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Apple Announces M1 Pro & M1 Max: Giant New Arm SoCs with All-Out Performance

  • Apple M1 Pro
  • Apple M1 Max

macbook m1 presentation

Today’s Apple Mac keynote has been very eventful, with the company announcing a new line-up of MacBook Pro devices, powered by two different new SoCs in Apple’s Silicon line-up: the new M1 Pro and the M1 Max.

The M1 Pro and Max both follow-up on last year’s M1, Apple’s first generation Mac silicon that ushered in the beginning of Apple’s journey to replace x86 based chips with their own in-house designs. The M1 had been widely successful for Apple, showcasing fantastic performance at never-before-seen power efficiency in the laptop market. Although the M1 was fast, it was still a somewhat smaller SoC – still powering devices such as the iPad Pro line-up, and a corresponding lower TDP, naturally still losing out to larger more power-hungry chips from the competition.

Today’s two new chips look to change that situation, with Apple going all-out for performance, with more CPU cores, more GPU cores, much more silicon investment, and Apple now also increasing their power budget far past anything they’ve ever done in the smartphone or tablet space.

The M1 Pro: 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, 33.7bn Transistors in 245mm²

The first of the two chips which were announced was the so-called M1 Pro – laying the ground-work for what Apple calls no-compromise laptop SoCs.

macbook m1 presentation

Apple started off the presentation with a showcase of the packaging, there the M1 Pro is shown to continue to feature very custom packaging, including the still unique characteristic that Apple is packaging the SoC die along with the memory dies on a single organic PCB, which comes in contrast to other traditional chips such as from AMD or Intel which feature the DRAM dies either in DIMM slots, or soldered onto the motherboard. Apple’s approach here likely improves power efficiency by a notable amount.

The company divulges that they’ve doubled up on the memory bus for the M1 Pro compared to the M1, moving from a 128-bit LPDDR4X interface to a new much wider and faster 256-bit LPDDR5 interface, promising system bandwidth of up to 200GB/s. We don’t know if that figure is exact or rounded, but an LPDDR5-6400 interface of that width would achieve 204.8GB/s.

macbook m1 presentation

In a much-appreciated presentation move, Apple actually showcased the die shots of both the M1 Pro and M1 Max, so we can have an immediate look at the chip’s block layout, and how things are partitioned. Let’s start off with the memory interfaces, which are now more consolidated onto two corners of the SoC, rather than spread out along two edges like on the M1. Because of the increased interface width, we’re seeing quite a larger portion of the SoC being taken up by the memory controllers. However, what’s even more interesting, is the fact that Apple now apparently employs two system level cache (SLC) blocks directly behind the memory controllers.

Apple’s system level cache blocks have been notable as they serve the whole SoC, able to amplify bandwidth, reduce latency, or simply just save power by avoiding memory transactions going off-chip, greatly improving power efficiency. This new generation SLC block looks quite a bit different to what we’ve seen on the M1. The SRAM cell areas look to be larger than that of the M1, so while we can’t exactly confirm this right now, it could signify that each SLC block has 16MB of cache in it – for the M1 Pro that would mean 32MB of total SLC cache.

macbook m1 presentation

On the CPU side of things, Apple has shrunk the number of efficiency cores from 4 to 2. We don’t know if these cores would be similar to that of the M1 generation efficiency cores, or if Apple adopted the newer generation IP from the A15 SoC – we had noted that the new iPhone SoC had some larger microarchitectural changes in that regard.

On the performance core side, Apple has doubled things up to 8 cores now. Apple’s performance cores were extremely impressive on the M1, however were lagging behind other 8-core SoCs in terms of multi-threaded performance. This doubling up of the cores should showcase immense MT performance boosts.

On the die shot, we’re seeing that Apple is seemingly mirroring two 4-core blocks, with the L2 caches also being mirrored. Although Apple quotes 24MB of L2 here, I think it’s rather a 2x12MB setup, with an AMD core-complex-like setup being used. This would mean that the coherency of the two performance clusters is going over the fabric and SLC instead. Naturally, this is speculation for now, but it’s what makes most sense given the presented layout.

macbook m1 presentation

In terms of CPU performance metrics, Apple made some comparisons to the competition – in particular the SKUs being compared here were Intel’s Core i7-1185G7, and the Core i7-11800H, 4-core and 8-core variants of Intel’s latest Tiger Lake 10nm 'SuperFin' CPUs.

Apple here claims, that in multi-threaded performance, the new chips both vastly outperform anything Intel has to offer, at vastly lower power consumption. The presented performance/power curves showcase that at equal power usage of 30W, the new M1 Pro and Max are 1.7x faster in CPU throughput than the 11800H, whose power curve is extremely steep. Whereas at an equal performance levels – in this case using the 11800H's peak performance – Apple says that the new M1 Pro/Max achieves the same performance with 70% lower power consumption. Both figures are just massive discrepancies and leap ahead of what Intel is currently achieving.

macbook m1 presentation

Alongside the powerful CPU complexes, Apple is also supersizing their custom GPU architecture. The M1 Pro now features a 16-core GPU, with an advertised compute throughput performance of 5.2 TFLOPs. What’s interesting here, is that this new much larger GPU would be supported by the much wider memory bus, as well as the presumably 32MB of SLC – this latter essentially acting similarly to what AMD is now achieving with their GPU Infinity Cache.

macbook m1 presentation

Apple’s GPU performance is claimed to vastly outclass any previous generation competitor integrated graphics performance, so the company opted to make direct comparisons to medium-end discrete laptop graphics. In this case, pitting the M1 Pro against a GeForce RTX 3050 Ti 4GB, with the Apple chip achieving similar performance at 70% less power. The power levels here are showcased as being at around 30W – it’s not clear if this is total SoC or system power or Apple just comparing the GPU block itself.

macbook m1 presentation

Alongside the GPU and CPUs, Apple also noted their much-improved media engine, which can now handle hardware accelerated decoding and encoding of ProRes and ProRes RAW, something that’s going to be extremely interesting to content creators and professional videographers. Apple Macs have generally held a good reputation for video editing, but hardware accelerated engines for RAW formats would be a killer feature that would be an immediate selling point for this audience, and something I’m sure we’ll hear many people talk about.

The M1 Max: A 32-Core GPU Monstrosity at 57bn Transistors & 432mm²

Alongside the M1 Pro, Apple also announced a bigger brother – the M1 Max. While the M1 Pro catches up and outpaces the laptop competition in terms of performance, the M1 Max is aiming at delivering something never-before seen: supercharging the GPU to a total of 32 cores. Essentially it’s no longer an SoC with an integrated GPU, rather it’s a GPU with an SoC around it.

macbook m1 presentation

The packaging for the M1 Max changes slightly in that it’s bigger – the most obvious change is the increase of DRAM chips from 2 to 4, which also corresponds to the increase in memory interface width from 256-bit to 512-bit. Apple is advertising a massive 400GB/s of bandwidth, which if it’s LPDDR5-6400, would possibly be more exact at 409.6GB/s. This kind of bandwidth is unheard of in an SoC, but quite the norm in very high-end GPUs.

macbook m1 presentation

On the die shot of the M1 Max, things look quite peculiar – first of all, the whole top part of the chip above the GPU essentially looks identical to the M1 Pro, pointing out that Apple is reusing most of the design, and that the Max variant simply grows downwards in the block layout.

The additional two 128-bit LPDDR5 blocks are evident, and again it’s interesting to see here that they’re also increasing the number of SLC blocks along with them. If indeed at 16MB per block, this would represent 64MB of on-chip generic cache for the whole SoC to make use of. Beyond the obvious GPU uses, I do wonder what the CPUs are able to achieve with such gigantic memory bandwidth resources.

macbook m1 presentation

The M1 Max is truly immense – Apple disclosed the M1 Pro transistor count to be at 33.7 billion, while the M1 Max bloats that up to 57 billion transistors. AMD advertises 26.8bn transistors for the Navi 21 GPU design at 520mm² on TSMC's 7nm process; Apple here has over double the transistors at a lower die size thanks to their use of TSMC's leading-edge 5nm process. Even compared to NVIDIA's biggest 7nm chip, the 54 billion transistor server-focused GA100, the M1 Max still has the greater transistor count.

In terms of die sizes, Apple presented a slide of the M1, M1 Pro and M1 Max alongside each other, and they do seem to be 1:1 in scale. In which case, the M1 we already know to be 120mm², which would make the M1 Pro 245mm², and the M1 Max about 432mm².

macbook m1 presentation

Most of the die size is taken up by the 32-core GPU, which Apple advertises as reaching 10.4TFLOPs. Going back at the die shot, it looks like Apple here has basically mirrored their 16-core GPU layout. The first thing that came to mind here was the idea that these would be 2 GPUs working in unison, but there does appear to be some shared logic between the two halves of the GPU. We might get more clarity on this once we see software behavior of the system.

macbook m1 presentation

In terms of performance, Apple is battling it out with the very best available in the market, comparing the performance of the M1 Max to that of a mobile GeForce RTX 3080, at 100W less power (60W vs 160W). Apple also includes a 100W TDP variant of the RTX 3080 for comparison, here, outperforming the NVIDIA discrete GPU, while still using 40% less power.

macbook m1 presentation

Today's reveal of the new generation Apple Silicon has been something we’ve been expecting for over a year now, and I think Apple has managed to not only meet those expectations, but also vastly surpass them. Both the M1 Pro and M1 Max look like incredibly differentiated designs, much different than anything we’ve ever seen in the laptop space. If the M1 was any indication of Apple’s success in their silicon endeavors, then the two new chips should also have no issues in laying incredible foundations for Apple’s Mac products, going far beyond what we’ve seen from any competitor.

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Apple M1 Chip: Everything You Need to Know

Apple in November 2020 released the first Macs with an Arm-based M1 chip, debuting 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air , and Mac mini models. In early 2021, Apple added the M1 iMac and the M1 iPad Pro . The M1 chip received rave reviews for its incredible performance and efficiency, and it is the culmination of more than a decade of Apple's work on chips created for the iPhone and the iPad .

new m1 chip

Apple's M1 Chip Explained

The M1 was the first Apple-designed System on a Chip (SoC) that's been developed for use in Macs. It marked Apple's first step toward transitioning away from the Intel chips that the Cupertino company used in Macs since 2006.

apple m1 chip

Before Apple silicon, Macs used multiple chips for CPU, I/O, and security, but Apple's effort to integrate these chips is the reason why the M1 is so much faster and more efficient than prior Intel chips. The unified memory architecture that Apple has included is also a major factor because all of the technologies in the M1 are able to access the same data without having to swap between multiple pools of memory.

m1 chip unified memory architecture speed

There are 16 billion transistors on the M1, which is the most Apple has ever put into a chip for the fastest CPU core available in low-power silicon and unparalleled CPU performance per watt. Apple's chip design has allowed it to create Macs that are faster and more power-efficient than was possible with Intel-designed chips, and further enhancements are available through the new tighter integration of an Apple-designed chip paired with Apple-designed software.

What's Different About the M1

Unlike Intel chips built on the x86 architecture, the Apple Silicon M1 uses an Arm-based architecture much like the A-series chips that Apple has been designing for iPhones and iPads for years now.

m1 chip slide

Macs With M1 Chip

Apple has released the 2020 ‌MacBook Air‌, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and ‌Mac mini‌ with M1 chips, replacing the low-end machines in those lineups.

apple m1 macs trio

CPU, GPU, and Neural Engine

The M1 chip includes an 8-core CPU with four high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. The high-performance cores are designed to offer the best performance for power-intensive single-threaded tasks.

The four high-performance cores can work together to offer impressive multithreaded performance that has allowed the M1 Macs to outshine even the highest-end 16-inch MacBook Pro models.

Apple says these cores offer performance similar to the prior-generation dual-core ‌MacBook Air‌, but at much lower power. These cores can work alone when significant power isn't needed, but for demanding tasks, all eight cores can be engaged at one time.

Benchmarks of the ‌MacBook Air‌, MacBook Pro, and ‌Mac mini‌ have confirmed the M1 chip's impressive performance. There are some thermal differences between the models, but all have the highest single-core performance out of any Mac and multi-core performance on par with Apple's desktops.

m1 macs geekbench score charts

The ‌Apple Silicon‌ chip has an 8-core GPU, but there's also a version used in the entry-level ‌MacBook Air‌ models that has one of the cores disabled for a 7-core GPU.

GPUs in the ‌Mac mini‌, MacBook Pro, and higher-end M1 ‌MacBook Air‌ models are all 8-core GPUs capable of running close to 25,000 threads simultaneously and with 2.6 teraflops of throughput. According to Apple, the M1 has the fastest integrated graphics in a personal computer.

m1 mac gpu benchmark

Neural Engine

The M1 chip has a built-in Neural Engine, a component that Apple first started adding to its A-series chips a few years ago. The Neural Engine is designed to accelerate machine learning tasks across the Mac for things like video analysis, voice recognition, image processing, and more.

The 16-core Neural Engine is capable of 11 trillion operations per second for up to 15x faster machine learning performance compared to the previous generation of models that have moved to the M1.

Apple M1 Speed

The M1 chip brings up to 3.5x faster CPU performance, up to 6x faster GPU performance, and up to 15x faster machine learning capabilities compared to the Intel chips used in prior-generation machines.

Compared to the latest PC laptop chips, the M1 offers 2x faster CPU performance and does so using just 25 percent of the power.

Battery Life

Even with the incredible speed improvements that the M1 chip brings, it is also more battery-efficient than any other Mac chip Apple has released to date.

Battery life in an M1 Mac lasts up to 2x longer than in prior-generation Macs. The Mac with the longest battery life is the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which lasts for up to 20 hours. That's double the battery life of the prior-generation model.

M1 Security Features

Intel Macs had a built-in T2 chip that handled security and other features on the Macs, but with the M1 chips, that functionality is built right in and a secondary chip isn't required.

The M1 has a built-in Secure Enclave that manages Touch ID and a storage controller with AES encryption hardware for SSD performance that's faster and more secure.

Running Apps on M1 Macs

Because the M1 chip is using different architecture, Apple has built tools to allow developers to create Universal app binaries that run flawlessly on both ‌Apple Silicon‌ and Intel chips, plus it has developed the Rosetta 2 translation layer that allows x86 apps to run on the M1 chip.

rosetta 2

With Rosetta 2, apps designed for Intel machines will continue to run on M1 Macs with some limited performance compromises. For the most part, apps run similarly on both Intel and M1 Macs due to the performance improvements introduced in the M1.

Everything should function as normal when transitioning to M1 Macs, and over the course of a few years, most popular Mac apps will likely be built to run on the M1 Macs natively. Right now, there is one major compromise when choosing an M1 Mac, and that's Windows support.

There is no Boot Camp for M1 Macs and M1 Macs are not officially able to run Windows, although some users are figuring out ways to make it work. Official support could come in the future, but it largely depends on Microsoft licensing its Arm-based version of Windows to consumers, and so far, that hasn't happened.

M1 Macs can run ‌iPhone‌ and ‌iPad‌ apps as well as Mac apps, so long as app developers make them available on the Mac. There used to be a way to sideload any iOS app on an M1 Mac, but that functionality was removed in January 2021 .

M1 Mac How Tos

Since the M1 Macs are using a new type of chip designed by Apple, there are some tips and tricks for doing things like transferring files, entering recovery mode, and finding apps optimized for the new machines. We have several M1-specific how tos that are worth checking out.

  • How to Use Apple Diagnostics to Test Your Mac
  • How to Tell Which Apps Are Optimized for M1 Apple Silicon Macs
  • How to Transfer Files Between an Apple Silicon Mac and Another Mac
  • How to Reinstall macOS on an M1 MacBook Air, M1 MacBook Pro, and M1 Mac Mini
  • How to Install Rosetta on Your M1 Apple Silicon Mac
  • How to Start Up in Safe Mode on an M1 Apple Silicon Mac
  • How to Install iPhone or iPad Apps on an M1 Mac
  • How to Repair the Startup Disk on M1 Apple Silicon Macs
  • How to Turn Off Optimized Battery Charging in macOS
  • How to Check the Battery Health of Your Apple Silicon MacBook
  • How to Launch the Intel Version of a Universal Apple Silicon App

M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra

Apple followed the M1 chip with the M1 Pro and M1 Max , introduced in October 2021 in the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro machines , and the M2 in June of 2022. The ‌M1 Pro‌ and ‌M1 Max‌ are faster variants of the M1, with both chips equipped with a 10-core CPU that has two high-efficiency cores and eight high-power cores.

m1 pro vs max feature

Apple in June 2022 introduced the ‌M2‌ chip in the updated ‌MacBook Air‌ and 13-inch MacBook Pro. The ‌M2‌ features the same 8-core CPU as the M1, but it offers more GPU cores, with nine and 10-core GPU options, up from the 7 and 8-core options in the original M1 chip.

Guide Feedback

Have questions about the M1 chip, know of a feature we left out, or want to offer feedback on this guide? Send us an email here .

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MacBook Pro M1 review (13-inch, 2020): Pro, but only to a point

Apple’s m1 chip makes it zippy and efficient, but also limited for professionals..

Apple's new MacBook Air proved that its M1 chip is a powerful beast, even in a thin and light machine. It's so good, in fact, it made me wonder if the M1-equipped 13-inch MacBook Pro could be much better. The M1 chip is the same across both machines, save for one missing GPU core on the base MacBook Air. So why pay more, especially when you can get an M1 Air for hundreds less than the equivalent M1 MacBook Pro?

The simple answer, really, is that you get a fan on the MacBook Pro , whereas the Air is cooled passively. That lone fan lets the Pro handle sustained workloads with ease, including lengthy video encoding or 3D rendering. You know, the sort of work done by exactly the sort of professionals Apple is targeting. The Air, on the other hand, is speedy at the start, but slows down if it has to stress itself for too long. The problem is, some of the MacBook Pro’s other limitations may turn off the most demanding users.

MacBook Pro 13-inch M1

But let's cover the basics first. Like the M1-equipped Air , this retooled MacBook Pro is physically identical to the previous model. It has the same aluminum case; there are still only two USB-C ports; and it's pretty portable at three pounds. It would have been nice to see Apple attempt a serious redesign, especially one that further differentiated the Pro from the Air, which is a mere two-tenths of a pound lighter. Plenty of PC makers are pushing their 13-inch ultraportables below 2.5 pounds, so I'm sure Apple can manage that.

The MacBook Pro's 13.3-inch screen is 100 nits brighter than the Air's, but otherwise both computers share the same 2,560 x 1,600 Retina Display. The Pro also has Apple's Touch Bar, which provides touchscreen shortcuts for basic system functions and apps. I've never been a huge fan of the Touch Bar, but at least Apple has refined it a bit to make room for a physical escape key and power button/Touch ID sensor. Personally, the fact that the Air doesn't have a Touch Bar makes me prefer it even more. Beyond that, the MacBook Pro has the sam refined keyboard that Apple unveiled earlier this year, which is more comfortable and more reliable than the flat butterfly design.

Now let's focus on what makes this MacBook Pro so special: Apple's new M1 system-on-a-chip. That SOC packs a punch, with eight CPU cores and up to eight GPU cores. It's built on a 5-nanometer process, which is even more intricate than AMD's 7-nanometer chips. Intel, meanwhile, doesn't expect to have any 7nm hardware until 2022. By betting on a 5nm ARM-based design, Apple has managed to craft something that's both powerful and energy efficient. The only downside is that it's a completely different architecture than the x86 Intel chips Apple previously relied on, so older apps have to run through the Rosetta 2 emulator to function.

After being blown away by the performance of the MacBook Air M1, I expected the MacBook Pro to deliver a similar experience, with a bit more power thanks to its improved cooling. And that's pretty much what I saw over the past week with our review model, which was equipped with 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD alongside the M1 chip. The computer turned on almost instantly the first time I lifted the lid. And it only took a few minutes for me to get through the setup process.

Compared to Apple's recent intel-equipped MacBook Pros, the M1 model feels ridiculously fast. Apps launch within seconds; Safari loads enormous websites in the blink of an eye; and I can juggle a variety of software, including Evernote, Slack, Spotify and multiple web browsers without having the system break a sweat. I didn't run into any issues with the Intel emulation either. In most cases apps like Evernote felt even faster than on an x86 PC. Developers are also quickly updating their software to run natively on the M1. Even Google wasted no time delivering an optimized version of Chrome (after a slight hiccup).

Since the M1 chip is based on the same architecture as Apple’s mobile hardware, it can also run iOS and iPad apps. I didn’t find that to be very useful on the MacBook Pro, though — it was more of a curiosity. It’s also something developers can opt out of entirely, so don’t expect to find Google or Facebook in the Mac App Store.

You can play plenty of games on the MacBook pro too, thanks to the M1's powerful GPU cores. Just like on the MacBook Air, I was able to run Fortnite smoothly in 720p. That's impressive since it's running via Rosetta 2 emulation. But Fortnite is also pretty buggy, since Epic hasn't updated it in months due to its ongoing legal battle with Apple. Apple Arcade titles like The Pathless and The Last Campfire ran flawlessly at 60 frames per second, but that's not too surprising since they also run well on the iPhone and iPad. When it comes to gaming on computers, Apple has always lagged behind Windows PCs. But I wouldn't be surprised if more developers start paying attention to Macs now that they see what the M1 can do.

Even though it's equipped with a fan, I rarely hear it turn on. You really have to stress the M1 MacBook Pro with something like a lengthy video rendering job to make that spin up. And when it does kick in, it's far quieter than it usually is on Intel machines. That's likely because it just doesn't have to work as hard to keep things cool. Even under a heavy workload, the system felt warm to the touch, but not scorching hot like some earlier models. The MacBook Pro’s battery life is yet another example of how efficient the M1 chip can be. The system lasted 16 and a half hours in our battery benchmark, which involves looping a video at fixed brightness. At the end of a typical workday, it usually has around seven hours of juice left.

As impressive as this MacBook Pro is, I'll admit it doesn't feel much different than the M1 MacBook Air during normal use. The Geekbench and Cinebench R21 scores on the two systems are practically identical when it comes to single core performance, though I saw a noticeable bump when it came to multi-core speeds. Still, the fact that the Air is competitive at all is a testament to what Apple was able to cram into the M1 in the first place. But once you start looking at the M1 through the eyes of professional users, its flaws become more obvious.

The biggest issue: It's limited to 16GB of RAM, which means it's not ideal for working with large files or serious media work. The M1 chip also only supports one external display, so anyone sporting dual monitors on their desk is out of luck. (There is a workaround for more external displays using DisplayPort adapters and the DisplayLink software , but that's not officially supported by Apple.) There's also no support for external GPUs, something that's admittedly a bit niche, but a huge downside for anyone using those devices to beef up their graphics performance. All of these concerns are why Apple is still offering Intel-powered MacBook Pros, which support up to 32GB of RAM, multiple displays and eGPUs.

If you're a professional who relies on specific software and plugins, you may also run into issues with the M1's emulation. If you’re looking for an easy way to track which apps are optimized for M1 chips, or don’t work at all over Rosetta, be sure to check out the site " Is Apple Silicon Ready ." At the time of this review, Avid Protools, Autodesk Revit and a slew of music apps still don't run properly on M1 systems.

Given all of these caveats, I'd recommend that professional users do some serious research before buying any M1 Mac, especially the MacBook Pro. If you're intrigued by the power of Apple's silicon, the MacBook Air may be the better option when you can snap it up for $1,449 with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. The MacBook Pro, meanwhile, starts at $1,299 with just 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. You'll have to pay $1,699 to double both specs. And if you desperately need a new MacBook Pro soon for work, then don't count out the existing Intel offerings. They may have far weaker graphics than the M1, but at least there's no compatibility headaches involved.

While Apple’s M1 SOC made the MacBook Air feel revolutionary, it’s a bit more complicated on the 13-inch MacBook Pro. It’s still a fast and efficient machine, but there are more potential compatibility concerns for professionals. Still, if you’re one of the few power users out there who need something zippy, and don’t mind the limitations of the M1, the revamped MacBook Pro makes for a solid workhorse.

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Apple MacBook Pro (M1 Pro) Review

Return of the mac.

Jason Cipriani Avatar

It's hard to believe it's been nearly a year since I reviewed the M1 MacBook Air as a gaming laptop , and yet, here I am again, reviewing a MacBook Pro. Inside this MacBook Pro is the M1 Pro chip, one of two new Apple silicon processors the company released in October.

Both processors, according to Apple, promise big CPU and GPU performance gains. So I thought what better way to test those claims than by revisiting how Apple's MacBook lineup performs from the perspective of a gaming laptop.

Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro Photos

macbook m1 presentation

The results are mixed. A lot has changed, and performance has improved, but ultimately there aren't a whole lot of current, mainstream games available for MacOS, and that dampens the appeal of a MacBook Pro as a gaming laptop.

Apple MacBook Pro – Specs

Here are the specifications of the Apple MacBook Pro (2021) I've been testing:

  • Model : Apple MacBook Pro (M1 Pro, 2021) (A2442)
  • Display : 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR (3024 x 1964)
  • Processor : Apple Silicon M1 Pro 10-core CPU
  • Graphics : Apple Silicon M1 Pro 16-core GPU
  • Memory : 32GB unified memory
  • OS : MacOS 12 Monterey
  • Storage : 1TB SSD
  • Webcam : 1080p FaceTime HD camera
  • Ports : 3 x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C, 1 x SDXC SD card reader, 1 x HDMI port, 1 x 3.5mm headphone jack, 1 x MagSafe 3 connection
  • Connectivity : WiFi 6 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Dimensions : 12.31 x 8.71 x 0.61-inches (WxDxH)
  • Weight : 3.5-pounds
  • Price : $2,899

Apple MacBook Pro – Design

Let's get this out of the way: There's a notch on the top of the display. Just like the notch that's now commonplace on iPhones, the 2021 MacBook Pro has a notch cutout where the hardware for the new 1080p FaceTime camera is located. The notch isn’t the best-looking at first, but I didn’t find myself annoyed by it long-term. And yes, that camera does look a lot better than last year's 720p camera.

macbook m1 presentation

Sadly, the MacBook Pro's notch doesn't mean that it also has FaceID, the iPhone's facial recognition feature for unlocking the device, apps and approving payments. Instead, you'll have to continue using your fingerprint and Touch ID for those features.

There's a dedicated Touch ID button in the top-right corner of the keyboard, next to a row of multimedia and function keys. That row of physical keys replaces the Touch Bar, the slim and practically useless touchscreen that Apple had used in MacBook Pro models since 2016. The screen would change and adapt based on what you were actively doing on the Mac, but over the last five years, I don't think I talked to a single person who actually liked or used the Touch Bar.

Just below the keyboard is Apple's tried-and-true touchpad that offers an abundance of space for gestures and scrolling. The keyboard, by the way, is a joy to type on.

macbook m1 presentation

Back to the display for a second. Apple increased the size of the base model MacBook Pro's screen from 13.3-inches to 14.2-inches with a resolution of 3024 x 1964. Apple calls it a Liquid Retina XDR display – but it's really a mini-LED display – with a peak brightness of 1600 nits for extreme dynamic range (XDR). The MacBook Pro's new display tech also supports Apple's ProMotion 120Hz display, which you’ll see the impact of when you’re scrolling through a long document or while gaming, thanks to the fast display refresh rate.

I work on a 13-inch MacBook Pro as my daily computer, but I honestly didn't expect to notice much of a difference when using the larger display of the 14-inch MacBook Pro. I was wrong – the increase in size is subtle, but noticeable, especially when using two apps side by side in full-screen mode.

macbook m1 presentation

The rest of the MacBook Pro looks similar to older MacBook Pro designs, namely because Apple has brought back all the ports . More specifically, on the right side is an SD card reader, a lone USB-C Thunderbolt 4 port, and an HDMI port. On the left side you'll find a 3.5mm headphone jack, two more USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, and a MagSafe 3 connector.

macbook m1 presentation

After all of these years, Apple has finally given its dedicated user base what it's been begging for – proper ports. I'm most excited by the return of MagSafe, the small magnetic charger. It looks like the traditional MagSafe adapter, if not a little bigger than I remember. There's still an indicator light on top of the connector that gives you a glanceable way to check on the laptop’s charge status, and if you were to accidentally catch the cord as you walked by, it easily disconnects from the MacBook Pro instead of pulling it off your desk.

The MagSafe cord has a USB-C connection on the opposite end that plugs into the included with the 67W or 96W power adapter. The smaller power adapter comes with MacBook Pro builds that use the 8-core M1 Pro, while the 96W adapter comes with the 10-core M1 Pro or the M1 Max. The three Thunderbolt 4 ports can also be used to charge the MacBook Pro's battery if you prefer.

macbook m1 presentation

As a gaming laptop, the number and type of ports on the MacBook Pro are problematic. Connecting a proper gaming mouse, for example, will require some sort of USB-C to USB adapter or hub. It’s not a huge problem, but one worth noting nonetheless.

On the bottom of the MacBook Pro's housing are four feet that slightly hold it up off your desk, presumably to improve airflow. There are fans in the MacBook Pro, but during average day-to-day use, you're unlikely to hear them (more on this in a minute).

Apple MacBook Pro – Performance and Gaming

The review unit I've been testing has the 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine M1 Pro Apple Silicon processor inside. It's also equipped with 32GB of unified memory, and 1TB of SSD storage. It's important to note that when placing your order you’ll want to get the build you think you'll want or need in a few years, not just today. Upgrading the memory, for example, just isn't possible. But that's typically the case for most Apple products, especially MacBooks.

Apple made a lot of claims about the increase in performance on its second-generation chips, the M1 Pro and M1 Max. I haven't spent any time testing the M1 Max, but if my experience with the M1 Pro is any indication of what to expect, it has to be a healthy performance boost over the M1 Pro.

Apple Silicon uses the ARM architecture – the same kind of processor that powers nearly all smartphones, including Apple's own iPhone, and has started to make its way to more computers, like Microsoft's Surface Pro X.

macbook m1 presentation

Testing a MacBook Pro as a gaming laptop is a bit different than testing a gaming PC simply because there are a lot of apps that just don't work on a Mac. For example, many of the benchmarks we use to provide quantitative results for performance and battery life, like PCMark 10 or 3DMark Fire Strike, simply don’t run on Mac.

That said, 3DMark does have a benchmark test that runs on Apple Silicon Macs, iPhones and the iPad. I ran the Wild Live Extreme benchmark on my M1-powered MacBook Pro from late 2020 and again on the 2021 M1 Pro model, and the results are pretty impressive. The M1 MacBook Pro scored 4,901 with a frames per second average of 29.3. The MacBook Pro with an M1 Pro processor nearly doubled that with a score of 9,524 and an average of 57 fps.

I was able to run a few other benchmarks I'd normally use on a gaming PC, including Total War: Three Kingdoms and Rise of the Tomb Raider. I ran both benchmarks at 1920x1200 resolution at high or ultra settings.

Last year when I ran Total War, there were a bunch of missing graphics and artifacts that looked horrible. However, this year, all of those were gone and the game looked like it should, and performed alright – with an average fps of 30. That's up from 23 fps last year.

As for Tomb Raider, I saw a big boost in performance with an average frame rate of 79 fps. The 2020 MacBook Air stuck around 60 fps on the same settings.

For fun, I installed Epic Games to see if any of my owned titles would run on the M1 Pro MacBook Pro. Once again I was surprised to see that Fortnite is still available to download and install on a Mac. So, naturally, installed it and dropped in for a few throwback matches of Chapter 2 Season 4 (Epic can't update Fortnite for the Mac, so you're stuck playing a nearly 2-year-old version of the game.) For those who care, Fortnite on the M1 Pro MacBook Pro runs right at 60 fps on Epic settings with the resolution set to 1920 x 1200. Drop the graphics settings down to High, which automatically bumps the resolution to 3024 x 1964, and you'll see around 80 fps.

macbook m1 presentation

I also played Hitman, a game that wouldn't even launch on an M1 Mac this time last year, and saw a consistent frame rate between 90 and 100 at very high settings.

The fans inside the MacBook Pro won't turn on very often, and when they do, they're really quiet. I installed TG Pro to monitor temps of the CPU and GPU, and even though I noticed temps getting up to 105 degrees with the fans purring at about 4,000 RPM, I could barely hear the fans running.

The speakers sound phenomenal for gaming, listening to music, or video calls. There are six total speakers in the new MacBook Pro models and you can hear the difference almost immediately.

With the M1 MacBook Air I was more shocked than anything that games ran smoothly on a Mac, and this year, I'm just pleased to see and experience the performance gains Apple has made with its own in-house processors in only a year.

I have had zero hiccups or performance issues using the MacBook Pro as my daily computer for all sorts of tasks ranging from light photo editing to recording podcasts or spending far too long on video calls.

I still won't tell someone to run out and buy a Mac over a gaming PC, but I also won't shy away from letting those with an Apple Silicon Mac know that it can double as a gaming laptop of sorts.

Apple MacBook Pro – Battery life

In addition to the performance boost that Apple Silicon provides is extended battery life compared to its Intel counterparts, and Apple makes some lofty claims when it comes to the 2021 MacBook Pro models. For example, Apple lists a potential of 17 hours of battery life when watching a video in the Apple TV app. Or 11 hours of wireless web browsing.

I tested the 2021 MacBook Pro the same way I tested the 2020 MacBook Air – by playing the same exact video on repeat in VLC with the display brightness set to 50%. I used a Wyze camera to create a timelapse by taking a picture every 60 seconds, and then did some math to figure out how long the video played.

This year's MacBook Pro lasted 7 hours and 28 minutes before powering off. That's less than the M1 MacBook Air's battery life of 8 hours and 10 minutes last year, but Apple's own estimates for the new MacBook Pro models are lower than last year's Air. In other words, the results are in line with what I expected.

As for real-world use, I was able to get through a full day of my normal workload, which involves a lot of Slack, Discord, Chrome, iA Writer, Mail, Messages, and Tweetbot use. I'd suspect that most users, unless they're doing a lot of video streaming, will have little issue getting through an entire day of use with the battery.

Apple MacBook Pro – Software

Apple recently released MacOS 12 Monterey and that's what came installed on my review unit. The most recent update adds new features to the Mac lineup such as improvements to FaceTime, Messages and Safari. More recently, Apple released MacOS 12.1 that added SharePlay to the Mac lineup. Using SharePlay with FaceTime, you can do things like watch a movie with a friend or loved one, or even share your Mac's screen so you can help troubleshoot an issue.

As is the case with all Macs, you won't find any bloatware or antivirus software. Apple's apps and programs are all that come preinstalled.

One thing worth pointing out for those who haven't used an Apple Silicon Mac yet is that even though the underlying architecture that apps run on has changed, Apple has built tools into MacOS that enable Intel-based apps to run on Apple Silicon. Apps that don't have full support for Apple Silicon can have decreased performance or simply not run at all, but I can't think of any apps I've encountered over the last year on an M1 MacBook Pro that didn't work. The same can be said about my time testing the 2021 MacBook Pro.

In addition to running standard Mac apps, you also have access to a lot of iPhone and iPad apps in the App Store that can run on any Apple Silicon-powered Mac. For example, I can install the iPad version of the Wyze app on my Mac and use it to monitor my cameras or create a timelapse.

The MacBook Pro is a fine computer that will do everything you need a Mac to do, and moonlight as a casual, but powerful, gaming computer during downtime. By bringing back old ports and getting rid of the Touch Bar, the new MacBook Pro models are a rare but welcome mea culpa from Apple. I don't think anyone is going to run out and buy a MacBook Pro for gaming, regardless of how powerful and impressive Apple Silicon is in just its second generation. There simply aren’t enough games. That said, the limited selection of games that do run perform impressively well considering the MacBook Pro’s size.

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Apple Macbook Pro

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Apple unleashes M1

With industry-leading performance, powerful features, and incredible efficiency, M1 is Apple’s first chip designed specifically for the Mac

A glowing black square imprinted with the Apple logo and “M1.”

First System on a Chip for the Mac

A chart compares the improved CPU performance per watt of M1 versus the latest PC laptop chip.

The World’s Best CPU Performance per Watt

A graphic details key benefits of the 8-core CPU in M1.

The World’s Fastest Integrated Graphics

The video game “Little Orpheus,” running on Mac mini, is displayed on a monitor, with a wireless keyboard and mouse and Xbox controller nearby.

Blazing-Fast, On-Device Machine Learning

The djay Pro app is displayed on MacBook Pro.

More Innovative Technologies Packed into M1

  • Apple’s latest image signal processor (ISP) for higher quality video with better noise reduction, greater dynamic range, and improved auto white balance.
  • The latest Secure Enclave for best-in-class security.
  • A high-performance storage controller with AES encryption hardware for faster and more secure SSD performance.
  • Low-power, highly efficient media encode and decode engines for great performance and extended battery life.
  • An Apple-designed Thunderbolt controller with support for USB 4, transfer speeds up to 40Gbps, and compatibility with more peripherals than ever.

A FaceTime call is displayed on MacBook Pro.

macOS Big Sur Optimised for M1

Multiple apps run on Mac mini and are displayed on Pro Display XDR.

Start of a Two-Year Transition for the Mac

Images of Apple M1 Chip

  • “World’s fastest CPU core in low-power silicon”: Testing conducted by Apple in October 2020 using preproduction 13-inch MacBook Pro systems with Apple M1 chip and 16GB of RAM measuring peak single thread performance of workloads taken from select industry standard benchmarks, commercial applications, and open source applications. Comparison made against the highest-performing CPUs for notebooks, commercially available at the time of testing. Performance tests are conducted using specific computer systems and reflect the approximate performance of MacBook Pro. “World’s best CPU performance per watt”: Testing conducted by Apple in October 2020 using preproduction 13-inch MacBook Pro systems with Apple M1 chip and 16GB of RAM. Performance per watt refers to the ratio of peak CPU performance to average power consumed using select industry standard benchmarks. Comparison made against high-performing CPUs for notebooks and desktops, commercially available at the time of testing. Performance tests are conducted using specific computer systems and reflect the approximate performance of MacBook Pro. “World’s fastest integrated graphics in a personal computer” : Testing conducted by Apple in October 2020 using preproduction 13-inch MacBook Pro systems with Apple M1 chip and 16GB of RAM using select industry standard benchmarks. Comparison made against the highest-performing integrated GPUs for notebooks and desktops, commercially available at the time of testing. Integrated GPU is defined as a GPU located on a monolithic silicon die along with a CPU and memory controller, behind a unified memory subsystem. Performance tests are conducted using specific computer systems and reflect the approximate performance of MacBook Pro.
  • “World’s fastest browser”: Testing conducted by Apple in August and October 2020 using JetStream 2, MotionMark 1.1, and Speedometer 2.0 performance benchmarks on browsers that completed the test. Tested with prerelease Safari 14 and latest stable versions of Chrome, Firefox, and (Windows) Microsoft Edge at the time of testing, on Intel Core i5-based 13-inch MacBook Pro systems with prerelease macOS Big Sur and Windows 10 Home running in Boot Camp; 12.9-inch iPad Pro (4th generation) units with prerelease iPadOS 14 and Intel Core i7-based Microsoft Surface Pro 7 systems with Windows 10 Pro; and iPhone 11 Pro Max with prerelease iOS 14 and Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra with Android 10. Devices tested with a WPA2 Wi-Fi network connection. Performance will vary based on usage, system configuration, network connection, and other factors. “Up to 1.5x speedier at running JavaScript and nearly 2x more responsive”: Testing conducted by Apple in September and October 2020 using JetStream 2 and Speedometer 2.0 performance benchmarks. Tested on preproduction MacBook Air and Mac mini systems with Apple M1 chip and 8-core GPU, as well as production 1.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-based 13-inch MacBook Air systems and 3.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i3-based Mac mini systems, all configured with 16GB RAM, 2TB SSD, and prerelease macOS Big Sur. Tested with prerelease Safari 14.0.1 and WPA2 Wi-Fi network connection. Performance will vary based on system configuration, network configuration, network connection, and other factors.

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Apple M1 Pro and M1 Max: Everything we know so far about Apple’s pro chips

Alex Blake

Launched in late 2020, Apple’s M1 chips revolutionized its Macs by bringing about a seismic leap in performance and battery life. Now, a year later, Apple has launched not one but two follow-ups to that initial chip during the October Apple Unleashed event .

Price and release date

Specs and performance, how long will the battery last.

  • Fixing the Mac’s port weakness

Dubbed the M1 Pro and M1 Max , these two Apple chips are being called the most powerful chips that Apple has ever built. But how will they compare to the M1? And what are the specs? We’ve got all that info and more in this in-depth guide. Read on to learn everything you need to know about Apple’s latest custom chips.

After many months of speculation, we now know Apple’s newest custom silicon as the Apple M1 Pro and Apple M1 Max. This is contrary to previous rumors, which indicated a possible M1X. Both chips are available as options in the new MacBook Pro 14-inch, as well as the MacBook Pro 16-inch . Pricing starts at $2,000, and $2,500, respectively. Both models will be released Tuesday, October 26.

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Let’s get straight to it: The Apple M1 Pro and Apple M1 Max chips are super powerful and are all built on 5-nanometer technology. Compared to the Apple M1 chip, Apple claims that the CPU in M1 Pro and M1 Max can deliver up to 70% faster performance.

That’s because the M1 Pro CPU now has 10 cores, eight of which are for high performance and two of which are efficient cores. The GPU in the M1 Pro, meanwhile, is up to two times faster than the one found on the M1. There’s also a media engine and display engine built into the M1 Pro to benefit 4K and 8K video streams. The display engine has additional Thunderbolt controllers, which power the support for two external displays.

As for other under-the-hood changes, Apple mentioned that the M1 Pro’s 16-core GPU is two times faster than the one found on the standard M1 and up to seven times faster than the integrated graphics on the latest 8-core Intel processor found on the MSI GP66 Leopard Windows laptop. The M1 Pro CPU can also be configured with up to 32GB of fast unified memory and up to 200GBps of memory bandwidth.

All of that comes with no sacrifice to the battery.  Apple claims that M1 Pro delivers up to 1.7x more CPU performance at the same power level and achieves the PC chip’s peak performance using up to 70% less power.

As for the M1 Max, things get even better. The M1 Max is all about GPU power. It features the same powerful 10-core CPU as the M1 Pro but adds a massive 32-core GPU. That can add up to four times faster graphics performance when compared to the M1 chip. Note that the M1 Max also has 57 billion transistors — making it the largest chip Apple has ever built.  M1 Max CPUs can also be configured to 64GB of fast unified memory.

When it comes to battery power on that M1 Max, Apple claims that the GPU delivers performance comparable to a high-end GPU in a compact pro PC laptop, but with 40% less power. Performance should also be similar to that of the highest-end GPU in the largest PC laptops while using up to 100 watts less power.

The chips aren’t here yet, but leaked benchmarks have offered a glimpse at performance. For the CPU, a leaked result from Geekbench showed the M1 Max MacBook Pro outperforming the last year’s M1 MacBook Pro by 56% in multi-core performance. The single-core result is roughly the same, though — the M1 and M1 Max feature the same cores under the hood, after all. The real bump is multi-core, which is where the M1 Max shows its strength.

Although CPU performance is up, the M1 Max received a big GPU upgrade. And leaked benchmarks back up Apple’s claims of outperforming the best laptop graphics cards available today. Results from GFXBench place the M1 Max on the level of an RTX 3080 mobile or RX 6800M graphics card , which are the two most powerful laptop graphics cards on the market.

We need to wait until the M1 Pro and M1 Max are here before making any concrete claims about performance. These are leaked benchmarks, so we recommend treating them as such. Still, the two chips are shaping up to bring a big bump in power to the MacBook Pro, with solid CPU gains and off-the-charts GPU performance.

A key consideration for any laptop is battery life, and Apple’s M1 MacBooks perform brilliantly here. In our reviews, the M1 MacBook Pro 13 hit well over 16 hours of light web browsing and 21 hours of video playback. The M1 MacBook Air , meanwhile, managed 15.5 hours and 18.5 hours in the same tests.

That was absolutely miles ahead of Apple’s previous Intel-based MacBooksm and the new M1 Pro and M1 Max take that to new levels. Apple claims that you can expect up to 17 hours of battery life for video playback on 14-inch MacBook Pro models — a full 6 hours more than before on 13-inch Apple M1 MacBooks. Meanwhile, on the 16-inch model, you can expect up to 21 hours of battery life — 10 hours more than an Intel-based Mac.

Apple also claims that thanks to improved battery life, developers working in Xcode will be able to compile up to 4x as much code. It also claimed that photographers on the go will get up to 2x longer battery life in Adobe Lightroom Classic when editing images.

Fixing the Mac’s port weakness

As much of an upgrade the M1 was over anything Apple could previously offer, it had one major drawback. Every M1 Mac, be that the MacBook Pro or the 24-inch iMac , can only offer two Thunderbolt 3 slots.

The M1 Pro and M1 Max Macbook models, though, swap things up a bit. All Macbook models with these new Apple processors come with a wide set of ports. You’ll find a full-size SDXC card slot, an HDMI port, and a 3.5 mm headphone jack, as well as Three Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports and a MagSafe 3 charger port.

Unlike previous Macbooks, there’s a single Thunderbolt 4 port on the right side of the laptop, and dual Thunderbolt 4 ports on the other side. You can charge up the laptop with Magsafe 3, as well as USB-C. Do note, though that a USB-C charger is included in the box, so MagSafe is optional and will be an extra purchase.

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Alex Blake

Apple announced an update to its MacBook Pros at today's Scary Fast event that brings the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max under the hood. That might sound like a ho-hum generational chip refresh, especially coming just 10 months after the M2 Pro/Max models came out. But trust me -- these new MacBook Pros have become an unstoppable force, especially the new full-tilt model with the M3 Max.

The 14-inch MacBook Pro (which replaces the 13-inch MacBook Pro) will now have the option for the M3, M3 Pro, or M3 Max, while the 16-inch model gets the M3 Pro and an even more powerful M3 Max configuration. Across the board, these new M3 chips are built on the new 3nm technology, the same that's used in the new iPhone 15 models, only scaled up for the Mac. It's all about efficiency, with Apple claiming that the M3 chips provides the same performance at 30% less power.

Apple's unexpected "Scary Fast" event has wrapped, and the 30-minute presentation was packed full of announcements. Headlining the showcase was Apple's new M3 chip, which is showing up in a variety of devices in just a week from now.

We have the lowdown on everything Apple announced at its unprecedented fall event, which kicks off the third generation of Apple's silicon with two major product updates. M3 family of chips

Apple announced the M3 series of chips today but has switched up the rollout in a significant way. In previous years, the company started with the base configuration of the chip series, whether that's the M1 or the M2. The initial releases would build the foundation of what these chips could do on entry-level devices like the MacBook Air or Mac mini.

Intel rolls out its chips in a similar way, starting its annual refresh of laptop chips with its entry-level stuff first.

Apple M1 Pro vs M1 Max: Here's everything you need to know before buying

Apple's new M1 Pro and M1 Max represent a significant upgrade over the already popular M1 chip. Here's everything you need to know.

Apple's M1 SoC ushered in the beginning of its transition away from x86 based chips. The first generation Mac silicon shook the industry in many ways and won numerous accolades for its impressive performance and class-leading power efficiency. The M1 chip was a good start but it wasn't enough to help Apple lunge for a bigger piece of the pie. Well, that's changing with the new M1 Pro and the M1 Max -- two new SoCs in Apple's Silicon lineup. If Apple's elaborate presentation wasn't enough, then let it be known that these new chips will allow the company to compete with more power-hungry chips on the market. The new chips stretch their wings with more CPU and GPU cores. Notably, they'll also use more power than the M1 to leap ahead of what the competition is achieving.

Both M1 Pro and Max are incredibly powerful Apple silicon with some overlapping features. However, they do have different capabilities based on which you'll be forced to choose one over the other. In this guide, we'll try to look at the bigger picture, going beyond what Apple showed us during the keynote while unveiling the 2021 MacBook Pro notebooks .

Note: We'll be updating this piece with more real-world performance metrics in the future subject to availability. The main focus, for now, is understanding the existing information before making a purchase decision.

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Apple M1 Pro: A step up from M1

Apple m1 max: apple's largest chip to date, apple m1 pro and m1 max custom package, enhanced media capabilities on m1 pro and m1 max chips, apple m1 pro vs m1 max: key differences, final thoughts.

The M1 Pro is one of the supersized SoCs in Apple's growing family of M1 chips. Based on the 5nm process technology, the M1 Pro die features 33.7 billion transistors. Unsurprisingly, Apple is using a custom SoC package to support unified memory. A single PCB housing both the SoC die and the memory die, as opposed to having the memory dies soldered onto the motherboard. The M1 chip paid huge dividends by improving power efficiency with this kind of packaging, so it's hardly a surprise to see the new chips follow suit.

Additionally, Apple has also doubled the memory bus. We're now moving from a 128-bit LPDDR4X interface to a faster 256-bit LPDDR5 interface. Thanks to this, the M1 Pro chip promises a system bandwidth of up to 200GB/s. The memory controllers take a huge chunk of space on the SoC, much like the SLC blocks. The system level cache serves the entire SoC allowing it to share the bandwidth and reduce latency.

Moving on to the CPU itself, the M1 Pro only has two efficiency cores as opposed to four on the M1 chip. However, it has double the number of performance cores, presumably to increase the multi-threaded performance. This allows the M1 Pro to flex its muscles going against even the newer Intel/AMD chips with a higher core count. Apple's performance graph shows how the M1 Pro outperforms Intel’s 8-core Tiger Lake CPUs like the Core i7-1185G7, and the Core i7-11800H.

Apple has also made some changes to the GPU architecture this time around. The M1 Pro now features a 16-core GPU with 2048 execution units. We're looking at a compute throughput performance of 5.2TFLOPs, making it faster than pretty much any other iGPU on the market. It may not compete with the likes of Nvidia RTX 3050Ti (8.7 TFLOPs), but Apple can flex the reduced power consumption.

Apple's M1 Pro is a good step up from the M1 chip, but the M1 Max is the real kicker. It's Apple's largest chip to date with a whopping 57 billion transistors, pushing the performance of its in-house silicon to a whole new level. Apple's presentation made it look like the M1 Max builds upon the M1 Pro in all aspects, but it's the GPU performance that makes it superior. It's worth pointing out that the M1 Max has the same CPU packages as the M1 Pro, meaning it packs a 10-core CPU.

That's not necessarily a bad thing because an 8-core package is all Apple needs to knock on the doors of Intel and AMD. Intel's Tiger Lake Core i9-11980HK unlocked CPU for instance has 8 cores and 16 threads to power some of the high-end gaming laptops on the market. If anything, the M1 Max is going to achieve a similar performance while consuming significantly less power.

Apple has supercharged the M1 Max GPU with a total of 32 cores to form a huge GPU block with 10.2TFLOPs of computing throughput. The CPU block appears to be comically small against the 32-core GPU that's taking the center stage. The M1 Max also has two additional 128-bit LPDDR5 blocks to increase the memory interface from 256-bit to 512-bit (LPDDR5).

According to Apple, the M1 Max has a total bandwidth of 400GB/s, putting it next to some high-end GPUs on the market. Nvidia's RTX 3060, for instance, has 360GB/s bandwidth and uses a 192-bit memory interface. Of course, it's not an apples-to-apples comparison (quite literally), since the M1 Max uses unified memory as opposed to dedicated VRAM on discrete GPUs.

Apple M1 Max can go head-to-head with a laptop GeForce RTX 3080 GPU. The power curve graph shows how the M1 Max comes close to the performance of a 160W RTX 3080 GPU while consuming up to 100W less power. It's worth pointing out that the M1 Max is shown to be competing with Nvidia's best laptop GPU out there, so it's quite impressive for what it's worth.

We've already talked about the massive transistors counts on each of these new chips. It's incredible how much Apple managed to cram within the die thanks to TSMC's 5nm process. Apple's advertised transistor count of 33.7 billion and 57 billion for the M1 Pro and the M1 Max respectively, is significantly higher than Navi 21 GPU's 26.8bn transistors used for the AMD RX 6000-series GPU. Nvidia's Ampere architecture-based GA100 GPU that powers A100 includes 54.2 billion transistors. Notably, both Nvidia and AMD are using TSMC's 7nm manufacturing process.

It'd be imprudent to not talk about the much-improved media engine on both chips. Creative professionals can expect to see huge performance improvement as these chips can handle hardware-accelerated decoding and encoding of ProRes and ProRes RAW. In typical M1 fashion, they handle it while keeping power efficiency in mind. The M1 Max features two ProRes accelerators and delivers up to 2x faster video encoding than the M1 Pro. Double the number of ProRes accelerators also means the M1 Max can handle up to four streams of high-quality video playback on different screens.

Apple's new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips are a step up from the original M1 chip in more ways than one can imagine. These new chips essentially take everything that's good about the M1 chip and amplify it to a point where it's now a no-brainer for power users. M1 was indeed a fantastic start, but it wasn't quite ready to lock horns with the best due to its limited SoCs and relatively lower TDP value. The new chips change that with a new package, more CPU and GPU cores, a faster memory, and some other advanced capabilities. It's only a matter of time till the M1 Pro and the M1 Max make their way to more Apple computing devices like the Mac Pro.

So, which one should you buy? All in all, the M1 Pro is a phenomenal chip and we think it's capable of handling most creative workflows. Its 10-core CPU battles with the 8-cores behemoths from both Intel and AMD in multi-threaded applications. Also, 32GB of unified memory and the 16-core GPU should be enough for most users in practically all use-cases. Sure, the M1 Max is more powerful, but the M1 Pro users won't miss any particular feature as such. The M1 Max just happens to do everything a little bit better. Particularly, the M1 Max excels at handling more GPU intensive workflows like 3D rendering, video editing, encoding, and more. It also comes with additional video engines for better performance.

We recommend the M1 Max for creative professionals who seek the absolute best to get their work done. It has already replaced the Intel chip in the older 16-inch MacBook Pro and we know it's coming for all the best Macs out there. It's also a good option for those who want a more future-proof chip. But for the rest of the world, the M1 Pro is a good showcase of Apple's in-house silicon. You can buy the new MacBook Pro notebooks powered by these new chips right now.

Apple M2 vs M1 chip: What's the difference?

Apple's M2 chip is a notable upgrade over the M1— here's how

Apple M2 chip vs M1 side-by-side on pink/yellow background

The Apple M2 chip appeared during the WWDC 2022 keynote as the power inside Apple's new 13-inch MacBook Air 2022 and MacBook Pro 2022 .

That debut is significant because the M2 heralds the arrival of a second generation of Apple silicon for Macs. It's an evolution of the remarkable M1 chip Apple launched in 2020, which blew us away with how much it improved performance and power efficiency in the 13-inch  MacBook Pro M1 ,  MacBook Air M1 , and  Mac mini M1 . 

Since then we've seen Apple push the limits of M1 performance further with the M1 Pro , M1 Max and M1 Ultra . Now that the M2 has arrived, it's important to understand that it may not be as powerful on paper as some of the beefier M1 variants, but it still offers some promising improvements over the original M1 formula.

Understanding the differences between Apple's first- and second-generation chipsets will help you make a more informed buying decision the next time you're looking to buy the best MacBook for your needs. So read on for a full breakdown of what's different about Apple's new M2 chip.

Apple M2 vs M1: Specs

Apple M2 chip vs M1 comparison shot

Apple M2 vs M1: Price

Apple's M2 chip debuts in two new laptops, the 13-inch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, which are set to hit the market in July of 2022. 

MacBook Air M2 new design

Pricing starts at $1,199 and $1,299 (respectively) in the U.S., so don't expect to get into a new M2-powered MacBook for under $1,200.

The cost of the new MacBook Air M2 is $200 more than it costs to get an M1-powered MacBook, since the M1 Air still sells for a starting price of $999. Of course, you could always get a Mac mini with M1 (starting price: $699) if you really want Apple silicon on the cheap, but it'll be a bit less portable.

Apple M2 vs M1: CPU

Apple says its new M2 chip sports 20 billion transistors, which is roughly 25% more than the original M1 but far less than on beefier versions like the M1 Pro (33.7 billion transistors) or M1 Max (57 billion transistors).

Apple M2 chip CPU performance vs M1, according to Apple

The M2 is built on a 5-nanometer process, just like the M1, though Apple claims its a "second-generation 5-nanometer technology" that delivers improved performance. That helps explain why, despite the fact that the M2 CPU has the same four high-performance cores and four efficiency cores, Apple claims it can deliver up to 18% better multithreaded performance than the M1.

Apple M2 vs M1: GPU

The original M1 chip shipped with an 8-core GPU that handled graphics-intensive tasks. The M2 also ships with an 8-core GPU by default, though its a bit more advanced than its predecessor and upgradable to a 10-core GPU if you're willing to pay a bit extra.

Apple M2 chip GPU power vs M1, visuallized in a chart provided by Apple

How much more advanced, you ask? Apple claims the M2's GPU can deliver up to 25% better performance than the M1's GPU at the same power level, and up to 35% better performance at max power.

Apple M2 vs M1: New features

There are a few other key differences that set Apple's new M2 chip apart from its predecessor, including the fact that it supports 100GB/s of memory bandwidth, which is nearly twice as good as the M1.

There's also a 16-core Neural Engine built into the M2, just like the M1. It's a specialized processing unit that excels at machine learning tasks, and it helps out with everything from image processing to voice recognition. The Neural Engine in the M2 can process up to 15.8 trillion operations per second, which Apple claims is over 40 percent more than on M1.

M2 chip at WWDC

Battery life is also a feature of Apple silicon, in a way, and Apple claims the efficiency of the M2 should deliver some long-lasting laptops. Specifically, the company claims that the M2-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro 2022 can deliver up to 20 hours of video playback on a single charge, while the 13-inch Air is advertised as lasting up to 17 hours.

Note that the M1-powered MacBook Air advertises that same 17-hour playback time, though its screen is moderately smaller than the 2022 model's.

Video editing pros can look forward to some improvements in the M2 that weren't present in the M1, including a higher-bandwidth video decoder for the media engine that supports 8K H.264 and HEVC video. You can also now play back multiple streams of 4K /8K video using the ProRes video engine, which seems like good news for those who work regularly with Apple's video format.

Apple M2 vs M1: Outlook

Now that the next generation of Apple silicon is here, it looks to be a minor but meaningful improvement over the original. 

The M2 chip offers a number of significant upgrades over the M1, including a beefier CPU/GPU combo with more power, improved memory bandwidth, and support for Apple's ProRes and ProRes RAW codecs. It's not the revolution I was hoping for, but it lays a promising foundation for whatever comes next from Apple's bespoke silicon business. 

Since Apple followed up the 2020 release of the original M1 chip by releasing beefier Pro and Max versions in 2021, it's exciting to consider how the Cupertino-based company could iterate on the M2 chip in the year(s) ahead. For now, it's a notable upgrade that's good news for Apple fans, especially those who have been waiting for the Air to get an overhaul.

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Alex Wawro

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. A lifelong PC builder, he currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice. 

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macbook m1 presentation

Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022) review: all-new Air

New design, new display, new processor, new price.

By Dan Seifert , an editor overseeing The Verge’s product reviews and service journalism programs. Dan has covered the technology world for over a decade at The Verge.

Photography by Becca Farsace / The Verge. Video by Becca Farsace / The Verge

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After 14 years, three revisions, and two different processor architectures, the iconic wedge shape of the MacBook Air is now history. In its place is a MacBook Air with a completely new design that’s the same thickness from front to back. Virtually every aspect of the new MacBook Air has been updated or changed — it’s the biggest update to the Air since it originally debuted nearly a decade and a half ago.

These kinds of changes are a big deal because the Air is the default laptop option for millions of people. Beyond that, the Air sets the standard for thin and light laptops that every other manufacturer chases.

In addition to the design and hardware changes, this new Air has Apple’s latest in-house processor, the M2. It also comes with a higher price tag — it starts at $1,199, $200 more than the model that preceded it, and a model with a decent amount of storage runs $1,499 or more. As a result, Apple is keeping the prior M1 model in its lineup, specifically to provide an option for the many MacBook Air buyers that don’t want to spend much more than $1,000 on a new computer.

  • The best laptop you can buy in 2022
  • Apple MacBook Pro 13 (2022) review: new chip, old threads
  • We benchmarked the base M2 MacBook Air’s storage and (surprise!) it’s slow

The M1 MacBook Air was (and still is) one of the most impressive laptops we’ve ever tested — Dieter Bohn called it “a triumph” at the time . That’s quite a bar to live up to, and with all of the changes Apple made to the M2 model, it’s fair to wonder if this new model can best the prior version.

For the most part, that answer is yes. But as they say, the devil’s in the details, and there are quite a few details to note here.

The new MacBook Air borrows a lot of its design and shape from the MacBook Pro 14 and 16 that debuted late last year . It’s symmetrical and squared off, with a more brutalist presentation than prior MacBook Air models.

Yet it’s remarkably thin — just a smidge over 11 millimeters — and that thinness is immediately noticeable when you open the lid and start typing on it. It’s also noticed whenever you slot it into a bag or carry it around. The older MacBook Air’s tapered shape had less visual weight and may look thinner, but the new model is indeed slimmer than its predecessor.

It’s also slightly lighter, at 2.7 pounds vs. the older model’s 2.8. That’s not a huge difference, and the Air is far from the lightest computer you can buy, but it does make it extremely portable and easy to tote around wherever I need it.

The new Air loses the wedge shape but is actually thinner than the previous model.

In all, I’m a fan of this new design. It’s modern and refreshing and functionally works very well. Some might miss the wedge shape, but I’m not one of them. This new Air is a beautiful computer, and I think this design will work well for the next five (or possibly more!) years or so until Apple updates it again.

Unless you get the new Midnight color. This new color is gorgeous out of the box, with a deep blue-black finish that can change depending on the light. But as soon as you pick it up, it gets covered in greasy fingerprints that are a chore to clean off. It really mars what is otherwise a striking finish. Apple’s far from the only company to face this problem with dark aluminum — Razer’s laptops have been fingerprint magnets for years — but it’s enough of an issue that I wouldn’t buy the Midnight model. I’ve also had the opportunity to test a model in the silvery-gold Starlight color, and its surface stays fingerprint-free.

Despite that thinner profile and lighter weight, the new Air is no less solid or well-built than before. The chassis is stiff, the lid has next to zero flex, and it still can be opened with a single finger. Apple remains at the top of the field when it comes to build quality and fit and finish, and the new Air is no exception.

The new Midnight color option is a fingerprint magnet.

In addition to its shape, the new Air borrows the resurrected MagSafe charging connector from the MacBook Pro 14 and 16, which lets you charge the laptop without worrying that tripping over the cable will send the computer tumbling to the floor. It even comes with a color-matched braided cable in the box, something you don’t get on the more expensive Pro models.

Apple’s also giving you a choice when it comes to chargers. The base model Air comes with the familiar 30W brick that’s been around for years. But the step-up models provide a choice between a new compact 35W charger with two USB-C ports or a larger and more powerful 67W brick borrowed from the MacBook Pro line. That larger brick can charge the Air’s battery 50 percent in 30 minutes.

You have a choice between a smaller, slower 2-port charger or a larger, faster one-port charger on the upgraded Air models. Both come with a color-matched MagSafe cable.

My review units came with the 35W charger, and while it’s compact and portable, I’d personally opt for the more powerful charger. In testing, the 35W brick only charged the Air 25 percent in 30 minutes with the lid closed — half the speed of the 67W brick — and those speeds were further slowed down when I plugged my iPhone into the charger’s other port. I really wish Apple had just put two ports on the more powerful brick, though there are plenty of cheaper third-party options with more power and more ports than Apple’s options, and they work just fine with the Air’s MagSafe cable.

Thanks to that MagSafe port, you effectively get an extra USB-C port over the older model. Instead of having to use one port to charge the computer and the other for peripherals (though you can still charge over USB-C if you want), you can use both Thunderbolt-capable ports for accessories.

But it’s still only two ports, and both are on the left-hand side. It’d have been great to have ports on the right side, too, and while it’s perhaps a pipe dream at this point, a USB-A port is still very useful for a lot of accessories. You’ll have to keep that USB-C hub in your bag after all.

Lastly, Apple is still limiting the new Air to a single external display, so if you want to plug your laptop into more than one monitor at a time, you’ll need to step up to a 14-inch MacBook Pro (which supports up to four external displays) or figure out some other workaround.

The MacBook Air keyboard seen from above.

The new Air’s keyboard has also been lifted from the 14-inch MacBook Pro. It has a full-height function row and Touch ID and fortunately doesn’t have the questionably useful Touch Bar that’s still inexplicably available on the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro M2.

The keys have adequate travel and are comfortably spaced. They are also much quieter than older MacBook models that had the dreaded butterfly keyboard. If you’re upgrading from an older Intel-based MacBook, the keyboard might be the improvement you appreciate most just because the butterfly keyboard on those older models was that bad.

Similarly, the trackpad isn’t hugely different from older models, though it’s slightly wider. It functionally works the same, though, and has excellent scrolling, gesture support, and palm rejection.

In an interesting change, the new Air’s deck lacks the speaker grills that are found on virtually every other MacBook model. Instead, the speakers are integrated between the keyboard and the display for a cleaner look.

The new Air has the same full-height function row and Touch ID sensor as the MacBook Pro 14.

The new speaker system consists of two tweeters and two woofers and supports Apple’s Spatial Audio technology. Compared to the M1 Air, the new speakers are slightly fuller and less echo-y sounding, especially at full volume. But the difference isn’t huge, and they aren’t on par with the bassy thumpers that come on the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros. Still, the speakers remain far ahead of other laptops and sound great for video calls, watching TV shows and movies, listening to music, YouTube, or whatever else you might need to listen to on a thin and light computer like this.

The last design point worth noting here is the branding. Compared to prior models, the Apple logo on the new Air is roughly 30 percent bigger than before. It’s not something you notice unless you put it side by side with an older model, but it’s certainly there. Ironically, that’s the only branding on the laptop — it doesn’t actually say MacBook Air anywhere on it. It’s not below the display. It’s not on the bottom panel. It’s nowhere. You just have to know that this is a MacBook Air and not some other computer. Maybe Apple will change the name of this model to just a plain MacBook at some point, and then it won’t have to make any changes to the exterior when it does.

The M2 MacBook Air is opened, facing the camera. Its display is on, showcasing a psychedelic purple and black wallpaper created by The Verge’s art and illustration team.

Along with the new design comes a brand new display. The Air’s screen is a little bigger than before — 13.6 inches vs. 13.3 — but most of that size is gained vertically since it’s a little taller. The bezels around the screen have been trimmed, and the corners of the screen are now rounded, as well, providing a more modern look than before.

The new display is brighter, too — Apple claims 500 nits vs. 400 of the old one; it rated 434 in my tests — which makes it easier to use outdoors and just more comfortable to look at all day long. In typical Apple fashion, it scores well on color accuracy and reproduction metrics, covering 100 percent of the SRGB spectrum, 84 percent of AdobeRGB, and 95 percent of P3. 

The brightness isn’t as impressive as what you get with the Mini LED screens on the higher-end MacBook Pro models, and the black levels and overall punchiness can’t match those displays. It also doesn’t have the ProMotion higher refresh rate for smoother scrolling that those models benefit from.

But the new screen is a marked improvement over what was available before, and it’s better than the one that comes on the 13-inch MacBook Pro. It’s roomier, less cramped, and just more comfortable to work on, especially if you spend a lot of time in web browsers and documents like I do.

Unfortunately, just like the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, the new Air now has a notch in its display. And just like on those other models, the notch presents some real issues when I’m using the computer.

The M2 MacBook Air on a table displaying the About This Mac window over a purple marbled background.

It’s not that the notch is particularly ugly or distracting — it’s that it completely messes up how I use the menu bar when I’m using a Mac. I happen to like menu bar apps a lot, and I’ve got a ton of them for various things like clocks, calendars, to-do lists, system monitoring, and other utilities. The notch’s position and size mean that most of the time, my menu bar apps just don’t show up like they are supposed to, and I can’t even access them. Ironically, there are third-party menu bar apps that can make this workable — the latest version of Bartender solves a lot of my issues — but it’s annoying that a third-party app is necessary to make Apple’s own design usable. I’d have much rather had a slightly thicker top bezel than deal with the annoying notch.

Fortunately, the camera inside that notch is the same 1080p unit that’s in the larger Pro models, and it’s much improved over the crappy 720p camera that was in the older Air and the new 13-inch MacBook Pro. It’s sharper, with more detail, better color and contrast, and just a better-looking image overall. Combined with the Air’s three-mic array, the new camera works great for video calls. The lousy camera was the one thing that kept the M1 Air from getting a perfect score, so I’m very happy to see it has been addressed.

macbook m1 presentation

Inside all of that new design is Apple’s latest M2 processor, which is also found in the 13-inch MacBook Pro we recently reviewed . Apple claims this new chip provides up to 18 percent better multi-core performance over the M1, with up to 35 percent faster graphics.

Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022) Specs

  • 13.6-inch, 2560 x 1664 display
  • Apple M2 chip (8c CPU / 8c GPU, configurable to 10c GPU)
  • 8GB RAM (configurable to 24GB)
  • 256GB storage (configurable to 2TB)
  • Two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports
  • MagSafe 3 charging
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Four-speaker sound system with three-mic array
  • Magic Keyboard with full height function row and Touch ID
  • 1080p webcam
  • 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
  • 0.44in x 11.97in x 8.46in (11.3mm x 30.41cm x 21.5cm)
  • 2.7 pounds (1.24kg)

The base model has an eight-core CPU and eight-core GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage, while the $1,499 step-up model that I have been able to test comes with a 10-core GPU and 512GB of storage. You can even equip up to 24GB of RAM and 2TB of storage, provided you don’t mind spending two and half thousand dollars on a MacBook Air. Most people are likely to be fine with the $1,499 configuration, though you might want to spring another $200 for 16GB of RAM to ensure the computer lasts longer, especially if you multitask a lot.

All of those configuration options add up to a noticeably more expensive computer than before, and there’s very good reason to avoid the base model entirely. Apple confirmed to me that just like the base model of the 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 , the base Air’s 256GB of storage is stored on a single NAND chip instead of two like on the M1 models or new M2 models with 512GB or more storage. That can make the storage perform half as fast as even the older base M1 Air’s and will slow things down whenever you try to copy large files around or multitask enough to max out the 8GB of RAM and force it to use swap memory. It’s a disappointing regression and really means the only models I feel comfortable recommending start at $1,500.

We were able to test a base model Air with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage and sure enough, the storage is a lot slower than the prior M1 Air or M2 models with 512GB. Unless you’re able to get the base model M2 Air on sale for a sizable discount, I’d stay away from it.

Apple spokesperson Michelle Del Rio provided the following statement on the matter:

Thanks to the performance increases of M2, the new MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro are incredibly fast, even compared to Mac laptops with the powerful M1 chip. These new systems use a new higher density NAND that delivers 256GB storage using a single chip. While benchmarks of the 256GB SSD may show a difference compared to the previous generation, the performance of these M2 based systems for real world activities are even faster.

In my benchmark testing, the 512GB M2 Air outguns the M1 model in every test, though the differences aren’t especially stark. But the M2 Air is noticeably slower than the MacBook Pro M2, which has a thicker chassis and a fan to help keep the chip cool under long-running heavy workloads, like a 30-minute Cinebench 23 multi-core benchmark. The Air will quickly throttle back the power it’s sending to the M2 chip and keep its speeds capped in an effort to keep temperatures manageable. Even then, the bottom of the computer gets considerably warm during these tests. The M2 Air’s fanless design is great for normal workloads and makes for a silent computer, but it holds the system back when it comes to more intense workloads.

The M2 Air is faster than the M1 in virtually every test but behind the M2 MacBook Pro

The performance difference shows up in other stress tests, too, like when I ran the PugetBench test in Adobe Premiere Pro or tried to edit and export a lot of high-resolution RAW photos in Adobe Lightroom Classic. The M2 Air scored better on the PugetBench test than the M1 but worse than the M2 MacBook Pro. It also buckled under the pressure of 60-megapixel RAW files from a Sony A7R Mark IV camera when I tried to import and edit them, which is not much different from how an M1 Air behaves with similar tasks.

The M2 Air’s improved graphics are also held back by its thermal design — though it scores better than the M1 Air in things like the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark, it’s not as good as the M2 Pro’s results, despite having the same number of GPU cores.

Though we saw a big regression in performance with our 4K video export test on both the M1 Air and M2 Air in Premiere Pro 22, Adobe has fixed the issue with version 23 and the M2 Air was able to export the five and a half minute clip in roughly real time, about seven percent faster than the M1 Air. That’s not nearly as fast as we’ve seen from the M1 Pro or M1 Max-equipped MacBook Pros or from computers with dedicated graphics cards, but if editing video is only an occasional task for you, then the M2 Air is certainly up for it.

MacBook Air M2 2022 benchmarks

It’s clear that we can’t expect the same leaps in performance we saw when Apple went from using Intel processors to its M1 chips in 2020 with successive generations of Arm chips. It’s more likely that we’ll see incremental improvements that will be hard to notice in back-to-back models but will add up to more sizable jumps when jumping multiple generations of MacBooks, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing with the M2 generation this year. 

Despite the lower performance in benchmark tests compared to the M2 MacBook Pro, the M2 Air didn’t present any issues for me when I used it to do my regular knowledge worker job. I was able to use dozens of tabs in multiple windows of Chrome, bounce between multiple Spaces with Slack, email, and other apps, take endless Zoom calls, and play media in the background while I continued to get my work done without missing a beat. It also didn’t heat up on the bottom panel or under the keyboard during my daily workload. For the tasks that a thin-and-light computer like the Air is ideal for — productivity work, browsing the web, video calls, watching TV shows or movies, writing term papers, etc. — the M2 is more than capable.

It’s also totally fine for the occasional light photo and video editing, especially if you’re using Apple’s Photos or iMovie apps for those tasks. On my review unit with 8GB of RAM, I was able to saturate the memory and force the system to swap memory to the SSD with my daily workload, but thanks to the speedy enough storage, that didn’t slow me down.

The Air is more than competent for productivity work — more intensive tasks demand a MacBook Pro

If you only do photo or video editing occasionally, there’s no good reason to trade away all the benefits that the Air has over the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro, such as the better screen, better webcam, MagSafe, thinner and lighter weight, and so on just to save a few seconds on those tasks. If you are going to be relying on your computer for regular, intensive creative work, such as professional video editing, RAW photo editing, or even a lot of coding work, the Air is probably not the right computer for you, and you should be looking at a MacBook Pro and likely a 14 or 16-inch model.

But for the vast majority of laptop users, the M2 Air more than suits their needs and comes in a lighter, quieter package than the MacBook Pro models. 

In my battery testing, the M2 Air performed exactly the same as the M1 model. That means I got between eight and 10 hours of real-world use out of it with the display set to a comfortable 200 nits of brightness and using Chrome, Slack, multiple Spaces, all my menu bar apps, Zoom calls, and lots of other inefficient things I do throughout the day.

That’s not as impressive as the battery life Monica saw on the 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 , which remains our battery life champ for this size computer. But I tend to get worse battery life in my general usage than many of my colleagues and other reviewers I know, so I don’t think these results from the Air are a reason for concern. If you’re coming from an older Intel MacBook Air, like most people who are likely to buy this computer, you’ll be thrilled with the battery life you get with it.

An image of the M2 MacBook Air.

The new MacBook Air is a success on virtually every level. It’s got a better screen, thinner and lighter design, better speakers, a much-improved webcam, an excellent keyboard and trackpad, more convenient charging, and excellent build quality. 

But that success comes at a cost, literally, and the performance advancements over the M1 model aren’t as stark as the design and feature improvements are. The M2 Air is a better choice for the vast majority of people over the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro model, even though the Pro has slightly better performance and longer battery life.

The hardest choice is choosing between the new M2 model or the still-available M1 Air

The harder choice for many laptop buyers coming from older Intel MacBooks or even switching from Windows to Mac for the first time will be choosing between getting similar performance and battery life with the M1 Air for a significantly lower cost (especially when you consider how easy it is to find M1 models discounted) or paying more for the better quality of life features that come with the M2 model.

I’d personally lean towards the M2 Air — the thinner design and better screen are very compelling for me — but only if I was willing to spend $1,500 or more to get one with at least 512GB of storage and perhaps 16GB of RAM. If that’s just too much for your budget, then the M1 Air remains an excellent option.


Every smart device now requires you to agree to a series of terms and conditions before you can use it — contracts that no one actually reads. It’s impossible for us to read and analyze every single one of these agreements. But we started counting exactly how many times you have to hit “agree” to use devices when we review them since these are agreements most people don’t read and definitely can’t negotiate.

In order to get past the setup and actually use the MacBook Air, you are required to agree to:

  • The macOS software license agreement, which includes Apple’s warranty agreement and the Game Center terms and conditions

These agreements are nonnegotiable, and you cannot use the laptop at all if you don’t agree to them.

There are also several optional agreements, including:

  • Location services
  • Using an iCloud account adds iCloud Terms and Conditions and Find My location services
  • Sending crash and usage data to Apple to help app developers
  • Allowing Apple to use your Siri transcripts to improve voice recognition
  • Apple Pay Terms and Conditions

That’s three mandatory agreements and six optional ones.

Correction, 10:00AM ET, July 14th, 2022: An earlier version of this article stated that the 14-inch MacBook Pro supported up to six external displays. It can only support up to four. We regret the error.

Update, 5:20PM ET, July 15th, 2022: Added link to test results of base 256GB model.

Update, 10:45AM ET, October 10th, 2022: Updated test results with Adobe Premiere Pro 23.

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