Understanding possibly five Apple M2 Series processors
Apple announced the launch of M2 SoC on June 6, 2022. It is the successor to the Apple M1. The M2 is made with TSMC’s “Enhanced 5-nanometer technology” N5P process and comes with 20 billion transistors, which is a 25% increase from the previous generation M1. The M2 can be configured with up to 24 gigabytes of RAM and 2 terabytes of storage. It has 8 CPU cores (4 performance and 4 efficiency) and up to 10 GPU cores. The M2 also increases the memory bandwidth to 100 GB/s. Apple claims CPU improvements up to 18% and GPU improvements up to 35% compared to the previous M1.
The brilliance of Apple silicon is the components of each one are the same. There are just more or less of them in each type. Performance of the various M2 processors really boil down to the base M2 processor performance.
It is a fact that supply chain issues are playing havoc with these releases. Specification compromises are being made to reflect capacity realities. At this point it looks like all M2 processors will be 5nm (N5P). The base M2 is in the MacBook Air M2 and available as of the beginning of July 2022.
In March 2023, the 14″/16″ MacBook Pros will upgrade to the M2 Pro and M2 Max. The Mac mini will refresh its lineup, currently M1 and Intel based, with M2 and M2 Pro models in possibly March of 2023.
The M2 Ultra and M2 Extreme will be in the next Mac Pro, available possibly in 2023. The Mac Studio may upgrade to M2 Max and M2 Ultra also possibly in 2023. The 24″ iMac is expected to upgrade to the M2 possibly in 2023 as well.
The M2 series will be improved but probably not enough for most people to upgrade from a M1 equivalent. The M2 series will be improved enough for many people to upgrade from an Intel equivalent.
By the end of 2023, the Apple M1 Processor Series should be history and fully replaced by the Apple M2 Processor Series in newly released products.
M2 specifications are actual. M2 Pro, M2 Max, M2 Ultra & M2 Extreme specifications are estimates based on leaks!
** If you are browsing this page from a phone, you may want to view the following chart in landscape mode.
|Component||M2||M2 Pro||M2 Max||M2 Ultra||M2 Extreme|
|Efficiency CPU Cores||4||4||4||8||16|
|Performance CPU Cores||4||6||8||16||32|
|Neural Engine Cores||16||16||16||32||64|
|GPU Cores options||8 or 10||18 or 20||30 or 38||60 or 76||120 or 152|
|Unified Memory options||8GB 16GB 24GB||16GB 32GB 48GB||32GB 64GB 96GB||64GB 128GB 192GB||128GB 256GB 384GB|
|Video Decode Engines||1||1||1||2||4|
|Video Encode Engines||1||1||2||4||8|
|ProRes Encode-Decode Engines||1||1||2||4||8|
One twist, I think there is a small possibility the M2 Extreme will not be named the M2 Extreme. This chip could be broken out of the M lineup and become a processor line of its own, with its own naming structure for the exclusive use of the Mac Pro systems.
Assuming a 2 year processor upgrade cycle, by the end of 2025 the M2 Series should be history and fully replaced by the Apple M3 Processor Series in newly released products.
CPU & GPU Performance Benchmarks
M2 Single Core is slightly faster than M1 Series processors. M2 Multi Core and GPU Core are faster than M1, but the M1 Pro, M1 Max, or M1 Ultra are significantly faster in Multi Core and GPU Core performance.
Buying an Apple M2 Series computer
Any Apple M2 Series computer will be a joyful experience compared to music and video production on Intel hardware. Highly recommended to get at least 16GB of memory and 512GB storage if you select an M2 system.
Currently there are 2 basic types of Apple macOS systems with M2 Series processors, both laptops. Note: I do not recommend the 13″ MacBook Pro M2 and do not list it here. Prices quoted below are from Apple.
Apple related posts
June 26, 2022 – Apple Mac Studio M1 Ultra: Delivered!
March 22, 2022 – Apple M1 is the new DAW performance minimum
March 9, 2022 – Changed MacBook order to Mac Studio M1 Ultra
February 20, 2022 – Finally a MacBook Pro M1 with all the wanted features
Apple related pages
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M1
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M1
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M2
Updated periodically – Apple 24″ iMac M1
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M2 Series
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M3 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Miscellaneous
Updated periodically – Apple Technology YouTube Critique
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Pro Display
Updated periodically – Apple M Series External USB-C SSD Options