With the release of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with the Apple M2, everyone wants to know how Apple’s new silicon stacks up against its predecessors, from the M1 to the M1 Ultra.
So far, we only know of two products that will feature the new Apple M2: the 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro (M2) (Opens in a new tab) and the Apple MacBook Air (M2), although the M2 will likely be in the Apple Mac Mini (2022) as well as the new Apple iMac (24-inch, M2).
So, naturally, we want to see the match-up between the Apple M1 and M2, but since the new MacBook Pro might be tempting for some users, we also want to see how things stack up with the M1 Pro and M1 Max, and whether it’s worth opting for for one of the models. MacBook Pro or if you want to use the 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro with the M2 now that it’s available.
And while we’re here, how do the M1 Max and M1 Ultra stack up against each other for creative desktop applications in Mac Studio? Well, we’ve been running a bunch of numbers over the past few months on the best MacBooks and Macs, and now we’re putting Apple’s latest chips in the arena to see how they all stack up for different workloads, from overall performance from battery life to gaming, to help you figure out which chip is which. From Apple is the chip you need to power your next Mac.
Ranked Apple Silicon: Overall performance
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There are a few things to note about the Apple M2, but first, out of the gate is the single-core performance. A few weeks ago, we saw the first benchmarks pop up online showing that the M2’s single-core performance was comparable to the Intel Alder Lake i9-12900K, arguably the best processor on the desktop market.
Now that we’ve run our own tests, we can confirm that’s exactly the case. On average, the single-core Apple M2 Geekbench 5 score comes in at about 1932, which beats every other M-series chip as well as every other consumer processor except the Intel Core i9-12900K and i9-12900HK, a K-series variant. The Apple M1, for reference, scored an average of 1,733 on Geekbench 5.
This is an amazing result and says a lot about the capabilities of Apple Silicon. The M2’s multi-core performance is well below Intel’s Alder Lake chips (as well as the Pro, Max, and Ultra M1 variants), but with only 4 performance cores, this isn’t unexpected. In this regard, it beats the Apple M1 Multi-Core notch by a decent amount. The Apple M1 chip scored 7584 in multi-core performance, while the M2 chip scored 8722 in the same test.
Apple silicon mattress: creative workloads
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Well, what about creative performance? This is the bread and butter of the Apple M series, after all, and it’s what a lot of people want to look at. Creative workloads are what make MacBooks some of the best laptops out there, so how the M-series chips handle different tasks is important.
In terms of creative criteria, it’s no surprise that the Mac Studio-packed M1 Ultra is the absolute winner here. In Handbrake, the M1 Ultra encoded Tears of Steel at 4K @ 30 to 1080p @ 30 at around 94 frames per second (fps), while the next two closest, the M1 Max and M1 Pro, were able to encode the same video at 76 fps. the second .
The M2 chip did a great job, encoding the same video at 54fps, and the M1 chip encoding it at 47fps. In terms of Apple vs. Apple comparisons, this is about 15% faster than its M1 predecessor, which is a solid generation-to-generation improvement. That’s also about 57% of the speed of the M1 Ultra, which isn’t bad Absolutely for a mobile workstation.
When it comes to PugetBench for Adobe Photoshop and PugetBench for Adobe Premiere Pro, this is a similar result with the M1 Ultra coming out ahead of the pack, which is to be expected. It scored 1,010 in PugetBench for Adobe Photoshop and 1,354 for PugetBench for Adobe Premiere Pro.
Meanwhile, the Apple M2 scored 817 and 552, respectively, on the same tests. This means that the Apple M1 Ultra is about 65% faster than the M2, but again, this is an expected result given that the M1 Ultra is a desktop-class processor, while the M2 is a hybrid desktop/laptop processor.
Compared to the M1, which scored 354 on PugetBench’s Adobe Premiere Pro benchmark, the M2 comes in about 56% better than the M1, and on the Photoshop test, it comes in about 26% better than the M1. Notably, it also beats the M1 Pro in Photoshop, which scores 806, though it lags slightly behind the M1 Max which scores 887 in the same Photoshop test.
Ranked Apple Silicon: Games
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While Macs may not be known for gaming, that perception is changing. The winner when it comes to playing the best Mac games is definitely the M1 Ultra, thanks to its 64-core GPU, which can get up to 109 frames per second on Shadow of the Tomb Raider at up to 1080p HD.
The easiest comparison is the M1 vs. the M2, which at max settings at 1800p scores 9fps for the M1 versus 12fps for the M2, which is a 25% increase. Drop the resolution to 1200p on very high settings, and you can get a playable 25fps on the M2.
Bringing that down a bit to 1920p (1080p on the M1 Ultra and 1200p on the MacBooks), the M2 comes with the shortest four chips we have similar scores for: the M1 Pro, M1 Max, M1 Ultra, and M2.
The M1 Ultra, of course, is ahead of this thanks to its 64-core GPU, which averaged 109 fps in the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark. The M1 Max averages around 74fps, the M1 Pro averages 39fps, and the M2 averages 25fps.
When it comes to Civilization VI: Gathering Storm, the M1 scores 38fps at max settings of 1440 x 900 pixels, while the M2 chip scores 51fps at the exact resolution and settings.
Ranked Apple Silicon: battery life
Well, what about battery life?
In this case, the Apple M2 is far ahead of the competition, scoring 18 hours and 20 minutes in our Web browsing test.
Compared to the Apple M1 in the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which lasted 16 hours, 32 minutes, and the M1 Pro and M1 Max in the 14-inch MacBook Pro, which clocked 14 hours, nine minutes, and 15 hours, 32 minutes (respectively), the M2 is The obvious hero here.