M1 vs. M2: What should you buy?


Which processor should I choose for my next MacBook?

Apple’s keynote at WWDC 2022 revealed the company’s next-generation chipset, which has generated controversy and competition Apple M1 vs. M2.

There have really been a lot of rumors over the last year surrounding the announcement of the Apple M2, the impression is that the processor delivers on almost every promise as a full-fledged successor to the Apple M1, Apple’s groundbreaking chip first introduced alongside the best laptops on the market, like the MacBook Air M1, as well as on the MacBook Pro 13 M1 and Mac Mini M1 back in 2020.

Given the huge selection of M1-based laptops and computers available on the market today, it can be difficult to choose between the company’s 1st chip, which can save you money, and the latest generation chipset. To make your choice easier, we’ve compared the two chipsets to highlight the benefits of the two chips depending on your needs and budget.

M1 vs. M2: Features

Although the M1 and M2 specialize in efficiency instead of pure performance (as opposed to the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips), there are some important differences between them.

The M1 created a furor when Apple first showed off the new chipsets, especially given the company’s first attempt at building its own chipset for an entire line of Mac products. The system-on-chip (SoC) features an 8-core processor built in a big.LITTLE configuration, with four high-performance cores and four efficient ones. The chipset is also equipped with 8-core graphics with a bandwidth of 2.6 TFLOP (FP32).

What makes the M1 so great?

Everything fits in a tiny package – the processor, cache memory, graphics processor, neural engine and DRAM – meaning Apple laptops are much thinner. The chipset boasts memory bandwidth of 100GB/s, supports up to 16GB of combined memory, and runs a 16-core neural engine. That’s 16 billion transistors formed on a 5-nanometer process.

All of this makes the chip extremely efficient for everyday tasks such as web browsing, streaming, video calling and more.

Meanwhile, Apple promises that the M2 will get significantly better, with important feature and performance improvements.

The M2 again relies on an 8-core processor, with four cores that are high-performance and four that are efficient. The chipset’s integrated graphics gets extra cores (10-core), and the system’s TDP on-chip is about 10-15 watts. According to Apple, the two extra cores are critical in terms of processing power.

The new chipset is built on an advanced 5-nanometer processor, it now houses 20 billion transistors, 100GB/s memory bandwidth, and supports up to 24GB of combined memory. According to the company, the 16-core neural engine is capable of 5.8 trillion operations per second, 40% more than the M1.

It seems that aside from the obvious upgrades, Apple has learned how to squeeze more out of its chips, as the M2 does much more with similar specs.

Apple M1 and M2 architecture

(Image courtesy of: Apple)

M1 vs. M2: Performance

We can’t compare the M2’s performance to that of the M1 until we get a laptop or computer with the new chip to run tests and compare numbers.

However, given the known performance of the M2, we’d like to see every M2-equipped computer run faster and more efficiently than M1 machines.

For example, according to Apple, the M2 neural engine is 40% faster than the M1 AI, memory bandwidth is up 50%, transistor density is 25% higher, unified memory is 50% more, and multi-threaded performance is up 18% (according to Apple).

According to the manufacturer, the M2’s graphics performance is up 25%, and the maximum performance gain comes out to 35%.

There are also some performance stats specific to the MacBook Pro 13 (2022), including a 40% increase in RAW performance relative to the M1, while games with heavy graphics will be 40% faster. The M2 can edit video projects in ProRes almost three times faster, supporting 11 4K streams and up to two 8K ProRes streams.

From the information we have today, it seems that the M2 becomes a significant improvement from the M1, but mostly the difference becomes noticeable in heavy tasks such as video editing. How much better the performance is in everyday use is not so obvious at all, most likely the difference will be negligible as the M1 handles everyday tasks with ease.

Once we can test the M2 ourselves, we will be able to fully appreciate its capabilities.


M1 vs. M2: Prices and configurations

Depending on which M2 laptop you choose, the price difference between the M2 and M1 may or may not be monstrous. When buying any Apple laptop, it’s important to think about your needs, as the M2 fundamentally affects the final price.

The MacBook Air with Apple M1 still sells for $999 (75,000p + VAT), meanwhile the MacBook Pro 13 starts at $1,299 (975,000p + VAT). The MacBook Air M2 hit the market for $1,199 (90000p + VAT), and the new MacBook Pro 13 M2 starts at the same $1,299 (97500p + VAT).

In this situation, it makes no sense to buy the MacBook Pro 13 (M1), as the newcomer sells for the same money, being more powerful. The difference in pricing between the Air M1 and Air M2 is a noticeable $200 (15000p + VAT). How this will affect the sales of new products, it’s too early to say, but it does not bode well.

M1 vs M2: What should you buy?

When deciding whether to invest in an Apple M1 or M2 computer, you have to consider the use of the computer or laptop and the tasks you have for it.

If you need a computer capable of operating simple work or educational tasks, every M1 will do just fine. The MacBook Air M1’s low price point makes it perfect for the job.

However, if you need a computer for demanding tasks like video editing, the M2 can offer extra CPU and graphics subsystem performance to complete tasks faster and more efficiently. As a bonus, if you like gaming, the MacBook Pro M2 in particular promises much better gaming performance.

Of course, before drawing final conclusions about which laptops are better to buy, we recommend waiting for the first real reviews with the M2 when the laptops arrive in the newsroom.


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