Out of nowhere, Apple has announced the release of new Mac models equipped with powerful M2 chips. And even more surprisingly, the Mac mini M2 version is actually cheaper than the old M1 model. Could this be a good sign for future releases? In this article we will break down what was announced and all of the information.
Unlike their typical keynote releases, Apple announced the M2 Mini's release via a press release on Tuesday 17th January, this could be because the M2 chip itself was first unveiled last year and Apple deemed it didn't need another dedicated event. But whilst this release may not be as flashy as a brand new iPhone, it is nonetheless essential to the Apple lineup. More specifically, new Mac mini and MacBook Pro equipped variations with M2 chips, which have a higher performance than current models. This sudden release also comes with another surprise... the new entry-level Mac mini with its M2 chip at $599 is cheaper than the M1 Mac mini.
Apple M2 Pro and M2 Max: seriously improved chips
For tech enthusiasts, it is the arrival of these latest versions of the M2 chip, the M2 Pro and the M2 Max that are worth taking note of. The arrival of the M2 Pro and M2 Max chip continues on from what Apple did with its first in-house M1 chip, and then the M1 Pro, M1 Max and M1 Ultra.The basic M2 being already an improved M1, the launch of these new, even more powerful versions gives hope for a significant jump in the performance of the Macs that inherit them today, namely the 14-inch MacBook Pro and the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Like the other members of the M family, the new M2s are all-in-one circuits – SoCs– which integrate both a normal processor part (CPU), a graphics circuit (GPU) , with many calculation units and RAM – called unified, because shared between the different sections, in essence not expandable. Thus, the M2 Pro improves the architecture of the first M2 with a CPU and GPU that can carry up to 12 cores and 19 cores respectively and up to 32 GB of unified memory while the M2 Max receives a GPU of up to 38 cores. and up to 96 GB of unified low-latency memory.
Engraved in 5 nanometers – second generation according to Apple – the M2 Pro incorporates 40 billion transistors, double the M2 itself and boasts 200 GB/s of memory bandwidth, twice as much as the M2. Its "next-generation" 10 or 12-core CPU - with up to eight high-performance cores and four energy-efficient cores - is said to deliver 20% better performance than the M1 Pro when multithreaded, which should further speed up heavy processing in demanding environments, applications like Photoshop. Apple even points out that compiling projects in Xcode is "up to 2.5 times faster than on the highest performing Intel-based MacBook Pro." And the graphics have not been forgotten, with the M2 Pro's GPU promising up to 30% better performance than the M1 Pro's GPU, with capabilities "worthy of a video game console".
The M2 Max goes one step further: 67 billion transistors, more than three times more than the M2, 400 GB/s of unified memory bandwidth, twice as much as the M2 Pro and four times more than the M2, it promises to open the largest files instantly and to use several professional applications simultaneously in a perfectly fluid way. In addition, while it incorporates the same next-generation 12-core CPU as the M2 Pro, its GPU is more powerful, with a maximum of 38 cores and a larger level 2 cache. As for its graphics performance, Apple is up to 30% better than M1 Max, the benchmark in the M family.
Above all, these new iterations retain one of the major strengths of the Apple ARM chip family: an unequaled performance-to-power ratio on the market. In fact, the portable Macs that inherit it should be particularly frugal in energy – remember that a basic Mac mini M1 consumes less than 10 W in normal use – which suggests record autonomy, a key feature that matters today, both for ecology and for the resulting savings. On its new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro, Apple speaks of a record autonomy of up to some 22 hours.
MacBook Pro M2: Wi-Fi 6E as standard
The MacBook Pro family has been revamped with the arrival of six new models, in 14 or 16 inches, all powered by M2 Pro or M2 Max chips, with various memory and storage configurations. The prices are unsurprisingly on the rise – and the prices of certain options such as the passage to 96 GB of RAM sting, but they seem justified by the enormous power delivered by the new chips. Not to mention that even if the design does not change, these new models benefit as standard from Wi-Fi 6E, the fastest wireless standard available at the moment.
Mac mini M2: a hand-sized powerhouse
If the new MacBook Pro will delight lovers of autonomous power, it is the Mac mini M2 above all which created the real surprise with Apple's release. Three new models appear in the catalog to replace the old ones, with M2 or M2 Pro and various configurations, the mini family now being entirely powered by Apple chips. Farewell to the latest Intel processor-based model, which the M2 literally crushes according to Apple.
The three new models take up the design and the particularly successful case of the old ones, all in metal with the most beautiful effect. There are in particular two or four Thunderbolt 4 ports in USB-C, DisplayPort compatible, two USB 3.1 ports at 5 Gbit/s in USB-A, an HDMI port, a Gigabit Ethernet port and a headphone jack output. Not Byzantium, but more than enough on a daily basis. Especially since, on the wireless communication side, we now have Bluetooth 5.3 and Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), for very high-speed connections.
Like the new MacBook Pro M2, the Mac mini M2 can be ordered from January 17th on the Apple Store, for availability from January 24th. Note that if the price of the richest configurations – the M2 Pro chip model with 12-core CPU, 32 GB of Ram and 1 TB of SSD is more than $2200, the new youngest of the family, with a simple M2, 8 GB of Ram and 256 GB of SS is marketed at $599, or $100 less than the M1 model it replaces, those who have just bought it may be enraged! An excellent surprise that proves that Apple also knows how to lower its prices.