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The M2 MacBook is the 2020 MacBook Pro with a different chip inside.

M2 Performance of a kind

The M2 provides more modest gains (although still meaningful ones, especially in terms of GPU numbers), but nonetheless solidifies Apple’s lead in terms of offering plenty of clout while minimizing power consumption.

In terms of raw benchmarking, it edged ahead of the entire M1 line in some single-core tests, and sat somewhere between an M1 and M1 Pro in multi-core performance. In the real world, this means a 16GB RAM review unit happily blazed through image editing and audio work, along with more mundane tasks.

Video encoding times are impressive too – although not leagues ahead of the M1. During encoding, it was also noticed that the fan was doing its job, kicking in when sustained power was required. By contrast, MacBook Air units throttle, extending export times.

The memory

Apple Silicon architecture does interesting things with memory. 8GB of RAM on an Intel Mac would be borderline unusable but is often fine on an Apple Silicon Mac. However, during extended use, 8GB on an M1 is sometimes problematic when running multiple heavy web apps – even if that set-up doesn’t blink when dealing with fairly complex Logic Pro projects. The same will prove to be true of the M2, but a week of testing isn’t enough to confirm. Regardless, it is recommended investing in a 16GB RAM model, for the headroom.

Objectively, this is a smart laptop. The build quality is great and screams premium. It is sleek, sturdy, not too heavy, and features Apple’s familiar and classic lines. But it is too familiar now – especially once you raise the lid.

Above a track pad the size of a tea tray, you get a high-quality backlit keyboard. But above that is the Touch Bar. Regardless of your thoughts on that feature, it is deprecated tech – no developer will care about supporting something on borrowed time. Still, if you are a fan, now is your last chance to get a Mac with one.

Elsewhere, the bezels around the display look comically chunky. In use, that won’t unduly bother you, but it does make this Mac look and feel archaic compared to Apple’s revamped laptops – and even some cheaper Windows units.

Display, camera and audio: a mostly pretty picture

Apple’s display and audio tech holds up. The screen is pin-sharp and colour-accurate. The maximum brightness level means it is viable in sunlight. Some will gripe there is no Pro-Motion, but you don’t get that on Apple’s flagship MacBook Pros yet either.

In terms of sound, nothing here will lead to you dumping your external audio kit at a charity shop, but the speakers are impressive for a device of this size. The slight thinness in bass is countered by admirable clarity. 

Random observations

  • You only get two thunderbolt ports. Note that the upcoming MacBook Air will have those and MagSafe, upping your plugging-in potential.

  • Apple reckons you will get up to 20 hours of video playback and 17 hours of wireless web browsing from this Mac. It was found that it easily got through a day with typical workloads

  • For authorization, this Mac retains Touch ID. There is also, mercifully, a physical Escape key to the left of the Touch Bar.

  • Like the M1, the M2 drives just one external display. By contrast, the M1 Pro can drive two 6K displays. Be mindful of that if you like to surround yourself with screens.

Apple MacBook Pro 13in with M2 (2022) verdict

Apple would position this as making the MacBook Pro more affordable and bringing its power to the masses.

Regardless, the machine is an anomaly, mixing up a new and impressive chip with an old design. Apple got away with that two years ago, because the M1 was a breakthrough. Today, this mix is less impressive.