Category Archives: M2 Pro

Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro joins Mac Studio M1 Ultra

The perfect laptop and portable DAW part 1

Be sure to read my review: Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max

In lieu of a 2nd Apple Studio Display (for a moment) I picked up a 14″ MacBook Pro M2 Pro with 12 CPU cores, 19 GPU cores, 16GB memory, and 1TB storage. I wanted macOS, application, and storage redundancy, as well as portability.

Most of my workstation needs are met by the desktop Mac Studio M1 Ultra, but the MacBook Pro will compliment it well.

This MacBook Pro generally has 50%-75% of the performance of the desktop and obviously is much easier to move. Not only will it expand my on the go computing, but it is the perfect portable DAW, should I ever need that.

The data itself is shared by iCloud Drive and Dropbox.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

The next chapter, one year later: Apple MacBook Pro M3 Max joins Mac Studio M1 Ultra

The previous chapter, six months earlier: Apple Mac Studio M1 Ultra: Delivered!

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 Mac Studio M3 Max & M3 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M3 Pro & M3 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M1
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M3 & M3 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M1
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M2
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M3
Updated periodically – Apple 24″ iMac M1
Updated periodically – Apple 24″ iMac M3
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M3 Processor Series

Follow on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda

Apple M2 Processor Series

Understanding the four Apple M2 Series processors

Apple M2
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”.

Apple M2 Ultra
The M2 Ultra consists of two M2 Max dies connected together by a silicon interposer through Apple’s UltraFusion technology. It has 134 billion transistors, 16 performance cores, 8 efficiency cores, 60 to 76 GPU cores and 32 Neural Engine cores; it can be configured with up to 192 GB unified RAM of 800 GB/s memory bandwidth. It was announced on June 5, 2023, as an optional upgrade for the Mac Studio and the sole processor for the Apple silicon Mac Pro. Apple claims the M1 Ultra can deliver up to 22 streams of 8K ProRes video playback.
Wikipedia 

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 to the M2 and M2 Pro in Q1 of 2023.

The 14″ & 16″ MacBook Pros upgraded to the M2 Pro and M2 Max in Q1 of 2023.

The Mac Studio upgraded to the M2 Max and M2 Ultra, and the Mac Pro upgraded to M2 Ultra in June of 2023.

Apple is possibly trying to move M Series processor upgrades to an annual rhythm like the A Series processors for iPhones etc. The M2 Extreme has been reportedly scrapped. Rumors say the 24″ iMac will not get released in a M2 iteration.

By the end of 2023, the Apple M1 Processor Series should be history and fully replaced by the Apple M2 and M3 Processor Series in newly released products.

M2, M2 Pro, M2 Max, and M2 Ultra specifications

While M2, M2 Pro and M2 Max are distinct designs, the M2 Ultra is essentially two interconnected M2 Maxs (as the M1 Ultra was two M1 Maxs).

** If you are browsing this page from a phone, you may want to view the following chart in landscape mode.

ComponentM2M2 ProM2 MaxM2 Ultra
Efficiency CPU Cores4448
Efficiency Clock2.4GHz2.4GHz2.4GHz2.4GHz
Performance CPU Cores46 or 8816
Performance Clock3.5GHz3.5GHz3.5GHz3.5GHz
Neural Engine Cores16161632
GPU Cores options8 or 1016 or 1930 or 3860 or 76
Unified Memory options8GB 16GB 24GB16GB 32GB32GB 64GB 96GB64GB 128GB 192GB
Memory Bandwidth100GB/s200GB/s400GB/s800GB/s
Video Decode Engines1112
Video Encode Engines1124
ProRes Encode-Decode Engines1124

Assuming a less than 2 year processor life cycle, before the end of 2024 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 8 basic form factors of Apple macOS systems with M2 Series processors, 5 laptops and 3 desktops.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Useful Links

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 Mac Studio M3 Max & M3 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M3 Pro & M3 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M1
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M3 & M3 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M1
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M2
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M3
Updated periodically – Apple 24″ iMac M1
Updated periodically – Apple 24″ iMac M3
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M3 Processor Series

Follow on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda

This page is subject to content updates/additions. If you think any content should be updated or added, please leave a private comment on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda.

Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro

Lowest cost desktop option for musicians and creators

Apple Mac mini M2 $999.00 minimum as recommended below
Apple Mac mini M2 Pro $1299.00 minimum as recommended below

Do not buy a computer with 8GB memory and a 256GB SSD! Why any musician or creator would buy a new system constrained like this in 2024 is beyond me. If properly configured Apple silicon is too expensive for you, buy used or refurbished.

I’m not going to play with you here, or hem and haw like many YouTubers do. 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD are not enough for musicians and creators. Some software will not run. It’s tight now and has a negative future-proofing factor. A 16GB memory upgrade for $200 and a 512GB SSD upgrade for $200 are seriously the minimum of what you need.

My minimum Apple computer recommendation for musicians and creators is 16GB memory and 512GB SSD or more. Any less than this does not make performance or economic sense. You will regret buying an Apple M Series system with 8GB memory and a 256GB SSD.

Mac mini M2

With the above caveats, the Mac mini M2 and its siblings, the Mac mini M1, the MacBook Air M2, the MacBook Air M1 and the 24″ iMac M1 make amazing low cost options for musicians and creators. For some the 13″ MacBook Pro M1/M2 would also be a viable option, but I personally hate the touch bar and find the design/features dated, so they are not for me (or the majority of others).

A Mac mini M2 with 16GB memory and 512GB SSD is $999.00. Leave it at that. If you want more than that, move up to the Mac mini M2 Pro, ok?

P.S. The 256GB SSD is slow, much slower than the 512GB SSD.

The Mac mini M2 has HDMI 2.0, WiFi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.3. Otherwise it has the same ports and same number of ports that the Mac mini M1 has (notably 2 Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports). Note the Mac mini M2 supports 2 displays, one up to 6K over Thunderbolt, and one up to 5K over Thunderbolt or 4K over HDMI.

Mac mini M2 Pro

Many people feel the Mac mini M2 Pro is one of the best and most important systems Apple has released lately. The Mac mini M2 Pro is really the star of this release. If you are in the $1299.00-$2199.00 budget range, give it serious consideration. Yes it costs more than a Mac mini M2, but you get a lot of bang for your buck.

I will also mention that if you would add more than two options of CPU/GPU cores, memory, or SSD to the $1299.00 Mac mini M2 Pro, you might consider jumping to the Mac Studio M1 Max. Personally, for a primary system I would take the Mac mini M2 Pro in its $1299.00 configuration or bump it up to 32GB memory and a 1TB SSD, making it $1899.00 and that is probably it. Any more upgrades than that and you are firmly in Mac Studio territory. $1299.00 to $1899.00 is the sweet spot for the Mac mini M2 Pro.

If you add the 12 CPU cores, 19 GPU cores option to that, it is $2199.00, the same as a Mac Studio M1 Max with 10 CPU cores, 24 GPU cores and 1TB SSD. The Mac Studio M1 Max also has 10 Gigabit Ethernet, the 2 front USB-C ports, a front SD card slot and more GPU power, but the Mac mini M2 Pro has more CPU power. Better CPU power or better GPU power and form factor, it’s a difficult choice for a DAW user…

Keep in mind, that just like the MacBook Pro M2 Pro, the 512GB SSD on the Mac mini M2/M2 Pro is not slow, it is fast, but the 1TB SSD is as much as twice as fast.

The Mac mini M2 Pro has HDMI 2.1, WiFi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.3. It has 4 Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports. Otherwise it has the same ports and same number of ports that the Mac mini M1 has. Note the Mac mini M2 Pro supports up to 3 displays, two up to 6K 60Hz over Thunderbolt, and one up to 4K 60Hz over HDMI, OR one up to 6K 60Hz over Thunderbolt and one up to 4K 144Hz over HDMI, OR one up to 8K 60Hz OR one 4K 240Hz. Whew! Read the specs for details.

Information you need to properly digest web sites & especially YouTube.
Updated frequently – Apple Technology YouTube Critique

CPU & GPU Performance Benchmarks

I would generally advise to not get too tied up in the minutiae of benchmarks, but they are useful for relative comparisons of processors. It is worth noting that no M Series processors are slouches. Some more than others, but all of them are a noticeable improvement over the Intel processors in previous generation Macs.

CPU single-core performance of the M2 and M2 Pro processors in the Mac mini are very similar to all other M2 Series processors, because of course they all share the same CPU single-core.

CPU and GPU multi-core performance is where the differences become more apparent because of the different number of cores.

DAW Performance Benchmarks

The M2 will handle 70+ tracks. Both versions of the M2 Pro are going to be able to handle double that at 150+ tracks. DAWs are heavy on CPU use, with very little GPU load. This Logic Pro benchmark comes from ‘The TRUTH about New Mac Mini after 1 Month – M2 vs M2 Pro!‘ video located in the YouTube section farther down this page.

I would strongly recommend the M2 Pro 10 core CPU, 16 core GPU or the M2 Pro 12 core CPU, 19 core GPU as perfect processors for the majority of musicians. Not only is your DAW gonna hum like never before, but you will experience great video and graphics processing with the 16 or 19 core GPU.

If you need more CPU horsepower for a DAW, you will need to move into a desktop Mac Studio M1 Ultra. The extra GPU cores of an M1 or M2 Max won’t help a DAW. Video and graphics processing are different issues of course.

Check software compatibilities

It should go without saying, but I’m gonna say it anyway. M Series has been out since November 2020. I think it’s crazy that any DAW or plugin should have issues or still be running on Rosetta emulation, but not everyone listens to me. Do your homework!

Furthermore, in my opinion any major software company that markets to Apple users and hasn’t updated their software to include Apple silicon compatibility deserves to lose your business. It’s been over 2 years, and at this point it’s a real screw you. They obviously don’t care about their customers and should be replaced by a company that cares more about their customers.

macOS 13 Ventura: Compatibility Guide

My personal experience with Ventura has been very good. Everything I use runs natively on M Series and is compatible with Ventura. But don’t listen to me, do your homework!

Ports are important for musicians & content creators

The 2 Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports on the Mac mini M2 are a bit tight for musicians and creators, but can also be easily expanded with a hub if you need more. The 4 Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports on the Mac mini M2 Pro are better for musicians and creators. Also an external monitor like the Apple Studio Display has 3 more USB-C ports in addition to the Thunderbolt 3 connection port.

You will want to plug your interface directly into USB-C and find the 2 legacy USB-A ports good for USB hard drives, flash drives, cables to synths, cable to printer etc.

Obviously wise future purchases will be solidly Thunderbolt or USB-C. The HDMI will be very useful for TV, and occasionally most musicians like to plug headphones directly into the system, though most of the time it’s either through an interface or Bluetooth. You can also buy the Apple USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter for an older existing monitor if you need it. This adapter also has a USB-C and a USB-A.

Mac mini hardware upgrades

Remember no internal hardware upgrades can be performed. This is especially true with Apple silicon. SoC or System on Chip as you probably already know, cannot be upgraded. The advantages are more than worth it, but push yourself to adequately configure memory and storage for the future or get the appropriate system.

External storage alternatives

I recommend backing up all data to the cloud, and supplementing the internal Apple SSD with an external USB-C or Thunderbolt SSD/HD.

SSD speed needs for music production are similar to photography and video. This video will help you choose external SSD solutions (also in YouTube playlist below).

See Apple M Series External USB-C SSD Options for a more extensive discussion and specific product recommendations.

More soon, check back!

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Manufacturer’s website
https://www.apple.com/mac-mini/

Product support, downloads
https://support.apple.com/

Videos

Yehuda Rothschild Apple Mac mini M2 Series YouTube Playlist

Yehuda Rothschild Apple Mac M Series Music Production YouTube Playlist

Useful Links

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 Mac Studio M3 Max & M3 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M3 Pro & M3 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M1
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M3 & M3 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M1
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M2
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M3
Updated periodically – Apple 24″ iMac M1
Updated periodically – Apple 24″ iMac M3
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M3 Processor Series

Follow on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda

This page is subject to content updates/additions. If you think any content should be updated or added, please leave a private comment on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda.

Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max

The Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max are Apple’s most powerful 2023 Q1 laptop and the ultimate laptop for musicians/creators

Apple 16″ MacBook Pro M2 Pro $2499.00 – M2 Max $3499.00 minimum per processor type
Apple 14″ MacBook Pro M2 Pro $1999.00 – M2 Max $3099.00 minimum per processor type

If you’re a serious pro or amateur musician, you really want the Apple Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 Ultra or the Apple MacBook Pro M3 Pro & M3 Max. A large music and/or video recording studio without budget restraints or someone who must have PCIe slot expansion may want to consider the Apple Mac Pro M2 Ultra. These are the three best computers for creatives you can buy.

If you absolutely must spend less than $1999.00, consider the Mac mini M2 Pro. Other less expensive options are the Mac mini M2MacBook Pro M2 Pro, MacBook Air M2, or 24″ iMac M3. Even buy used or refurbished if need be. To suggest buying less than these systems is bad advice. Also see notes below in the Unified Memory section.

See: Apple Silicon is the DAW standard.

The MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max were the most powerful Apple laptops you could get and elegantly suited for creatives

The MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max laptops are exactly the same as the MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max versions except for the new processors with different CPU/GPU core counts, HDMI 2.1, WiFi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.3.

Models have 10-12 CPU cores, 16-38 GPU cores, 16 Neural Engine cores, 16GB-96GB RAM, media engine enhancements, memory bandwidth of 200GB/sec to 400GB/sec, 3 Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports, HDMI, internal display 3024×1964/3456×2234, external display to 8k.

For an easy to view chart of processor differences, see: Apple M2 Processor Series.

The MacBook Pro M2 Pro and M2 Max are the best laptops Apple has produced, and will remain so until the M3 Pro/Max versions are released. If you want a laptop for creative pursuits, the MacBook M2 Pro/Max is the best money can buy. Apple has continued to improve these machines. The design and performance of these machines builds on exquisite.

There are many ways to configure these laptops and everyone’s needs are different. In my opinion, the 14″ is best configured as a M2 Pro system, and the 16″ is best configured as a M2 Max system.

The 16″ MacBook Pro is more of a hybrid laptop/desktop

If you prioritize screen size and/or sustained GPU performance over portability, the 16″ may be for you. Generally, I would characterize the 16″ as more of a hybrid laptop/desktop. It is a bit much for lugging around with you on the go. If you don’t move it a lot though, the screen is very attractive and it is more appropriate for M2 Max high GPU loads.

Realistically, for a performing musician, any laptop DAW’s size/weight are going to be nothing next to guitars, synthesizers, amplifiers, and other gear, and the 16″ screen would be a lot easier to see on stage. But if you are on the move a lot, back and forth from work, customers, clients, coffee shops, or whatever, the 14″ may be more for you.

The 14″ MacBook Pro fits my portability needs

On January 27, 2023 I purchased a 14″ MacBook M2 Pro, with 12 core CPU, 19 core GPU, 16GB of memory and 1TB storage. I paid the extra $9 for same day delivery. I decided that for my portability needs, it didn’t make sense to bump the memory or processor/GPU cores up. For reference sake, note that I have a Mac Studio M1 Ultra for my primary system.

As a secondary system I find the M2 Pro with 16GB to be fully adequate for my needs. After a couple weeks of use, I have yet to see swap use. However, if this was my primary system, I would definitely have gone with the 32GB option. I regularly use 32GB+ on my main system (Mac Studio M1 Ultra).

The 14″/16″ MacBook Pros are almost exactly the same

The 16″ M2 Max does have a high power mode that gives it a very minimal performance edge, but other than that and system/screen size, sustained GPU performance, and a minimal speaker quality difference, the 14″ and 16″ MacBook Pros are exactly the same.

The M2 Pro has 200GB/s memory bandwidth and the M2 Max has 400GB/s memory bandwidth, the same as before. M2 Pro/Max clock speeds are slightly higher than M1 Pro/Max. The M1 Pro/Max efficiency cores clock at 2.1 GHz and the performance cores at 3.2 GHz. The M2 Pro/Max efficiency cores clock at 2.4 GHz and the performance cores at 3.5 GHz.

The M2 Pro has one video encoder, one video decoder, one ProRes encoder/decoder and still goes up to 32GB memory. The M2 Max has two video encoders, one video decoder, two ProRes encoder/decoders and can now go up to 96GB memory instead of 64GB.

In my opinion the M2 Pro/M2 Max MacBooks are equal or improved in almost all ways to the M1 Pro/M1 Max versions. The one exception is the 512GB SSD. It is not slow, but it is a single 512GB storage chip, rather than two chips and half the performance of a 1TB+ SSD in many cases.

Upgrading from an M1 Pro or M1 Max to the exact same model/configuration M2 Pro or M2 Max is probably not something most people would do. M1 Series computers still work great with plenty of power. There isn’t really enough to make the jump for. If you need a different screen size, memory or storage, that could change the equation. If you have a Windows or Intel based Mac don’t hesitate to grab one of these. You will not regret it.

In average use, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between M2 Pro/M2 Max MacBooks and the equivalent M1 versions. And this is a good thing, the M1 Processor Series are great machines and the M2 Processor Series are measurably better. In intensive applications and especially graphics intensive applications, you will see gains, sometimes significant, over the M1 Series.

Unified Memory

One of the beautiful things about M series processors is the memory in the processor chip. The performance and efficiency results of this design are significant and unmistakable. Because of this design, you cannot upgrade the memory later. It is important to get a sufficient amount of memory.

Going backwards for a second, I think getting an M1/M2 with 8GB memory is a mistake for DAW users. People with simple needs do it, but they are not maximizing their performance potential. An M1/M2 or M1 Pro/M2 Pro with 16GB memory is the minimum to me. For many DAW users 16GB is too low as well. An M2 Pro with 16GB-32GB or M2 Max with 32GB will prove quite sufficient for most electronic or rock musicians.

However, if your projects include a lot of sampled instruments, orchestral arrangements or soundtrack work, you really should consider the 64GB or 96GB M2 Max. I would venture very few will need more than 96GB, but if you do, you need a desktop Mac Studio M1 Ultra to go to 128GB. If you need that much memory, you probably already know it.

Desktop vs. Laptop

My bias or transparent needs: Prior to using the Mac Studio M1 Ultra, I had been computing with laptops only (except servers) for over a decade, but at this point in my retired life, I have very little need for major horsepower portability. For me a powerful desktop is more useful than a laptop. My recording studio doesn’t move and I don’t gig either. The Mac Studio makes much more sense for me than a MacBook Pro as a primary computing device. 5% of the time when I do need portable computing, I don’t need the super performance horses, or the weight/bulk of lugging around a 16″ laptop. A 14″ MacBook Pro M2 Pro suits my backpack and travel needs best. I could easily live with nothing but a 14″ MacBook Pro M2 Pro and a 27″ external monitor if I needed to though.

My needs or any opinionated influencer’s needs are meaningless for you though. Pick what you need. If you need or prefer a laptop, then that is the best choice. If you need or prefer a desktop, then that is the best choice. There is no such thing as one all around best computer.

Information you need to properly digest web sites & especially YouTube.
Updated frequently – Apple Technology YouTube Critique

CPU & GPU Performance Benchmarks

I would generally advise to not get too tied up in the minutiae of benchmarks, but they are useful for relative comparisons of processors. It is worth noting that no M Series processors are slouches. Some more than others, but all of them are a noticeable improvement over the Intel processors in previous generation Macs.

CPU single-core performance of the M2 Pro and M2 Max processors in the MacBook Pro are very similar to all other M2 Series processors, because of course they all share the same CPU single-core.

CPU and GPU multi-core performance is where the differences become more apparent because of the different number of cores.

SSD Performance Benchmarks

I purchased a 14″ MacBook M2 Pro, with 12 core CPU, 19 core GPU, 16GB of memory and 1TB storage as I mentioned earlier. I can’t speak to all capacities, but the 1TB SSD is a blazing fast SSD as benchmarked by the Black Magic Disk Speed Test. WRITE and READ results are consistently over 5000 MB/s, often significantly so.

Battery

Most of my need for battery power is in the 2-6 hour range, but I was curious how far it would go with my typical use. In my tests so far, this laptop goes 16-18 hours on a charge. I concurrently browse, SSH login to Linux servers, edit images with GIMP, and edit pages on this site in WordPress on non-stop battery with active use more than half the time since 6:00am. At 10pm-midnight, 16-18 hours later, the low battery notification comes on with 10% capacity left.

DAW Performance Benchmarks

The M2 Pro/Max can handle similar tracks/load to the equivalent M1 Pro/Max. The M2 Pro with 16GB handles 155 tracks, the M2 Max with 32GB handles 181 tracks. That said, there is no need to push your DAW to 1 track short of a crash. I would load an M2 Pro up to 103 tracks, and an M2 Max up to 120 tracks. No need to completely dog out the CPU, ha! The numbers would be comparable for Ableton Live or other DAWs as well.

FYI – DAWs are heavy on CPU use, with very little GPU load. The higher track counts achieved by the M2 Max compared to the M2 Pro are more a result of having 32GB of memory instead of 16GB memory. In other words adding memory instead of GPU cores will most benefit a DAW.

I would strongly recommend the M2 Pro 10 core CPU, 16 core GPU or the M2 Pro 12 core CPU, 19 core GPU as perfect processors for the majority of musicians. Not only is your DAW gonna hum like never before, but you will experience great video and graphics processing with the 16 or 19 core GPU.

If you need more CPU horsepower for a DAW, you will need to move into a desktop Mac Studio M1 Ultra. The extra GPU cores of an M1/M2 Max won’t help a DAW. Video and graphics processing are different issues of course.

Check software compatibilities

It should go without saying, but I’m gonna say it anyway. M Series has been out since November 2020. I think it’s crazy that any DAW or plugin should have issues or still be running on Rosetta emulation, but not everyone listens to me. Do your homework!

Furthermore, in my opinion any major software company that markets to Apple users and hasn’t updated their software to include Apple silicon compatibility deserves to lose your business. It’s been over 2 years, and at this point it’s a real screw you. They obviously don’t care about their customers and should be replaced by a company that cares more about their customers.

macOS 13 Ventura: Compatibility Guide

My personal experience with Ventura has been very good. Everything I use runs natively on M Series and is compatible with Ventura. But don’t listen to me, do your homework!

Ports are important for musicians & content creators

The 3 Thunderbolt/USB-C ports on the MacBook Pro are likely adequate for most, and can also be easily expanded with a hub if you need more. Also an external monitor like the Apple Studio Display has 3 more USB-C ports in addition to the Thunderbolt 3 connection port. I would theorize that in portable mode you will not need more ports than are built in the MacBook, but in the studio you may.

You may want a USB-C to Ethernet RJ-45 adapter. You will want to plug your interface directly into USB-C or if you can’t do that, get a hub or adapter also for legacy USB-A hard drives, flash drives, cables to synths, cable to printer etc.

Obviously wise future purchases will be solidly Thunderbolt or USB-C. The HDMI will be very useful for TV, and occasionally most musicians like to plug headphones directly into the system, though most of the time it’s either through an interface or Bluetooth. You can also buy the Apple USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter for an older existing monitor if you need it. This adapter also has a USB-C and a USB-A.

MacBook hardware upgrades

Remember no internal hardware upgrades can be performed. This is especially true with Apple silicon. SoC or System on Chip as you probably already know, cannot be upgraded. The advantages are more than worth it, but push yourself to adequately configure memory and storage for the future.

External storage alternatives

I recommend backing up all data to the cloud, and supplementing the internal Apple SSD with an external USB-C or Thunderbolt SSD/HD.

SSD speed needs for music production are similar to photography and video. This video will help you choose external SSD solutions (also in YouTube playlist below).

See Apple M Series External USB-C SSD Options for a more extensive discussion and specific product recommendations.

The MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max have what it takes to get through the next 5+ years of your music & video productions

This is why you buy Apple. Realistically with the cost of computers these days, a 1-3 year refresh cycle is not practical for most people. Unlike the majority if not all PC systems, Apple computers are built to last and Apple silicon is state of the art enough to start you at the head of the pack.

Keep coming back

What will be different about this site compared to many Apple sites is over time we will be sharing configuration and electronic music/video recording pertinent information. More soon.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Manufacturer’s website
https://www.apple.com/macbook-pro-14-and-16

Product support, downloads
https://support.apple.com

Videos

Yehuda Rothschild Apple MacBook Pro M2 Series YouTube Playlist

Yehuda Rothschild Apple Mac M Series Music Production YouTube Playlist

Useful Links

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 Mac Studio M3 Max & M3 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M3 Pro & M3 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M1
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M3 & M3 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M1
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M2
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Air M3
Updated periodically – Apple 24″ iMac M1
Updated periodically – Apple 24″ iMac M3
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M3 Processor Series

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