Understanding possibly five Apple M2 Series processors
Apple announced the M2 SoC on June 6, 2022, at WWDC, along with the new MacBook Air and the new 13-inch MacBook Pro and later the iPad Pro (6th generation). It is the successor to the Apple M1. The M2 is made with TSMC’s “Enhanced 5-nanometer technology” N5P process and contains 20 billion transistors, 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.
Apple M2 Pro
The M2 Pro is a more powerful version of the M2, with six to eight performance cores, four efficiency cores, 16 to 19 core GPU, 16 Apple Next Generation Neural Engine cores, up to 32 GBs of unified RAM with up to 200 GB/s memory bandwidth, and over 40 billion transistors, 20 percent more than the M1 Pro and twice the M2. It was announced on January 17, 2023 in a press release and it is used in the 14 and 16 inch 2023 MacBook Pro (Apple silicon) as well as the Mac Mini. Apple claims the CPU performance on the M2 Pro is 20 percent faster than the M1 Pro and the GPU is 30 percent faster than the one on the M1 Pro.
Apple M2 Max
The M2 Max is a larger more powerful version of the M2 Pro, with eight performance cores, four efficiency cores, 30 to 38 core GPU, 16 Apple Next Generation Neural Engine cores, up to 96GBs of unified RAM with up to 400 GB/s memory bandwidth, and over 67 billion transistors, 10 billion more than the M1 Max and 3x the M2. It was announced on January 17, 2023 in a press release and it is used in the 14 and 16 inch 2023 MacBook Pro (Apple silicon). Apple claims the CPU performance on the M2 Max is 20 percent faster that M1 Max and the GPU is 30 percent faster than the M1 Max. According to Apple, “the M2 Max is the most powerful and efficient chip in a pro laptop”.
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 boils down to the base M2 processor performance.
The base M2 has been in the MacBook Air and available since the beginning of July 2022. The Mac mini refreshed its lineup from M1 and Intel based, to M2 and M2 Pro models in Q1 of 2023. The 14″ & 16″ MacBook Pros upgraded to the M2 Pro and M2 Max in Q1 of 2023.
I expect that the M2 Ultra will be released before the end of 2023 in the Mac Studio and Mac Pro. Though rumors say no, the M2 Extreme could be in the next Mac Pro, available in possibly 2023. The 24″ iMac will eventually upgrade to at least the M2, but who knows, rumors say these could instead be released as M3 iterations.
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, M2 Pro & M2 Max specifications are actual
M2 Ultra & M2 Extreme specifications are estimates
While M2, M2 Pro and M2 Max are distinct designs, M2 Ultra is expected to be essentially two interconnected M2 Maxs (as the M1 Ultra was two M1 Maxs), and M2 Extreme is expected to be four interconnected M2 Maxs.
** 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 or 8||8||16||32|
|Neural Engine Cores||16||16||16||32||64|
|GPU Cores options||8 or 10||16 or 19||30 or 38||60 or 76||120 or 152|
|Unified Memory options||8GB 16GB 24GB||16GB 32GB||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 that is possible, is that 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
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 Series system.
So far, there are 5 basic form factors of Apple macOS systems with M2 Series processors, 1 desktop and 4 laptops.
- 13″ MacBook Air M2
- 13″ MacBook Pro M2
- 14″ MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
- 16″ MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
- Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
It is expected that a Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 Ultra will be released in 2023, and possibly a 24″ iMac M2 and Mac Pro M2 Ultra & M2 Extreme as well. There are also *rumors* of a 15″ MacBook Air M2 and a 27″ iMac M2 & M2 Pro.
Apple related pages
Updated periodically – Apple Silicon is the DAW standard
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 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 Studio Display
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series
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