Apple just announced the next generation of MacBooks will be powered by the M2. The new processors are designed to improve performance and power efficiency over the last-generation chips from Apple. But just how much more powerful is the M2, and is it worth upgrading? Here’s everything you need to know about Apple’s new M2 chip and how it compares to the last-generation M1.
What Is Apple Silicon?
Apple has been making its own processors for iPhones, iPads, and the Apple Watch for over a decade. However, it wasn’t until 2020 that the company started developing Apple silicon processors designed specifically for the Mac, the first of which was called the M1.
Unlike traditional processors, Apple Silicon is a “system on a chip” (SoC), which means it combines the CPU (central processing unit), the GPU (graphics processing unit), RAM (random access memory), and other components into a single chip.
With its unified memory architecture, all of the components in the Apple silicon chip can share access to the same data. As opposed to the older Intel-based Macs, which needed to create different “pools” of data for the CPU, GPU, and other components to access individually.
Read More: What is RAM and how much memory do you need?
Apple Silicon vs Intel
According to Apple, the M1 optimizes its “most popular, low-power systems, where small size and power efficiency are critically important.” Basically, the main selling point of Apple silicon is the fact that it makes the newest Macs run faster and longer while using significantly less power than Intel-based Macs.
In fact, the M1 was so efficient that Apple was able to design the 2020 MacBook Air without a single fan. The new MacBook Air can also last 18 hours on a single charge, improving the battery life by 50% over the 2019 Intel-based model.
This makes the new Macs a must-have for anyone that uses their laptop for work and doesn’t want to worry about recharging it every few hours.
What Is the Apple M2?
The new M2 chip is the next generation of Apple Silicon for Mac, which will first be released with the 2022 MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. According to Apple, the M2 will deliver greater performance and power efficiency than the M1.
M2 vs M1: Which Chip Is Better?
Apple claims the new M2 chip is 18% faster than the M1 while using the same amount of power. That means it’s also 15 times faster than the previous Intel-based MacBook Air from 2019. The M2 also offers up to 24GB of unified memory, compared to only 16GB in the original M1.
The M2 also has a new media engine built-in, which can handle multiple streams at up to 8K resolution. The GPU was also updated with 10 cores – 2 more than the original M1. Apple claims this gives the M2 25% higher graphics performance than the M1 at the same power level.
“A New Day for Gaming on the Mac”
During the WWDC keynote, Apple showcased Metal 3 on the M2 chip. The company claims this new software will finally allow Macs to “run the most demanding games with ease.” To showcase how powerful the new M2 is, Apple announced that the newest MacBooks will be able to run Resident Evil 8, one of the biggest AAA-title games of the last year.
However, the MacBook Air will only be able to run the game “effortlessly” at 1080p, while you will need a Mac Studio with the M1 Ultra to get a 4K experience.
M2 vs M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra
While the M2 is faster than the original M1, it is not the fastest Apple silicon chip on the market. Since Apple launched the first M1 chip, the company quickly followed it up with the M1 Pro and the M1 Max in 2021, as well as the M1 Ultra in 2022.
The M1 Pro features up to 10 CPU cores and 16 GPU cores compared to the M2, which only offers up to 8 CPU cores and 10 GPU cores. That means the M1 Pro will be slightly faster than the M2 without costing much more.
On the other hand, the M1 Max features up to 10 CPU cores and 32 GPU cores, which means that it is almost identical to the M1 Pro, except when it comes to processing graphics. So, you will only notice the difference between the M1 Pro and M1 Max if you are rendering graphics, video, or images.
The M1 Ultra is actually just two M1 Max chips stuck together, making it the fastest Apple silicon chip you can buy currently. However, the M1 Ultra is only available in the Mac Studio, which has a starting cost of $4,000, making it too expensive for most users.
According to real-world tests, the M1 Ultra performs similar to the top Intel-based computers, even beating the latest Intel chips in some tests, especially when it comes to power efficiency. But even the fastest Apple silicon chip is still not able to compete with Intel-based PCs when it comes to gaming.
Which Macs Feature Apple Silicon?
You can now find Apple silicon chips in almost every Mac that Apple currently offers. The only Macs you can buy on Apple’s website that still have Intel processors are the 2020 Mac mini, which starts at $1,100, and the 2019 Mac Pro, which starts at $6,000.
You can only find the new M2 chip in the 2022 MacBook Air, which starts at $1,200, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which starts at $1,300.
Read More: Why your Mac is so slow, and how to speed it up
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