The M2 may sound like it’s better, but it’s a base level disc next to the M1 Pro, M1 Max and M1 Ultra that drives the $ 2,000+ MacBook Pro models. It’s easy to be swayed by Apple’s statistics, which boast that the M2 processor has a 35 percent more powerful GPU, 18 percent faster CPU and 40 percent faster neural engine compared to the M1. But it is not quite enough for most professionals who need more computing power. (The M2, like the M1, still supports only one external monitor, unlike the M1 Pro and above.)
The M2 did well. Most of the time I did not get any hiccups. On busier days, when I had about 20 tabs open on Google Chrome and several apps running in the background at the same time, it felt a little sluggish; there was a bit of a delay when switching between tabs and windows, and I managed to activate the dreaded rainbow wheel a few times.
I uploaded 4K Pro Res files shot on the iPhone 13 Pro to Final Cut Pro and edited one stream on the timeline. I applied a light gradient, along with some other built-in effects and saw some stuttering throughout. I did not really change the footage that many, but this MacBook Pro struggled with even the slightest color adjustments (and the rainbow wheel made a few appearances).
Editing photos with applications like Pixelmator and Adobe Photoshop felt much smoother. The Mac stuttered here and there while I adjusted sliders, added slight bits of rotation, and made small changes to color. But it still managed to drift through a multitude of layers and effects to achieve the desired look – without the fans ever kicking in.
This is the main difference in power between this MacBook Pro and the new MacBook Air — it has a fan. When the fan kicks in, the MacBook Pro can draw a little more power over sustained periods. It also has slightly better battery life. I usually had to plug in after eight hours on weekdays.
A difficult sale
This all does not mean that the 13-inch MacBook Pro is completely useless for heavy tasks, but it probably will not be enough for anyone who regularly deals with processor-intensive workloads. If this is you, I think it’s worth saving your cash and instead going for the base version of the 14-inch MacBook Pro.
If you just need a good, new laptop, wait for the upcoming MacBook Air. You get a slightly larger, more modern screen, a better webcam, nicer speakers and fast charging support, all in one overall lighter package (and fun colors!). This MacBook Pro remains an awkward middle child and does not bring nearly enough to the table to be worth it.