Apple Gen Two silicon delivers power and efficiency

The second generation of the computer chip made by Apple is official, and although this silicon – named M2 – is very exciting because it will power almost everything Apple in the near future, ranging from iPads to iMacs to the long rumored mixed reality headphones, the first product offered to consumers with the M2 is a rather boring product: the 2022 13-inch MacBook Pro.

I say “boring” because all the new upgrades Apple introduced to last year’s 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros, including a new design with thinner bezels and a higher display panel, somehow haven’t carried over to this new 13-inch machine. . In fact, this 2022 M2-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro looks identical to the 2020 MacBook Pro, as well as the 2018 MacBook Pro. It literally uses the same components as before, just with the M2 chip and a slightly larger battery.

But while this 13-inch design looks dated, not just compared to the other aforementioned MacBooks but also most 2022 Windows machines, perhaps it’s what’s inside that counts. And the M2 is a terrific performer in that $1,200 to $1,800 price range that this MacBook Pro model falls into. It’s at least as powerful as any Windows laptop in this price range, but it’s so much more efficient.

A Brief Recap of Apple Silicon

Before proceeding, it is worth recapping the history of Apple silicon for readers who may not be familiar. The silicon industry is dominated by two types of architecture: the ARM-based architecture, based on reduced instruction set computing (RISC); and Intel’s X86 architecture, which is based on Complex Instruction Set Computing (CISC). As their instruction set implies, ARM-based silicon is less complex, prioritizing efficiency over raw power output. These are usually referred to as systems on a chip (SoC) because all the required computational bits are stored in a tiny chip. Intel’s X86 architecture silicon is more complex, larger in size, capable of more power, but may require other parts to fully do its job.

For over a decade, the conventional wisdom in the computing space has been that smaller, more efficient ARM chips are ideal for small, frequently used devices like smartphones and tablets, but for “real computers” it is Best to stick with the more complex X86 silicon as they offer superior performance.

Just over two years ago, Apple essentially threw that conventional wisdom out the window when it announced it was ditching Intel silicon in favor of its own chips built on the ARM architecture. It stunned the computer industry.

And Apple delivered. The first generation chips, M1, were released in late 2020 and were surprisingly able to power Apple laptops and desktops well, and they were significantly more efficient than Intel-powered laptops.

The second generation

Now comes the M2, which Apple says offers an 18% improvement in CPU and 35% in GPU over the M1, and whether benchmarking or actual testing, my M2 MacBook Pro actually provided these performance gains.

I was particularly impressed with the video rendering. Exporting 4K/30fps video moves at nearly 3x the actual video length, which means if I export a five-minute video, the export process completes in less than 90 seconds.

Just to test, I tried exporting a four minute 8K/30 video (8K video is so high resolution that most screens today still can’t play it, so this test is only for push the machine), and the 13-inch MacBook Pro rendered the clip in Final Cut Pro in less than four minutes. The same rendering process on a 2020 MacBook with an Intel processor took almost 17 minutes.

These video rendering tests were performed on Final Cut Pro, which is optimized for Apple hardware. Switching to neutral third-party software like Adobe Premiere Pro increased export times much longer, but the new 13-inch MacBook Pro still finished at twice the speed of my Huawei MateBook X Pro 2022 with the i7 chip from Intel’s 11th generation.

And as mentioned, the most amazing thing about Apple silicon isn’t the raw power, but the efficiency. In all of these render tests and benchmark tests, the MacBook Pro stayed cool and didn’t need the fan, warming up only slightly during the most intense 8K sessions. Intel-powered machines would need the fan in a few minutes of hard work, as they aren’t as efficient and therefore need to dissipate heat.

The rest of the hardware is solid, decent, fine

Outside of the M2, which didn’t disappoint in delivering power efficiently, the rest of this MacBook Pro package is fine if I want to be generous, or decent if I want to be tough. Like I said, since this laptop brings back the exact same design and parts as before, everything is at least several years old. The inch-thick bezels that wrap around the screen look dated next to any Windows laptop from 2019, and the 60Hz LCD screen is fine, but nothing out of the ordinary. amazing. All recent iPad Pros or Apple’s 14- and 16-inch MacBooks from last year offer more vibrant visuals.

The keyboard and trackpad are excellent, as they have been since 2020, and battery life is great thanks to the M2’s efficiency. Expect 13-15 hours of use for basic computing tasks like web browsing, watching YouTube, typing words, and more. If you do intensive tasks like video editing, the MacBook will still last four to six hours, which is much better than Windows machines.

The biggest complaint I have, however, is the lack of ports. This machine only comes with two USB-C ports, along with a headphone jack. Charging is also via USB-C, so if you’re charging the laptop, you only have one free port.

Starting at $1,299, it’s quite affordable for many

What this MacBook Pro lacks in terms of exciting design is that it offers more than just power and endurance. And with a starting price of $1,299 (and the equivalent worldwide), it’s cheap enough not only for Apple fans, but also for most professionals working in countries like the United States. , China, Japan and parts of Europe.

There is, however, an elephant in the room. At the same event that Apple launched this MacBook Pro, Apple also showed off a MacBook Air that runs on the exact same M2 chip. This Air machine has a smaller battery and has no fan, but in return benefits from the new design introduced in their other MacBooks. It’s also $100 cheaper. So for those who know they won’t be pushing the MacBook too much (video editing, gaming, or creating 3D graphics), they’d probably be better off buying the MacBook Air.

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