responsive
  • It has a Touch Bar? Really?

The MacBook Pro 2022’s Magic keyboard is roomy enough to comfortably type on for long stretches. I wrote and edited this entire review on the laptop without missing a beat.

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) sitting on a desk —MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The backlit keys provide a good level of resistance when pressed. I type pretty hard but didn’t feel that the keys were fragile to work on. I wish the keys made a proper “click” sound instead of a dull thud, but that’s a small complaint that frequent laptop users won’t have. I am, after all, a mechanical keyboard enthusiast.

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) sitting on a desk —MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The touchpad is just as roomy and responsive as the keyboard. Its smooth surface makes it easy to swipe and perform gestures. I’m not a fan of the hollow sound produced when clicking on the touchpad, but enabling “Tap to click” in system preferences resolved that. Who says Apple doesn’t let you customize anything?

I have mixed feelings about the Touch Bar. While I don’t necessarily hate the OLED touchscreen resting above the number keys, I would have preferred proper function keys. Considering how last year’s Pro models did away with the Touch Bar, it’s strange to see it in the 2022 MacBook Pro. This is another design aspect that makes this new machine feel outdated.

MacBook Pro 2022 review: Webcam 

  • 720p webcam quality is adequate at best

Speaking about holdovers from the past, let’s discuss the laptop’s middling webcam. In a world where so many people rely on video conferencing for work and to keep up with loved ones, a 720p camera is less than ideal. This is doubly true when 2021’s MacBook Pros and the new MacBook Air all pack 1080p cameras.

MacBook Pro 13-inch 2022 webcam

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

With that said, the picture quality isn’t horrendous. The image is somewhat grainy and washed out, but you’re still going to look presentable to whomever you’re speaking to. Apple said the M2 helps improve the 720p webcam’s overall image quality and, based on my experience, I have to say this is mostly true. Acceptable or not, it’s hard to give a 720p webcam a pass.

MacBook Pro 2022 review: Battery life and heat 

  • Epic battery life
  • Remains cool, even after long sessions

The M1 MacBook Pro was a long-lasting laptop that didn’t produce a lot of heat. Thankfully, the same is true of its M2-powered replacement. In fact, it's one of the longest-lasting laptops we've ever tested.

In our Tom’s Guide battery test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of screen brightness, the MacBook Pro 2022 lasted for 18 hours and 20 minutes. This isn’t quite the 20 hours of battery life Apple promised, but it's still extremely impressive. In contrast, the new Pro outstrips its M1 predecessor (16:25) and the MacBook Pro 14-inch (14:08). Put simply, the MacBook Pro can last for an entire work day and beyond.

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) sitting on a desk —MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

By comparison, the Snapdragon 8cx-powered Lenovo Flex 5G lasted 17 hours and 28 minutes back in 2020. And among current laptops, according to Laptop Mag's list of laptops with the best battery life (opens in new tab), the closest competitor is the Dell Latitude 9510 with a runtime of 18:17. 

Like the 2020 M1 MacBook Pro, this laptop doesn’t get overly warm. Its underside reached a maximum temperature of 85 degrees, which is ten degrees lower than what we consider to be uncomfortably hot for a laptop. Likewise, the touchpad never went above 79 degrees.

This is one of, if not, the coolest-running and quietest laptops I’ve ever used.

 MacBook Pro 2022 review: Software

  • macOS 12 Monterey works well with M2 chip

macOS 13 Ventura is due to launch in Fall 2022. As such, the M2 MacBook Pro comes with the current macOS 12 Monterey. If you want to know what this operating system is all about, read our full macOS 12 Monterey review.

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) sitting on a desk —MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I’m still fairly new to macOS, but as a long-time Windows user, I find Apple’s operating system easy to use and navigate. Apps open up the instant I click on them and I’m able to keep a large number on screen without any noticeable slowdown. This is due not only to macOS being a well-designed operating system but because of the M2 chip under the hood. It’ll be interesting to see what macOS Ventura can do for M2-powered Macs.

MacBook Pro 2022 review: Verdict 

I was initially skeptical of the MacBook Pro 2022 when it was revealed at WWDC 2022. M2 processor notwithstanding, the "new" laptop's design looked archaic compared to the sleek and modern MacBook Air 2022. The fact you’re paying just $100 more over the thinner laptop made it even harder to justify.

Though I maintain that the new MacBook Air is the overall better deal, my feelings toward the Pro have changed after extensive hands-on testing. The new 13-inch Pro is a very capable laptop for professionals. Objectively, it's one of the best laptops you can buy.

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) sitting on a desk —MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The 13-inch Pro's active cooling system, 10-GPU cores as standard and insanely long battery arguably make this laptop worth the premium. And while the M2 chip might not be as powerful as the M1 Pro and M1 Max processors, it’s far beyond the M1. As I said before, this is the most powerful 13-inch base-model MacBook Pro Apple has ever produced.

Design aside, the MacBook Pro 2022 is a definitive improvement over its predecessor. It even blows away the beloved MacBook Air with M1. Because of that, the new MacBook Pro has earned a spot on our best laptops list.

If you need a laptop that can deliver sustained performance and unmatched battery life, the MacBook Pro 2022 is a worthwhile investment. This is especially true for those who are still lugging around an Intel-powered Apple laptop. But if you don’t require a machine for creative projects, you might want to wait for the new Air.

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.