M2 MacBook Pro review roundup: Good, but wait for the M2 MacBook Air

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in Current Mac Hardware
Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2 ships on Friday and early reviews have arrived with what appears to be a collective yawn.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and M2 processor
The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and M2 processor


The 13-inch MacBook Pro with an M2 processor was announced alongside the redesigned M2 MacBook Air during WWDC 2022. Initial reactions to this announcement were that of confusion, as Apple did little to update the machine beyond adding a new processor.

Engadget: Pro in name only

Engadget calls the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2 Apple's most baffling laptop. It was a confusing computer with the M1, but that has only been exacerbated by the redesigned MacBook Air.

Despite that, they call the 13-inch MacBook Pro a very nice computer. The M2 may provide a decent performance boost, but it isn't a computer worth recommending.

The fan is a selling point for this laptop since active cooling means longer sustained load on the M2 versus the fan-less M2 MacBook Air. However, that performance difference may not be very wide.

For those seeking a professional computer, they'd have to spec up the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which brings its price much closer to the 14-inch MacBook Pro. So instead, it would make more sense to save up and invest in the more performant 14-inch model with more ports.

The Verge: New Chip, Old Threads

The Verge states right away that anyone who cares about benchmarks shouldn't be buying the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Not much has changed beyond the M2 processor, a 24GB memory option, and Spatial Audio support in the speakers.

Two USB-C ports isn't pro-enough for some customers
Two USB-C ports isn't pro-enough for some customers


The 13-inch MacBook Pro seems to be a perfect fit for those who don't spend a lot of time editing and exporting videos. Instead, it is made for those who live in spreadsheets and occasionally edit a photo, except the M2 MacBook Air exists.

It is a fast computer with excellent battery life, but only has two USB-C ports and uses a design from 2016. Most customers will go for the M2 MacBook Air, and those who really need a performance boost will seek out the 14-inch MacBook Pro.

Rene Ritchie: a spec bump for the masses

Rene Ritchie asks who the 13-inch MacBook Pro is for, and believes he has some answers. There are plenty of customers on the market who purchase the base-level MacBook Pro, and they just got a sweeter deal with an M2 inside.

While the design is six years old with a Touch Bar, it fits in a specific niche not filled by other MacBooks. Those who like the Touch Bar only have this one option, and the sustained performance provided by active cooling are two big reasons to consider the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Otherwise, the M2 MacBook Air is the go-to choice with its redesigned chassis, MagSafe, and color options.

Wired: lackluster but perfectly fine

Wired calls the 13-inch MacBook Pro aimless after yet another update with no redesign, no port additions, and no new webcam. Weirdly, many of these requested changes were made to the new M2 MacBook Air, and it costs less.

An old design with a new processor
An old design with a new processor


Performance wasn't an issue for editing photos but began to struggle if too many Chrome tabs were open with apps in the background. Editing 4K Pro Res video shot from an iPhone 13 Pro ground the system to a halt.

Those who look at the base model would be better off with the similar performing M2 MacBook Air, and upgrading the 13-inch MacBook Pro places its cost much closer to its high-end counterparts. So, it is an awkward middle child that doesn't bring nearly enough to be worth your while.

CNET: familiar design, new M2 chip

CNET says the first Mac with an M2 processor is a strange computer. With only one month until the M2 MacBook Air with a bigger display, better webcam, and new design arrives for less money, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is in a confusing spot.

The active cooling it provides with fans means it will be the most powerful 13-inch MacBook Apple sells, but not by much. It is also the only MacBook with the Touch Bar.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro will appeal to only a very specific subset of shoppers, such as those who want better cooling or those who want a MacBook Pro without spending $2,000 on the next-better model.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,034member
    Really, IMO (which I understand signifies little) they would have been better putting the M2s into an updated Mac Mini. 
    dewmewilliamlondond_2
  • Reply 2 of 19
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,734member
    M2 Macbook Air will be mass market GOTO MAC laptop. Once available and people have access to it to check it out, it will be hit out of the gate. Hope Apple makes enough to meet demand.
    Many owning Intel based 13" MAC laptop will quickly upgrade to M2 Air including those Windows customers looking for lower cost best all around MAC laptop will turn to M2 Air. Besides convenience, aesthetically it would look balanced with 2 ports on each side( on left MegSafe, 1 USB-C, on right headphone jack, 1 USB-C). You can charge Air from either side.
    Than what about M2 13" Macbook Pro ? Not sure but could be A third wheel.
    edited June 22
  • Reply 3 of 19
    charlesncharlesn Posts: 277member
    The MBP 13" is the #2 seller in Apple's laptop lineup, so while I get the business reason for keeping it around, this latest "Faux Pro" iteration is just baffling. It's minimal pluses vs the MBA M2 are two extra hours of battery life, two extra graphic cores standard (but avail on the MBA) and a fan that "could" provide a performance benefit under heavy use, but the fact that Apple--which is all about "stats" in its marketing--makes no statistical claim for what that benefit is, suggests to me that it's minimal or non-existent. And the Touch Bar, which was dropped from Apple's newest and truly "pro" Macbooks because pros generally hated it, is actually a minus from the pro perspective. 

    But except for those minimal pluses of the MBP 13" M2, the MBA M2 makes a more convincing case as an entry level "pro" laptop, with MagSafe charging, an extra port avail for full time use, no Touch Bar, a much better webcam for Zoom, plus thinner and lighter while giving up nothing to the MBP 13" in processing power. 

    So, as far as being a "pro" laptop, even at the entry level, the new MBP 13" is the ultimate example of "the Emperor has no clothes." 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 4 of 19
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,239member
    DAalseth said:
    Really, IMO (which I understand signifies little) they would have been better putting the M2s into an updated Mac Mini. 
    Could not agree more. A Mac mini with M2 and a larger memory capacity would be a perfect desktop computer for the masses, just like the M2 MacBook Air is the perfect notebook computer for the masses. Nothing against the Mac Studio or beefier MacBooks, but few people actually utilize the full capabilities of the higher end products. 
    StrangeDaysVermelhocanukstorm
  • Reply 5 of 19
    thttht Posts: 4,388member
    dewme said:
    DAalseth said:
    Really, IMO (which I understand signifies little) they would have been better putting the M2s into an updated Mac Mini. 
    Could not agree more. A Mac mini with M2 and a larger memory capacity would be a perfect desktop computer for the masses, just like the M2 MacBook Air is the perfect notebook computer for the masses. Nothing against the Mac Studio or beefier MacBooks, but few people actually utilize the full capabilities of the higher end products. 
    I would actually prefer they put an M1 Pro into the Mac mini. They should have done it 3 months ago. M1 Mac mini base model for $700, 8c CPU, 14c GPU M1 Pro base model with 16 GB, 256 GB for $1200. An 10c CPU, 16c GPU M1 Pro Mac mini with 16 GB RAM and 512 GB for $1500.

    When the M2 Mac mini comes, hopefully they keep the M1 model and price its starting SKU at $600, with M2 models starting at $700 or $800.
  • Reply 6 of 19
    DAalseth said:
    Really, IMO (which I understand signifies little) they would have been better putting the M2s into an updated Mac Mini. 
    I’ll double down and offer speculation which signifies even less. 

    I think the M2 Pro is going to be an optional upgrade for the next Mac mini as there is a little bit of a gap between the mini and the Studio. The M1 Pro doesn’t currently exist in the desktop space, it’s M1 in the mini or jumping to M1 Max in the studio, I think the mini will get upgraded to M2 when the Pro is released. 

    Probably just wishful thinking on my part. 
  • Reply 7 of 19
    M2 GPU = nearly 40% performance improvement versus M1 GPU

    10 core GPU M2 MBA = $1499

    10 core GPU M2 MBP = $1299

    So the MBP is both cheaper AND more powerful for GPU oriented tasks + internal cooling that allows the more powerful GPU to run under load longer, especially when plugged into a power source. I really don't see much reason for people to scratch their heads over this model versus the M2 MBA.


  • Reply 8 of 19
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,239member
    tht said:
    dewme said:
    DAalseth said:
    Really, IMO (which I understand signifies little) they would have been better putting the M2s into an updated Mac Mini. 
    Could not agree more. A Mac mini with M2 and a larger memory capacity would be a perfect desktop computer for the masses, just like the M2 MacBook Air is the perfect notebook computer for the masses. Nothing against the Mac Studio or beefier MacBooks, but few people actually utilize the full capabilities of the higher end products. 
    I would actually prefer they put an M1 Pro into the Mac mini. They should have done it 3 months ago. M1 Mac mini base model for $700, 8c CPU, 14c GPU M1 Pro base model with 16 GB, 256 GB for $1200. An 10c CPU, 16c GPU M1 Pro Mac mini with 16 GB RAM and 512 GB for $1500.

    When the M2 Mac mini comes, hopefully they keep the M1 model and price its starting SKU at $600, with M2 models starting at $700 or $800.
    The M1 Pro would work for me too. I seriously doubt Apple would put the M1 Max in a mini because of cooling concerns and cannibalization of the Mac Studio. 

    I do have a lot of interest in the Mac Studio too, except for the price and the fact that it’s still a sealed box. Not being able run a bunch of VMs (of the type I need) on Apple Silicon means I don’t need massive amounts of memory, so I’m thinking 24 GB may be more than enough. 

    It’s ironic that I’ve always thought that Apple needed something less beastly than the Pro but above the mini. The Studio seemingly fills that gap, but dropping the 27” iMac with 5K creates another hole that isn’t really filled by the Studio when you add in the cost of a high quality 5K monitor. 

    I suppose my desires around an M2 mini are probably rooted in getting something that fills the void left by the 5K iMac 27” but with a non integrated screen. The Studio overfills that gap, at least on price. 
  • Reply 9 of 19
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,063member
    In the Intel days, people complained Apple didn't release enough spec bumps. Now they complain "It's just a spec bump!" 

    Whatevs. We know what the chips are, we know they will continue to trickle into the various form factors over time. Only thing to do is pick one up with your preferred form factor is updated.
    edited June 22 foregoneconclusion
  • Reply 10 of 19
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,299member
    In the Intel days, people complained Apple didn't release enough spec bumps. Now they complain "It's just a spec bump!" 

    Whatevs. We know what the chips are, we know they will continue to trickle into the various form factors over time. Only thing to do is pick one up with your preferred form factor is updated.
    The thing too is that for the most part, the current M1 series is way more than adequate for general consumers. Contrary what some may think, people like us on this and other forums generally do not represent the vast majority of Apple customers. So this ONLY a small spec bump is a completely worthless argument to those who are making one. I seriously doubt a general consumer goes into a store, or looks at the website and goes straight to the specs page to see how fast the CPU is, how fast the RAM is, SSD, etc. They just buy whatever Apple offers to them with the standard configs and don't sit there and nitpick meaning less specs with other options. 

    So anything beyond the M1 series is just a complete bonus for most, even if its a very little one. 
    edited June 22
  • Reply 11 of 19
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,844member
    How do you make the call wait for Air without benchmarking the devices to see the difference Active Cooling in the MBP makes?
  • Reply 12 of 19
    kimberlykimberly Posts: 399member
    I think the M2 is still like the M1 in that only one external monitor is supported. If two or more external monitors are required, then probably going to be waiting a while for the M2 PRO or MAX.  
  • Reply 13 of 19
    When they talk about it being slow or locking up, I can only assume they are using the 8GB model? I have the M1 16GB 3TB model and I have probably 100+ tabs open with a lot of apps open too. I've edited 4k video too. It's more than a "spreadsheet" machine. A MBA M2 with 24GB RAM will probably be perfect for me but I would prefer a fan. May end up with the 14" which is overkill.
  • Reply 15 of 19
    The fan in the MBP will not make much difference.
    It all depends on the use case. It's definitely going to make a difference for something like a long render while plugged into power.
  • Reply 16 of 19
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,299member
    The fan in the MBP will not make much difference.
    It all depends on the use case. It's definitely going to make a difference for something like a long render while plugged into power.
    I don't believe the fan in the M1 version made much of any difference. With the M2 being even more efficient, I can't see it being any different. 
  • Reply 17 of 19
    jcallowsjcallows Posts: 149member
    The MacBook Air will cannibalize the MacBook Pro.  Aside from the M2 chip. it's design will improve drastically.  Apple got ride of that cheap taper look and made it flat and symmetrical all around.  It's also even thinner than the 13" MacBook Pro which is thinner than the 14" version.  And they kept the function keys.  Though the notch will be there, it can be more easily tolerated given the other design changes.  The MacBook Air should really be simply called the MacBook as the Air implies you are sacrificing power for portability which you are not.
    dewme
  • Reply 18 of 19
    kimberlykimberly Posts: 399member
    When they talk about it being slow or locking up, I can only assume they are using the 8GB model? I have the M1 16GB 3TB model and I have probably 100+ tabs open with a lot of apps open too. I've edited 4k video too. It's more than a "spreadsheet" machine. A MBA M2 with 24GB RAM will probably be perfect for me but I would prefer a fan. May end up with the 14" which is overkill.
    I think my use-case is a bit like yours. So 24GB RAM is fine and I shouldn't get in a flap about 32GB? That just leaves the superior display on the 14 MBP and the support for at least 2 external monitors with PRO & MAX processors.
  • Reply 19 of 19
    timmilleatimmillea Posts: 102member
    Yet another unforced error on Apple's part. The new MBP 13" is a totally unnecessary product. I can't imagine what Johnny Ive is thinking, well I can, exactly those thoughts and Steve would be turning in his grave, if he had one. 

    The Mac Studio was a huge mistake. It should have been a Mac Mini. Full stop. It is a monstrosity of a design.

    Apple is badly de-railed at the moment and, given their product rollout typically takes several years, it does no bode at all well. 

    Apple desperately needs design-led, rather than focus groups led, products again, or else it will quickly sink back into the sea of mediocrity. 
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