13-inch MacBook Pro (M2, 2022) review: Pro in name only

13-inch MacBook Pro (M2, 2022) review: Pro in name only

Say hello to Apple’s most bewildering laptop, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with an M2 chip. It was already a confusing computer when we reviewed the M1 model in 2020, which was surpassed by the fanless MacBook Air. But now that there’s a new MacBook Air with a bigger screen and a more modern design, the 13-inch Pro looks a bit like a relic from another era. It goes back to a time when Apple had to build machines around the hotter, less efficient Intel chips, instead of taking full advantage of its own hardware.

To be fair, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is still a very nice looking computer, and the M2 chip gives it a decent performance boost. But it’s also something I can’t really recommend, not when the new Air offers so much more, and the 14-inch MacBook Pro has a much better screen, plus the ports the pros actually need. Apple says the 13-inch MacBook Pro continues to be one of its most popular models, and that’s not too surprising since it’s the lowest-priced “Pro” laptop in its line. Still, it’s 2022 and this MacBook Pro design has been around for years. Popularity is no excuse for being lazy.

Advantages

  • The M2 chip is very fast
  • Long battery life
  • Build quality is still excellent
  • Great keyboard and trackpad

The inconvenients

  • No promotional display
  • Thick screen bezels Touch Bar remains boring
  • Only 2 USB-C ports

Gallery: 13-inch MacBook Pro (M2, 2022) | 12 Pictures


Now, I guess it makes sense for Apple to slow down a bit. The MacBook Pro’s unibody aluminum enclosure still outperforms the vast majority of PCs on the market. And, given the many design and supply chain constraints we’re facing amid the ongoing pandemic and chip crisis, it was probably smarter for Apple to focus on the new Air, as well as on 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros. It’s just a shame that those priorities left the 13-inch model with the same chunky display and anemic selection of ports we’ve seen in years.

And no, the Touch Bar is not helping the situation at all. Just when we thought we’d gotten rid of Apple’s second screen dud, it’s back to torment us all over again with disappearing function keys and constantly changing app shortcuts. It’s almost as if Apple had leftover Touch Bar stock that just needed to be unloaded, and we’re paying the price. The developers don’t do much more to take advantage of it, so in a few years it will be just a useless appendage, like the last protohuman with a tail.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Now that I’ve vented my frustrations, we can talk about what’s good: Apple’s new M2 chip. It offers 8 CPU cores and up to 10 GPU cores, which Apple claims will deliver 18% faster multithreading performance and up to 35% faster graphics speeds. The real upgrade for the pros, however, is that it now supports up to 24GB of RAM (instead of being limited to 16GB), and also has double the memory bandwidth. With support for ProRes encoding and decoding, the M2 should make the MacBook Pro a much better option for video editors who don’t want to make the jump to the more expensive 14-inch model.

Our review unit, which featured the M2 chip (10 GPU cores) with 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, was noticeably faster in almost all benchmarks. It scored nearly 9,000 points in Geekbench 5’s multi-core test, while the MacBook Pro M1 was closer to 7,000 points. The M2 chip also blew out the M1 in Geekbench’s Compute benchmark, as well as Cinebench R23, where it scored 1,300 points higher than the M1 machine. The performance bump isn’t enough to gut the MacBook Pro M1 if you’ve already bought one, but it’s still nice to see Apple making decent gains with its sequel chip.

None

Geekbench 5 processor

Geekbench 5 Calculation

Cinebench R23

Apple MacBook Pro 13 inch, (Apple M2, 2022)

1,938/8,984

27,304

1,583/8,719

Apple 14-inch MacBook Pro (Apple M1 Pro)

1,767/11,777

38,359

1,515/12,118

Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro (Apple M1 Max, 2021)

1,783/12,693

60 167

1,524/12,281

Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro (Apple M1, 2020)

1,696/7,174

18,556

1,492/7,467

Dell XPS 15 (Intel i7-12700H, RTX 3050 Ti, 2022)

1,680/11,412

60 205

1,724/13,100

Here’s the thing: we haven’t reviewed the new MacBook Air yet, and based on my experience with the latest model, I expect it to get about the same score as the MacBook Pro. Again, Apple’s big selling point for this computer is that it has a more elaborate fan and cooling system, allowing it to handle sustained workloads like video encoding or 3d rendering. The MacBook Air is still fanless, so it’s likely going to drastically reduce performance as it heats up.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.