Apple unveils new Macs with faster M2 Pro, M2 Max chips

The new processors in the MacBook Pro and Mac mini deliver significant performance gains — and 22-hour battery life.

Apple, Mac, Mac mini, MacBook Pro, M2, Apple Silicon, M2 Pro, M2 Max

Apple today lived up to recent speculation over the introduction of new Macs with faster M2 processors. The new M2 Pro and M2 Max processors make their debut in upgraded models of Mac mini and new 14- and 16-in. models of MacBook Pro.

What’s new in the processors?

Apple has been making hay ever since it introduced support for its self-designed M-series processors — the company continues to build market share on the strength of Apple Silicon. The M2 series processors will maintain this trend.

The M2 Pro and M2 Max up the ante with the provision of up to 12 CPU cores, up to 19 (M2 Pro) and 38 (M2 Max) GPU cores, and support for a maximum 96GB of unified memory (on the 16-in. MacBook Pro).

We already know Apples Silicon devices deliver industry-beating performance per watt; this improves in the latest machines, which deliver even more bang for the buck. 

Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technologies, said the new Macs, deliver incredible pro performance along with industry-leading power efficiency.”

This is interesting given that all the company’s previous M-powered Mac releases have delivered significant performance boosts, as I noted here and here.

So, what can the processors do?

Apple says its M2 Pro chip delivers CPU performance that’s up to 20% faster and graphics speeds up to 30% faster than found in the M1 Pro.

For professional users, this translates into faster apps. In fact, Apple claims image processing in Photoshop to be 80% faster on an M2 Pro Mac than with an Intel Core i9 chip.

The M2 Max processor delivers more of the same.

Among other things, Apple promises graphics speeds are up to 30% faster than users saw with the powerful M1 Max chip, while the huge increase in available memory lets Macs running the chip handle projects other systems can’t even run.m“M2 Max is the world’s most powerful and efficient chip for a pro laptop,” Apple boasted.

For professional users, this has implications in graphics, visual effects, machine learning, and for other high-end applications.

The processors are miserly when it comes to energy. Apple promises up to 22 hours of battery life, which should help enterprise professionals who neglect to pack the power cable when on assignment.

What’s new in the Mac mini?

In this iteratio,n Apple cut the cost of Mac mini, which now starts at $599 and is available with either an M2 or M2 Pro chip. The latter model starts at $1,299.

The M2 processor first appeared in new Macs last year and delivers significant performance improvements when compared to the M1 chip used in the earlier Mac mini. Apple says Photoshop is up to 50% faster than in the M1 model and claims the new Mac mini to be up to five times faster than the best-selling Windows desktop.

The M2 Pro Mac mini can run intense workflows and supports up to three displays (up from two on the M2 model). It also accelerates machine learning tasks by up to 40% in comparison to the prior model.

Data points and details

M2 Mac mini

  • 8-core CPU with 4 high-performance and 4 high-efficiency cores.
  • 10-core GPU.
  • Up to 24GB unified memory and 100GB/s bandwidth.
  • The Mac can play up to two streams of 8K ProRes 422 video at 30 fps, or up to 12 streams of 4K ProRes 422 video at 30 fps.
  • 2x Thunderbolt 4 ports, 2x USB-A, HDMI.
  • Gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi 6E.

M2 Pro Mac mini

  • 12-core CPU with 8 high-performance and 4 high-efficiency cores.
  • Up to 19-core GPU.
  • Up to 32GB unified memory and 200GB/s bandwidth.
  • 4x Thunderbolt 4 ports, 2x USB-A, HDMI.
  • Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 6E.
  • Support for one 8K display.

What’s new in MacBook Pro?

The new 14- and 16-in. MacBook Pro models feature M2 Pro and M2 Max processors and should work for up to 22 hours between each charge — great for mobile pros.

Apple promises up to six times more performance than users get from the fastest Intel-based MacBook Pro, augmented by support for up to 96GB unified memory. As a result, these Macs can better tackle tasks such as effects rendering and work well as hybrid desktop replacements — they can even drive 8K displays.

Apple has set starting prices at $1,999 (14-in. M2 Pro), or $2,499 (16-in. M2 Pro). At the top of the range, the 14-in. M2 Max model costs $3,099 while the 16-in. configuration costs $3,499.

“MacBook Pro with Apple Silicon has been a game changer, empowering pros to push the limits of their workflows while on the go and do things they never thought possible on a laptop,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

“Today the MacBook Pro gets even better. With faster performance, enhanced connectivity, and the longest battery life ever in a Mac, along with the best display in a laptop, there’s simply nothing else like it.”

MacBook Pro with M2 Pro details

  • 10- or 12-core CPU with 8x high-performance and 4x high-efficiency cores.
  • Performance up to 20% higher than on M1 Pro.
  • 19-core GPU with 30% better graphics performance (while machine intelligence functions are boosted by 40%).
  • Xcode compilation 2.5x faster than on Intel-based MacBook Pros and 25% faster than the previous generation.

MacBook Pro with M2 Max details

  • 12-core CPU with 8x high-performance and 4x high-efficiency cores.
  • Performance up to 20% higher than on M1 Max.
  • The up to 38-core GPU makes for 30% better graphics performance than the M1 Max and double the memory bandwidth (400GB/s).
  • Up to 96GB unified memory.

Both models feature Wi-Fi 6E and advanced HDMI to support displays at up to 8K. Connectivity includes three Thunderbolt 4 ports, MagSafe 3 charging, HDMI, and an SDXC card slot.

What comes next?

We’ll all be looking at these Macs with great interest. It is, however, worth pointing out that in this iteration Apple has delivered impressive performance improvements in comparison to its last generation M-series Macs, but has also doubled down on energy use.

If you run a bank of machines, particularly Mac minis, a move to the new processors could significantly reduce energy costs. We’ll wait for benchmark data and first-look reports, but for now these new Macs promise positive benefit to the many enterprise pros switching to Apple's ecosystem.

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Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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