Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro (M2, 2022) review: Great performance and battery life, but design is tired

Advantages

  • M2 processor performance increase
  • Lightweight and slim design
  • Bright and colorful Retina display

The inconvenients

  • Aging design
  • 720p webcam
  • Expensive upgrades at time of purchase
  • No user upgrades

The MacBook Air made headlines at Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June, with a sleek new design and the introduction of Apple’s second generation M2 system on chip (SoC). It’s hardly surprising since the MacBook Air is, according to Apple, “the best-selling laptop in the world”, but it meant that this more modest update for the 13-inch MacBook Pro went almost unnoticed – in fact. , she barely lasted a minute during the WWDC keynote.

Perhaps that’s unavoidable, because the 2022 edition of the 13-inch MacBook Pro is essentially a speed bump that does little more than drop the new M2 chip into the same 13-inch laptop design that’s been around for several years. And, in many ways, the MacBook Air is now the more attractive of the two laptops. The only real advantage of the MacBook Pro is that its fan-assisted cooling system allows its processor to run at full speed longer than the passive cooling of the MacBook Air. That could give the MacBook Pro the edge for business users who aren’t shy about trading a little extra weight for more sustained performance in their key apps and software.

Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro (M2, 2022)

MacBook Pro (2022): 13.3-inch Retina display (2560 x 1600, 227ppi), M2 chipset, 8GB-25GB RAM, 256GB-2TB SSD storage.

Image: Cliff Joseph/ZDNET

Pricing & options

If you’re in the US, the price of the 13-inch MacBook hasn’t changed, still starting at $1,299 when equipped with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of solid-state storage. The entry-level price in the UK, however, has dropped from £1,299 to £1,349.

There are no upgrade options for the M2 processor itself, although the M2 runs at 3.5 GHz, down from 3.2 GHz for the previous M1, and jumps from 8 to 10 GPU cores . 8GB of RAM is unfortunately limited for a business laptop, and Apple’s memory upgrades are more expensive than ever, costing $200 to double up to 16GB, or $400 if you go for the maximum. storage upgrades are just as expensive, costing $200 for 512GB, $400 for our 1TB review unit, or $800 for 2TB.

Design features

There are really very few differences between the M1 and M2 versions of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. That’s no bad thing, though, as the M2 Edition is just as thin and light as its 2020 predecessor, measuring 304mm wide by 212mm deep by 15.6mm thick. The weight also remains the same, at 1.4kg – not much heavier than the new MacBook Air’s 1.24kg.

The 13.3-inch Retina display also remains the same, with a 2560 by 1600 (227ppi) resolution and 500 nits brightness that delivers a bold, colorful image that works well for video streaming and entertainment. The Retina display also supports Adobe RGB and the DCI-P3 color standard required for professional-level video and graphics work.

Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro (M2, 2022): keyboard

Not gone yet: the Touch Bar.

Image: Cliff Joseph/ZDNET

This unambitious update, however, represents a missed opportunity. The 13-inch MacBook Pro retains the unloved Touch Bar that Apple previously removed from other MacBook Pro models, and is the only MacBook Pro model that is still limited to two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports.

Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro (M2, 2022)

Two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the opposite side are all you get.

Image: Cliff Joseph/ZDNET

It’s also disappointing to see that it retains the same 720p webcam as its predecessor. The webcam performs well in relatively low light conditions, but it can’t match the sharpness of a good 1080p webcam. That’s disappointing for a laptop with a starting price of $1,299, and it’s still odd that a company with Apple’s affinity for eyes has such an obvious blind spot when it comes to webcams.

Performance

As mentioned, the M2 chip features an 8-core processor, just like the M1, but now goes from 8 to 10 cores for its integrated GPU. The M2 also increases the maximum amount of onboard “unified” memory from 16GB to 24GB, with 100GB/s memory bandwidth that’s 50% more than the M1. This led Apple to claim a 39% performance increase over the M1 for tasks such as gaming and image processing. The MacBook Pro’s fan-assisted cooling system also seems to give it an edge over the M2 version of the MacBook Air, as it’s been reported that the Air’s passive cooling system sometimes causes it to throttle CPU performance when ‘it is subjected to intense pressure in order to reduce the production of heat.

Our test results were somewhat mixed, but still show that the M2 is a clear cut ahead of the entry-level M1. The M1 version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro scored 1,707 for single-core performance in Geek Bench 5while the M2 manages 1,900 – in fact, this score even exceeds the 1,790 single-core performance of the M1 Ultra used in Apple’s top end mac studio.

The M2 also pulls further on multi-core performance, scoring 8986, compared to 7395 for the M1. However, it’s the Geekbench Compute test of graphics performance that shows the biggest improvement, with the M1 scoring 20,440 while the new M2 advances with 30,180. image, but we saw relatively little difference in 3D graphics, with the M2 only advancing slightly to 30fps in the 3DMark Wildlife Extreme test, against 29 fps for the M1. By contrast, the M1 Max processor used in the 16-inch MacBook Pro hit 121 fps, while the Mac Studio’s M1 Ultra – with no less than 48 GPU cores – soars into the sunset with 209 fps.

So while the M2 offers a nice speed bump compared to the M1 chipset, it still falls short of the M1 Max and Ultra with their extra CPU and GPU cores.

But, as always, the Apple Silicon MacBook line still has an ace up its sleeve, in the form of exceptional battery life. Like its M1 predecessor, the new M2 13-inch MacBook Pro claims a battery life of up to 17 hours for wireless web browsing and 20 hours for video playback. And while many rival laptops fall short of the manufacturer’s boast, we found the M2 model lasted 19 hours and 56 minutes when streaming full-screen video from the BBC iPlayer, with the brightness of the screen set to 50% perfectly watchable. . If you don’t use Wi-Fi all the time, the 13-inch MacBook Pro might genuinely be able to deliver a full 24-hour battery life.

conclusion

The MacBook Pro M2 isn’t a major upgrade, and owners of the two-year-old M1-based model shouldn’t worry about missing out on the “next big thing.” It’s also a little disappointing that Apple hasn’t done more to update the aging design of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Even so, the M2 chipset offers a welcome speed bump and might just prove a tempting upgrade for owners of older Intel-based MacBook Pros.

Apple MacBook Pro 13 inches (M2, 2022): specifications

Image: Apple

Specifications Apple MacBook Pro 13 inch (M2, 2022)

Processor Apple M2 (8-core processor, 3.5 GHz)
Chart Integrated 10-core GPU
RAM 8 GB, 16 GB, 24 GB (unified memory)
Storage 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB (SSD)
Display 13.3 inch retina
Resolution 2560×1600 (227ppi)
Brightness 500nits
Range of colors sRGB, Adobe RGB, DCI-P3
Bluetooth 5.0
Wireless WiFi 6 (802.11ax)
Ports 2x Thunderbolt/USB 4
To input 65/66 key keyboard, touch bar, Force Touch trackpad
webcam 720p FaceTime HD camera
audio 3x microphones, stereo speakers, 3.5mm headphone jack
Battery capacity 58.2Wh
Battery life (claimed) up to 20 hours of movie playback, 17 hours of wireless web
loading 67W USB-C power adapter
Dimensions 304mm x 212mm x 15.6mm (11.97in x 8.36in x 0.61in)
lester 1.4 kg (3.0 lbs)
Price from $1,299 / £1,349

Alternatives to consider

Mac users are spoiled for choice at the moment, with several MacBook models offering both M1 and M2 processors. And, of course, PC rivals such as Microsoft’s Surface line are always keen to get a slice of Apple’s pie.

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