Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Apple | Macbook Pro with M2 in the test: for whom the purchase is worthwhile | macbook


First notebook with M2 chip
The new Macbook Pro in the test: Between the chairs

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A MacBook Pro with an M2 chip stands on a kitchen table

The new Macbook Pro is Apple’s first computer with an M2 chip

© Malte Mansholt / star

With the introduction of its own processors, Apple has raised the bar for notebooks enormously. Now the next generation is coming up with the new Macbook Pro. But after the revolution, despite the powerful performance, it doesn’t really feel right.

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It was one of Apple’s most daring and probably most successful steps: When the first notebooks with the self-developed M1 chip came onto the market at the end of 2020, it triggered a real tremor in the industry. Now the first successor model is available in stores with the new Macbook Pro. But compared to Apple’s other models, it seems strangely stagnant.

The step is quite remarkable. As the first computer on the market, the new MacBook Pro on Apple’s second chip generation, unsurprisingly called the M2. But even though it does provide a lot of performance, the notebook just doesn’t want to feel like a big leap.

Product care in the middle of the revolution

This is mainly due to a decision by Apple: The M2 is de facto the only major innovation in the Macbook Pro. The case remains the same as it has been since the design was first introduced in 2016. Apple continues to rely on the wide-bezel display, two USB-C ports on the left and a headphone jack on the right. Even the touch bar, which has been discontinued in all other models and replaces the function keys with its own display, is retained.

The fact that the notebook feels slightly outdated despite being new is mainly due to the fact that both the cheaper and the more expensive models have developed more. The more expensive ones MacBook Pro got a new look in autumn with a narrower display edge and a slightly rounder case, the touch bar was again replaced by function keys. Instead of just using USB-C, the new models can also be charged again using the Magsafe magnetic plug, which is loved by fans. The fact that the Macbook Air, which was introduced together with the Macbook Pro, now has almost the same design, although it is cheaper, leaves the Macbook Pro somewhere between the chairs.

As with the previous model, Apple limits itself to two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4. The new Macbook Air also has a Magsafe charging connector to the left

As with the previous model, Apple limits itself to two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4. The new Macbook Air also has a Magsafe charging connector to the left

© Malte Mansholt / star

Technical specifications:

processor

M2 with four performance and four efficiency cores as well as ten graphics cores and media engine

screen

13.3 inches with 2560 x 1600 pixels and 500 nits

random access memory

8GB (up to 24GB)

data storage

256GB SSD (up to 2TB)

cam

Facetime camera with 1280×720 pixels

battery pack

Up to 20 hours of video, 17 hours of surfing

Price

From 1600 euros

pure power

It’s a hugely attractive upgrade just from a performance perspective. If the M1 chip was already fast, the M2 is noticeably faster. Around 20 percent more could be obtained in test programs if several of the eight computing chips were used. When it comes to graphics performance, the boost is even greater. Because Apple now installs up to ten graphics cores, games like “Fortnite” run extremely smoothly even on the highest settings. Even when editing numerous 4K videos at once, the rapid chip does not break a sweat and implements changes in real time.

The biggest advantage over the new Macbook Air is that the M2 in the MacBook Pro that even works over a long period of time. Unlike the thinner sibling model, Apple relies on a cooling system with fans, like the predecessor, the Air has to do without them. In practice, however, you have to call up quite a lot of performance to benefit from it. Whether it’s video editing or gaming: the fan didn’t turn on once in the test. And that despite the fact that the computer had to work on the most complex tasks for hours.

However, the M2 is not faster than the more powerful M1 chips, the Pro, Max and Ultra. Compared to an M1 Pro, it only performs slightly better in processes that only load a single core. However, as soon as several cores are involved, the Pro is almost 15 percent faster according to test programs such as Geekbench. The even stronger M1 Max and Ultra are many times superior. In this respect, it is not surprising that the M2 inherits a major weakness from its predecessor: Unlike the higher models, the basic chip only supports one external monitor in the second generation.

The touch bar at the top of the keyboard has been replaced with full keys on the other Macbook Pro models

The touch bar at the top of the keyboard has been replaced with full keys on the other Macbook Pro models

© Malte Mansholt / star

Outdated in comparison

The innovations of the Macbook Air would also have looked good on the Macbook Pro. It’s a pity, for example, that Apple relies on the old model for the Facetime camera. The old model with its resolution of 1280×720 (720p) pixels looks very outdated, especially since video telephony has become an important part of many office jobs in the last two years. The Air and also the more expensive Macbook Pro offer a resolution of 1080p, i.e. 1920×1080 pixels, which is more than twice as high.

The limitation to two USB-C ports is also quickly noticeable in everyday use. Especially if you also need one of them for charging. If you then connect a monitor, the sockets are already fully occupied. A docking station with additional connections is therefore a must for many users. There is at least a little relief with the Macbook Air: Although it can also be charged via USB-C, if you use the Magsafe connection intended for this purpose, you still have two ports free.

The fact that this limitation can usually be coped with is due to the outstanding battery performance of the MacBook Pro. Apple promises a runtime of up to 20 hours, but that should only be achievable under the lowest load. However, with everyday tasks such as writing texts, surfing the web and light photo editing, it easily manages a long working day – and still leaves reserves. The runtime only drops significantly to a few hours under heavy continuous loads such as games. Still, that’s pretty impressive given the massive performance of the M2 chip. If you work a lot on the go, you will hardly find a more reliable work tool.

Is this really pro?

It is not yet possible to definitively assess how well the “Pro” in the name is deserved. Because: The revised Macbook Air with M2 chip is not yet available. If it offers comparable performance and runtime despite the lack of active cooling, that would pretty much shrink the market for the entry-level MacBook Pro. After all, why should you pay almost 100 euros more for an inferior webcam, one connection less and a larger case?

Conclusion: Not fish, not meat – but still tasty

Apple is forcing the new Macbook Pro into an unusual balancing act in its product portfolio. Both the revised Macbook Air and the higher quality ones MacBook Pro are simply more modern with Magsafe, the revised displays including a better Facetime camera and full-fledged function keys. Although the entry-level MacBook Pro is a classic product update and the M2 chip can keep its promise of additional performance, it looks a bit outdated.

It is therefore only a real must-buy for users who do not want to do without the touch bar and who need the additional performance of the M2 chip with an extra fan. However, most other buyers are probably better off with the slightly cheaper Macbook Air, which is still to be tested. Or should consider the surcharge for the additional performance of the higher quality Macbook Pro models. The jump is currently less big than one would think: That Macbook Pro with M1Pro is sometimes available from third-party providers for around 1900 euros – and at this price it comes with twice as much RAM and data storage as the entry-level model.

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Tag: macbook issue, macbook pro, macbook release, macbook macos

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